Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the most captivating human beings to have walked on this planet. People who knew the man well, like his wife Mary; his friends Lord Byron, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, Edward Trelawny, and many others depicted him as “beautiful.” I am positive they knew what they were talking about.
From my readings of P.B. Shelley’s life, he was highly unorthodox, very much a radical (taking into account he existed in the early 19th century) for he was an atheist, who developed a dislike for the establishment, an advocate of free love, was not in favor of slavery and capital punishment, and a writer who was quite politically involved. Some biographers even claimed he was bisexual.
Didn’t one of his friends make this remark, “I have met men similar to Byron, but never to Shelley.”
I love the brief narration of one of his acquaintances who once stood beside him and thought how puzzling and mesmerizing it was to look at Shelley’s beardless, almost angelic face and found it difficult to fathom how the unconventional poet could somehow be at war with the world.
Undeniably odd, a true talent and a rare individual nonetheless.
He was fascinated by moonlight and candlelight, and fire very soon entered into his rituals as a storyteller, ghost-raiser and alchemist.
— Richard Holmes on Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Shelley: The Pursuit.
He disappears into the woods for hours on end, only returning towards night, talking to himself and in some state of undress.
(one of P.B. Shelley’s favorite activities in his younger days)
Cerebral stimulation was crucial to his regular existence. The guy became more prolific in his poetic writings when he was in the company of fellow intellectuals such as Lord Byron or when in association with John Keats. Same could be said for his aesthetic sense. He’d been so engrossed with his travels in Europe he had to write “Mont Blanc” in honor of Switzerland’s breathtaking scenery.
Lastly, I stand by my conviction Percy Bysshe Shelley contributed heavily to the novel Frankenstein. And that Victor Frankenstein’s essence was unquestionably based on Mary Shelley’s husband. Anybody can arrive at such a deduction if they’re able to get a fair grasp of Shelley’s nature and intellectual dispositions.
Sometimes I have endeavoured to discover what quality it is which he possess that elevated him so immeasurably above any other person I ever knew. I believe it to be an intuitive discernment, a quick but never-failing power of judgment, a penetration into the causes of things, unequalled for clearness and precision; add to this a facility of expression and a voice whose varied intonations are soul-subduing music.
He is so gentle, yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated, and when he speaks, although his words are culled with the choicest art, yet they flow with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence.
Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has double existence: he may suffer misery and be overwhelmed by disappointments, yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.
– from the novel Frankenstein
Percy Bysshe Shelley it is.