Why English and Creative Writing Majors Should Acquaint Themselves with Percy Shelley

The Blue Route

Here’s the simple answer: Shelley wants to make you cool again.

Picture from poets.org Picture from poets.org

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, among other profound and fantastic things, “A Defense of Poetry.” If you never read a single thing by Shelley after this, it would be your loss, but not the end of the world. Ignoring “A Defense of Poetry” as an English kid should make you question your identity.

Shelley believes that poets are like philosophers, and that they should hold power in society. “Poets, or those who imagine and express this indestructible order, are not only the authors of language and of music, of the dance and architecture and statuary and painting: they are the institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society.” Poets, according to Shelley, “essentially comprises and unites both” the legislators and prophets of the world. How do they do it? “In the infancy of society every author…

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