What Percy Bysshe Shelley had to say
Has a lot to do with what we do today




Writing Poetry (and other things!) while
in Krasnodar, Russia!  (February, 2000)

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Poetry that appeals to people who think that they don't like poetry!
Excerpts from all three of my books as well as some new works can be found at
www.poemhunter.com/karl-stuart-kline
!

 I'm fortunate to have an old book that includes this essay by Percy Bysshe Shelley. (1792-1821)
Especially since I have been unable to find any other reference to this piece on the Internet!

 Those of us who read and write poetry will find much to identify with on this page that will reach across the centuries to find common ground with what we read and write today.

 This essay is an enthusiastic and perceptive analysis of what poetry can accomplish - and it dwells upon some of the qualities that it has lost since Shelley's time.

 I think that optimism and idealism are qualities that are uniquely suited to the voice of the poet and that if well executed, they can become quite infectious!  Ultimately they can influence whole nations, if not the entire world!

8/27/2007

Since I put this page on this site I have encountered at least one other version of this essay, but I have not yet found anything identical to it.  
I found this in
The Modern Reciter Test Pieces, published by Thornton Butterworth Ltd in 1932. 
A Defence of Poetry
                 by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds. . .

Poetry makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world;  it arrests the vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations of life, and veiling them, or in language or in form, sends them forth among mankind, bearing sweet news of kindred joy to those with whom their sisters abide--abide, because there is no portal of expression from the caverns of the spirit which they inhabit into the universe of things.  Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man.

Poetry turns all things to loveliness;  it exalts the beauty of that which is most beautiful, and it adds beauty to that which is most deformed;  It marries exultation and horror, grief and pleasure, eternity and change;  It subdues to union under its' light yoke all irreconcilable things.  It transmutes all that it touches, and every form moving within the radiance of its' presence is changed by wondrous sympathy to an incarnation of the spirit which it breathes:  its' secret alchemy turns to potable gold the poisonous waters which flow from death through life;  it strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty, which is the spirit of its' forms.

All things exist as they are perceived:  at least in relation to the percipient.  "The mind is its' own place, and of itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."  But poetry defeats the curse which binds us to be subjected to the accident of surrounding impressions.  And whether it spreads its' own figured curtain, or withdraws life's dark veil from before the scene of things, it equally creates for us a being within our being.  It makes us the inhabitants of a world to which the familiar world is a chaos.  It reproduces the common universe of which we are portions and percipients, and it purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being.  It compels us to feel that which we perceive, and to imagine that which we know.
Copyright . Karl Stuart Kline. All rights reserved.
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