On this day in 1822, English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died just one month prior to his 30th birthday when he drowned during a storm. Some called his death an accident. Others have suggested suicide as Shelley was rather depressed in those days. And still others believe he was mistaken by pirates for Lord Byron and attacked as a result. What’s your theory?
Percy Bysshe Shelley was not only a prolific but also a versatile poet. The sheer volume of his work is quite impressive for a poet of only 29 years old. Some of our favorite works include Hymn to Intellectual Beauty,The Cenci, Prometheus Unbound, Epipysychidion, Peter Bell the Third and The Witch of Atlas. In addition, we feel his essay A Defence of Poetry is highly valued as a statement on the moral importance of poetry and of poets, whom he calls “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” While Shelley’s significance to English literature is today widely acknowledged, he was one of the most controversial literary figures of the early nineteenth century.
Percy, who was the husband of Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley, was also a very close friend of Lord Byron and John Keats. It cannot be denied that his work greatly influenced the writings of Robert Browning, Tennyson and even Yeats.
We greatly encourage Shelley enthusiasts to seek out The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe, published in 1824, which includes notes and introduction by Mary Shelley. It is simply beautiful to read her perspective on her husband’s work and the respect she felt for his poetry is abundantly evident. However, if you are strapped for cash, as so many writers are these days, you may want to check out this link which we have found very useful in the past.
Today, we hope our readers will take a moment to pause and reflect on all the beauty that is around us everyday. Try to see the world as Shelley did- look for the philosophical significance in the mundane. Be brilliant!
Writ eon in peace, Mr. Shelley!
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