Lecture 28: Shelley & Byron

Percy Shelley & Lord Byron

Percy Shelley
Shelley was deeply affected by Keats’s untimely death.
Shelley’s ‘Adonais’ elegises Keats:
       I weep for Adonais—he is dead! 
       Oh, weep for Adonais!
Shelley’s poetry is like Keats’s in some way:
Both wanted to capture deep personal experiences.
Shelley’s writing is, like like Blake’s, more political.

Shelley: the rebel
Shelley’s “Queen Mab” attacks the religion and morals of the age.
In “The Mask of Anarchy”, Shelley calls for revolution.
This comes after the Manchester massacre in 1819.
Shelley calls for more freedoms and social and political reforms.

“The Mask of Anarchy”

`Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number–
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you–
Ye are many — they are few.’ ?

Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”

In “Ode to the West Wind”, Shelley makes the wind a symbol of power and change.
The wind blows away old life and spreads the seeds to create a new life of greater freedom for all.
Usually, we are exposed to Shelley’s own feelings at the centre of the poem:

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed.

“Ode to the West Wind”

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe 
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth! 
And, by the incantation of this verse, ?
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth 
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! 
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth ?
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, 
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind??

Shelley’s “The Defence of Poetry”

She was an optimist and a pessimist, aka a pesso-optimist.
In his critical essay “The Defence of Poetry” he states that poetry can reform the world.
He also condemns the corrupt political and social systems; ”The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer.”
“Poets are the unacknowledged legistlators of the world.’

Lord Byron

“Don Juan”,

He pored upon the leaves, and on the flowers,
And heard a voice in all the winds; and then
He thought of wood-nymphs and immortal bowers,
And how the goddesses came down to men:

He missd the pathway, he forgot the hours,
And when he look’d upon his watch again,
He found how much old Time had been a winner–
He also found that he had lost his dinner.

There is a pleasure

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,