Percy Bysshe Shelley

1792-1822

'Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange'

 

P.B. Shelley is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, though his heart lies in St Peter's Churchyard, Bournemouth, Dorset, England. (John Keats is also buried in the protestant cemetery in Rome.) 

Shelley drowned in the Gulf of Spezzia in Italy. He was returning from a visit to Byron and Leigh Hunt at Livorno when his schooner (the 'Ariel') was caught in a violent summer storm. Shelley's body washed ashore several days later and was cremated on the beach at Via Reggio with Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt and Edward Trelawny in attendance. His heart, which refused to burn, was first passed to Hunt who later gave it to Mary Shelley. 

When Shelley's body was found, a copy of Keats' poetry was discovered  in his pocket -  doubled back - as though it had been put away in a hurry.

Gravestone of Percy Shelley

Tomb of Mary Shelley.
 

Percy Shelley

Shelley's ashes were stored for several months in the British Consul's wine cellar in Rome before eventually being buried in the Protestant Cemetery.

When Mary Shelley died in 1851 her husband's heart was found amongst her belongings. It was apparently wrapped in one of the sheets of Adonais - Shelley's famous elegy to Keats.

Shelley's first wife, Harriet Westbrook, drowned herself in the Serpentine in 1816. In 1818 Shelley left England permanently with Mary and settled in Italy - where many of his famous poems were written. Political news from England inspired him to write The Mask of Anarchy and Sonnet: England 1819.

Throughout his life Shelley remained a troubled and rebellious individual. He wrote some sublime lyrical poetry - though some of it is marred by excessive abstraction. However, he was undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent romantic poets.

There is also a monument to Shelley by Henry Weekes in Christchurch Priory, Dorset.

See also romanticism, terza rima and 'Poets on Poetry'.

           Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
             Bird thou never wert -
           That from heaven or near it
             Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Ode to a Skylark (complete poem)

Read more of Shelley's poetry

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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