Writing in Dejection
Author of the poem “Stanzas, Written in Dejection, near Naples”, Percy Bysshe Shelley remains as one of the most influential poets today. A man on the Romantic Era, Shelley’s reflective poetry earns him the title of the imaginative radical during that time, centering his poetry on restrictions in society and humanity’s place in the universe. (Abrams 428) In his lifetime, Shelley and his poetry exemplified intelligence, logical thinking, earnestness, and curiosity, all qualities which had engendered from a life of studies and wealth. The son of a prosperous squire, Shelley’s life began in England on Saturday, August 4th, 1792 and he remained in his home country until his expulsion from Oxford at the age of 18. (Woodberry xv, xix) Subsequent to his expulsion, Shelley’s health began to deteriorate and he suffered from heart attacks frequently. Due to his poor physical condition, the England aborigine left with his spouse to travel Italy. During his excursion around the bucolic country, Shelley compiled a number of poems including the 1818 work “Stanzas, Written in Dejection, near Naples”, which was published in a volume sponsored by his wife Mary Shelley in 1824, two years after Shelley’s death. (Woodberry 339) Initially arising in Germany and stimulated by political developments including the French Revolution, the Romantic Movement called for a renewal of culture and morality among the lower classes, bourgeois, and upper classes of Europe. The period achieved its name because “the movement stood for an emotional and intuitive outlook, as against the controlled and rational approach that was designated ‘classical’” (Vaughan 1) Poets of the Romantic period, especially Shelley, embodied this outlook in their actions and their poetry. The poem “Stanzas, Written in Dejection, near Naples” reflects multiple motifs common in the Romantic Era. Describing the seascape around him, the exposition of the poem clearly illustrates Shelley’s love...
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