Poetry: Shelley was a romantic

In Nuce: Poetry - Shelley was a romantic
Posthumous Portrait of Shelley Writing Prometheus Unbound, by Joseph Severn, 1845
In Percy Shelly's boyhood, when a school was recommended to his mother as a place where a boy could learn to think for himself, Lady Shelley reputedly exclaimed, "Think for himself! I only hope he can be taught to think as others do."

In high school, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote two romances and, with a friend, published a book of poems.

At Oxford he published another volume of poetry and a pamphlet called "The Necessity of Atheism." Shelley was expelled for the latter.

Nineteen years old and freshly booted out of university, Shelley married a 16-year-old girl, Harriet Westbrook. During this time he became friends with poet Robert Southey, writer and opium-addict Thomas De Quincey, and William Godwinfather of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and founder of "philosophical anarchism."

Shelley and his friends were much interested in political and social reform. Shelley wrote "Address to the Irish People," and scattered the pamphlet throughout Ireland. He penned "Declaration of Rights," which he published, stuck in bottles, and set adrift. His servant was imprisoned for nailing up copies of the declaration in public places. He originally distributed "Queen Mab" privately, fearing public reaction.

Shelley left his wife, Harriet, in 1814, and hooked up with Mary Godwin. His grandfather had died, leaving him a fixed income, and he and Mary and her relative, Miss Clairmont, traveled through France and Switzerland. The poems, "Mont Blanc" and "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" were written in response to his time spent with Mary at Lake Geneva. This is also where he first met Lord Byron and where, for Mary Godwin, the seeds of Frankenstein were sown.

Shelley married Mary Godwin after his wife died, and spent much money and time trying unsuccessfully to gain custody of his children by Harriet. Shelley permanently left England for Italy in 1818, and he spent the rest of his short life there surrounded by like-minded friends.

On July 8, 1822, while sailing on the Gulf of Spezia, Shelley was drowned in a sudden storm. His body was cremated in front of Byron and other friends, and his ashes were buried in Rome.

        We look before and after,
          And pine for what is not:
        Our sincerest laughter
          With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, from "To a Skylark"
Source: The New Student's Reference Work, Vol. IV. "Shelley, Percy Bysshe."

Norton Critical Edition

#poetry #shelley #marygodwin #romanticism  #romantic   #byron  #literature  #Frankenstein
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