Shelley On the Sea Shore?
There are pros and cons to being a rock star, and the same goes for being an amazing writer. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the ever-clever Ozymandias, hung out with bros Lord Byron & John Keats, and even had a great hand in on Frankenstein, which was written by his wife, Mary Shelley. However, Percy’s life was not all fun, fame, and games—being a founding father of the Romanticism movement took Percy plenty of pleasure and pain.
At a young age, Percy began writing and stirring up controversy. He was expelled from his school for a pamphlet he wrote called The Necessity of Atheism. (The Poetry Foundation) All writers know that pain produces great literature, and we see this crystal clear in Shelley’s life. After John Keats’ death, Shelley wrote Adonais, (The Poetry Foundation) and was writing much during the clashing highs and lows of his first wife, Harriet, drowning herself and his marrying Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. He and Mary went through the death of a child, a miscarriage, Percy’s nightmares, death of another child, and the birth of another child. (Neurotic Poets) All of this death and disappointment could possibly show why Shelly pokes fun at legacy in Ozymandias.
Something most people can respect about Shelley is that he wasn’t an alcoholic and he wasn’t addicted to drugs, (Bieri 98) which is rare for writers of this time; he didn’t rely on substance for his creativity or genius.
Percy had a great deal of influence on his wife’s book, Frankenstein, which she wrote while in bed with Percy. Percy helped tighten the plot for her and has an estimated contribution of around 5,000 words to the novel, which was actually the product of a competition Lord Byron had brought up. The challenge among this small circle was to tell the best ghost story. (Grande) So, Mary, Percy, and Lord Byron are all to be thanked for our favorite classic Halloween tale (even if it has become quite abridged). During this time Percy also wrote the loved poem Mont Blanc.
Shelley died at sea at the age of 29 on his boat named Don Juan, which Lord Byron came up with, but he later renamed it Ariel. His body washed up on the beach 10 days after the accident and he was cremated shortly thereafter.
We can learn much from Percy Bysshe Shelley, but I think the most important piece to take away from his life is that a healthy contrast of pleasure and pain in our lives creates a breeding ground for great writing.
Bieri, James. Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Biography : Youth’s Unextinguished Fire, 1792-1816. University of Delaware Press, 2004. 98. eBook.
Grande, James. “The Original Frankenstein, By Mary Shelley with Percy Shelley ed Charles E Robinson.” The Independent. The Independent, 16 Nov 2008. Web. 4 Oct 2013. <http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-original-frankenstein-by-mary-shelley-with-percy-shelley-ed-charles-e-robinson-1017483.html>.
Neurotic Poets, . “Percy Bysshe Shelly.” Neurotic Poets. Neurotic Poets Web Site. Web. 4 Oct 2013. <http://www.neuroticpoets.com/shelley/>.
The Poetry Foundation, . “Percy Bysshe Shelly.” The Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 4 Oct 2013. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/percy-bysshe-shelley>.