Unrestrained passion and exalted imagination are the main qualities of Shelley as a poet. His romantic thrill and wonder in the presence of majestic and beautiful objects and forces of nature, his intensely biased passion of joy, melancholy, hope and despair find spontaneous and moving expressions in his verse. His powerful imagination explores the whole universe to bring together impressions and associations indicative of his ideals and aspirations. It is a numerous colored and full of sensuous as well as symbolic appeal.
Lyrical excellence is Shelley’s strongest forte. In fact, he is accepted as a prince among the English lyricists. He opens up his heart to the readers and touches the hearth of his listeners with his involuntary art. In personal appeal, spontaneity and musical beauty his lyrics are unsurpassable in their particular sphere.
Shelley’s treatment of Nature is one of the most attractive elements in his poetry. He uses nature as the prime inspiration for whatever he writes. The forces and objects of nature act as vehicles of his new ideas. But the beauty lies in their legendary treatment – not only are the cloud and the wind vibrantly alive, but they feel and act in a manner closely resembling human beings. It is the unique romantic expression of love and deep understanding of nature. He even makes sweet myths of flowers and leaves and sea-weeds in The Cloud, To a Skylark and Ode to the West Wind.
A striking note of idealism characterizes Shelley’s poetry. It is prompted by zeal of reform and frequently sounds a prophetic attitude. This unhappy and far too imperfect world is to be transformed into a blessed land of freedom, love and absolute joy and he passionately voices his belief that the glorious transformation would come through his poetry.
Melancholy and despondence is the other prominent feature of Shelley’s poetry. His poetry is habitually sentimental and full of self-pity. It is an inevitable reaction of lack of expectation with reality. And this proved to be too harsh for his nature which is very delicate and sensitive. This is the reason for the laments which are found in Stanzas written in Dejection, One word is too often profane and Ode to the West Wind.
All these account for the feel and note of escapism that is very clearly and evidently found in his poems. That’s what marks him as an unmistakable romantic. His wistful fancy urges him to fly to a far away land where the pains and miseries of the earth will not plague him. He praises the skylark’s ability to be the ‘scorner of the ground’ and wishes he could also soar up to Heaven. He prays to the West Wind to lift him up from ‘the thorns of life’.