The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley Volume II
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley Volume II (1914) compiles some of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s best-known works as a leading poet, playwright, and political thinker of the nineteenth century. As a leading figure among the English Romantics, Shelley was a master of poetic form and tradition who recognized the need for radical change in the social order. His work has influenced such writers and intellectuals as Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, W. B. Yeats, and George Bernard Shaw. In “Ozymandias,” Shelley employs the language of archaeology to mask one of the greatest political poems of all time. The sonnet depicts a statue of an ancient king discovered in the Egyptian desert. Barely visible above the shifting sand, its pedestal reads “‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’” Juxtaposed with this language of bluster, the three remaining lines dispel the myth of power with expert precision: “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away.” For Shelley, who identifies with the knowing, mischievous sculptor, the dominion of kings is nothing but hubris, a grain of sand in the vast expanse of time. In “To a Skylark,” Shelley immortalizes the song of a bird heard once and remembered forever: “The blue deep thou wingest, / And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.” As he longs to know the bird in order to mimic the celebratory nature of its song, Shelley reaches an understanding of the human condition, the tragic temperament of those who “look before and after, / And pine for what is not.” Unlike the poet, who must struggle to achieve his song, the skylark soars and sings and remains above the world of men, whose “sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley Volume II is a classic of English literature reimagined for modern readers.