Unless you’re really up on your literature, you may not have heard of Shelley. In my ignorance, I hadn’t heard of old Percy until recently. And if you were around in his lifetime you probably wouldn’t have either, as its estimated he only had an audience of 50 readers up until his death and over the course of his lifetime made a measly 40 pounds for his writing. When I did look into it, I was pretty amazed at the works that had been created and how much of an impact he’s had on the landscape of English literature. Having experimented in the alternative gothic art movement, producing long visionary poems with titles such as The Mask of Anarchy
you could argue he was the Tim Burton of his day, except he wasn’t as famous. They say artists are only truly appreciated after they die.
His early life read like some sort of legend. Bullied as a child and tormented by his colleagues at Eton you can tell where his authoritative tone as a writer came from. It probably explains his gothic tendencies and cause for his atheist views on what would have been a religious time. The myth of Shelley doesn’t stop there. He enrolled at Oxford University, a true privilege even today. Yet it’s said that he only attended one lecture…Ever. Instead he spent 16 hours a day reading. A true literary alternative rebel. His first book was Zastrozzi in 1810, a gothic novel where by he used the villain as a device to vent his views on religion. This wasn’t going to be the last time he did such a thing, a year later he published a pamphlet called The Necessity of Atheism which cost him his place in Oxford along with fellow poet Thomas Jefferson Hogg.
In 2008, it was finally acknowledged that Percy Shelley was the co-author of one of the most famous horror gothic novels all time. Frankenstein, which his wife Mary Shelley has held the title for. The thing about Shelley is that in many ways, he is an unsung hero to English literature. Having claimed to influence a host of writers including Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx and William Butler Yeats to name a few. With Thomas Hardy being a hero Denny Bradbury, its safe to say that so too is Percy Shelley.
Shelly indulged in sophisticated language techniques, such as internal rhymes. An internal rhyme involves having two rhyming words on the same line. For example, in Shelley’s The Cloud:
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
Denny Bradbury has used a similar technique in Denagerie of Poems, particularly in Mirror Lake, which isn’t a poem but instead a short story.
The Lake was a mirror. Dusk was drawing nigh. Light streaks of pale white and pink lifted the light blue of the sky
A simple but rather effective take upon a language which is like a flower, as it grows and later blooms.