Byron, Shelley, and Keats: The Poet as God, Poetry as Scripture

The teacher asks, “Who will tell me where you are in the textbook?”  A student responds, “We covered the Romantics.”  “What about the Realists?” queries the teacher, to which the student can only say, “I believe we skipped most of that sir.”  Dead Poets Society, the famed teacher movie from 1989, celebrates the American version of English Romanticism.  Leading roles in the film default to Emerson and Thoreau who pioneered nature’s celebration in the land of the pioneer.  A Romantic transcendentalism, Man intertwined with Nature, was birthed in Walden, “Nature,” and “Self-Reliance.”  If there is a “God,” He resides in all human beings, who find wholeness by communing with Nature.  The self is inherently good, allowing intuitions to become absolutely reliable.  But Emerson and Thoreau owe their continued popularity to their predecessors.  The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats arise out of an attack against rationalistic assumptions.  The realism of reason born of The Enlightenment was being overthrown by Romanticism.  Institutional fallibility—in particular, Church and State—were identified as corrupt.  New order was necessary; a new absolute was sought.  But try as they might, Byron, Shelley, and Keats were unable to separate themselves from the need for Transcendence.  All three poets searched for and found their own supreme virtues whether in creation, revolution, or themselves.  Yet, the Romantics identify the essence of man without God—humans must bow the knee to someone while demonstrating authority through their own authorship.

Authority in England shifted from potentate to peasant.  The Magna Carta began the unshackling of peoples’ chains.  English history moved the serf to person status; the law was king, protections expanded.  People were seen as individuals.  The mob now had names; individual benefits accrued.  But as with any great benefit to humanity comes the possibility of corruption.  While individuals had rights, some believed those rights came disconnected from responsibilities.  The individual was now drawn to individualism—each person was autonomous, focused on personal interests.  Self invaded cultural movements.  Truth, goodness, and beauty, once moored in Heaven, now set adrift to earth’s authority, were driven by the wind of whim.

The storm clouds of change carried three humanist typhoons: human perfectibility, leading to infallibility, creating a utopia.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau laid the groundwork for Romanticism’s superstructure.  The first generation of Romantics (Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey) eagerly anticipated the finished product of belief through The French Revolution (1787-95).  Hopes dashed when unfettered freedom became mob rule, poets retreated to Nature as Savior.  Not abandoning belief in the innate goodness of humanity, institutions became responsible for the corruption of individuals.  Any organization was suspect; tradition gave way to perception, reason to imagination.  Wordsworth bemoaned not experiencing “the emancipation of the world” he wrote in The Excursion about himself, “He should at least secure his own, and be in part compensated.”[1] Coupled with Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice—a treatise dedicated to self—the enveloping clouds of an individual’s supremacy was the zeitgeist which propelled the English Romantics early in the 19th century.  Godwin, Mary Shelley’s father, summarized his emancipated man, “Lord of himself, in undisturbed delight.”[2]

Human happiness depended upon feelings, full and free.  Excitement and novelty, imagination and affections, experimentation and pleasure were the new poetic couplets.  Desires formed humanities’ core.  Happiness, now, was a need.  Wordsworth desired “to reinstate the imagination and the affections” expelled by rationalistic philosophy.  Senses, passions, and appearances were to trump reality, reason, and rationality.  “The Wanderings of Cain” in Wordsworth’s Ballads give Scriptural insight—man wants separation from God.  Searching for the ultimate—whether truth, goodness, or beauty—Romantic reality abandoned the attributes of God for the aggrandizements of men.

Keats

The longing for perfection is a trait known to every human.  Poets, feeling the emptiness deeper than others, express the struggle for exactitude through literary blood.  Keats did not get the life he wanted or dreamed for himself.  He is sometimes lost between his drama of reality and the fantasies of illness or unmet desires.  Bruised and battered by life, Keats’ encounter with suffering may well have been the engine of his human sympathies.  By age ten his father was dead.  His mother remarried but ended the relationship a year later; she herself died by Keats’ fifteenth birthday.  He saw firsthand the misery of the Irish peasant, while financial and family difficulties clawed at the edges of his life.  Literary critics savaged his work.  Brother-friend Tom died of tuberculosis.  Keats himself contracted the disease, suffering a slow death over three years.  For all of that time the poet found himself in the throes of unrequited love.  Dead at twenty-six, Keats vibrant flame lit the sky of the Romantic period, albeit, with little popular recognition.  The same suffering that brought Keats low only served to heighten written expression.  Those who suffer depression, languishing in life with situations beyond their control, find an empathetic voice in John Keats.

Keats’ now infamous Odes were composed in his failing years.  Deep sadness etches itself across the canvas of life in Nightingale. “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains / My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk” (1-2).  Melancholy mounts Joy on a trophy wall.  This is no musing of simple doldrums; think, instead, defeat.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall . . . Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose . . . Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, / Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave, / And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes . . . Ay, in the very temple of delight / Veil’d Melancholy has her Sovran shrine, / Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue / Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine; / His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, / And be among her cloudy trophies hung. (11-20, 24-30).

Accosted by three Ghosts—Love, Ambition, and Poetry—Indolence questions whether one has any victories in life.  He cannot find love, ambition is feverish, short-lived, and poetry brings him no joy (31-36).  Keats summarizes his sadness in Nightingale, “The weariness, the fever, and the fret / Here, where men sit and hear each other grown” (24-26).  Keats’ sadly acknowledges Melancholy “dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die” (21).

Yet, A Grecian Urn declares “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” (48).  If Keats reveled in any glories, if he had any hope of his own, they belonged to times past; Greek history and mythology, the faded hierarchy of Olympus.  As Psyche suggests, Keats’ expectations were set upon ancient examples of triumph.  He piles accolade upon applause of his ideal goddess.  Keats wants to find happiness, help, and hope in Psyche; he will be her prophet, priest, and choir.  His ideal desires for his own poetry, perhaps for acceptance, crescendo in frenzy toward ode’s end:

So let me be thy choir, and make a moan / Upon the midnight hours; / Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, they incense sweet / From swinged censer teeming; / Thy Shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat / Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming. / Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane / In some untrodden region of my mind, / Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain, / Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind” (44-54).

Perhaps the same happy boughs of A Grecian Urn will be Keats’ hope.  Greek civilization exists as the epitome, the essence of human accomplishment.  Early schooling at Enfield allowed Keats to enter and exalt in Greco-Roman mythology.  Tutored in ancient languages, he translated the heroic glories of Aeneid. Keats lauds the historic-turned-eternal nature of rarified legends through sweet melodies, anticipating “More happy love! more happy, happy love!” (24).

Nature, too, brought the poet happiness.  Aesthetic experiences produced solace in To Solitude: “Nature’s observatory . . . Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d, / Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be / Almost the highest bliss of human-kind” (5, 11-13).  Pleasant sounds from birds, wind, waters, “and thousand others more . . . Make pleasing music” (How Many Bards gild the Lapses of Time! 10, 12).  To My Brother George the poet raves about honey bees, flowers, breezes, cliffs, waves, oat fields, gulls, sea—the list is endless!  Herein the reader finds Keats’ true hope.  Optimism about his poetry rests in futuristic flourishes.  The patriot will fever his followers with nationalistic notions.  Politicians will pursue the power of the poet’s pen.  Wise men will filter moral sagacity through Keatian lyrical lenses.  Poesy inspiration will be sung by brides on marriage’s first night.  Commoners will enjoy the simplicities of life through rhyme.  Newborns will be sung to sleep with his gentle words.  Men and women all will be allured by the bard’s ballads.  Sleep and Poetry epitomize Keats’ elegies: all emotion is engendered by nature.  “And can I ever bid these joys farewell? . . . Shapes of delight, of mystery, and fear . . . Go glad and smilingly athwart the gloom” (122, 137, 146).  Keats will bequeath “These lines; and howsoever they be done, / I leave them as a father does his son” (403-04).  As one who senses his own demise, Keats links his love of life “A woodland rivulet—a Poet’s death” (After Dark Vapours, 16).

Past trophies remain behind, the only salute to truth and beauty, “when old age shall this generation waste.”  In mourning, Keats interprets his own line, “That is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” (Ode on a Grecian Urn, 45-50).  Inanimate objects mark the animate movements of short-lived lives.  The urn, representative of every human feat, oversees the descendents without eyes; its beauty speaks truth without lips.  “I that for ever feel athirst for glory” (Sonnet, ‘Floure and the Lefe’, 11) understands “Such dim-conceived glories of the brain” (On Seeing the Elgin Marbles, 8).  In Ode the poet holds out hope for heaven:

Where the nightingale doth sing

Not a senseless, tranced thing,

But divine melodious truth;

Philosophic numbers moth;

Tales and golden histories

Of heaven and its mysteries (17-22).

The nightingale then sings her own song, dashing optimism against the rocks of reality:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the leaves hast never known,

The weariness, the fever, and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,

Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;

Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs,

Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow . . .

I have been half in love with easeful Death (Nightingale, 21-30, 52).

Keats feels powerless, his human flesh, fragile.  Long lines of lament punctuate this short life.  The honesty of sadness makes one wince for he who succumbed to the disappointment of failed expectations.

Shelley

Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus may well have a broader reputation than Prometheus Unbound.  Mary Shelley’s famed novel is more widely read and more distinctive in belief than her husband’s poem.  Whereas Frankenstein, written prior to Shelley’s verse, questions Romantic underpinnings—inherent human goodness and nature’s beneficence—Percy Bysshe Shelley lauds human perfectibility, contrary to his wife’s fiction.  Shelley’s Prometheus was his moral compass, “the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature.”  The one who stole fire from heaven for earth is “impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends” Shelley’s estimation of “beautiful idealisms of moral excellence.”[3] Indeed, Shelley wants his ideal “Man, one harmonious soul of many a soul, / Whose nature is its own divine control” to be guided through the storms of life by Love “Forcing life’s wildest shores to own its sovereign sway” (400-12).  The supposed conductor of human days, Love, originates from the human heart (558); the conductor is also orchestra and audience.  Circular reasoning, circular feeling compels Shelley’s finale:

To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates / From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; / Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; / This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be / Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; / This alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory (573-78).

Shelley furthered a philosophy based on nature and love that rebelled against the Enlightenment reason and science centered viewpoint before him.  Romanticism’s worship of nature and devotion to the power of love was to be society’s savior.  Shelley and his cohort believed each person was good at heart, but that society corrupts people’s innate purity.  Mary’s parents could have no better philosophical fit for their daughter considering their own impressive literary output and humanistic worldview.   William Godwin’s tome on the evils of government and the self-sufficiency of society, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, made him a famous philosopher within a matter of its first printing.  Mary Wollstonecraft was a women’s rights advocate whose work on the equality of the sexes, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, created for her a limelight-life.  Drastic departure from acceptable political and sociological beliefs found a friend in Shelley as he revered “the great writers of the golden age of our literature . . . which shook to dust the oldest and most oppressive form of the Christian religion.”[4] Indeed, Shelley refashioned Jesus’ teaching on love to fit his own; love was no longer dependent upon the Infinite Lover but “proof of this progress of the nature of man.”[5]

Literary connections to Scripture should come as no surprise since “the Bible was his constant study.”[6] But since he had taken Plato to be his model[7] reinventions of reality were indeed “shadows on the wall;” in Shelley’s case the silhouettes were disappointing, self-created projections.  Ghosts, caves, musings, shadows, and phantoms were expressed insufficiently through words, “Thus let thy power, which like the truth / Of nature on my passive youth / Descended, to my onward life supply / Its calm—to one who worships thee, / And every form containing thee (Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, 78-82).   Shelley’s The Spirit of Solitude is a confusing journey through Platonic caves seeking “Nature’s dearest haunt some bank, / Her cradle, and his sepulchre” where “the Poet’s blood, / That ever beat in mystic sympathy / With nature’s ebb and flow, grew feebler still” (434-35, 658-60).  Shelley finds both birth and death in Nature worshipping at its temple, knowing it would be his tomb.  At once, piously obsessed and deeply pessimistic, the sun of Nature brightens his day while storm clouds ultimately overwhelm his sky as in his sonnet Lift Not the Painted Veil: “A splendor among shadows, a bright blot / Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove / For truth, and like the Preacher found it not” (12-14).  Ultimately, the shadows of Plato’s cave were figments of his imagination—he hoped, but only as an unfulfilled craving, not prophetic certainty.

If Shelley was certain of anything, it was death; almost every piece of poetry concedes his own mortality.  Mutability maintains “We are just flowers in the field; ‘Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow’” (15).  Shelley’s imaginative crawling glaciers scene in Prometheus Unbound “pierce me with the spears . . . Heaven’s winged hound, polluting from they lips / His beak in poison not his own, tears up / My heart” (31, 34-36).  Ozymandias, while acknowledged as a tyranny’s ultimate demise, sounds very much like every man or poet, “Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whoe frown, / and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command . . . My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” (4-5, 10-11).  Even The Triumph of Life seems to mourn the magnificent: “All but the sacred few who could not tame / Their spirits to the conquerors but as soon / As they had touched the world with living flame, / Fled back like eagles to their native noon” (128-31).  His Lament quivers as he questions the passage of time while To Night finds Death intruding on what should be a period of rest and the long elegy of John Keats includes the memorable line “Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die” (Adonis, 463).  Of course On Death and its plagiarism of Ecclesiastes crowns Shelley’s views of his demise

There is no work, nor device, not knowledge nor wisdom, in the grave, whither though goest / Is the flame of life so fickle and wan / That flits round our steps till their strength is gone . . . This world is the mother of all we feel, / And the coming of death is a fearful blow / When all that we know, or feel, or see, / Shall pass like an unreal mystery . . . Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death? / Who lifteth the veil of what is to come? / Who painteth the shadows that are beneath / The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb? / Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be / With the fears and the love for that which we see?” (1, 5-6, 14-18, 25-30).

To the Greeks, Man was the measure of all things, even in death; Shelley’s Romanticism would agree though he seems to have bourn none of the Stoic resolve, accepting his fate without remorse or concern.  His own drowning death, eerily prophesied in Adonis’ last stanza, would add closure to another Ecclesiastical line “no man knows his time.”[8]

Sympathy for Shelley’s views of mortality are tempered by news of his personal morality; pilferage and promiscuity in human affairs could only be overshadowed by his ethical hypocrisy.  Shelley demanded proper living and giving from others but never himself.  Paul Johnson investigates the primary source material to summarize Shelley’s duplicitous financial dealings:

Thus Shelley, the man of truth and virtue, became a lifelong absconder and cheat.  He borrowed money everywhere and from all kinds of people, most of whom were never repaid.  Whenever the Shelleys moved on, usually in some haste, they left behind little groups of once-trusting and now angry people.[9]

One can understand Shelley’s socialist principles quite well: private property was acceptable if peoples’ property was for his private use.  Multiple sexual liaisons inside and outside of his own and others’ marriages continued socialist principles that what is yours is really mine.  In A Defense of Poetry Shelley preaches “the great secret of morals is love”[10] which is a lovely sentiment until the self-centered definition of love is exposed.  Frankenstein’s monster questioned human corruption and found it resident in the good doctor.  Mary Shelley wants to blame society but we find that society is nothing more than a compilation of the individuals in it.  It is no mistake to find Percy Shelley thoroughly depraved.  While one can find affinity with Shelley’s love of Nature or of Life in the face of death, it is Shelley’s belief in autonomous authority for himself and his poetry which demonstrates his true character.

Byron

To the Romantics, Virtue was hailed as Self, Nature was adored as standard.  Byron embodied Romanticism by adoring himself, becoming Narcissus.  The Byronic Hero is said to be Byron’s signature invention in literature; in life Byron’s signature looked more like Narcissus than any Grecian champion.  As Michael Schmidt candidly comments

For biography is a necessary concern when we approach Byron’s verse.  His most original invention is the Byronic hero, and we must determine the degree to which this creature, his attitudes and gestures, correspond with Byron, and to what degree they amount to a persona, a consistent mask from behind which he enacts his views or discredits the views of others (emphasis his).[11]

Born of a Scottish aristocrat father and heiress mother, Lord Byron inherited his title from an ignominious relative.  His dashing good looks in spite of his ambulatory deformity drew inestimable affections of women.  Byron’s exploits created a sensation through the senses linked solely to the titillation of his nerve endings.  Byron was early offspring of Romantic parentage and found kinship with others of like mind, such as the Shelleys, albeit not of like talent.  Admiration must be considered as Byron identifies pain as meaning for humanity yet his feral fornications make readers feel as if they are simply bed-hopping from one poetic orgasm to another.  Like Romantics before, during, and since, Byron’s ultimate commitment was to himself, the only conversation was about himself, contact and combat with others was to validate himself.  Byron’s poetry, while effusive and effervescent, is cotton candy on a stick: when reduced to its core, sticky sweetness is soon forgotten, its mass made of so much hot air.

Byron’s years of travel acquainted him with the country where he would die (Greece) whereas his country (England) would be excited by the exotic; the immediate popularity of his poetry attracted wide attention based on wild adventures.  Later, when the applause turned to antagonism in his eyes, he turned his eyes to Nature, enthused by its magnificence Byron lost himself in a waterfall of words.  Manfred manages an honesty which exposes Byron’s commitments; his combat is with spirits of Another world, the victor is himself:

I stand / Upon my strength—I do defy—deny— / Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel; / Thou never shall possess me, that I know: . . . The mind which is immortal makes itself / Requital for its good or evil thoughts . . . Born from the knowledge of its own desert (119-20, 125-26, 129-30, 136).

In spite of his acknowledged ultimate emptiness, the poet still trusts the human intellect; in the end it is all that is left.  Yet, Byron waxes proverbial at the inception of Manfred where his biblical allusion to “The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.”  The supposed benefits of human acumen—philosophy, science, wonder, wisdom—have thrice stated “avail’d not,” precipitation darkens the earth for a moment before it evaporates, “rain unto the sands” (12, 21, 23).  Cognizant of humanities’ finitude, Byron still hailed Prometheus as the liberator from Heaven’s shackles, an act of kindness, to “strengthen Man with is own mind” (38).  When one gives up True Transcendence, as Byron discovered, there is nothing left outside of human fragility.

Don Juan marks the apex of the Byronic hero perhaps patterned after the man himself.  Suave, debonair, the Byron-like protagonist has multiple adventures with as many sexual encounters.  Don Juan wanders from one exploit to another fornication, a punch-drunk lover, sot with his own spirits, a fermentation gone bad.   Intoxicated with himself, Byron’s poetry weaves down life’s sidewalk; the reader gives wide birth as this poet approaches, never sure of direction, but always of the subject.  Byron operates with no ethical center—he preaches without any authority other than his own, he pontificates from a pulpit which is his experience, his words are his scriptures: “My tendency is to philosophise / On most things from a tyrant to a tree” (Canto 6, 63).  As for the subject of study, Byron’s truth, the essence of his poetic beauty, is drawn from the object-persons left in the wake of his passing; husks of humanity, “found art,” Byron lifts them to the reader’s sight-line, ponders, and discards.  While cavalier, Byron does return from time to time to the haunting whispers of a hero with no one to believe in but himself:

But still the spouseless virgin Knowledge flies. / What are we? and whence came we? what shall be / Our ultimate existence?  what’s our present? / Are questions answerless, and yet incessant (6, 63).

Byron gives answer to the questions of his own life as he is rightly credited with believing in something (Greek independence) and literally dying for it.  In a moment of lucidity, and perhaps prophecy, Byron lives through the Greek maid by the seashore that he loved in Don Juan:

By age in earth: her days and pleasures were / Brief, but delightful—such as had not stayed / Long with her destiny; but she sleeps well / By the sea-shore, whereon she loved to dwell . . . If she loved rashly, her life paid for wrong– / A heavy price must all pay who thus err, / In some shape; let none think to fly the danger, / For soon or late Love is his own avenger (Canto IV, 71, 73).

Conclusion

All humans are kings, though separated from their Sovereign are but posing potentates.  Keats grand desire to succeed in his kingly duties of poet is crushed under the weight of inadequacy.  Shelley wore the poet’s crown but tarnished reputation besmirched its luster.  Byron loved Nature, to be sure, but more himself; as conquering king, winning the battles of sexual victories, all the while losing the cohesiveness of poetry’s war.  Generational beliefs have genealogical genesis.  Historical context explains that impressionism was the artistic reaction to early Romantic thought through Rousseau, followed by Kant and Hegel and, ultimately Friedrich Nietzsche.  Fragmentation of life—separation of natural and supernatural worlds, the “fact-value” split—had set aside realism for impressionism.  What the individual person sees, one’s perception, molds the philosophical backdrop to the period.  The attempt to discover the ideal in the real, confronts reality with all its realism.  Longing for something more while looking no further than Nature or Self, the humanist refuses to look Up.

The seeds of Romanticism took a century to blossom into full bloom leading some to create The Humanist Manifesto. With at least two subsequent editions, the 1933 document, signed by signatories who found their philosophic roots in Keats, Shelley, and Byron, considered

Ethics to be autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction . . . reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses.  There is no substitute.[12]

Of course no one wants to admit that the flower of Romanticism was a weed, running rampant through twentieth century totalitarian regimes, killing more humans in 100 years than in all the rest of human history combined.  Death, not life, is the ultimate end of Romantic thinking as even Dead Poet’s Society must admit.  Mr. Keating, following Romantic ideals, estimated that everything from the “why” to the “what” of teaching was left up to the student: old thinking is wrong and new thinking is good—the god of goodness, man.

William Cowper, a Christian hymnodist and poet, writing during the early days of Romanticism, understood that human goodness was still tainted by “imaginations vain / Possess the heart, and fables false as hell.”[13] But Cowper’s response is to look out, and Up “abroad into the varied field Of nature . . . His to enjoy / With a propriety that none can feel, / But who, with filial confidence inspired, / Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye, And smiling say—”My Father made them all!”[14] The testimony of Nature and Self is empty unless Man is full of this knowledge—there is a God and you are not Him.

A summer writing project with his daughter Chelsea, Mark will edit this essay, submitting it for publication in the fall of 2011.


[1] William Wordsworth, “The Excursion,” The Complete  Works of Wordsworth, ed. Henry Reed, (Philadelphia, PA: Troutman & Hayes, 1852), p. 578, Book III, 790-93.

[2] William Godwin, “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice,” British Literature, Volume 2, ed. Hazelton Spencer (New York, NY: CENGAGE Learning, 1974), p. 102.

[3] Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Prometheus Unbound Preface,” The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley With Mrs. Shelley’s Notes (New York, NY: Random House, 1947), p. 226-27

[4] Ibid, p. 227.

[5] Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Essay On Christianity,” English Romantic Poetry and Prose, ed. Russell Noyes (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1956), p. 1092.

[6] Mary Godwin Shelley, “Mary Shelley’s Notes about Percy Shelley’s Work and Life, 1889,” The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley With Mrs. Shelley’s Notes (New York, NY: Random House, 1947), p. 590.

[7] Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Prometheus Unbound Preface,” p. 228.

[8] Ecclesiastes 9.12.

[9] Paul Johnson, “Shelley, or the Heartlessness of Ideas,” Intellectuals (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1988), p, 46.

[10] Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defense of Poetry, ed. Albert S. Cook (Boston, MA: Ginn and Company), p. 14.

[11] Michael Schmidt, The Lives of the Poets (New York, NY:Knopf, 1999), p. 392.

[12] The Humanist Manifesto II (Amherst, NY: The American Humanist Society, 1972), third and fourth principles.

[13] William Cowper, The Task, “The Winter Morning Walk,” in The Task and Other Minor Poems, ed. E. Lee (Edinburgh, Scotland: William Blackwood and Sons, 1900), p. 131, lines 857-62.

[14] Ibid, p. 127, Lines 738-47.

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