Showing 1 - 6 of 6 annotations associated with Shelley, Percy Bysshe
- Duffin, Jacalyn
Summary:The young Beatrice Cenci (1577-1599) is kept with her stepmother, Lucretia, in the appalling isolation and darkness of a forbidding castle outside the Papal States by her cruel father, Francesco, whose enormous debts and misdeeds make him unable, as well as unwilling, to support his offspring. He wants to prevent Beatrice from marrying to avoid paying a dowry. She has suitors, among them a “smooth” prelate, but is unhappily resigned to her lot until her father rapes her.
With the support of her brother, Giacomo, she commands two servants--Olimpio and Marzio--to kill her father, but they waver in their resolve. She taunts them and they return to strangle the man, tossing his body below a balcony as if he had fallen. She rewards them with a bag of coins.
Suspicions about the death are raised almost within the moment of its discovery because of the wounds on the body, bloody evidence in the bedchamber, and the apparent lack of grief in the family. Confessions are extracted by torture.
The defense argued sexual abuse of Beatrice as a mitigating circumstance, but failed to convince the court. Beatrice, her stepmother, Lucretia, and Giacomo are to be executed while a younger brother is forced to watch. In the doleful final scene, the family accepts their fate with tenderness and courage.
Shelley compares man's ability to stay alive to the flickering light of a passing meteor. Our light of life is wavering and brief. He urges man to strive on and live life fully nevertheless.
In the third stanza, he compares earth to a mother and a nurse; it is that which comforts and sustains us and we are afraid to leave it. Again, however, Shelley argues that life must be lived anyway. Indeed, he argues that life (and poetry) is enhanced by its close relationship with death. The hopes of what will be after death must be united with the love for the here and now.
This is the story of a woodman who hates the sound of the nightingale. The song unites all the other creatures of the forest. The bird’s music "shook forth the dull oblivion / Out of their dreams; harmony became love / In every soul but one." Every soul except the woodman’s is united by the emotion evoked by the nightingale. The woodman spends his days chopping down trees, each of which contains the soul of a wood nymph and provides beauty and shelter to the world. The world is full, says Shelley, of people like the Woodman who "expel / Love’s gentle Dryads from the haunts of life, / And vex the nightingales in every dell."
Summary:Shelley is writing about the death of his young son, William. He imagines that William's body held a bright spirit who consumed the body of his host. William's body does not lie beneath the headstone. The grave is merely a shrine for the grief of the parents. The child's spirit runs free. Shelley hopes to sense its presence in the colors and scents of the flowers and grasses surrounding the grave.
Summary:There are two short poems by this name. Both are about Mary Shelley's reaction to the death of her son, William (see also To William Shelley in this database). Mary Shelley's depression is so intense that her husband feels as if she too has died. Her body is still there, but her real self has "gone down the dreary road / That leads to Sorrow's most obscure abode." Shelley knows he cannot follow her into depression for her own sake; he must be strong to pull her back.
Summary:Shelley angrily asks why some people chase after death or knowledge of it. To analyze the source of life or the conditions of its end is "vain" curiosity. Such knowledge has no benefit; it merely is a case of man trying to usurp the role of God.