Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Just radicalizing the thread.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 08:59 (five years ago) link

Thinking some more, I do prefer Blake as a poet of that kind of total psyche-and-nation Romantic revolution – more explosive and more nuanced, & sensitive to ambivalences from the beginning.

It's not really a fair comparison (Shelley was so young – dead by the age Blake even starts creating great books, & of course Blake a total artist, not just a poet), but it brings out things that nag at me about Shelley. I am wary of the long British tradition of aristocratic radicalism – on the one hand, it's great having someone who doesn't really have to work saying 'no, I am on your side and here are the ideals that you shouldn't forget in the grind' and it's a lot easier to shout at Castlereagh if you won't be hauled up for it; on the other, the fuckers don't have a clue about work. (Though actually that reversionary tradition of accumulating debts that they hope to clear with an inheritance or land sale might have some relevance now?)

There's also a generational thing – Blake belongs to the proper era of Revolution, old enough to see both America and France turn, and then to see the latter collapse. The Shelley generation are belated (so… Napoleon takes the crown somewhere in his early adolescence?) – I suppose his optimism is the more admirable for that, but also maybe slightly out of the real fiery era. (Shooting in the dark a bit here - my history is v sketchy in this stretch)

woof, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 09:41 (five years ago) link

I remember liking that Paul Foot book

woof, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 09:42 (five years ago) link

Shelley was around to write some memorably sarcastic lines 'On hearing the news of the death of Napoleon', if that helps you any

Vomit of a Missionary (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 10:35 (five years ago) link

Right – but it's roughly what you'd expect – Napoleon's the betrayer of revolutionary ideals for a lot of radicals, & the younger gen only really saw the new-monarchy side of him. (Of the Romantics, it's only Hazlitt that I can think of who's pro-Napoleon into the 1810s).

woof, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 10:52 (five years ago) link

have you read Hazlitt's essay on Wordsworth?

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 30 September 2014 10:54 (five years ago) link

The Spirit of the Age one? Yes – it's very fair ambivalence, generous even (given he's writing when W has become a bore) – the mix of youthful personal acquaintance, political difference & early culture-revolutionary inspiration means he's in a delicate tangle when he's thinking about Wordsworth, I always enjoy it.

woof, Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:20 (five years ago) link

six months pass...

What is the best (or 'your favorite' if that distinction matters to you) poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley?

Because I'm prreetttty sure my favorite is either Stanzas written in dejection or Ode to the West Wind, but I've not read everything the man wrote, not by a long shot -- so if anyone here has a(n e)special favorite among the longer works, I'd love to hear your take.

bernard snowy, Wednesday, 1 April 2015 00:32 (five years ago) link

"The Witch of Atlas," bits of Alastor, and the brief lyric "When Passion's Trance is Overpast."

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 1 April 2015 00:35 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

Got my copy of Paul Foot’s Red Shelley today. A completely banged up, partially moldy, certainly water damaged paperback but I’m stoked.

treeship 2, Saturday, 17 February 2018 18:36 (two years ago) link

Shelley and I have never played well together, largely because when I wished to learn how to be a poet I strenuously rejected both his style and his persona as examples I wanted to emulate. Under the circumstances, I could never read him for pleasure because I was constantly resisting him.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 17 February 2018 18:47 (two years ago) link

bysshe don't kill my vibe

F# A# (∞), Saturday, 17 February 2018 19:22 (two years ago) link

I read Richard Holmes' Shelley: The Pursuit in December: he was a horror as a husband and father but what a liberal. And I love "Mont Blanc," "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," and the addled parts of Prometheus Unbound more than I did in college. The Cenci should be part of any lit class on tragedy.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 17 February 2018 19:27 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

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?

treeship., Wednesday, 25 March 2020 21:36 (one month ago) link

is red shelley any good treesh, i have always avoided it (though i like the way paul foot wrote as a journalist and once saw him visiting a neighbour and then again in a hospital where i too was waiting to be seen abt something) (his thing turned out to be much more serious than mine tho)

mark s, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 21:50 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

this book is good. it's very straightforward and more about placing Shelley in his historical/political milieu than it is about opening up the texts in an innovative way. however, that's OK because it is a fascinating period -- England in the wake of the french revolution, when all the forces of reaction were being marshalled to quell workers' rebellions -- and you end up getting all the historical references in the poems.

the big takeaway is that almost all of shelley's poems are direct responses to current events and historical figures. sometimes he actually names the people he is calling out, like take this selection from the masque of anarchy:


I met Murder on the way -
He had a mask like Castlereagh -
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:


All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed the human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.


Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.


And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.


Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

castelragh, edon and sidmouth were real historical figures who oversaw repressive policies during shelley's lifetime.

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:36 (one month ago) link

sorry, that was a belated response to mark s

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:36 (one month ago) link

The Metternich bio I just finished treats his friendship w/Castlereagh as if they were two bros on a lawn sipping sparkling wine deciding whom to kill next.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 17:37 (one month ago) link

wait, what?

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:38 (one month ago) link

lol I overplayed that but yeah they were bros

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 17:39 (one month ago) link

That whole Napoleon thing, you know.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 17:39 (one month ago) link

oh metternich as in klaus metternich. i thought someone with that last name wrote a bio of shelley.

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:40 (one month ago) link

Thanks for the Queen Mab reminder. I need a long poem to read this week.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 17:40 (one month ago) link

np. it's a great one.

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:43 (one month ago) link

that opening

treeship., Monday, 13 April 2020 17:43 (one month ago) link

I have lost my (unread) copy of The Pursuit somehow. I've turned the house upside down looking for it; it's not like it's small. Maddening!

A little domestic drama, there. (My long poem is going to be the Wreck of the Deutschland.)

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 13 April 2020 18:22 (one month ago) link

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