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Percy Shelley: Poems – Pocket Poets - Everyman's Library Collection

Shelley was devastated. Byron slept with Claire. Shelley wrote poems. Mary wrote Frankenstein on a dare. It was a productive trip. Shelley was famous in his own time. Rare for a poet. Rumors followed him everywhere. He had a reputation for sexual sadism, depravity, etc. His work is filled with incest and violence and revolt. He was obsessed with ancient times many were then after the opening of Egypt to the world. He wrote a five-act tragedy called Cenci , taking place in 16th century Rome. The Shelleys and the Byrons and their entourages traveled to Rome, to Pisa. Shelley bought a sailboat.

Shelley was not a competent sailor, and he could not swim. In July, , a storm came up during one of his outings, and he drowned. When he washed ashore, his body had already deteriorated. Shelley had invited Keats to join him and his merry band in Italy.

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Keats said No. When Keats died, Shelley wrote an extraordinary poem as a tribute. I hated thee, fallen Tyrant! I did groan To think that a most unambitious slave, Like thou, should dance and revel on the grave Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne Where it had stood even now: thou didst prefer A frail and bloody pomp, which Time has swept In fragments towards oblivion. When the Lamp is Shattered a later poem: you can feel his growing difficulties:. When the lute is broken, Sweet tones are remembered not; When the lips have spoken, Loved accents are soon forgot.

III When hearts have once mingled Love first leaves the well-built nest; The weak one is singled To endure what it once possessed. O Love! IV Its passions will rock thee As the storms rock the ravens on high; Bright reason will mock thee, Like the sun from a wintry sky. From thy nest every rafter Will rot, and thine eagle home Leave thee naked to laughter, When leaves fall and cold winds come.

We had to read it in high school.

The poem spoke to me, God knows why. What on earth could a year-old girl get out of that poem? Today, teenagers are raised on dystopian literature. The poem feels very 20th-century cinematic. We start with two voices chatting, and then the story opens up plot-wise, and visually , and we see the shattered statue in long shot — panorama shot even — and the movement of the poem is a slow zoom-in to the words on the plaque.

Near them on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. Shelley advances the art of English poetry by an original approach to language and an original — if fanciful — view of poetic vocation and character.

Shelley was a volatile creature of air and fire: he seems never to have noticed what he ate or drank, except sometimes as a matter of vegetarian principle. Keats was earthy, with a sweet tooth and a relish for spices, cream and snuff, and in a letter mentions peppering his own tongue to bring out the delicious coolness of claret.

He is not aware of the veteran bees whirring their frayed wings or sucking rank honey from the dusty yellow blossoms of the ivy. I cannot believe that any artist can be good who is not more than a bit of a reporting journalist … To the journalist the first thing of importance is subject. In literature I expect plenty of news… Abstractions which are not the latest flowers of a richly experienced and mature mind are empty and their expression devoid of poetic value.

It was a formidable experience meeting [Auden]. Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these, various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked of the experiments of Dr.

Darwin I speak not of what the doctor really did or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by him , who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given.

Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth.

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My dear Peacock, I received on the same day your letters marked five and six, the one directed to Pisa, and the other to Livorno, and I can assure you they are most welcome visitors. Our life here is as unvaried by any external events as if we were at Marlow, where a sail up the river or a journey to London makes an epoch. Since I last wrote to you, I have ridden over to Lucca, once with Claire, and once alone ; and we have been over to the Casino, where I cannot say there is anything remarkable, the women being far removed from anything which the most liberal annotator could interpret into beauty or grace, and apparently possessing no intellectual excellencies to compensate the deficiency.

I assure you it is well that it is so, for these dances, especially the waltz, are so exquisitely beautiful that it would be a little dangerous to the newly unfrozen senses and imaginations of us migrators from the neighbourhood of the Pole. As it is—except in the dark—there could be no peril.


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I have forgotten to ask the ladies if Jupiter produces on them the same effect. I take great delight in watching the changes of the atmosphere.

A Defence of Poetry by Percy Bysshe Shelley | Poetry Foundation

In the evening Mary and I often take a ride, for horses are cheap in this country. In the middle of the day, I bathe in a pool or fountain, formed in the middle of the forests by a torrent. It is surrounded on all sides by precipitous rocks, and the waterfall of the stream which forms it falls into it on one side with perpetual dashing.


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Close to it, on the top of the rocks, are alders, and, above, the great chestnut trees, whose long and pointed leaves pierce the deep blue sky in strong relief. It is exceedingly cold also. My custom is to undress and sit on the rocks, reading Herodotus, until the perspiration has subsided, and then to leap from the edge of the rock into this fountain—a practice in the hot weather exceedingly refreshing.

This torrent is composed, as it were, of a succession of pools and waterfalls, up which I sometimes amuse myself by climbing when I bathe, and receiving the spray over all my body, whilst I clamber up the moist crags with difficulty. I have lately found myself totally incapable of original composition.

Julian Roach's top 10 books on Percy Bysshe Shelley

I have employed my mornings, therefore, in translating the Symposium, which I accomplished in ten days. Mary is now transcribing it, and I am writing a prefatory essay. I have been reading scarcely anything but Greek, and a little Italian poetry with Mary. We have finished Ariosto together—a thing I could not have done again alone.


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Shelley does things Keats never attempted. He does things no other English poet has achieved. Perhaps he is, as Grave suggests, a spiritual hermaphrodite.

1. Shelley: The Pursuit, by Richard Holmes

He did not pay court to an audience. He did not pose at the heart of his best poems. There is no equivalent to the Byronic hero in Shelley. He was a poet first and last, and if a man of vision, a man of specifically poetic vision. He is, as C. Perhaps we should say that the aristocratic milieu into which he was born could not contain him.

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It did provide him with a voice, but at heart he is a disciple of Goethe, a European.