P. B. Shelley : An Ineffectual Angel



Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, was educated at Eton and University College, Oxford. He was expelled from the University in 1811 after circulating a pamphlet ‘The Necessity of Atheism’. He married Harriet Westbrook in 1811, but they were separated after three years. After Harriet’s suicide by drowning in the Serpentine, Shelley left England for Italy along with Mary Godwin, to whom he was married after the death of Harriet. Shelley was drowned in 1822, while his boat capsized near Spezzia.
Swinburne says,” Shelley was alone the singing god; his thoughts, words

and deeds all sang together.” No doubt, Shelley outsang all other poets. His greatest poems ‘Ode to the West Wind’, ‘To A Skylark’, ‘The Cloud’, ‘Songto the Men of England’, ‘Stanzas Written in Dejection’ reveal his unsurpassable lyrical intensity. In the concluding lines of the ivth stanza of ‘Ode to the West Wind’, the poet invokes the powerful west wind to help him:

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
The poet requests the west wind to spread his message of Love and Hope: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

‘Stanzas Written

In Dejection’ is marked by a deep sense of melancholy, and a stern awareness of realities of life:

Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
Nor peace within nor calm around,
Nor that content surpassing wealth
The sage in meditation found,
And walked with inward glory crowned-
Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure,
Others I see whom these surround-
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure;-
To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.

It is not possible to agree with Matthew Arnold’s attack on Shelley: “an ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.” The fact is that Shelley was a great interpreter of the sublime vision of Beauty and Love. His immortal creations ‘Queen Mab’, ‘Alastor’, ‘Prometheus Unbound’, ‘Ode to the West Wind’, ‘To The Skylark’, ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’, ‘The Witch of Atlas’ etc. clearly prove that Shelley was the divinely gifted poet of gigantic genius.

Article Written By peter09

peter09 is a blogger at Expertscolumn.com

Last updated on 25-07-2016 862 0

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