shelley: alone, being, in utter Being


No poet was more maligned in death. To Matthew Arnold, Percy Bysshe Shelley was an “ineffectual angel, beating his luminous wings in vain”, while, in his hideous sculpture at University College, Oxford, Edward Onslow Ford portrayed him as a naked corpse on the shores of Viareggio. Shelley would have hated both depictions: no poet of the Romantic period was more intent on altering the political and physical structure of the world through an active engagement with it.

There have been some excellent biographies of Shelley, each of its time and with its own agenda: Shelley as belle-lettrist, Shelley as revolutionary, Shelley as hippy. As a result, he remains elusive – the haziest, most evanescent of the Romantics. Even those who tried to paint him from life found that his face “could never be fixed on paper”.

more from the Telegraph UK here.