Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poet, Author

1792 – 1822

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Who was Percy Bysshe Shelley?

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is regarded by critics as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

Shelley is perhaps best known for such classic poems as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy. His other major works include long, visionary poems such as Queen Mab, Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs, the unfinished work The Triumph of Life; and the visionary verse dramas The Cenci and Prometheus Unbound.

His close circle of admirers, however, included some progressive thinkers of the day, including his future father-in-law, the philosopher William Godwin. Though Shelley's poetry and prose output remained steady throughout his life, most publishers and journals declined to publish his work for fear of being arrested themselves for blasphemy or sedition. Shelley did not live to see success and influence, although these reach down to the present day not only in literature, but in major movements in social and political thought.

Famous Quotes:

  • O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
  • Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, the signet of its all-enslaving power, upon a shining ore, and called it gold: before whose image bow the vulgar great, the vainly rich, the miserable proud, the mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and kings, and with blind feelings reverence the power that grinds them to the dust of misery.
  • The more we study the more we discover our ignorance.
  • Government is an evil; it is only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a necessary evil. When all men are good and wise, government will of itself decay.
  • Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep -- he hath awakened from the dream of life -- 'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife.
  • Life may change, but it may fly not; Hope may vanish, but can die not; Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; Love repulsed, -- but it returneth.
  • Concerning God, freewill and destiny: Of all that earth has been or yet may be, all that vain men imagine or believe, or hope can paint or suffering may achieve, we descanted.
  • War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade.
  • Man who man would be, must rule the empire of himself.
  • A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.

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Born
Aug 4, 1792
Horsham
Also known as
  • Percy Shelley
  • Shelley, Percy Bysshe
  • Percy B Shelley
  • Shelley
Parents
Spouses
Children
Nationality
  • United Kingdom
  • England
Profession
Education
  • University College, Oxford
  • Eton College
Lived in
  • Elan Valley
    (1811/07 - )
Died
Jul 8, 1822
Lerici

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