When one thinks of Romantic poetry, six specific names come to mind; William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. Specifically, these poets have majorly impacted individuals of the Romantic time period as well as present day and have been acknowledged as well deserved perceivers of romantic notion: “an individualistic, inspired seer revealing his inmost thoughts in a spontaneous upwelling of emotion.”(Appelbaum pg iii) Dealing with history from an emotional stance, the fight, struggle, and hope was recognized in these poets intriguing stanzas. Their views were set separately from the late 18th century and early 19th century oppressors usually confiding in nature, the importance of childhood, or the focus on common people and common experiences. Particularly this is evident in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s works “Ozymandias”, “Sonnet: England in 1819” “Song to the Men of England” and “Stanzas”. In his creative visionary works, there is a strong emphasis on emotional and personal experience related to a weakness for the common people.
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s works implemented a common grievance for the working class and liberation for change of Roman influence. They were “deeply felt” and “enriched the language’s poetic armory immeasurably with original meters and stanzas; made sensitivity and ecstasy the keynotes of his worldview…embodied the spirit of healthy revolt against the fetters of government and society.” (Applebaum pg iv) In reading his poetry, I feel the hate, the concern and the pain that has been embodied but one may wonder how has society directly impacted Shelley and what role did he believe he played in this deep association to a struggle of the common people. In 1821, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote “A Defence of Poetry”. In it, he explains his motivation and inspiration saying that “It is impossible to read the compositions of the most celebrated writers of the present day without being startled with the electric life which burns within their words…Poets are the unacknowledged legislatures of the world” (Shelley pg 876) In essence, he argues that there is a struggle for civil and religious liberty and that change comes through poetry. Poetry inspires and gives awareness. This power of communication highlights a concept and respect for man and nature, which was what the Enlightenment period was about. The emotion and sensibility in Shelley’s works show the individualism of the period and why he was recognized as an aspiring poet.
To think of something romantically is to think of it naively, in a positive light, away from the view of the majority. Percy Bysshe Shelley has many romantic themes in his plays. Educated at Eton College, he went on to the University of Oxford only to be expelled after one year after publishing an inappropriate collection of poems. He then worked on writing full-time, and moved to Italy shortly ...
In the poem “Sonnet: England in 1819”, Shelley uniquely expresses his hatred for Romantic influence. He despises the upper class and represents it very well in the sonnet. He quotes “An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,-/Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow/ Through public scorn…” (Shelly lines 1-5) In these lines, Shelley mocks the kings and princes for their lack of awareness and over arrogance of power. This significant arrogance is in turn the downfall of the empire. People are hungry and hopeless and the empire is draining whatever is left of the people. Liberty seems forsaken and religion and the senate are a hopeless effort; referring to “Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay” (Shelley line 10).
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 1792 1822 Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar, quoted Percy Bysshe Shelley in A Defence to Poetry. Of the poets from the English Romantic Period (a period of love and admiration for the aesthetic portion of nature and the bond between nature and humanity), Percy Bysshe Shelley ranked as one of ...
In the poem “Song to the Men of England”, Shelley acts as a voice to the working class encouraging them to make a stand of their harsh treatment. He quoted “Those ungrateful drones who would/ Drain your sweat-nay, drink your blood?”(Shelley line 7-8) Referring to the nobleman, and being someone of the upper class, Shelley is encouraging the poor to open their eyes and stand up for their rights. In society, these lower class men have been exploited and underappreciated and Shelley is looking for a specific change. He quoted: “So seed-but let no tyrant reap;/Find wealth-let no imposter heap;/ Weave robes-let not the idle wear/Forge arms in your defence to bear.” (Shelley stanza VI) He wishes the workers to make something of themselves in a life they can bear because in all actuality, the working class have no advantages and the noblemen have all the power in the world and do nothing but wear their power. Lastly, in the poem “Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples” Shelley makes a deep connection between nature and personal experience. He quoted “The sun is warm, the sky is clear,/ The waves are dancing fast and bright,/ Blue isles and snowy mountains wear/ The purple noon’s transparent might (Shelly line 1-4) This imagery shows a deep appreciation of nature as it relates to Shelley.
Ironically, this contrasting poem starts at a high point of peace and slowly emphasizes a detrimental breakdown. In Shelley’s weakest points of life, he willingly turned to nature, recognizing things that did not coincide with the peacefulness of nature. I believe this had something to do with the suicide of his wife and the passing of his children. (Applebaum pg x) Everything happened all too fast and I could imagine the roughness of the situation he had to deal with. His testimony is evident in the poem; “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.” (Shelley line 19-27) He seeks a fulfillment unknown to him and see’s pleasure in other people’s lives but groans about his life, tired and restless. He exhilarates a moment of last hope “My check grow cold, and hear the sea/ Breathe o’er my dying brain its last monotony.” (Shelley line 35-36) This melancholy expressed shows his deep guilt and inability to deal with a specific situation. In looking into nature, he found that he was weakening uncontrollably. But this encounter with nature was memorable in its uplifting moments. He voiced, “Which my lost heart too soon grown old, / Insults with this untimely moan/ They might lament – for I am one/ Whom men love not, – and yet regret/Unlike the day, which when the sun/ Shall on a stainless glory set, / Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet.”(Shelley line 39-45) A time when he was sorrowful, he was able to look to nature for guidance.
Robert Frost was an American Poet who wrote during the early to mid 1900's. He wrote about nature in his poems and expressed life through means of nature. He always used parts of nature to symbolize something that occurs in the real world. Robert Frost uses different parts of nature to relate to things that occur in the real world. Critic Malcolm Cowley says, "Frost is a poet neither of the ...
Shelley’s focus on the common people shows his deep love for equality. Change was something inevitable between clashing lower and upper classes. Shelley believed himself to be a messenger to the people, along with other poets. In essence, he wanted to reach out to the public in effort to change the Roman system of society. In his deep compassion, he gathered followers and was deeply respected for his choice of words and scenery, relating his poems to a time in life influential for all.
Applebaum, S. English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology. Dover Publications, Inc. 1996
Shelley, P. B. A Defence of Poetry pg 876