Percy Bysshe Shelley
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Percy Bysshe Shelley—Romantic Poet

(1792-1822) August 4, 1792, Horsham, England, 10 PM, LMT                                     Died of drowning, at sea, off Livorno, Italy, Tuscany, July 8, 1822.

LMR Reports: “Circle No.110 quotes his father's and grandfather's statements in his biography (Formerly, Alan Leo in M.A. 1/1897 gave 4:59 PM.)”  

(Source: recorded birth time; Notable Nativities indicates 5:00 PM, with late Sagittarius rising). (Ascendant either Taurus or Sagittarius; Sun conjunct Venus in Leo; Moon, Pisces; Mars, Jupiter and Neptune all conjunct in Libra; Saturn in Taurus, conjunct the IC of the Sagittarius chart and the Ascendant of the Taurus rising chart; Uranus in Virgo; Pluto in Aquarius)        

Shelly was the very archetype of the romantic poet. He was fascinated by ancient Greek culture, with which his triple conjunction in Libra may have placed him in rapport. That he lived in Italy (a nation the soul of which is ruled by Leo and its personality by Sagittarius) may speak to the validity of the Sagittarius rising chart. His tragic death by drowning, during a storm, reflect the powerful influence of Neptune and his Piscean Moon. The chart is divided into a “See-Saw: pattern, reinforcing the power of the fourth ray—very probably the ray of his soul.        

Recognized as one of the greatest of ally lyric poets. His first wife committed suicide in 1816; he was denied custony of the children because of his atheism. Married Mary Godwin, with whom he had eloped in 1814. Drowned in a lake storm in 1822.


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.

All love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, And its familiar voice wearies not ever. They who inspire is most are fortunate, As I am now: but those who feel it most Are happier still.

Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.

Cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.

How wonderful is death! Death and his brother sleep.

Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.

Nought may endure but Mutability.

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep - he hath awakened from the dream of life - 'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife.

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Revenge is the naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age.

The man of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys.

The soul's joy lies in doing.

To be omnipotent but friendless is to reign.


(1792-1827), English Romantic poet who rebelled against English politics and conservative values. Shelley drew no essential distinction between poetry and politics, and his work reflected the radical ideas and revolutionary optimism of the era.

was born on August 4, 1792, at Field Place, near Horsham in Sussex, into an aristocratic family. His father, Timothy Shelley, was a Sussex squire and a member of Parliament. Shelley attended Syon House Academy and Eton and in 1810 he entered the Oxford University College.

In 1811 Shelley was expelled from the college for publishing The Necessity Of Atheism, which he wrote with Thomas Jefferson Hogg. Shelley's father withdrew his inheritance in favor of a small annuity, after he eloped with the 16-year old Harriet Westbrook, the daughter of a London tavern owner. The pair spent the following two years traveling in England and Ireland, distributing pamphlets and speaking against political injustice. In 1813 Shelley published his first important poem, the atheistic Queen Mab.

The poet's marriage to Harriet was a failure. In 1814 Shelley traveled abroad with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the daughter of the philosopher and anarchist William Godwin (1756-1836). Mary's young stepsister Claire Clairmont was also in the company. During this journey Shelley wrote an unfinished novella, The Assassins (1814). Their combined journal, Six Weeks' Tour, reworked by Mary Shelley, appeared in 1817. After their return to London, Shelley came into an annual income under his grandfather's will. Harriet drowned herself in the Serpentine in 1816. Shelley married Mary Wollstonecraft and his favorite son William was born in 1816.

Shelley spent the summer of 1816 with Lord Byron at Lake Geneva, where Byron had an affair with Claire. Shelley composed the "Hymn To Intellectual Beauty" and "Mont Blanc". In 1817 Shelley published The Revolt Of Islam and the much anthologized "Ozymandias" appeared in 1818. Among Shelley's popular poems are the Odes "To the West Wind" and "To a Skylark" and Adonais, an elegy for Keats.

In 1818 the Shelleys moved to Italy, where Byron was residing. In 1819 they went to Rome and in 1820 to Pisa. Shelley's works from this period include Julian And Maddalo, an exploration of his relations with Byron and Prometheus Unbound, a lyrical drama. The Cenci was a five-act tragedy based on the history of a 16th-century Roman family, and The Mask Of Anarchy was a political protest which was written after the Peterloo massacre. In 1822 the Shelley household moved to the Bay of Lerici. There Shelley began to write The Triumph Of Life.

To welcome his friend Leigh Hunt, he sailed to Leghorn. During the stormy return voyage to Lerici, his small schooner the Ariel sank and Shelley drowned with Edward Williams on July 8, 1822. The bodies were washed ashore at Viareggio, where, in the presence of Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt, they were burned on the beach. Shelley was later buried in Rome

(August 4, 1792 - July 8, 1822) was an English Romantic poet, now most famous for poems such as "Ozymandias", "Ode to the West Wind", "To a Skylark", and "The Masque of Anarchy".
Born into an extremely wealthy family of Sussex gentry and heir to a baronetcy, Shelley received an education at Eton College and then went to the University of Oxford (University College). His first publication was a Gothic novel, Zastrozzi (1810), in which he gave vent to his atheistic worldview through the villain Zastrozzi. In the same year, Shelley together with his sister Elizabeth published Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire. After going up to Oxford, he issued a collection of (ostensibly burlesque but actually subversive) verse, Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson. A fellow collegian, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, may have been his collaborator.
In 1811, Shelley published a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in his expulsion from Oxford, along with Hogg. He could have been reinstated, following the intervention of his father, had he recanted his avowed views. Shelley refused, which led to a total break between himself and his father.
In the same year, Shelley eloped to Scotland and married Harriet Westbrook, the daughter of a coffee-house keeper. Once married, Shelley moved to the Lake District to write, but shortly afterwards visited Ireland in order to engage in political pamphleteering. Two years later he published Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem. The poem shows the influence of the British philosopher William Godwin, and much of Godwin's freethinking radical philosophy is voiced in it. By now unhappy in his marriage, Shelley fell in love with Godwin's and Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter, Mary. In July 1814 they eloped to Europe, crossing France and entering Switzerland. After six weeks, and out of money, they returned to England. The Shelleys would later publish an account of this voyage.
In the fall of 1815, while living close to London, Shelley produced the verse allegory Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude. It attracted little attention at the time, but has come to be recognized as his first major poem.
In the summer of 1816 the Shelleys made a second trip to Switzerland. They were prompted to do so by Mary Shelley's half-sister Claire Clairmont, who had contracted a liaison with Lord Byron the previous April, just before he entered his self-exile on the continent. Byron had lost interest in Claire, and she used the opportunity of meeting the Shelleys as bait to lure him to Geneva. The Shelleys and Byron rented neighboring houses on the shores of Lake Geneva. Regular conversation with Byron had an invigorating effect on Shelley's poetry. A boating tour which the two took together inspired Shelley to write the Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, his first significant production since Alastor. A tour of Chamonix in the French Alps inspired "Mont Blanc", a difficult poem in which Shelley ponders questions of historical inevitability and the relationship between the human mind and external nature. Shelley, in turn, influenced Byron's poetry. This new influence shows itself in the third part of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which Byron was working on, and in Manfred, which he wrote that fall. At the same time, Mary had been inspired to begin writing Frankenstein. At the end of summer, the Shelleys and Claire returned to England. Claire was pregnant with Byron's child, a fact that would have an enormous impact on Shelley's future.
The return to England was marred by tragedy. Fanny Kemble, a member of Godwin's household, killed herself in the late Autumn. In December 1816 Harriet Shelley committed suicide. A few weeks after Harriet's body was recovered from the Serpentine River in London's Hyde Park, Shelley and Mary Godwin were married. The marriage was intended, in part, to help secure Shelley's custody of his children by Harriet, but it was in vain: the children were given over to foster parents by the courts.
The Shelleys took up residence in the village of Marlow, where Shelley's friend Thomas Love Peacock lived. Shelley took part in the literary circle that surrounded Leigh Hunt, and during this period came to know John Keats. Shelley's major production this year was Laon and Cythna, a long narrative poem in which the two principal figures were incestuous lovers and which attacked religion. It was hastily withdrawn after only a few copies were published, then edited and reissued as The Revolt of Islam in 1818. Shelley also wrote two revolutionary political tracts under the nom de plume of "The Hermit of Marlow."
Early in 1818, the Shelleys and Claire left England in order to deliver the daughter of Byron and Claire to Byron, who had taken up residence in Venice. Again contact with Byron encouraged the production of Shelley's poetry. In the latter part of the year he wrote Julian and Maddalo and Prometheus Unbound. Tragedy struck in 1818 and 1819, when his infant daughter and son died of climate-related illnesses.
The Shelleys moved around various Italian cities during these years. Shelley completed Prometheus Unbound in Rome, and spent the summer of 1819 writing a tragedy, The Cenci, in Leghorn. In this year, propmpted among other causes by the Peterloo massacre, he wrote his best-known political poems, The Masque of Anarchy and Men of England, probably his best-remembered works during the 19th century, and the essay The Philosophical View of Reform, his most thorough exposition of his political views.
In 1821, inspired by the death of John Keats, Shelley wrote the elegy Adonais.
In 1822 Shelley arranged for Leigh Hunt, the British poet and editor who had been one of his chief supporters in England, to come to Italy with his family; he intended that the three of them—himself, Byron and Hunt—would create a journal, to be called The Liberal, with Hunt as editor, which would disseminate their controversial writings and act as a counter-blast to conservative periodicals such as Blackwood's Magazine and The Quarterly Review.
On July 8, 1822, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm off Leghorn in the Bay of Spezia, while sailing back from Pisa and Leghorn to Lerici in his schooner, the Don Juan. He was returning from having set up The Liberal with the newly-arrived Hunt. The name "Don Juan", a compliment to Byron, was chosen by Edward Trelawny, a member of the Shelley-Byron Pisan circle, but according to Mary Shelley's testimony, Shelley changed it to "Ariel". This annoyed Byron, who caused "Don Juan" to be painted on the mainsail, giving offence to the Shelleys, who felt that the boat now looked like a coal barge. The vessel, an open boat designed from a Royal dockyards model, was custom-built in Genoa for Shelley. It did not capsize but sank; Mary Shelley declared in her "Note on Poems of 1822" (1839) that this design had a defect and was never seaworthy.
Shelley's body was washed ashore and later cremated on the beach near Viareggio. His heart was snatched, unconsumed, from the funeral pyre by Edward Trelawny, and kept by Mary Shelley until her dying day, while his ashes were interred in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome.
Three children survived him: Ianthe and Charles, his daughter and son by Harriet; and Percy Florence, his son by Mary. Charles died of tuberculosis in 1826. Percy Florence, who eventually inherited the baronetcy in 1844, died without children. The only lineal descendants of the poet are therefore the children of Ianthe.
Unlike Byron, who despite his radical views had a large following among the upper classes even while still alive, for decades after his death Shelley was read mainly among socialists and in the labor movement (Karl Marx was among his admirers). Only towards the end of the 19th century did his work, or rather his more innocuous work, become respectable - popularised by, among others, Henry Salt, whose acclaimed biography : Poet and Pioneer was first published in 1896.

• Born: 4 August 1792
• Birthplace: Near Sussex, England
• Death: 8 July 1822 (drowning)
• Best Known As: 19th century romantic poet
A radical young fellow, Percy Shelley was expelled from Oxford University in 1811 when he published The Necessity of Atheism. His early poems advocated social reform, reflecting the influence of the philosophical writings of William Godwin. He fell in love with Godwin's daughter Mary, who later gained fame as the author of Frankenstein. After Shelley's first wife committed suicide in 1816, Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin were married. Shelley was lost at sea in 1822, while sailing off the coast of Italy.


Shelley, Percy Bysshe (bish) , 1792–1822, English poet, b. Horsham, Sussex. He is ranked as one of the great English poets of the romantic period.
A Tempestuous Life
The son of a prosperous squire, he entered Oxford in 1810, where readings in philosophy led him toward a study of the empiricists and the modern skeptics, notably William Godwin. In 1811 he and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg published their pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in their immediate expulsion from the university. The same year Shelley eloped with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook, by whom he eventually had two children, Ianthe and Charles.
Supported reluctantly by their fathers, the young couple traveled through Great Britain. Shelley's life continued to be dominated by his desire for social and political reform, and he was constantly publishing pamphlets. His first important poem, Queen Mab, privately printed in 1813, set forth a radical system of curing social ills by advocating the destruction of various established institutions.
In 1814 Shelley left England for France with Mary Godwin, the daughter of William Godwin. During their first year together they were plagued by social ostracism and financial difficulties. However, in 1815 Shelley's grandfather died and left him an annual income. Laon and Cynthna appeared in 1817 but was withdrawn and reissued the following year as The Revolt of Islam; it is a long poem in Spenserian stanzas that tells of a revolution and illustrates the growth of the human mind aspiring toward perfection.
After Harriet Shelley's suicide in 1816, Shelley and Mary officially married. In 1817 Harriet's parents obtained a decree from the lord chancellor stating that Shelley was unfit to have custody of his children. The following year Shelley and Mary left England and settled in Italy. By this time their household consisted of their own three children and Mary's half-sister Claire Claremont and her daughter Allegra (whose father was Lord Byron). On July 8, 1822, Shelley was drowned while sailing in the Bay of Spezia, near Lerici.
Shelley composed the great body of his poetry in Italy. The Cenci, a tragedy in verse exploring moral deformity, was published in 1819, followed by his masterpiece, Prometheus Unbound (1820). In this lyrical drama Shelley poured forth all his passions and beliefs, which were modeled after the ideas of Plato. Epipsychidion (1821) is a poem addressed to Emilia Viviani, a young woman whom Shelley met in Pisa and with whom he developed a brief but close friendship.
His great elegy, Adonais (1821), written in memory of Keats, asserts the immortality of beauty. Hellas (1822), a lyrical drama, was inspired by the Greek struggle for independence. His other poems include Alastor (1816) and the shorter poems “Ode to the West Wind,” “To a Skylark,” “Ozymandias,” “The Indian Serenade,” and “When the Lamp Is Shattered.”
Most of Shelley's poetry reveals his philosophy, a combination of belief in the power of human love and reason, and faith in the perfectibility and ultimate progress of man. His lyric poems are superb in their beauty, grandeur, and mastery of language. Although Matthew Arnold labeled him an “ineffectual angel,” 20th-century critics have taken Shelley seriously, recognizing his wit, his gifts as a satirist, and his influence as a social and political thinker.


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