Wednesday, 17 August 2011


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest.—A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise.—One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
                                              – Percy Bysse Shelley (1792-1822)

Brought up in a wealthy, conservative household, Percy Bysshe Shelley attended school at Eton and Oxford. At Oxford he wrote in collaboration with his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg a pamphlet entitled "The Necessity of Atheism," which led to his being expelled from Oxford. At eighteen, Shelley eloped with the sixteen-year old Harriet Westbrook. Within a few years, however, the marriage began to deteriorate, and in 1814 Shelley left Harriet and ran off to France with Mary Godwin, the daughter of his friend, the writer and philosopher, William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft. Eventually Harriet killed herself, and custody of their children was denied to Shelley. He married Mary, and had two children with her, who did not survive to adulthood. During this period of grief, Shelley wrote some of his greatest texts, including "Prometheus Unbound". Shelley drowned in 1822 when his boat Don Juan sank in a storm off the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean.

No comments:

Post a Comment