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Monday, June 9, 2014

Percy Shelley

Portrait by Alfred Clint (1819)
“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world.”

— Percy Bysshe Shelley
English Poet
1792 - 1822

Is the world a beautiful place?  Or do you see only the pain, sorrow and ignorance?  Do you only taste human sweat and spend your hours wallowing in mud?  Are you so busy with your daily tasks that you don't see what is right in front of your nose?  Do you have time to open your eyes to the beauty and pleasure of the world in which we live?  

I have been so busy the last few weekends tending to the yard that I rarely have time to stop and see the beauty of the maple trees, the scampering squirrels or the playful rabbits. I don't see the shifting of the leaves in the cool breeze or hear the singing of the birds.

Have you taken a walk in the woods?  Have you sat on a log and listened to the sounds of other creatures who inhabit the space that we think belongs to us?  This yard I tend has many other inhabitants who don't recognize my ownership of this land.  The ants move around my yard as they please.  The worms till the soil and only come out when it rains or I put my spade in their home.  The squirrels and rabbits believe my yard is their feeding ground.  They did not ask my permission.  The raccoon that invaded my attic and my neighbor's boat earlier this spring did not ask us if it was okay with us.  The ducks that waddle across the yard do so as they please.

Have you seen the beauty of the world in which you are but one of billions of creatures?  Or are you absorbed in writing that next poem, painting that next painting and paying the bills that you fail to see what is before your eyes?  Our time in this world is short.  We choose every day how we will spend our time.  Take a few moments to see the beauty of this world.

Shelley was born the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelly, a Whig Member of Parliament, and his wife, Elizabeth Pilford.  He had four younger sisters and a younger brother.  At 18 he attended Oxford, but legend maintains that he attended only one lecture and spent his time reading and writing.  He published his first novel in 1810 and a second one in 1811.  He was expelled from Oxford in 1811 because of a pamphlet entitled, The Necessity of Atheism, that he published.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is regarded by many as one of the finest lyric poets in the English language.  He drowned in a sudden storm one month shy of his 30th birthday.  He did not achieve fame in his lifetime.  Recognition of his poetry grew steadily after his death and he had a major influence on the next 3 generations of poets.