28 pages 56 minutes read

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1813

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Symbols & Motifs

The Natural World

Nature is prominent throughout the poem. The “earth’s natural gifts” (Line 5.252) are the source of all that is moral the sublime experience of natural beauty inspires within humanity a love for peace and allows the soul to appreciate things that are greater than the earthly, materialistic drives for lust and power.

For Shelley, nature offers respite from human history: Queen Mab points out that whenever people bring suffering and hardship to earth through their avarice, wasting generations, nature uses their deaths as a source of rebirth and renewal. The beauty of the forest holds “germs of promise” (Line 5.9), though human imperfection often brings out nature’s dark side: death, illness, natural catastrophes, and the decay of beauty.

However, in the future utopia, nature will no longer seek revenge on humans for rebelling against the natural laws of equality and freedom; instead, the earth will transform into an Edenic paradise. Humans will stop fighting nature and instead “undertake regeneration’s work” (Line 6.43), as the world becomes perpetually bountiful once more.


Religious faith and virtue are not connected in Shelley’s view of society; in fact, in this poem, religious faith often creates evil, rather than good. Queen Mab discusses the many ways in which organized religion is hypocritical, focusing specifically on how Christianity has been used by rulers and priests to support wars, zealotry, and false morality.