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Cancelled Stanza of the Mask of
Fragment : “ Follow to the deep
Song of Proserpine, while gather-
Fragment : Weariness . .
Evening : Ponte a Mare, Pisa . 584
To lward Williams
(1809). . . . . 662
To the Republicans of North
ALTHOUGH Shelley wrote narrative poems and one great tragedy, his genius was primarily lyrical, and his poetry tells more to a reader who is acquainted with his character and the events of his life than to one who knows the poems only as if they had fallen out of the air from some invisible singer. No poet ever sang more directly out of his own feelings—his joys, his sorrows, his desires, his regrets; and what he has written acquires a fuller meaning when we understand its source and its occasion. Shelley's poetry belongs also to a particular epoch in the world's history - the revolutionary epoch --- and what may fairly be described as the body of doctrine which forms the intellectual background of his imaginative visions can be comprehended only when we consider his work in relation to the period of which it is the outcome. “A beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain ”_s0 Matthew Arnold, with a variation of Joubert's sentence on Plato, defined his conception of Shelley. The charm of the phrase must not render us insensible of its remoteness from the fact. Shelley was no angel, whether of celestial or diabolic race, but most human in his passions, his errors, his failures, his achievement. Nor was it in the void that he lived and moved; he belonged in an eminent degree to the revolutionary movement of his own day, and viewed apart from the teaching of that geometer of the Revolution whom he accepted as his master - William Godwin - the work of Shelley is only half intelligible.
Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on 4th August 1792 at Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex. The family was ancient and honourable, but no ancestor of the poet had ever given proof of literary genius. His grandfather, Bysshe Shelley, who received a baronetcy in 1806, had accumulated a large fortune, had married two heiresses, had quarrelled with his children, and now, troubled with gout and the infirmities of age, lived somewhat penuriously in a cottage-house at Horsham. Timothy
i “Plato loses himself in the void, but one sees the play of his wings, one hears their rustle," quoted by Matthew Arnold in his essay on Joubert.