Shelley's famous love poetry exhibited great passion consistent with his revolutionary spirit.

Percy Bysshe Shelley is the second of the great English romantic poets to feature in famous love poetry. Of course we know of his great friend Lord Byron who was featured earlier.

Shelley, born in 1792 rebelled against English politics and conservative values. His passions were a great revolutionary spirit and free thought which he employed in his struggle against social injustice. To him, there was no distinction between poetry and politics and his works reflected this radicalism which made him like his friend, Byron, a pariah.

A good example of this defining aspect of his poetry was "The Mask of Anarchy" which he wrote in 1819 in protest of the Peterloo Massacre ( The English government put down a protest in Manchester brutally, by ruthlessly killing a lot of the protesters)...

"I met Murder on the way -

He had a mask like Castlereagh -"

Castlereagh was the English Prime Minister of the time!

Shelley was born into a quite affluent aristocratic family. He attended University College Oxford, although his radicalism ensured that his tenure was shortlived.

He was expelled for co-publishing a pamphlet with Thomas Jefferson Hogg extolling atheism in 1811 and with this his career as a rebel and non conformist was launched.

His first important poem. "Queen Mab" was published in 1813 and was considered quite visionary at the time.

Let us now take a look at some examples of his famous love poetry:

"Love's Philosophy" is the first example, which I consider his best famous love poetry. In love, the firebrand was married twice. His second wife, Mary Godwin was the daughter of the philosopher and anarchist William Godwin (1756-1836) who was of considerable influence, not only to Shelley himself, but also to Lord Byron and Wordsworth who was quite an anarchist himself in his younger days. Mary Shelley herself was no mean author. She created the monster Frankestein in her gothic epic of the same name.

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by law divine

In one another's being mingle;--

Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another

No sister flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea;

What are all these kissings worth

If thou kiss not me?

Here is another example of Shelley's famous love poetry:

When the Lamp Is Shattered

When the lamp is shattered

The light in the dust lies dead

When the cloud is scattered

The rainbow's glory is shed.

When the lute is broken,

Sweet tones are remembered not.

When the lips have spoken,

Loved accents are soon forgot.

As music and splendour

Survive not the lamp and the lute.

The heart's echoes render

No song when the spirit is mute--

No song but sad dirges,

Like the wind through a ruined cell,

Or the mournful surges

That ring the dead seaman's knell.

When hearts have once mingled

Love first leaves the well-built nest.

The weak one is singled

To endure what it once possessed.

Oh Love! who bewailest

The frailty of all things here,

Why choose you the frailest

For your cradle, your home, and your bier?

Its passions will rock thee

As the storms rock the ravens on high.

Bright reason will mock thee,

Like the sun from a wintry sky.

From thy nest every rafter

Will rot, and thine eagle home

Leave thee naked to laughter,

When leaves fall and cold winds come.

Music, When Soft Voices Die is yet another example of Shelley's famous love poetry.

Music, When Soft Voices Die

Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory --

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heap'd for the beloved's bed;

And so thy thoughts when thou are gone,

Love itself shall slumber on.

"The Invitation" is the final example of famous love poetry from Percy Bysshe Shelley:

The Invitation

Best and brightest, come away,

Fairer far than this fair day,

Which, like thee, to those in sorrow

Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow

To the rough year just awake

In its cradle on the brake.

The brightest hour of unborn Spring

Through the Winter wandering,

Found, it seems, the halcyon morn

To hoar February born;

Bending from Heaven, in azure mirth,

It kissed the forehead of the earth,

And smiled upon the silent sea,

And bade the frozen streams be free,

And waked to music all their fountains,

And breathed upon the frozen mountains,

And like a prophetess of May

Strewed flowers upon the barren way,

Making the wintry world appear

Like one on whom thou smilest, dear.

Away, away, from men and towns,

To the wild wood and the downs -

To the silent wilderness

Where the soul need not repress

Its music, lest it should not find

An echo in another's mind,

While the touch of Nature's art

Harmonizes heart to heart.

Radiant Sister of the Day

Awake! arise! and come away!

To the wild woods and the plains,

To the pools where winter rains

Image all their roof of leaves,

Where the pine its garland weaves

Of sapless green, and ivy dun,

Round stems that never kiss the sun,

Where the lawns and pastures be

And the sandhills of the sea,

Where the melting hoar-frost wets

The daisy-star that never sets,

And wind-flowers and violets

Which yet join not scent to hue

Crown the pale year weak and new;

When the night is left behind

In the deep east, dim and blind,

And the blue noon is over us,

And the multitudinous

Billows murmur at our feet,

Where the earth and ocean meet,

And all things seem only one

In the universal Sun.

Some may well say the best was chosen to be the last offering! Percy Bysshe Shelley certainly made his mark on famous love poetry. In his lifetime, his name and reputation was anathema to many, especially the rich and monied political class from which ironically he came. But he can take solace from his immortality through poetry and literature. He endures till this day, while many of his adversaries have since vanished in the mist of history.

Like his most famous poem, "Ozymandias", they too trumpeted:

"Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!...

and similarly,

"Nothing beside remains.

Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck,

boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands

stretch far away."

Thus ends Shelley's famous love poetry.

Famous Love Poetry Examples 1


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