ChapterLines to an Indian Air

“Lines to an Indian Air” is a love poem written by the romantic poet PB Shelly. It speaks about the unquenched longing of the poet for his/her lover. All you need to know and learn about this poem is given below.

Meet the Author

  • PB Shelley is a well known romantic poet.
  • Born: 4th August 1792
  • Died: Drowned in a sudden storm while sailing in Italy during 1822.
  • Place of Birth: Broadbridge Heath, England
  • Wife: Mary Shelley (Author of the novel Frankenstein)
  • Major Books: 'Ode to the West Wind' to 'A Skylark' and 'The Masque of Anarchy'
  • Best known for: Lyric poems

Historical background to the poem:

Romantic poets were always interested and fascinated about India and the spiritual lessons from India.

PB Shelley had paid attention to Indian culture and had travelled widely. It might be due to this that he mentions and writes about India and the lessons from India in his works.

The poem 'To an Indian Air' was first published in 1822 as the 'Song Written for an Indian Air'. After Shelley's death Mary Shelley, his wife, republished the same poem under the title 'Lines to an Indian Air'. It was published in the second issue of 'The Liberal' on 1st Jan 1823.

Book on wooden table with pages folded in heart shape
Book on wooden table with pages folded in heart shape, showing romantic poem in books

Summary of the Poem

“Indian Air” is a beautiful love poem. The poem starts off with an otherworldly quality. Speaker wakes up from sleep dreaming about his/her lover. The ‘spirit’ carries the speaker towards his/her lover’s chamber window that night. The stars are still shining bright and the winds are wandering. It is an absolute moment of beauty. The nightingale’s harmonious music is adding on to the exotic beauty.

I arise from dreams of Thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,...
… To thy chamber-window, Sweet!

The beauty here is made surreal according to Shelly. (Surreal: something that is extreme and difficult to believe)

This is a complex love poem. In the poem the elements of ecstasy and contentment go side by side. His/her desire makes it more complicated. In the entire poem “Champak odour” is the only direct reference to India.

The lover is pale, cold and anxious due to his/her desire for the beloved.

I die! I faint, I fail!

It is only the kisses of the lover that can heal the miseries of the lover.

Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale.

Lover claims to be sick and cold. Only the kisses from the lover can improve the weak eyes and cold soul.

Romanticism and Romantic Poet(Bonus Info)

Romanticism refers to the vast area of development in the realm of music, art, literature and philosophy during the 19th and 18th century. Romanticism is also a movement in poetry where it is encouraged to turn to oneself and to nature. It urged one to look into one's feelings and emotions and broke all the formal conventions of poetry.

Most well known romantic poets include PB Shelley, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Matthew Arnold.

Their work was a reaction towards the industrial revolution, French revolution, the decline of Anglican era and the rapid changes in the British countryside.

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Lines to an Indian Air Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

PB Shelly expresses his feelings and emotions through the elements of nature in the poem “Lines to an Indian Air”.

Yes, definitely the poet is exaggerating his feelings. This is done to portray the immense yearning and languor he experiences.

His sweet thoughts are failing as the poet is becoming impatient about the arrival of his lover that he dreamt of.