To Mary Shelley

Shelley, Percy Bysshe

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: Aug-08-1994


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.


The Shelleys, at least in Percy's view, respond to their son's death in gender specific ways. Percy imagines his son's soul poetically skipping in the flowers (see To William Shelley). Mary gets depressed and tries to follow her son to the grave.


First published: 1839

Primary Source

Poetical Works


Oxford Univ. Press

Place Published

New York




Thomas Hutchinson