University of the Cordilleras Graduate School In Partial Fulfilment of the course LITERARY CRITICISM A written report on: PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY “A DEFENCE OF POETRY” Submitted to: AP AZLISON BAWANG Submitted by: Di Anne Mendoza MA English February 21, 2013 I. Introduction II. Brief Background III. Literary Pieces IV. Views on Literature through his essay V. Other concepts about literature VI. References I. Introduction Romanticism Period originated in England in 1798 and quickly spread from there to the rest of Europe and America.
Romanticism emphasized everything that the previous age had not: feelings, emotions, — the heart over the head – mysticism and instinct, natural man over the civilized man. Percy Byshhe Shelley painted the primer for the Romanticism era. He was able to prepare other Romantic Writers to pursue their beliefs as seen in their literature pieces. II. Brief Background Percy Bysshe Shelley was born August 4, 1792, at Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex, England. The eldest son of Timothy and Elizabeth Shelley, with one brother and four sisters, he stood in line to inherit not only his grandfather’s considerable estate but also a seat in Parliament.
He attended Eton College for six years beginning in 1804, and then went on to Oxford University. He began writing poetry while at Eton, but his first publication was a Gothic novel, Zastrozzi (1810), in which he voiced his own heretical and atheistic opinions through the villain Zastrozzi. That same year, Shelley and another student, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, published a pamphlet of burlesque verse, “Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson,” and with his sister Elizabeth, Shelley published Original Poetry; by Victor and Cazire.
In 1811, Shelley continued this prolific outpouring with more publications, and it was one of these that got him expelled from Oxford after less than a year’s enrollment: another pamphlet that he wrote and circulated with Hogg, “The Necessity of Atheism. ” Shelley could have been reinstated with the intervention of his father, but this would have required his disavowing the pamphlet and declaring himself Christian. Shelley refused, which led to a complete break between Shelley and his father. This left him in dire financial straits for the next two years, until he came of age.
That same year, at age nineteen, Shelley eloped to Scotland with Harriet Westbrook, sixteen. Once married, Shelley moved to the Lake District of England to study and write. Two years later he published his first long serious work, Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem. The poem emerged from Shelley’s friendship with the British philosopher William Godwin, and it expressed Godwin’s freethinking Socialist philosophy. Shelley also became enamored of Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter, Mary, and in 1814 they eloped to Europe. After six weeks, out of money, they returned to England.
In November 1814 Harriet Shelley bore a son, and in February 1815 Mary Godwin gave birth prematurely to a child who died two weeks later. The following January, Mary bore another son, named William after her father. In May the couple went to Lake Geneva, where Shelley spent a great deal of time with George Gordon, Lord Byron, sailing on Lake Geneva and discussing poetry and other topics, including ghosts and spirits, into the night. During one of these ghostly “seances,” Byron proposed that each person present should write a ghost story. Mary’s contribution to the contest became the novel Frankenstein.
That same year, Shelley produced the verse allegory Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude. In December 1816 Harriet Shelley apparently committed suicide. Three weeks after her body was recovered from a lake in a London park, Shelley and Mary Godwin officially were married. Shelley lost custody of his two children by Harriet because of his adherence to the notion of free love. In 1817, Shelley produced Laon and Cythna, a long narrative poem that, because it contained references to incest as well as attacks on religion, was withdrawn after only a few copies were published. It was later edited and reissued as The Revolt of Islam(1818).
At this time, he also wrote revolutionary political tracts signed “The Hermit of Marlow. ” Then, early in 1818, he and his new wife left England for the last time. During the remaining four years of his life, Shelley produced all his major works, includingPrometheus Unbound (1820). Traveling and living in various Italian cities, the Shelleys were friendly with the British poet Leigh Hunt and his family as well as with Byron. On July 8, 1822, shortly before his thirtieth birthday, Shelley was drowned in a storm while attempting to sail from Leghorn to La Spezia, Italy, in his schooner, the Don Juan. III. Literary Pieces
Poetry Posthumous Poems of Shelley: Mary Shelley’s Fair Copy Book, Bodleian Ms. Shelley Adds (1969) A Letter to Lord Ellenborough (1812) A Philosophical View of Reform (1920) A Proposal for Putting Reform to the Vote Throughout the Kingdom, as The Hermit of Marlow (1817) A Refutation of Deism: in a Dialogue (1814) Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, Author of Endymion, Hyperion etc. (1821) Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude; and Other Poems (1816) An Address, to the Irish People (1812) Epipsychidion (1821) Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments (1840) Hellas: A Lyrical Drama (1822)
Laon and Cythna; or, The Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century (1818) Note books of Percy Bysshe Shelley, From the Originals in the Library of W. K. Bixby (1911) Oedipus Tyrannus; or, Swellfoot the Tyrant. A Tragedy. In Two Acts(1820) Original Poetry (1810) Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson (1810) Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1824) Prometheus Unbound. A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts, With Other Poems(1820) Proposals for An Association of those Philanthropists (1812) Queen Mab; a Philosophical Poem: with Notes (1813)
Rosalind and Helen, A Modern Eclogue; with Other Poems (1819) Shelley’s Poetry and Prose (1977) Shelley’s Prose; or The Trumpet of a Prophecy (1954) St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian. A Romance, as a Gentleman of the University of Oxford (1811) The Complete Poetical Works of Shelley (1969) The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1926) The Esdaile Notebook. A volume of early poems (1964) The Esdaile Poems (1966) The Manuscripts of the Younger Romantics (1985) The Masque of Anarchy. A Poem (1832) The Necessity of Atheism (1811) The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1839)
The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1870) The Wandering Jew. A Poem (1887) Zastrozzi (1810) Prose Letters From Percy Bysshe Shelley to Elizabeth Hitchener (1890) Letters from Percy Bysshe Shelley to William Godwin (1891) Select Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1882) Shelley and His Circle, 1773-1822 (1961) The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1964) The Shelley Correspondence in the Bodleian Library: Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley and others (1926) Drama The Cenci. A Tragedy, in Five Acts (1819) IV. View about Literature through A Defence of Poetry
It was written in response to his friend Thomas Love Peacock’s article The Four Ages of Poetry which had been published in 1820 Peacock’s work teases and jokes through its definitions and conclusions, specifically that the poetry has become valueless and redundant in an age of science and technology, and that intelligent people should give up their literary pursuits and put their intelligence to good use. To Peacock, Shelley wrote: Your anathemas against poetry itself excited me to a sacred rage. . . . I had the greatest possible desire to break a lance with you . . . in honour of my mistress Urania.
The center of his aesthetic philosophy can be found in his important essay A Defence of Poetry, in which he argues that poetry brings about moral good. Poetry, Shelley argues, exercises and expands the imagination, and the imagination is the source of sympathy, compassion, and love, which rest on the ability to project oneself into the position of another person. Literature is… No other English poet of the early nineteenth century so emphasized the connection between beauty and goodness, or believed so avidly in the power of art’s sensual pleasures to improve society.
Shelley was able to believe that poetry makes people and society better; his poetry is suffused with this kind of inspired moral optimism, which he hoped would affect his readers sensuously, spiritually, and morally, all at the same time. A DEFENCE OF POETRY 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. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting upon the cause.
Poetry enlarges the circumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight, which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their own nature all other thoughts, and which form new intervals and interstices whose void forever craves fresh food. Poetry strengthens the faculty which is the organ of the moral nature of man, in the same manner as exercise strengthens a limb. 1st section In the first section Shelley defends poetry with the use of two classes of mental action, one being reason and the other imagination.
He states that “reason is to imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance” (Wu 1185). 2nd section In this section Shelley shows the relationship between sound and poetry. He states “Sounds as well as thoughts have relation both between each other and towards that which they represent, and a perception of the order of those relations has always been found connected with a perception of the order of the relations of thought” (Fordham). 3rd section In this section Shelley examines the many symbols that represented the extinction or suspension of the creative faculty of Greece.
He states of Homer and Sophocles that “Their superiority over the succeeding writers consists in the presence of those thoughts which belong to the inner faculties of our nature, not in the absence of those which are connected with the external; their incomparable perfection consists in a harmony of the union of all” (Fordham). 4th section Shelley begins this section stating “The familiar appearance and proceedings of life became wonderful and heavenly, and a paradise was created as out of the wrecks of Eden.
And as this creation itself is poetry, so its creators were poets; and language was the instrument of their art” (Fordham). Shelley is again drawing the distinction between poetry and the divine. Last Section He concludes his article by acknowledging poets as the unacknowledged legislators of the world. In his defence he considered poetry to be everywhere. That music, documenting of history, painting, and architecture are all apart of poetry. Where he does go a little too far in arguing the totality of poetry he does make a very convincing argument for poetries essential influence in society.
V. Other Views about Literature Shelley’s essay contains no rules for poetry, or aesthetic judgments of his contemporaries. Shelley’s philosophical assumptions about poets and poetry can be read as a sort of primer for the Romantic Movement in general Shelley turns to reason and imagination, defining reason as logical thought and imagination as perception, adding, “reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things. ” From reason and imagination, man may recognize beauty, and it is through beauty that civilization comes.
Language, Shelley contends, shows humanity’s impulse toward order and harmony, which leads to an appreciation of unity and beauty. Those in “excess” of language are the poets, whose task it is to impart the pleasures of their experience and observations into poems Shelley argues, that civilization advances and thrives with the help of poetry. through Shelley’s own understanding, marks the poet as a prophet, not a man dispensing forecasts but a person who “participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one. “A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth . . the creation of actions according to the unchangeable forms of human nature, as existing in the mind of the Creator. ” The task of poets then is to interpret and present the poem; Shelley’s metaphor here explicates: “Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. ” Poetry is utilitarian, as it brings civilization by “awaken[ing] and enlarg[ing] the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thoughts “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world. Shelley also addresses drama and the critical history of poetry through the ages, beginning with the classical period, moving through the Christian era, and into the middle ages until he arrives back in his present day, pronouncing the worth of poets and poetry as “indeed divine,” The significant role that poets play, concluding with his famous last line: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. VI. References Website: * Biography, http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Percy_Bysshe_Shelley * Biography and works, http://www. poets. org/poet. php/prmPID/179 * A defence to poetry, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/A_Defence_of_Poetry * A defence of poetry, http://www. sparknotes. com/poetry/shelley/analysis. html * Analysis of A defence of poetry, http://www. poetryfoundation. org/learning/essay/237844 * Analysis, http://eng439fall2008. wordpress. com/analysis-of-defense-of-poetry/ * Romanticism, http://www. slideshare. net/babu78/the-romantic-period