- May 24, 2020
Percy Bysshe Shelley Biography
Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the renowned English Romantic poetsand a great lyrical composer in the English language across the ages.He was born in England, on 4th August 1792 (Shelley 10).He was the first son of Timothy and Elizabeth Shelley. Since he wasthe eldest in his family that consisted of one brother and foursisters, he stood a better chance of inheriting both the countryestate his grandfather owned as well as a seat in parliament(O`Neill, Tony, and Madeleine 15). Notably, from childhood, Shellyharbored highly radical, social and political views that set himagainst the existing social norms of the time, and as a result, hedid not become a favorite person during his lifetime (Shelley 10).However, after his death, his poetry gained him better recognition.
Shelley attendedEton College from1804 to 1810 and later moved to Oxford University(Shelley 12). He began poetry at Eton University and had his fistpublication made in 1810. Notably, this work was a Gothic novel wherehe presented his orthodox and atheistic views. In a similar year,Shelley collaborated with Thomas Jefferson Hogg, and published apamphlet of imitation verse and later worked with his sister,Elizabeth to published Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire.Markedly, his publications continued out-pour from 1811. He publishedanother pamphlet titled "The Necessity of Atheism" andcirculated it with his colleague Hogg, and as a result, he wasexpelled from Oxford University barely a year after his enrolment(Shelley 12). Since he was not ready to disavow the pamphlet anddeclare himself as a Christian, his father’s capacity to have himreinstated could not be viable since such interventions would haveforced him to declare himself a Christian. Remarkably, his standagainst Christianity resulted in a total break between Shelley andhis father, thus he remained subjected to dire financial constraintsuntil he became of age.
At nineteen yearsold, Shelley relocated to Scotland with sixteen years old HarrietWestbrook. After their marriage, Shelly transferred to England`s LakeDistrict where he began to study and write. Two years afterenrollment, he initiated to serious public work, such as "QueenMab: A Philosophical Poem" that arose from his attachment withWilliam Godwin, a renowned British philosopher. In this writing,Shelley conveyed Godwin’s liberal socialist philosophy. He spentmost of his time with Gorge Gordon, and Lord Byron with whom hediscussed poetry and other topics involving ghosts and spirits.Notably, the interactions resulted in the publication of a novel"Frankenstein." After the release of the book, Shelleyproduced a verse allegory titled "The Spirit of Solitude."In 1818, he composed a long narrative poem known as “Laon andCythna." However, the poem was withdrawn after the publicationof few copies, since it contained repeated positions to incest andattacks on religion. It was then edited and issued again in 1818 as“Revolt of Islam” (Shelley 58). In the same year, Shelley wrote"The Hermit of Marlow," a revolutionary political tract.
Finally, Shelleymoved to England for the last time in 1818 and spent the rest of hislife producing his major works such as “Prometheus Unbound” in1820. According to O`Neill, Tony, and Madeleine (25), by travelingand living in various cities, Shelley became friendly with LeighHunt, a British poet, and Lord Byron. Shelley died in 8thJuly 1822 after drowning in a storm. Although he was not popularduring his lifetime, his poetry gained him recognition after hisuntimely death. His poetry mainly reflected love, imagination,political liberty, nature, passion, and creativity, hence making himknown as a famous English romantic poets.
The Revolt ofIslam
The Revolt of Islam was a revision of Shelley’s work Laon andCythna in, which he attempted to write an epic poem whose stylefollowed the mode in Edmund Spenser’s rhyme entitled the “TheFaerie Queene” of 1590 (Shelley, and Dole 3). The poem was editedto remove some open anti-Christian phrases and reference to incestand attack on religion that was evident between the two maincharacters in the masterpiece. The poem was an experiment of temperregarding public mind. Similarly, the poem was a test of the degreeto, which Shelley`s ideas could go before readers became irritatedand detached from the work, for it was too symbolic and provocative.Although the title of the poem suggests that it talks about Islam, itdoes not focus on it as a particular religion, but it addresses asubject of worship (Shelley, and Dole 3). The poem draws to a largeextent on the orientalist`s themes and stereotypes. Markedly, thepoem indicates the application of symbolic parables on radicalliberation idealism that arose from the disillusionment of the FrenchRevolution.
The poem isadequately presented Shelley`s rigorous thinking regarding revolutionand his growth in poetic skills. Outstandingly, it is an indicationof Shelley`s empiricism and exhaustively offers an examination ofreform and tyranny (Shelley, and Dole 3). Additionally, it indicatesa transition between his earlier works and other songs to follow. Thepoem is styled in a way that directs it concerns straight into thehearts of readers. The song provides a simple chronicle between goodand evil. Laon and Cythna represent revolutionaries that are viewedas good in the society, while the Tyrant and the Iberian Priest inthe poem indicates the evils in the society (Shelley, and Dole 374).The poem is organized into twelve cantos. The first canto exemplifiesthe good and evil in the society, however, as the verse continues,this superficial dualism disappears, and the protagonists turn topotential Tyrants.
In this regard, the verse appropriately shows that revolution cannotbe achieved instantly or quickly due to evil drives from externalcircumstances and the "dark idolatry of self." Likewise,the poem skillfully uses the characters to indicate also highlightthe significant aspects of revolution as seen through Laon and Cythnaand later they acquire immortality after martyrdom. However, the poemshows various anomalies, for instance the poem is skeptical andalways attack Christianity as well as every organized religion asindicated in the last canto. Notably, the last canto is a culminationof the poem empiricism. The song makes use of narratives andconversation to present instruments of social change.
Queen Mab isShelley`s first long poem that provides a Tale of a Fairy Queen. Therhyme is philosophically constructed and contains neither knights nordragons, but a shock filled with sarcasm (Lewes 101). The poem isorganized into nine cantos. The verse begins with inscriptions ofFrench, Latin, and the Greek. The work includes a sixteen line rhymededicated to Harriet Westbrook Shelley. The verse creatively usesimagery to present most of the ideas. For instance, Shelley providesa mental picture of the fairy Queen Mab visiting Ianthe, while she issleep, takes her soul back to the palace to reveal the visions of thepast, the present, and the future. The past and the present asindicated in the poem, show brutality, and oppression that humanbeings inflict on themselves and others, and they are quiteunfriendly (Lewes 101). In this context, Shelley is critical on therole of religion in human degradation and the idea that behavior isjust social nature. In the poem, the future is a perfect vision in,which people have cast all greed as well as religion, and learn tocoexist with everything in the surrounding.
The song shows both strengths and weaknesses. First, the poem has abeautiful beginning provided in the initial canto. Shelley used apoetic form to offer a clear description of Ianthe’s peacefulslumber, the arrival of Queen Mab in her grand chariot, and theirjourney across space. Particularly, the trip was tinged with shadesof uncountable colors to Mab’s palace that looked over the immenseof heaven (Lewes 106). Shelley`s description of space is appropriatesince it contains favorite lines into poetry that make the poeminteresting. The words used in the song creates vivid images in thereader`s mind, hence makes the poem most entrancing. Secondly, thesong indicates various weaknesses, such as the use of controversialphilosophies described in the poem. The rhyme provides a descriptionof Shelley`s viewpoint that shows harshness to religion. It isapparent that many evil acts have been committed in the past and atpresent by humans alleging that they act in the name of God.Nevertheless, considering religion as evil because of thesesituations is a clear sign of overlook of more sympathetic deeds andignoring the written words in the Holy books for most convictions.The use of statements such a Wandering Jew in verse makes it a legendis rather mocking and controversial.
The character, Queen Mab who indicates some divine authorityconfidently declares that there is no God, but just shortly after,the Wandering Jew asserts that there is an almighty being, andvengeful as mighty, which makes the poem challenging (Lewes 152).Moreover, Shelley`s judgment is hypocritical based on his life in,which there are events where his actions were not noble. The poemwould have been universally applicable and definite if the fairy talejust concluded shortly after the arrival of Ianthe at the fairypalace or changed direction. The majority of the judgmental tone ofthe rest of the poem was offensive, hence made the verseinappropriate.
Lewes, Darby. A Brighter Morn: The Shelley Circle`s UtopianProject. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books, 2002. Print.
O`Neill, Michael, Tony Howe, and Madeleine Callaghan. TheOxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2013. Print.
Shelley, Percy B., and Dole, Nathan. The Revolt of Islam.London: J. Brooks, 2011. Print.
Shelley, Percy B. Delphi Poets Series: Complete Works ofPercy Bysshe Shelley (Delphi Classics). Place of publication notidentified: Delphi Publishing Limited, 2011. Print.