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This edition of his "Poetical Works" contains all Shelley's
ascertained poems and fragments of verse that have hitherto appeared
in print. In preparing the volume I have worked as far as possible on
the principle of recognizing the editio princeps as the primary
textual authority. I have not been content to reprint Mrs. Shelley's
recension of 1839, or that of any subsequent editor of the "Poems".
The present text is the result of a fresh collation of the early
editions; and in every material instance of departure from the wording
of those originals the rejected reading has been subjoined in a
footnote. Again, wherever--as in the case of "Julian and
Maddalo"--there has appeared to be good reason for superseding the
authority of the editio princeps, the fact is announced, and the
substituted exemplar indicated, in the Prefatory Note. in the case of
a few pieces extant in two or more versions of debatable authority the
alternative text or texts will be found at the [end] of the [relevant
work]; but it may be said once for all that this does not pretend to
be a variorum edition, in the proper sense of the term--the textual
apparatus does not claim to be exhaustive. Thus I have not thought it
necessary to cumber the footnotes with every minute grammatical
correction introduced by Mrs. Shelley, apparently on her own
authority, into the texts of 1839; nor has it come within the scheme
of this edition to record every conjectural emendation adopted or
proposed by Rossetti and others in recent times. But it is hoped that,
up to and including the editions of 1839 at least, no important
variation of the text has been overlooked. Whenever a reading has been
adopted on manuscript authority, a reference to the particular source
has been added below.

I have been chary of gratuitous interference with the punctuation of
the manuscripts and early editions; in this direction, however, some
revision was indispensable. Even in his most carefully finished "fair
copy" Shelley under-punctuates (Thus in the exquisite autograph "Hunt
MS." of "Julian and Maddalo", Mr. Buxton Forman, the most conservative
of editors, finds it necessary to supplement Shelley's punctuation in
no fewer than ninety-four places.), and sometimes punctuates
capriciously. In the very act of transcribing his mind was apt to
stray from the work in hand to higher things; he would lose himself in
contemplating those airy abstractions and lofty visions of which alone
he greatly cared to sing, to the neglect and detriment of the merely
external and formal element of his song. Shelley recked little of the
jots and tittles of literary craftsmanship; he committed many a small
sin against the rules of grammar, and certainly paid but a halting
attention to the nice distinctions of punctuation. Thus in the early
editions a comma occasionally plays the part of a semicolon; colons
and semicolons seem to be employed interchangeably; a semicolon almost
invariably appears where nowadays we should employ the dash; and,
lastly, the dash itself becomes a point of all work, replacing
indifferently commas, colons, semicolons or periods. Inadequate and
sometimes haphazard as it is, however, Shelley's punctuation, so far
as it goes, is of great value as an index to his metrical, or at
times, it may be, to his rhetorical intention--for, in Shelley's
hands, punctuation serves rather to mark the rhythmical pause and
onflow of the verse, or to secure some declamatory effect, than to
indicate the structure or elucidate the sense. For this reason the
original pointing has been retained, save where it tends to obscure or
pervert the poet's meaning. Amongst the Editor's Notes at the end of
the Volume 3 the reader will find lists of the punctual variations in
the longer poems, by means of which the supplementary points now added
may be identified, and the original points, which in this edition have
been deleted or else replaced by others, ascertained, in the order of
their occurrence. In the use of capitals Shelley's practice has been
followed, while an attempt has been made to reduce the number of his
inconsistencies in this regard.

To have reproduced the spelling of the manuscripts would only have
served to divert attention from Shelley's poetry to my own ingenuity
in disgusting the reader according to the rules of editorial
punctilio. (I adapt a phrase or two from the preface to "The Revolt of
Islam".) Shelley was neither very accurate, nor always consistent, in
his spelling. He was, to say the truth, indifferent about all such
matters: indeed, to one absorbed in the spectacle of a world
travailing for lack of the gospel of "Political Justice", the study of
orthographical niceties must have seemed an occupation for Bedlamites.
Again--as a distinguished critic and editor of Shelley, Professor
Dowden, aptly observes in this connexion--'a great poet is not of an
age, but for all time.' Irregular or antiquated forms such as
'recieve,' 'sacrifize,' 'tyger,' 'gulph,' 'desart,' 'falshood,' and
the like, can only serve to distract the reader's attention, and mar
his enjoyment of the verse. Accordingly Shelley's eccentricities in
this kind have been discarded, and his spelling reversed in accordance
with modern usage. All weak preterite-forms, whether indicatives or
participles, have been printed with "ed" rather than "t", participial
adjectives and substantives, such as 'past,' alone excepted. In the
case of 'leap,' which has two preterite-forms, both employed by
Shelley (See for an example of the longer form, the "Hymn to Mercury",
18 5, where 'leaped' rhymes with 'heaped' (line 1). The shorter form,
rhyming to 'wept,' 'adapt,' etc., occurs more frequently.)--one with
the long vowel of the present-form, the other with a vowel-change (Of
course, wherever this vowel-shortening takes place, whether indicated
by a corresponding change in the spelling or not, "t", not "ed" is
properly used--'cleave,' 'cleft,'; 'deal,' 'dealt'; etc. The forms
discarded under the general rule laid down above are such as 'wrackt,'
'prankt,' 'snatcht,' 'kist,' 'opprest,' etc.) like that of 'crept'
from 'creep'--I have not hesitated to print the longer form 'leaped,'
and the shorter (after Mr. Henry Sweet's example) 'lept,' in order
clearly to indicate the pronunciation intended by Shelley. In the
editions the two vowel-sounds are confounded under the one spelling,
'leapt.' In a few cases Shelley's spelling, though unusual or
obsolete, has been retained. Thus in 'aethereal,' 'paean,' and one or
two more words the "ae" will be found, and 'airy' still appears as
'aery'. Shelley seems to have uniformly written 'lightening': here the
word is so printed whenever it is employed as a trisyllable; elsewhere
the ordinary spelling has been adopted. (Not a little has been written
about 'uprest' ("Revolt of Islam", 3 21 5), which has been described
as a nonce-word deliberately coined by Shelley 'on no better warrant
than the exigency of the rhyme.' There can be little doubt that
'uprest' is simply an overlooked misprint for 'uprist'--not by any
means a nonce-word, but a genuine English verbal substantive of
regular formation, familiar to many from its employment by Chaucer.
True, the corresponding rhyme-words in the passage above referred to
are 'nest,' 'possessed,' 'breast'; but a laxity such as
'nest'--'uprist' is quite in Shelley's manner. Thus in this very poem
we find 'midst'--'shed'st' (6 16), 'mist'--'rest'--'blest' (5 58),
'loveliest'--'mist'--kissed'--'dressed' (5 53). Shelley may have first
seen the word in "The Ancient Mariner"; but he employs it more
correctly than Coleridge, who seems to have mistaken it for a
preterite-form (='uprose') whereas in truth it serves either as the
third person singular of the present (='upriseth'), or, as here, for
the verbal substantive (='uprising').

The editor of Shelley to-day enters upon a goodly heritage, the
accumulated gains of a series of distinguished predecessors. Mrs.
Shelley's two editions of 1839 form the nucleus of the present volume,
and her notes are here reprinted in full; but the arrangement of the
poems differs to some extent from that followed by her--chiefly in
respect of "Queen Mab", which is here placed at the head of the
"Juvenilia", instead of at the forefront of the poems of Shelley's
maturity. In 1862 a slender volume of poems and fragments, entitled
"Relics of Shelley", was published by Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B.--a
precious sheaf gleaned from the manuscripts preserved at Boscombe
Manor. The "Relics" constitute a salvage second only in value to the
"Posthumous Poems" of 1824. To the growing mass of Shelley's verse yet
more material was added in 1870 by Mr. William Michael Rossetti, who
edited for Moxon the "Complete Poetical Works" published in that year.
To him we owe in particular a revised and greatly enlarged version of
the fragmentary drama of "Charles I". But though not seldom successful
in restoring the text, Mr. Rossetti pushed revision beyond the bounds
of prudence, freely correcting grammatical errors, rectifying small
inconsistencies in the sense, and too lightly adopting conjectural
emendations on the grounds of rhyme or metre. In the course of an
article published in the "Westminster Review" for July, 1870, Miss
Mathilde Blind, with the aid of material furnished by Dr. Garnett,
'was enabled,' in the words of Mr. Buxton Forman, 'to supply
omissions, make authoritative emendations, and controvert erroneous
changes' in Mr. Rossetti's work; and in the more cautiously edited
text of his later edition, published by Moxon in 1878, may be traced
the influence of her strictures.

Six years later appeared a variorum edition in which for the first
time Shelley's text was edited with scientific exactness of method,
and with a due respect for the authority of the original editions. It
would be difficult indeed to over-estimate the gains which have
accrued to the lovers of Shelley from the strenuous labours of Mr.
Harry Buxton Forman, C.B. He too has enlarged the body of Shelley's
poetry (Mr. Forman's most notable addition is the second part of "The
Daemon of the World", which he printed privately in 1876, and included
in his Library Edition of the "Poetical Works" published in the same
year. See the "List of Editions", etc. at the end of Volume 3.); but,
important as his editions undoubtedly are, it may safely be affirmed
that his services in this direction constitute the least part of what
we owe him. He has vindicated the authenticity of the text in many
places, while in many others he has succeeded, with the aid of
manuscripts, in restoring it. His untiring industry in research, his
wide bibliographical knowledge and experience, above all, his
accuracy, as invariable as it is minute, have combined to make him, in
the words of Professor Dowden, 'our chief living authority on all that
relates to Shelley's writings.' His name stands securely linked for
all time to Shelley's by a long series of notable words, including
three successive editions (1876, 1882, 1892) of the Poems, an edition
of the Prose Remains, as well as many minor publications--a
Bibliography ("The Shelley Library", 1886)and several Facsimile
Reprints of the early issues, edited for the Shelley Society.

To Professor Dowden, whose authoritative Biography of the poet,
published in 1886, was followed in 1890 by an edition of the Poems
(Macmillans), is due the addition of several pieces belonging to the
juvenile period, incorporated by him in the pages of the "Life of
Shelley". Professor Dowden has also been enabled, with the aid of the
manuscripts placed in his hands, to correct the text of the
"Juvenilia" in many places. In 1893 Professor George E. Woodberry
edited a "Centenary Edition of the Complete Poetical Works", in which,
to quote his own words, an attempt is made 'to summarize the labours
of more than half a century on Shelley's text, and on his biography so
far as the biography is bound up with the text.' In this Centenary
edition the textual variations found in the Harvard College
manuscripts, as well as those in the manuscripts belonging to Mr.
Frederickson of Brooklyn, are fully recorded. Professor Woodberry's
text is conservative on the whole, but his revision of the punctuation
is drastic, and occasionally sacrifices melody to perspicuity.

In 1903 Mr. C.D. Locock published, in a quarto volume of seventy-five
pages, the fruits of a careful scrutiny of the Shelley manuscripts now
lodged in the Bodleian Library. Mr. Locock succeeded in recovering
several inedited fragments of verse and prose. Amongst the poems
chiefly concerned in the results of his "Examination" may be named
"Marenghi", "Prince Athanase", "The Witch of Atlas", "To Constantia",
the "Ode to Naples", and (last, not least) "Prometheus Unbound". Full
use has been made in this edition of Mr. Locock's collations, and the
fragments recovered and printed by him are included in the text.
Variants derived from the Bodleian manuscripts are marked "B." in the

On the state of the text generally, and the various quarters in which
it lies open to conjectural emendation, I cannot do better than quote
the following succinct and luminous account from a "Causerie" on the
Shelley manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, contributed by Dr.
Richard Garnett, C.B., to the columns of "The Speaker" of December 19,

'From the textual point of view, Shelley's works may be divided into
three classes--those published in his lifetime under his own
direction; those also published in his lifetime, but in his absence
from the press; and those published after his death. The first class
includes "Queen Mab", "The Revolt of Islam", and "Alastor" with its
appendages, published in England before his final departure for the
continent; and "The Cenci" and "Adonais", printed under his own eye at
Leghorn and Pisa respectively. Except for some provoking but
corrigible misprints in "The Revolt of Islam" and one crucial passage
in "Alastor", these poems afford little material for conjectural
emendation; for the Alexandrines now and then left in the middle of
stanzas in "The Revolt of Islam" must remain untouched, as proceeding
not from the printer's carelessness but the author's. The second
class, poems printed during Shelley's lifetime, but not under his
immediate inspection, comprise "Prometheus Unbound" and "Rosalind and
Helen", together with the pieces which accompanied them,
"Epipsychidion", "Hellas", and "Swellfoot the Tyrant". The correction
of the most important of these, the "Prometheus", was the least
satisfactory. Shelley, though speaking plainly to the publisher,
rather hints than expresses his dissatisfaction when writing to
Gisborne, the corrector, but there is a pretty clear hint when on a
subsequent occasion he says to him, "I have received 'Hellas', which
is prettily printed, and with fewer mistakes than any poem I ever
published." This also was probably not without influence on his
determination to have "The Cenci" and "Adonais" printed in Italy...Of
the third class of Shelley's writings--those which were first
published after his death--sufficient facsimiles have been published
to prove that Trelawny's graphic description of the chaotic state of
most of them was really in no respect exaggerated...The difficulty is
much augmented by the fact that these pieces are rarely consecutive,
but literally disiecti membra poetae, scattered through various
notebooks in a way to require piecing together as well as deciphering.
The editors of the Posthumous Poems, moreover, though diligent
according to their light, were neither endowed with remarkable acumen
nor possessed of the wide knowledge requisite for the full
intelligence of so erudite a poet as Shelley, hence the perpetration
of numerous mistakes. Some few of the manuscripts, indeed, such as
those of "The Witch of Atlas", "Julian and Maddalo", and the "Lines at
Naples", were beautifully written out for the press in Shelley's best
hand, but their very value and beauty necessitated the ordeal of
transcription, with disastrous results in several instances. An entire
line dropped out of the "Lines at Naples", and although "Julian and
Maddalo" was extant in more than one very clear copy, the printed text
had several such sense-destroying errors as "least" for "lead".

'The corrupt state of the text has stimulated the ingenuity of
numerous correctors, who have suggested many acute and convincing
emendations, and some very specious ones which sustained scrutiny has
proved untenable. It should be needless to remark that success has in
general been proportionate to the facilities of access to the
manuscripts, which have only of late become generally available. If
Shelley is less fortunate than most modern poets in the purity of his
text, he is more fortunate than many in the preservation of his
manuscripts. These have not, as regards a fair proportion, been
destroyed or dispersed at auctions, but were protected from either
fate by their very character as confused memoranda. As such they
remained in the possession of Shelley's widow, and passed from her to
her son and daughter-in-law. After Sir Percy Shelley's death, Lady
Shelley took the occasion of the erection of the monument to Shelley
at University College, Oxford, to present [certain of] the manuscripts
to the Bodleian Library, and verse and sculpture form an imperishable
memorial of his connection with the University where his residence was
so brief and troubled.' (Dr. Garnett proceeds:--'The most important of
the Bodleian manuscripts is that of "Prometheus Unbound", which, says
Mr. Locock, has the appearance of being an intermediate draft, and
also the first copy made. This should confer considerable authority on
its variations from the accepted text, as this appears to have been
printed from a copy not made by Shelley himself. "My 'Prometheus'," he
writes to Ollier on September 6, 1819, "is now being transcribed," an
expression which he would hardly have used if he had himself been the
copyist. He wished the proofs to be sent to him in Italy for
correction, but to this Ollier objected, and on May 14, 1820, Shelley
signifies his acquiescence, adding, however, "In this case I shall
repose trust in your care respecting the correction of the press; Mr.
Gisborne will revise it; he heard it recited, and will therefore more
readily seize any error." This confidence in the accuracy of
Gisborne's verbal memory is touching! From a letter to Gisborne on May
26 following it appears that the offer to correct came from him, and
that Shelley sent him "two little papers of corrections and
additions," which were probably made use of, or the fact would have
been made known. In the case of additions this may satisfactorily
account for apparent omissions in the Bodleian manuscript. Gisborne,
after all, did not prove fully up to the mark. "It is to be
regretted," writes Shelley to Ollier on November 20, "that the errors
of the press are so numerous," adding, "I shall send you the list of
errata in a day or two." This was probably "the list of errata written
by Shelley himself," from which Mrs. Shelley corrected the edition of

In placing "Queen Mab" at the head of the "Juvenilia" I have followed
the arrangement adopted by Mr. Buxton Forman in his Library Edition of
1876. I have excluded "The Wandering Jew", having failed to satisfy
myself of the sufficiency of the grounds on which, in certain
quarters, it is accepted as the work of Shelley. The shorter fragments
are printed, as in Professor Dowden's edition of 1890, along with the
miscellaneous poems of the years to which they severally belong, under
titles which are sometimes borrowed from Mr. Buxton Forman, sometimes
of my own choosing. I have added a few brief Editor's Notes, mainly on
textual questions, at the end of the book. Of the poverty of my work
in this direction I am painfully aware; but in the present edition the
ordinary reader will, it is hoped, find an authentic, complete, and
accurately printed text, and, if this be so, the principal end and aim
of the OXFORD SHELLEY will have been attained.

I desire cordially to acknowledge the courtesy of Mr. H. Buxton
Forman, C.B., by whose kind sanction the second part of "The Daemon
the World" appears in this volume. And I would fain express my deep
sense of obligation for manifold information and guidance, derived
from Mr. Buxton Forman's various editions, reprints and other
publications--especially from the monumental Library Edition of 1876.
Acknowledgements are also due to the poet's grandson, Charles E.J.
Esdaile, Esq., for permission to include the early poems first printed
in Professor Dowden's "Life of Shelley"; and to Mr. C.D. Locock, for
leave to make full use of the material contained in his interesting
and stimulating volume. To Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., and to Professor
Dowden, cordial thanks are hereby tendered for good counsel cheerfully
bestowed. To two of the editors of the Shelley Society Reprints, Mr.
Thomas J. Wise and Mr. Robert A. Potts--both generously communicative
collectors--I am deeply indebted for the gift or loan of scarce
volumes, as well as for many kind offices in other ways. Lastly, to
the staff of the Oxford University Press my heartiest thanks are
owing, for their unremitting care in all that relates to the printing
and correcting of the sheets.


December, 1904.


In a valuable paper, 'Notes on Passages in Shelley,' contributed to
"The Modern Language Review" (October, 1905), Mr. A.C. Bradley
discussed, amongst other things, some fifty places in the text of
Shelley's verse, and indicated certain errors and omissions in this
edition. With the aid of these "Notes" the editor has now carefully
revised the text, and has in many places adopted the suggestions or
conclusions of their accomplished author.

June, 1913.



Obstacles have long existed to my presenting the public with a perfect
edition of Shelley's Poems. These being at last happily removed, I
hasten to fulfil an important duty,--that of giving the productions of
a sublime genius to the world, with all the correctness possible, and
of, at the same time, detailing the history of those productions, as
they sprang, living and warm, from his heart and brain. I abstain from
any remark on the occurrences of his private life, except inasmuch as
the passions which they engendered inspired his poetry. This is not
the time to relate the truth; and I should reject any colouring of the
truth. No account of these events has ever been given at all
approaching reality in their details, either as regards himself or
others; nor shall I further allude to them than to remark that the
errors of action committed by a man as noble and generous as Shelley,
may, as far as he only is concerned, be fearlessly avowed by those who
loved him, in the firm conviction that, were they judged impartially,
his character would stand in fairer and brighter light than that of
any contemporary. Whatever faults he had ought to find extenuation
among his fellows, since they prove him to be human; without them, the
exalted nature of his soul would have raised him into something

The qualities that struck any one newly introduced to Shelley
were,--First, a gentle and cordial goodness that animated his
intercourse with warm affection and helpful sympathy. The other, the
eagerness and ardour with which he was attached to the cause of human
happiness and improvement; and the fervent eloquence with which he
discussed such subjects. His conversation was marked by its happy
abundance, and the beautiful language in which he clothed his poetic
ideas and philosophical notions. To defecate life of its misery and
its evil was the ruling passion of his soul; he dedicated to it every
power of his mind, every pulsation of his heart. He looked on
political freedom as the direct agent to effect the happiness of
mankind; and thus any new-sprung hope of liberty inspired a joy and an
exultation more intense and wild than he could have felt for any
personal advantage. Those who have never experienced the workings of
passion on general and unselfish subjects cannot understand this; and
it must be difficult of comprehension to the younger generation rising
around, since they cannot remember the scorn and hatred with which the
partisans of reform were regarded some few years ago, nor the
persecutions to which they were exposed. He had been from youth the
victim of the state of feeling inspired by the reaction of the French
Revolution; and believing firmly in the justice and excellence of his
views, it cannot be wondered that a nature as sensitive, as impetuous,
and as generous as his, should put its whole force into the attempt to
alleviate for others the evils of those systems from which he had
himself suffered. Many advantages attended his birth; he spurned them
all when balanced with what he considered his duties. He was generous
to imprudence, devoted to heroism.

These characteristics breathe throughout his poetry. The struggle for
human weal; the resolution firm to martyrdom; the impetuous pursuit,
the glad triumph in good; the determination not to despair;--such were
the features that marked those of his works which he regarded with
most complacency, as sustained by a lofty subject and useful aim.

In addition to these, his poems may be divided into two classes,--the
purely imaginative, and those which sprang from the emotions of his
heart. Among the former may be classed the "Witch of Atlas",
"Adonais", and his latest composition, left imperfect, the "Triumph of
Life". In the first of these particularly he gave the reins to his
fancy, and luxuriated in every idea as it rose; in all there is that
sense of mystery which formed an essential portion of his perception
of life--a clinging to the subtler inner spirit, rather than to the
outward form--a curious and metaphysical anatomy of human passion and

The second class is, of course, the more popular, as appealing at once
to emotions common to us all; some of these rest on the passion of
love; others on grief and despondency; others on the sentiments
inspired by natural objects. Shelley's conception of love was exalted,
absorbing, allied to all that is purest and noblest in our nature, and
warmed by earnest passion; such it appears when he gave it a voice in
verse. Yet he was usually averse to expressing these feelings, except
when highly idealized; and many of his more beautiful effusions he had
cast aside unfinished, and they were never seen by me till after I had
lost him. Others, as for instance "Rosalind and Helen" and "Lines
written among the Euganean Hills", I found among his papers by chance;
and with some difficulty urged him to complete them. There are others,
such as the "Ode to the Skylark and The Cloud", which, in the opinion
of many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his
productions. They were written as his mind prompted: listening to the
carolling of the bird, aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or marking the
cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on
the Thames.

No poet was ever warmed by a more genuine and unforced inspiration.
His extreme sensibility gave the intensity of passion to his
intellectual pursuits; and rendered his mind keenly alive to every
perception of outward objects, as well as to his internal sensations.
Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the
disappointments we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and
errors, fraught with pain; to escape from such, he delivered up his
soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself, from the
influence of human sympathies, in the wildest regions of fancy. His
imagination has been termed too brilliant, his thoughts too subtle. He
loved to idealize reality; and this is a taste shared by few. We are
willing to have our passing whims exalted into passions, for this
gratifies our vanity; but few of us understand or sympathize with the
endeavour to ally the love of abstract beauty, and adoration of
abstract good, the to agathon kai to kalon of the Socratic
philosophers, with our sympathies with our kind. In this, Shelley
resembled Plato; both taking more delight in the abstract and the
ideal than in the special and tangible. This did not result from
imitation; for it was not till Shelley resided in Italy that he made
Plato his study. He then translated his "Symposium" and his "Ion"; and
the English language boasts of no more brilliant composition than
Plato's Praise of Love translated by Shelley. To return to his own
poetry. The luxury of imagination, which sought nothing beyond itself
(as a child burdens itself with spring flowers, thinking of no use
beyond the enjoyment of gathering them), often showed itself in his
verses: they will be only appreciated by minds which have resemblance
to his own; and the mystic subtlety of many of his thoughts will share
the same fate. The metaphysical strain that characterizes much of what
he has written was, indeed, the portion of his works to which, apart
from those whose scope was to awaken mankind to aspirations for what
he considered the true and good, he was himself particularly attached.
There is much, however, that speaks to the many. When he would consent
to dismiss these huntings after the obscure (which, entwined with his
nature as they were, he did with difficulty), no poet ever expressed
in sweeter, more heart-reaching, or more passionate verse, the gentler
or more forcible emotions of the soul.

A wise friend once wrote to Shelley: 'You are still very young, and in
certain essential respects you do not yet sufficiently perceive that
you are so.' It is seldom that the young know what youth is, till they
have got beyond its period; and time was not given him to attain this
knowledge. It must be remembered that there is the stamp of such
inexperience on all he wrote; he had not completed his
nine-and-twentieth year when he died. The calm of middle life did not
add the seal of the virtues which adorn maturity to those generated by
the vehement spirit of youth. Through life also he was a martyr to
ill-health, and constant pain wound up his nerves to a pitch of
susceptibility that rendered his views of life different from those of
a man in the enjoyment of healthy sensations. Perfectly gentle and
forbearing in manner, he suffered a good deal of internal
irritability, or rather excitement, and his fortitude to bear was
almost always on the stretch; and thus, during a short life, he had
gone through more experience of sensation than many whose existence is
protracted. 'If I die to-morrow,' he said, on the eve of his
unanticipated death, 'I have lived to be older than my father.' The
weight of thought and feeling burdened him heavily; you read his
sufferings in his attenuated frame, while you perceived the mastery he
held over them in his animated countenance and brilliant eyes.

He died, and the world showed no outward sign. But his influence over
mankind, though slow in growth, is fast augmenting; and, in the
ameliorations that have taken place in the political state of his
country, we may trace in part the operation of his arduous struggles.
His spirit gathers peace in its new state from the sense that, though
late, his exertions were not made in vain, and in the progress of the
liberty he so fondly loved.

He died, and his place, among those who knew him intimately, has never
been filled up. He walked beside them like a spirit of good to comfort
and benefit--to enlighten the darkness of life with irradiations of
genius, to cheer it with his sympathy and love. Any one, once attached
to Shelley, must feel all other affections, however true and fond, as
wasted on barren soil in comparison. It is our best consolation to
know that such a pure-minded and exalted being was once among us, and
now exists where we hope one day to join him;--although the
intolerant, in their blindness, poured down anathemas, the Spirit of
Good, who can judge the heart, never rejected him.

In the notes appended to the poems I have endeavoured to narrate the
origin and history of each. The loss of nearly all letters and papers
which refer to his early life renders the execution more imperfect
than it would otherwise have been. I have, however, the liveliest
recollection of all that was done and said during the period of my
knowing him. Every impression is as clear as if stamped yesterday, and
I have no apprehension of any mistake in my statements as far as they
go. In other respects I am indeed incompetent: but I feel the
importance of the task, and regard it as my most sacred duty. I
endeavour to fulfil it in a manner he would himself approve; and hope,
in this publication, to lay the first stone of a monument due to
Shelley's genius, his sufferings, and his virtues:--

Se al seguir son tarda,
Forse avverra che 'l bel nome gentile
Consacrero con questa stanca penna.


In revising this new edition, and carefully consulting Shelley's
scattered and confused papers, I found a few fragments which had
hitherto escaped me, and was enabled to complete a few poems hitherto
left unfinished. What at one time escapes the searching eye, dimmed by
its own earnestness, becomes clear at a future period. By the aid of a
friend, I also present some poems complete and correct which hitherto
have been defaced by various mistakes and omissions. It was suggested
that the poem "To the Queen of my Heart" was falsely attributed to
Shelley. I certainly find no trace of it among his papers; and, as
those of his intimate friends whom I have consulted never heard of it,
I omit it.

Two poems are added of some length, "Swellfoot the Tyrant" and "Peter
Bell the Third". I have mentioned the circumstances under which they
were written in the notes; and need only add that they are conceived
in a very different spirit from Shelley's usual compositions. They are
specimens of the burlesque and fanciful; but, although they adopt a
familiar style and homely imagery, there shine through the radiance of
the poet's imagination the earnest views and opinions of the
politician and the moralist.

At my request the publisher has restored the omitted passages of
"Queen Mab". I now present this edition as a complete collection of my
husband's poetical works, and I do not foresee that I can hereafter
add to or take away a word or line.

Putney, November 6, 1839.



In nobil sangue vita umile e queta,
Ed in alto intelletto un puro core
Frutto senile in sul giovenil fibre,
E in aspetto pensoso anima lieta.--PETRARCA.

It had been my wish, on presenting the public with the Posthumous
Poems of Mr. Shelley, to have accompanied them by a biographical
notice; as it appeared to me that at this moment a narration of the
events of my husband's life would come more gracefully from other
hands than mine, I applied to Mr. Leigh Hunt. The distinguished
friendship that Mr. Shelley felt for him, and the enthusiastic
affection with which Mr. Leigh Hunt clings to his friend's memory,
seemed to point him out as the person best calculated for such an
undertaking. His absence from this country, which prevented our mutual
explanation, has unfortunately rendered my scheme abortive. I do not
doubt but that on some other occasion he will pay this tribute to his
lost friend, and sincerely regret that the volume which I edit has not
been honoured by its insertion.

The comparative solitude in which Mr. Shelley lived was the occasion
that he was personally known to few; and his fearless enthusiasm in
the cause which he considered the most sacred upon earth, the
improvement of the moral and physical state of mankind, was the chief
reason why he, like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by hatred
and calumny. No man was ever more devoted than he to the endeavour of
making those around him happy; no man ever possessed friends more
unfeignedly attached to him. The ungrateful world did not feel his
loss, and the gap it made seemed to close as quickly over his memory
as the murderous sea above his living frame. Hereafter men will lament
that his transcendent powers of intellect were extinguished before
they had bestowed on them their choicest treasures. To his friends his
loss is irremediable: the wise, the brave, the gentle, is gone for
ever! He is to them as a bright vision, whose radiant track, left
behind in the memory, is worth all the realities that society can
afford. Before the critics contradict me, let them appeal to any one
who had ever known him. To see him was to love him: and his presence,
like Ithuriel's spear, was alone sufficient to disclose the falsehood
of the tale which his enemies whispered in the ear of the ignorant

His life was spent in the contemplation of Nature, in arduous study,
or in acts of kindness and affection. He was an elegant scholar and a
profound metaphysician; without possessing much scientific knowledge,
he was unrivalled in the justness and extent of his observations on
natural objects; he knew every plant by its name, and was familiar
with the history and habits of every production of the earth; he could
interpret without a fault each appearance in the sky; and the varied
phenomena of heaven and earth filled him with deep emotion. He made
his study and reading-room of the shadowed copse, the stream, the
lake, and the waterfall. Ill health and continual pain preyed upon his
powers; and the solitude in which we lived, particularly on our first
arrival in Italy, although congenial to his feelings, must frequently
have weighed upon his spirits; those beautiful and affecting "Lines
written in Dejection near Naples" were composed at such an interval;
but, when in health, his spirits were buoyant and youthful to an
extraordinary degree.

Such was his love for Nature that every page of his poetry is
associated, in the minds of his friends, with the loveliest scenes of
the countries which he inhabited. In early life he visited the most
beautiful parts of this country and Ireland. Afterwards the Alps of
Switzerland became his inspirers. "Prometheus Unbound" was written
among the deserted and flower-grown ruins of Rome; and, when he made
his home under the Pisan hills, their roofless recesses harboured him
as he composed the "Witch of Atlas", "Adonais", and "Hellas". In the
wild but beautiful Bay of Spezzia, the winds and waves which he loved
became his playmates. His days were chiefly spent on the water; the
management of his boat, its alterations and improvements, were his
principal occupation. At night, when the unclouded moon shone on the
calm sea, he often went alone in his little shallop to the rocky caves
that bordered it, and, sitting beneath their shelter, wrote the
"Triumph of Life", the last of his productions. The beauty but
strangeness of this lonely place, the refined pleasure which he felt
in the companionship of a few selected friends, our entire
sequestration from the rest of the world, all contributed to render
this period of his life one of continued enjoyment. I am convinced
that the two months we passed there were the happiest which he had
ever known: his health even rapidly improved, and he was never better
than when I last saw him, full of spirits and joy, embark for Leghorn,
that he might there welcome Leigh Hunt to Italy. I was to have
accompanied him; but illness confined me to my room, and thus put the
seal on my misfortune. His vessel bore out of sight with a favourable
wind, and I remained awaiting his return by the breakers of that sea
which was about to engulf him.

He spent a week at Pisa, employed in kind offices toward his friend,
and enjoying with keen delight the renewal of their intercourse. He
then embarked with Mr. Williams, the chosen and beloved sharer of his
pleasures and of his fate, to return to us. We waited for them in
vain; the sea by its restless moaning seemed to desire to inform us of
what we would not learn:--but a veil may well be drawn over such
misery. The real anguish of those moments transcended all the fictions
that the most glowing imagination ever portrayed; our seclusion, the
savage nature of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and our
immediate vicinity to the troubled sea, combined to imbue with strange
horror our days of uncertainty. The truth was at last known,--a truth
that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall.
Every heart echoed the deep lament, and my only consolation was in the
praise and earnest love that each voice bestowed and each countenance
demonstrated for him we had lost,--not, I fondly hope, for ever; his
unearthly and elevated nature is a pledge of the continuation of his
being, although in an altered form. Rome received his ashes; they are
deposited beneath its weed-grown wall, and 'the world's sole monument'
is enriched by his remains.

I must add a few words concerning the contents of this volume. "Julian
and Maddalo", the "Witch of Atlas", and most of the "Translations",
were written some years ago; and, with the exception of the "Cyclops",
and the Scenes from the "Magico Prodigioso", may be considered as
having received the author's ultimate corrections. The "Triumph of
Life" was his last work, and was left in so unfinished a state that I
arranged it in its present form with great difficulty. All his poems
which were scattered in periodical works are collected in this volume,
and I have added a reprint of "Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude":
the difficulty with which a copy can be obtained is the cause of its
republication. Many of the Miscellaneous Poems, written on the spur of
the occasion, and never retouched, I found among his manuscript books,
and have carefully copied. I have subjoined, whenever I have been
able, the date of their composition.

I do not know whether the critics will reprehend the insertion of some
of the most imperfect among them; but I frankly own that I have been
more actuated by the fear lest any monument of his genius should
escape me than the wish of presenting nothing but what was complete to
the fastidious reader. I feel secure that the lovers of Shelley's
poetry (who know how, more than any poet of the present day, every
line and word he wrote is instinct with peculiar beauty) will pardon
and thank me: I consecrate this volume to them.

The size of this collection has prevented the insertion of any prose
pieces. They will hereafter appear in a separate publication.


London, June 1, 1824.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Volume 1

    Volume 2 - Early Poems 1814-1815

    Poems Written in 1816

    Poems Written in 1817

    Poems Written in 1818

    Poems Written in 1819

    Poems Written in 1820

    Poems Written in 1821

    Poems Written in 1822

    Volume 3

    Volume 3 - Juvenilia

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