On this day 200 years ago, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned at sea at the painfully young age of 29. He wrote during the Romantic period (1780 – 1840), other writers included William Wordsworth, Jane Austen and Shelley’s friend, Lord Byron.
Shelly was a dreamer of dreams, a revolutionary at heart, at the time of his death however, he wasn’t famous for his literary achievements, both his life and works were considered scandalous. This in part was due to his reputation as being a vegetarian atheist and being sexually liberated, living in what was reported as a ménage à trois. Shelly having abandoned his pregnant wife and eloped with the young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later the famous author of Frankenstein) along with her stepsister. They travelled throughout Europe settling in Italy which was where he lost his life, today he is one of the most celebrated British poets, who knows what great works the world has missed by his untimely death.
Below is a link to one of my favourites To A Skylark (also you can see a copy of the start of the poem in Shelly’s own hand) – it celebrates the beauty of the skylarks song, exploring through a number of metaphors, The bird’s ability to see beyond life, understand death, and yet have no concern about it considering that maybe this is why humans never reach the same state of happiness that the skylark does.