Percy Shelly was born in Sussex in 1792. In 1810 was expelled from Oxford University for his pamphlet “The necessity of Atheism” (1811) against institution and church (after he made a revolutionary propaganda against Catholicism and English rule in Ireland). At 19 he married Harriet Westbrooke, they had 2 children. He rebelled against religions,lows and customs,he became republican and advocate of free love.
In his work Queen Mab(1813)he expressed his philosophy and interest in occult science.
When he come back England he fall in love with Mary Godwin and fled with her in France,Germany..
In 1817 Mary began to write the novel Frankenstein while he wrote a poem the revolt of Islam,where he stressed on importance of love in society. In 1818 they went to live in Italy where he wrote most of his works.In 1822 he died in a storm.
-freedom and love:
In all of his works Shelly shows his refusal of convention, political oppression and his belief in a better future. He really believed in freedom and love as a remands for the corrupted society. He was an idealist, he believed that man thanks love could overcome political,social and moral conventions.
-role of imagination:
His thought about nature and function of poetry is tell in his essay “A Defense of Poetry” , is an defense of poetry as expression of imagination and understood as revolutionary creativity ,a way to change the reality.
for Shelly poet is like a prophet an Titan, is a legislator of the word. Poet have an active/political role in society. he help the mankind to crate an ideal world where freedom,love and beauty are free from their enemies, like tyranny,alienation..
For him poetry is something of concrete,divine not abstract,not a metaphysical idea or speculation
- nature is the refuge from disappointment disillusionment and injustice of society and his interlocutor oh his melancholy dreams and hopes for a better future.
Defense of poetry:
Poetry as the expression of imagination and creativity.
Imagination change the reality of material world. He want to change the cosmos to create a world where freedom,love and beauty win on their enemies such as tyranny, destruction and alienation.
Nature it’s a sort of refuge from the disappointment and injustice of ordinary world.
Poetry is indeed something divine, is the center and the circumference of knowledge, comprehend all science and to which all science must be referred. Poetry is like a gift.
“Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds. Poetry makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world. Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man. Poetry turns all things to loveliness; it transmutes all that it touches, its' secret alchemy turns to potable gold the poisonous waters which flow from death through life;
Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”
England in 1819:
He wrote this political sonnet when he was in Italy. He use this layout to celebrate his love for value against government, rules and institutions ,decadent oppressive ruling class. He wrote after the St Peterloo Massacre a demonstration taken by an ordinary people (a crowd of man, woman, children) who claimed for a better life that parliament and institutions stopped by army.
He denounced and attacked oppression, tyranny, and the abuse of political power and his indignation for the condition of England at that time.
"England in 1819" talks about the social problem of England: in order to:
-the king who he talks is King George III is “old, mad, blind, despised, and dying”;
He died the following year and was succeeded by George IV "mud from a muddy spring."
-the nobility (“princes”) are “unable to see, feel for, or know”, and metaphorically suck the blood from the people like leeches;
-the people are oppressed, hungry, and hopeless, their fields untilled;
-the army is corrupt and dangerous to its own people and liberty;
-the laws are useless and corrupt too;
-religion has lost its morality;
-Parliament (“A Senate”) is like a relic . The furious, violent metaphors Shelley express his feelings of indignation.
The final couplet concludes with a note of optimism: from these “graves” a “glorious Phantom” may “burst to illumine our tempestuous day”: possibility of liberty won through revolution, as it was won in France.
Ode to the west wind:
This ode was inspired by Godwin’s anarchic view. It’s a prophecy of political revolution, the “wind of change” linked to the concept of poetic inspiration is able to give seasonal change and liberation from the suffering of human existence.
The poem is divided into 5 stanzas:
1) Description and evocation of the wind in a natural setting on earth ground;
2) Description and evocation of the wind in the sky;
3) Description and evocation of the wind over the sea;
4) The alliteration pass from the wind to the poet;
5) There is the shift from the poet to the people.
Possible interpretation of the wind:
1) The new spirit of a French revolution;
2) The cycle of season;
3) Regenerating power of poetry;
4) The spirit of universal brotherhood.