dead Brits – Shelley

I definitely struck out here. The Shelley drawer in my head until now has contained a jumble of skylarks, west wind, Defence of Poetry & Ozymandias. I have tried to tidy it up and have dutifully read up on his life and times and — even more dutifully — read, read about, and listened to the Skylark and West Wind odes, plus Hymn to Intellectual Beauty and a huge piece of the (long, long — why is everything he wrote so long?!) Masque of Anarchy. No use — I just don’t have a Shelley lobe in my brain (plus he makes me think of Fotherington-Thomas).

A Defence of Poetry ends with his poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Maybe at bottom my Shelley brain-block is philosophical.

I do have an Ozymandias lobe in my brain, though, like most people, and these are two Shelley moon notes that do actually quite rock, especially the second one (listed as a ‘fragment’):

       To the Moon

       Art thou pale for weariness
       Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
       Wandering companionless
       Among the stars that have a different birth, —
       And ever changing, like a joyless eye
       That finds no object worth its constancy?

and this:

        And like a dying lady, lean and pale,
        Who totters forth, wrapp’d in a gauzy veil,
        Out of her chamber, led by the insane
        And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
        The moon arose up in the murky East,
        A white and shapeless mass–

(Not sure he meant this one to be funny, though.)

Published by

Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

3 thoughts on “dead Brits – Shelley”

  1. I think the Fotherington-Thomas comparison is slightly unfair if only in that Shelley was an atheist/anarchist/revolutionary and generally a more radical and extreme figure than I’ve ever thought Fotherington-Thomas was. ‘I met murder on the way / he had a mask like Castlereagh…’ It’s fairly full-on political commentary, at a time when people could go to prison for publishing that kind of material. Admittedly he was safely in Italy when he wrote that poem, but he also got into trouble a couple of times in England for other things he published.

    Having said all that, I’m not a particularly big fan of his poetry either. I just think Shelley’s Fotherington-Thomas image based, I guess, mainly on the Skylark and similar poems, is a bit misleading.

  2. He was unmercifully bullied for a sissy at school, a la F-T, but you’re right, he was expelled from Oxford and estranged from his father for refusing to repudiate an atheist pamphlet he wrote, so he had probably grown out of a lot of fotherington-thomasness along the way. (Also, it’s probably a bit unfair to try and tune into Shelley right after reading such gorilas of 3B as Blake and Yeats…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s