Romanticism and Shelley’s "Ode to the West Wind"
To begin with, the 19th century was the age of poetry. Poetry has been around in various incarnations since humans first put hand to pen....and probably even earlier. Everybody enjoyed poetry and admired those great people we call – poets. And though some of the most imaginative and creative poetry was created centuries earlier, for many, it is in the nineteenth century where poetry together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percey Bysshe Shelley, Walt Whitman, Lord Byron and many other great authors reaches its peek.
The 'importance of being Shelley' and his position in the literary 'hall of fame' still promotes healthy debate. John Murphy for example describes him as a "Sad genius who tried to live a happy life". May be… Who knows the truth? Who could try to go inside his mind and his inner poetic world. Richard Holmes in his definitive biography of Shelley puts it conciseley (he..) "moved everywhere with a sense of ulterior motive, a sense of greater design, an acute feeling for the historical moment and an overwhelming consciousness of his duty as an artist in the immense and fiery process of social change of which he knew himself to be part.
To start speaking about his poetry, we should know first some basic facts from his bibliograthy. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was the son of a Sussex square, which entitled him to an upper-class education. He entered the University of Oxford, only to be expelled again for authoring a pamphlet entitled “On the Necessity of Atheism” making it clear that he did not believe in the existence of God. In fact, in those days it was necessary to be a member of the Anglican Church of England on order to be able to study at the University, dissenters, let alone atheists, were banned from all higher education. Shelley was himself an early radical, believing in the rights of the less fortunate groups in society. As can be read in his poetry he wanted very much to change the established order of the existing society and a poem like England in 1819 could have been written as a protest song in the sixties of our own 20th century.
Like Byron and many other Romantics Shelley died young, far from his motherland - England. He was drowned in Italy when his sailing boat overturned in the Bay of Spezzia. He was found still holding a copy of John Keats’s poems on him. Maybe Shelley was just a 'happy genius who tried to live an sad life' and consoled himself in the beauty of nature as an end itself.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
- Description of Claudius in William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet"
- Fear into Shakespeare's "Macbeth'' and in Real Life
- Romanticism and Shelley’s "Ode to the West Wind"
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