28 pages 56 minutes read

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1813

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Book VIChapter Summaries & Analyses

Book VI Summary

Ianthe’s spirit speaks with sadness, mourning the condition of the earth and asking if there is any hope for “so many wretched souls” (Line 6.19). Queen Mab comforts her, telling her to have hope—the spirit world will cure these evils. Power may have silenced truth, but truth will one day return and Nature will reveal to all that the “mightiest monarch” is powerless and the “priest’s dogmatic roar” is deception (Lines 6.62, 6.64).

Queen Mab continues criticizing organized religion, which has become a way of satisfying the need for destruction and the will of the powerful. This is why Christianity portrays God like earthly king who sits on a “golden throne” (Line 6.107). However, religion is now reaching its old age: It has gradually withered in strength, and now it has “gray hairs” (Line 6.139). As religion dies, there will be turbulence at first, but then a new spirit will grow in influence—the eternal spirit of Nature that will fill the world with awe. Unlike the God humans believe in, this spirit is completely impartial to human emotions, prayers, or pleas; its control of the world will be free of “revenge / And favoritism” (Lines 6.