Shelley you must be joking?

What Kenneth Neill Cameron described as “One of the unsolved mysteries of Shelley bibliography” can now be solved, for a copy of the pamphlet has been discovered and is in the possession of the booksellers Bernard Quaritch.

But no. Shelley’s long-lost Poetical Essay, the pamphlet he published anonymously the same year he was expelled from Oxford for writing The Necessity of Atheism, has been found, The TLS reports.

…The poem is dedicated “TO HARRIET W–B–K”, that is Harriet Westbrook with whom Shelley eloped in August 1811: this constitutes the first printed reference to the poet’s wife. The dedication is followed by a “Preface”, a short essay touching on politics and religion, calling for “a total reform in the licentiousness, luxury, depravity, prejudice, which involve society”, not by warfare, which he vigorously denounces, but by “gradual, yet decided intellectual exertions”. The poem which follows consists of 172 lines of rhyming couplets.
It ranges over the devastations of war, the fearless voice of Sir Francis Burdett, the iniquities of Castlereagh, the tyranny of Napoleon and the oppressions of colonial India.

I like this line in particular:

“The fainting Indian, on his native plains,
Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains”





One response to “Shelley you must be joking?”

  1. thalassa_mikra Avatar

    Lord. Were it that the pamphlet was not discovered.

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