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vated, as the next stanzas indicate, by much the same. “I have seen him," wrote conscience, poverty, and illness.
a schoolmate, “surrounded, hooted, baited like a maddened bull, and at this distance
of time I seem to hear ringing in my ears PEACOCK: THERE IS A FEVER
the cry which Shelley was wont to utter >
in his paroxysm of revengeful anger.' “I think it necessary to make a stand Though unhappy, he had some friends, enagainst the encroachments of the black joyed rambles in the lovely countryside, bile," wrote the robust Thomas Love Pea read many books (including Godwin's Pocock (1785-1866) to his friend. Shelley, litical Justice), conducted perilous experiwhile engaged on "Nightmare Abbey,” a ments in physics and chemistry, and wrote delightful satiric novel burlesquing the ro romantic tales in prose and verse. mantic melancholy of the day. In the cli Entering University College, Oxford, in mactic chapter, “Mr. Cypress,” represent 1810, he was free once more - free to live ing Byron, sings this song to a drawing very much as he chose, to read what he room audience that includes the carica pleased, to conduct his experiments withtured figures of Coleridge and Shelley. out fear of interruption, to wander in the Peacock advocated "the cheerful and solid country with his new friend Hogg; but his wisdom of antiquity.” In style, his lyrics college life was darkened by disappointhave the clear-cut quality of Byron's best ment in love and by the culminating disstanzas.
aster of expulsion. He wrote and circu(173.) 1. There is a fever of the spirit: lated a pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Cf. “Childe Harold,” Canto Third, stanza Atheism, basing his argument on the eighxlii (page 106).
teenth-century premiss that the senses are 2. Cain's unresting doom: This the sole source of knowledge. prophetic allusion preceded by three years Exiled from the University and from Byron's drama "Cain,” into the hero of the favor of his well-meaning but unsymwhich he put much of his own spirit. pathetic and rather pompous father, Shel
4. the lamp in Tullia's tomb: ley proceeded, the following year, at the Doubtless Peacock had in mind the deso age of nineteen, to elope with a school-girl late grief of Cicero for his daughter Tul of sixteen, Harriet Westbrook, daughter lia, though no record exists of the tomb of a retired innkeeper - not for love of he planned for her.
her, but out of a desire to shelter her from persecution. His income shut off by his
father, young Shelley wandered with his PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY wife for several years from one place to (1792-1822)
another in Britain and Ireland, seeking to
promote the cause of tolerance and freeAt Field Place, an eighteenth-century dom, reading irregularly, and writing his mansion in Sussex, Shelley was born about Godwinian poem “Queen Mab.” From five months before the execution of Louis Godwin he derived nearly all of the ideas XVI by the French revolutionists. At the that prevail in this poem and, indeed, in age of ten he left the sheltered freedom his work as a whole; such ideas as the of his childhood and the companionship of perfectibility of man, non-resistance, anara troop of younger sisters, exchanging them chism, the sovereignty of reason, universal for the confinement of a school at Brent benevolence, and the dependence of imford and the enmity of high-spirited and morality upon human institutions. In 1811 athletic English school-boys. Gentle and he began a correspondence with his master shy, sensitive and excitable, he held aloof Godwin, in 1812 met him; and two years from his fellows so far as possible, seeking later, having separated from Harriet and the consolation of tales of mystery and having fallen in love with Godwin's daughmagic and of wonder-working natural ter Mary, he eloped with her.
In two science. At Eton, the great school to more years, Harriet drowned herself and which he proceeded in 1804, his life was he formally married Mary Godwin. To
her he dedicated his ambitious revolution his ideas may seem inadequate, or disary poem “The Revolt of Islam" (page torted, even false — but the Aaming spirit 176).
of the poet passes into us as we read, and In 1818 he left England never to return. makes the world Auent for us. He sought It was during his residence in Italy, in to change chaos into harmony. If his harthe four years that remained to him, that mony is premature, wanting essential eleShelley produced most of his greatest ments of experience, he gives us, neverthepoetry: "Prometheus Unbound” (page less, a poetic vision of the world expressed 182), “The Cenci,” “Adonais” (page 218), with a pure rapture perhaps unequalled in and a succession of lyrics that includes literature. "Stanzas Written in Dejection” (page 179), “Ode to the West Wind” (page
TO WORDSWORTH 181), “The Cloud” (page 199), and “To a Skylark” (page 201). At the age of
(173.) 1-4. “Poet of Nature leaving thirty he met an untimely end by drowning
thee to mourn:”. in the Bay of Lerici,
He is thinking of the -a volume of So
But phocles in one pocket and in another a vol
"Ode on Immortality,” particularly.
he attributes a Shelleyan cast of feeling to ume of Keats. He lies buried in Rome.
Wordsworth. In one of his last poems, "A Dirge” (page 231), Shelley calls upon the rough wind and the bare woods, the deep caves
From ALASTOR and dreary ocean, to "Wail, for the world's wrong!” This is the negative note Observe, in several phrases, the echoes of his poetry from beginning to end. To of Wordsworth's treatment of nature. Coleridge and Wordsworth, maturing in the full flush of the Revolution, the world
HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL was wrong and might soon be reshaped
BEAUTY nearer to the heart's desire; eagerly they heralded the new age until events belied their hopes. To Shelley, maturing long
By intellectual beauty Shelley means after these events, the world seemed even
spiritual beauty, - the "Spirit of Beauty" more wrong, and the chance to right it
(line 13) that fitfully visits the human more remote. Yet he never ceased to be
mind, in contrast with the beauty of malieve that ultimately humanity — the suf
terial things. He believes that if this difering, loving hero Prometheus — would vine spirit of beauty dominated humanity, be unbound and that the millenium would
it would transform life — "free This world come. What might be — yes, what would
from its dark slavery” (line 71) and unite be — this was the positive side of all his
all men by love (line 84). Shelley's conpoetry: what would be when the Spirit of ception of an abstract or spiritual beauty, Beauty permeated the whole of man's life.
almost synonymous with divinity, is akin While still a boy,
to Plato's (consult the note, page 681, to
line 1691 of "Don Juan," beginning Pla"I vowed that I would dedicate my powers tonic, universal); the humanitarianism To thee and thine — have I not kept the with which he modifies it, however, is modvow?"
ern and un-Greek.
(175.) 49-52. While yet a boy the He kept it all his days, with fervid aspira-departed dead: Cf. the preceding poem, tion; and by the incantation of his verse lines 23-29 (“I have made my bed," etc.). he has served as a source of inspiration to (176.) 78-80. like the truth Of nature etc.: countless idealistic readers of his poems For a fuller expression of his attitude ever since. The “Spring” toward which toward nature, see the preceding poem. he looks in the "Ode to the West Wind” Compare the whole conception of intellec(page 181) may never come through such tual beauty in the present poem with that means as this disciple of Godwin provided of nature in the preceding.
obscured by the syntax, seems to be as fol
lows: Some might lament my death (176.) 21-36. I do remember meek I, though out of harmony with the beauty x and bold: a reminiscence of another ex of this day, may lament its passing. Some perience of boyhood. The victim of might lament - but lovelessly, and withtyranny at school, Shelley dedicates him out the regretful joy which this stainless self to freedom and tolerance, as in the day will leave in memory. preceding poem, line 61, he dedicated himself to Beauty. — Exactly what is the ideal of conduct imaginatively conceived by
LIFT NOT THE PAINTED VEIL Shelley? (177.) 46-50. Alas that love I
The “painted veil" is the merely conmoved alone: The allusion is to his rela
ventional life. Its “shapes” and “colors” tion with Harriet, with whom he was for
are a faint imitation of the great truths a time, as he said to Hogg, “the happiest
and ideals we should like to believe in of the happy,” and to whom he had dedi
(line 3). But an idealist (line 7), looking cated “Queen Mab” as a pledge of his love
beyond that veil for something to satisfy (see page 173).
his capacity for love, could find nothing (178.) 86-87. Anarch Custom's reign
but alternate fear and hope. Nor in the Truth's own sway: See the note, page
actual world (line 10), could he find any 663, to line 127 of Wordsworth's ode on
truth (line 14). Thus, his "lost heart" Immortality. See also line 115, below
(line 8) had no stay either in the ideal or
in the actual. (“And Faith and Custom” etc.). 88. Holier than was Amphion's:
14. the Preacher: "All is vanity, According to Greek myth, Amphion re
saith the Preacher” (Eccles. I, 2). ceived a lyre from Hermes, upon which he played so magically that stones moved in
ENGLAND IN 1819 response. 99. vestal fire: the fire upon the See note
to Wordsworth's “Protest altar of Vesta, the Roman goddess of the Against the Ballot” (page 666, above). hearth, kept perpetually burning by the For the condition of England at this time Vestals, who were chaste as the goddess see the opening lines of Byron's rollicking herself.
satire, “The Vision of Judgment,” conMary Wollstonecraft, cerning the death of George the Third. author of the Vindication of the Rights of
1. king: George the Third. Woman, 1792, Godwin's first wife and the
12. Time's worst statute: the laws mother of Mary Godwin. Godwin him excluding Catholics from office. A moself is alluded to in the last line of this tion to consider the repeal of these laws stanza.
was defeated in Parliament by a narrow
13. a glorious Phantom: Liberty. (179.) 8. The hand and the heart: the hand of the sculptor that mimicked the ODE TO THE WEST WIND passions, and the heart of Ozymandias that fed them. This is the compound object of The poem expresses Shelley's love of the verb "survive" (line 7).
swift, impulsive motion in nature, merged with his yearning for a radical regeneration in human society
for a swift, strong STANZAS WRITTEN IN DEJEC motion of the spirit, like that of nature's TION
forces, bringing in its train a new era of
liberty and justice, peace and brotherhood. (180.) 37-45. Some might lament This new life is the “Spring” that he The thought of this concluding stanza, prophesies at the very end of the poem.
In basic structure, this öde is simple. In and Asia, and representing their union as the first three stanzas Shelley addresses the a marriage of divergent ideals, Shelley preautumn wind as a power driving the leaves fers to render them as fundamentally the (stanza 1), the clouds (11), the waves same, as two embodiments of an exalted (11). Then, with a summarizing transi love, the one in man, the other in nature. tion, he turns to his own plight - his Love assumes its place as the supreme weakness, his sense of defeat and subjec power in man and nature, and tyrannical tion, contrasting with the tameless, swift, oppression, symbolized by Jupiter in the proud wind (iv). Rising to a passionate divine order and by human institutions in climax (v) he aspires to an identification society, falls away like a "loathesome with the fierce Spirit of this force of na
Ardently, rhapsodically, Shelley ture, bidding it drive his ineffectual pictures that day of liberty and of love, thoughts over the universe to be a proph- of total regeneration, for which he had ecy of the rebirth of humanity.
yearned in the “Ode to the West Wind" (181.) 9. Thine
sister of the (page 181) and other poems. Spring: the spring wind bringing blue skies.
FIRST 18. Angels: in Greek, “messengers,” and so used here.
(182.) 10. to thy scorn: to my scorn of 21. Maenad: a priestess of Bac
18. Almighty, had I deigned, etc.: 32. Baiae's bay: near Naples; a
almighty thou wouldst have been, if I had famous resort of the ancient Romans. deigned, etc. Prometheus, refusing to re
veal to Jupiter the secret of his doom, is
not an accomplice in his tyranny. PROMETHEUS UNBOUND (183.) 57. hate no more: Cf. "Lines to a
Critic" (page 179). For an account of the Greek myth that
72. let them now: let not forms the ultimate basis for this lyrical my words lose their power (line 69), drama, see the note to Byron's “Prome though hate is gone. theus,” page 678, above. Return also to (185.) 152. I am the Earth: Here the Byron's poem (page 127) and compare his Earth begins to speak in her immortal conception of the myth with Shelley's. voice, so that Prometheus, the immortal,
In his preface to the drama, Shelley re can understand. Previously she has spoken marks that he was averse from a conclu in her mortal voice. The idea is that the sion "so feeble as that of reconciling the Earth (or Nature) is related both to imChampion with the Oppressor of mankind. mortal and to mortal things. Compare The moral interest of the fable, which is the poet's own relation to Nature in so powerfully sustained by the sufferings | “Alastor” (page 174) with that of Proand endurance of Prometheus, would be metheus to Earth, given in ensuing annihilated if we could conceive of him as speeches. unsaying his high language and quailing (186.) 215. revenge of the Supreme: i.e., before his successful and perfidious ad of Jupiter. versary. . . . Prometheus is, as it were,
218-221. Mother, let notaught the type of the highest perfection of moral appear: To prevent curses, a form and intellectual nature, impelled by the of evil, from again passing the lips of Propurest and the truest motives to the best metheus, Shelley transfers them to the and noblest ends." To his sufferings and phantom of evil Jupiter. Prometheus had endurance Prometheus is conceived said, “I hate no more” (line 57, above), adding love, the highest of moral qualities, and he must not now be represented as by virtue of which he is released by Her guilty of hate; yet Shelley wished to avail cules and merged with Asia, the genera
himself of the force of the repeated curse. tive principle in nature. Instead of keep Hence this expedient, rather artificially ining distinct the characters of Prometheus troduced (see lines 254-26i, below).
(189.) 398. the Sicilian's hair-suspended
190-193. The painted veil etc.: Cf. sword: the sword suspended by a single "Lift Not the Painted Veil” (page 180, hair over the head of Damocles as he sat and the note, page 685). But observe that at table.
the result of pushing aside the veil is dif(191.) 524. The space within my plumes: ferent in the present case — why? Cf. line 439 (page 189), above.
197. but man: This is parallel to 546. One came forth: Jesus. "but man" in line 194, above. (192.) 567. a disenchanted nation: the
suffered France of the Revolution.
Pain and guilt existed because (193.) 628. all best things - to ill: man's will caused or permitted them. See Christianity and the French Revolution are note to Act First, lines 637-638, above. examples. 637-638. · Thy works thou
ACT FOURTH: THE DAY OF LOVE subtle tyrant: After showing, above, the natural causes of human ills (e.g., lines As a drama, “Prometheus Unbound" 542-545), the poet now returns to Jupiter properly ends with Act Third. The fourth as the ultimate cause of all.
act is a finely sustained lyric passage, or (194.) 675-682. And breathe,
series of related lyrics, culminating in the This sentence develops the theme of line measured rapture of the final words of 659; the next sentence, the theme of lines Demogorgon, who represents necessity or 660-663.
fate. In this act, which came to Shelley 741. aërial kisses: See "Alastor," as an after-thought, the main purpose is to line 35 and context (page 174).
set forth, with a glowing impressiveness, a (195.) 790-800. In the atmosphere etc.: millenial vision of love and joy. Shelley's For the dual relationship of these spirits, vision can fruitfully be compared with to nature and to human nature,
Wordsworth's in the selection from "The note to lines 675-682, above. Their Recluse" (page 17 ff.), which was pubprophecy of social regeneration is here as lished in the preface to “The Excursion" sociated with the revival of nature in some five years before the present poem spring; cf. the “Ode to the West Wind" was composed. (page 181).
(198.) 412-423. All things confess etc.: 809. Asia: For her nature, see the The first of these two stanzas deals with introductory note on this poem, above; and the fine arts-sculpture, architecture, paintread Act Second (here omitted) which re ing poetry; the second with natural volves about her. In Act Third, after the science. Through_the arts and sciences fall of Jupiter, she is reunited with the the human spirit controls all things, giving "unbound” Prometheus. Before their cave them form and meaning. in a forest, they listen while an account of
415. orphic song: enchanting song, the great change that has come over man like that of Orpheus, who could charm kind is given by the “Spirit of the Hour." wild animals and trees and rocks. From his speech is taken the next selection
416. daedal harmony: a harmony in the text, “The Day of Liberty."
intricately and cunningly contrived.
(199.) 555. the Earth-born's spell: the ACT THIRD: THE DAY OF LIBERTY spell of Prometheus. (196.) 163. nepenthe: a drug used by the ancients to produce forgetfulness of pain
THE CLOUD and sorrow. (197.) 176-177. even
28. The Spirit he loves: Shelley tivity: The "thrones, altars,” etc. (lines may have in mind water-vapor, or perhaps 164-167) emblemize the final state of su the general love of nature's spirits for one perstitious faith, as the "obelisks,” etc. another; cf. “Love's Philosophy" (page (lines 168-175) emblemized its primitive 180). state.
(200.) 29-30. And I dissolving in