Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was born August 4, 1792, in Sussex, England. He drowned in a storm while traveling from Livorno to Lerici in his schooner on July 8, 1822. Shelley was one of the six great English poets of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries later dubbed the High Romantics (the others being Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Keats.) Although he possessed a love for humanity in general, he was demonstrated to be very bad towards humans in particular, bullying several people and callously treating several women (he abandoned his first wife and their unborn son for Mary Shelley, better known as the author of Frankenstein).
Shelley was anti-religious and an atheist his whole life and promoted a poetic program similar to Blake's, in which the individual imagination is the sole authority on matters of truth. His pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism resulted in his expulsion from Oxford: he was given the chance at reinstatement (after his father's intervention) on the condition he recant his statements; his refusal to do so resulted in a falling out with his father.
His play in verse Prometheus Unbound explores his interest in a renewed imaginative and creative life in the story of Prometheus. In critic Harold Bloom's reading, the play's characters Prometheus, Asia, Jupiter and Demogorgon bear resemblances to the psychic constructs of other writers including Blake, Yeats and Freud.
Other major poems written by Shelley include "Ozymandias", Alastor, "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty", "Mont Blanc", "Ode to the West Wind", "The Witch of Atlas", Epipsychidion, "Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats", and "The Triumph of Life".
Shelley's "Essay on Christianity" attempts to read Jesus as an ethic philosopher whose great teachings have been corrupted by the institutional religion called Christianity.
- Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism
- Harold Bloom, The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry, New York: Cornell UP, 1971, pp. 90-91.