Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Life

Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the most popular English Romantic poets, and is regarded as a great lyrical poet in English language. He was born on 4th of August 1792 in England. Shelly harbored highly radical social, political views setting him against the existing social norms. Therefore, he did not become popular during his lifetime. However, the poetry of Shelley gained better recognition following his death.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a close friend of eminent writers and poets including: Lord Byron, who wrote “She Walks in Beauty” and “Don Juan”; Thomas Love Peacock, who wrote an essay dedicated to Shelley “Memoirs of Shelley”; Leigh Hunt, who wrote the poem “Story of Rimini”; and Mary Shelley (his wife), who was the author of Frankenstein.

In 1811, Shelley eloped with Harriet Westbrook to Edinburgh but their marriage collapsed soon and he then eloped with Mary Godwin. They travelled to Germany, Switzerland and France. On their return to London, Shelley wrote “Alastor” in 1816, a first poem, which brought him popularity and recognition. Later on, they went to Italy, where he wrote the sonnet “Ozymandias” and translated Plato’s “Symposium”. On July 1822, Shelly drowned in a sailing boat accident. However, many believe that his death was not accidental, instead a suicide because he was disheartened at that time.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Works

The best known classic poems of Shelley include “Ode to the West Wind, “Ozymandias”, “Music, To a Skylark”, “The Cloud”, “The Mask of Anarchy” and “When Soft Voices Die”. There are also other major works which include visionary and long poems like “Alastor”, “Queen Mab”, “Adonais”, “The Triumph of Life”, and “The Revolt of Islam”. His visionary poetry dramas include, “Prometheus Unbound” and “The Cenci”.

Shelley contributed several essays on the topic of vegetarianism; two of the most popular works among them include “On the Vegetable System of Diet” and “A Vindication of Natural Diet”.

Uncompromising idealism and the unconventional life of Shelley combined with his powerful disapproving voice made him a disparaged and authoritative figure in his lifetime. He became a role model for later generations of writers and poets which include Victorian poets and poets of the Pre-Raphaelite group such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Robert Browning, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, W. B Yeats, Edna Saint Vincent Millay and Henry David Thoreau.

Shelley also became a source of inspiration for the poets of other languages including Ranidranath Tagore, Jan Kasprowicz, Subramanay Bharathay and Jibanananda Das. The nonviolence of Shelley also inspired the passive resistance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Civil Disobedience of Henry David Thoreau – the reason that Gandhi often used quotes from Shelley’s “Masque of Anarchy”. Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Karl Marx, Bertrand Russell and Upton Sinclair also got inspiration from him.

His short prose works include, “The Assassins, A Fragment of a Romance”, “The Elysian Fields: A Lucianic Fragment” , “The Coliseum, A Fragment” and “Una Favola (A Fable)”. Shelley published his first Romantic Gothic novel named, “Zastorri” in 1810 and published a second romantic novel “St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian” in 1811.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Style and Popular Poems

Shelley was a famous English romantic poet whose poetry reflects passion, beauty, imagination, love, creativity, political liberty and nature. Being very sensitive and possessing distinctive qualities of hope, love, joy and imagination, Shelley strongly believed in realization of human happiness.

Ozymandias” was one of his major contributions to the English Romantic poetry, published in 1818. Shelly often faced criticism due to his outspoken challenges to religion, oppression and conventional politics, “The Masque of Anarchy” is one of them. In 1821, Shelley wrote an elegy, “Adonais” inspired by Keats’ death. Other popular poems of Shelly are: “A Bridal Song”, “A Hate Song”, “A Dialogue”, “A Lament”, “A Serpent Face”, “A Fragment: To Music”, “A Dirge”, “ A New National Anthem” and “Alas! This is not What I thought Life Was”.

More About Shelley

Shelley was the supporter of social justice for the masses. He had strong feelings for the lower classes. He also saw how animals were maltreated and slaughtered. Therefore, he became a fighter and an advocate for all those living creatures mistreated or treated unjustly. Throughout his life, most journals and publishers turned down his requests to publish his work due to fear of being arrested for rebellious activities.

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