Category Archives: Shelley (Percy)

The Song of Night’s Sweet Bird

Shelley’s elegy to Keats, “Adonais,” gives us a rich vision of our relationship with death.

Also posted in Keats (John) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Poets Unacknowledged Legislators? Maybe

A debate on whether poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Also posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hiding behind the “I” in Lit Essays

Using “I” in literature essays doesn’t necessarily lead to more engagement with the work.

Also posted in Exley (Frederick) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of the World As We Know It?

A number of poets have written poems about the apocalypse. But it’s always figurative, never literal.

Also posted in Arnold (Matthew), Pope (Alexander), Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once We Memorized Poetry

Memorizing poetry used to be standard classroom practice and poetry was widely popular before the snobs came in.

Also posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Keats (John), Kilmer (Joyce), Kipling (Rudyard), Riley (James Whitcomb), Tennyson (Alfred Lord), Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shelley and Non-Violent Resistance

Blogger Austin Allen credits Shelley’s poem “Masque” with setting in motion the idea of non-violent resistance that we are currently seeing employed throughout the Arab world.

Posted in Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Eric Cantor and Famous Literary Sneers

If you’ve been paying any attention to America’s budget battles, you know that Congressional Republicans are currently engaged in a dangerous game of chicken with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling. Today’s post on the subject features a parallel with Macbeth and a glance at famous literary sneers.

Also posted in Bronte (Emily), Fielding (Henry), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Touching the Divine through Poetry

Think of religious visionaries as the early poets, those who have found ways to gesture towards (not encapsulate!) the divine. The religious poets who have come after help keep religious language from getting stale.

Posted in Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

I Weep for Adonais–He Is Dead

When W. B. Yeat died on January 28, 1939, a despondent W. H. Auden wrote, “The day of his death was a dark cold day,” an instance of how we look to the weather for confirmation of our distress. The idea of a dying friend slipping away without leaving a trace is an unsettling one. Much better if the weather functions as a second witness, which it seems to do if it metaphorically expresses how we feel. When my good friend Alan Paskow died on Tuesday, I latched on to the fact that the day began with a tornado alert and that we were lashed by slashing rain for much of the morning.

Also posted in Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Song to the Men and Women of Bahrain

As the remarkable uprisings continue to erupt across the Middle East, I turn for a third time to the revolutionary poetry of Percy Shelley.  When one looks at his time period, one finds a number of modern day parallels. Napoleon’s wars, although imperial, still carried the ideas of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” into the rest of […]

Posted in Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Egypt’s Glorious Phantom Bursts Through

I’ve been looking for literature that can speak to the earth-shaking events going on in Egypt. Poetry seems almost unable to do justice to the joy that people are feeling as they revel in a vision of liberty. Maybe this sonnet by Percy Shelley gets at their breakthrough. On August 16, 1819, a large but […]

Posted in Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Egypt’s Mubarak, Colossal Wreck

As Egypt, following the lead of Tunisia (see my post here), teeters on the verge of revolution, everyone seems to be looking to different historical pasts to predict the future. My former Carleton classmate Kai Bird fears that Barack Obama will repeat the mistakes that Jimmy Carter made with the Shaw of Iran but adds […]

Posted in Shelley (Percy) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Can Pastoral Elegies Ease the Pain?

In a grad school class I once heard Peter Lehmann, a friend of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, say that, during the London blitzkrieg of 1940-41, all the London bookshops sold out their poetry. This means, I think, that in times of tragedy we turn to poetry for solace. It’s like the way that people who […]

Also posted in Milton (John) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete