Quotes by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 July 8, 1822) was one of the major English romantic poets and is esteemed by some scholars the finest lyric poet in the English language. He is perhaps most widely famous for such anthology pieces as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and The Masque of Anarchy; but his major works were long visionary poems such as Adonais and Prometheus Unbound. Shelley's unconventional life and uncompromising idealism made him a notorious and much denigrated figure in his own life, but he became the idol of the following two or three generations of poets (including the major Victorian poets Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne, as well as William Butler Yeats.) He was also famous for his association with contemporaries John Keats and Lord Byron, and, like them, for his untimely death at a young age. He was married to the famous novelist Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. more

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Life may change, but it may fly not; Hope may vanish, but can die not; Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; Love repulsed, -- but it returneth.

Death is the veil which those who live call life; They sleep, and it is lifted.
The more we study the more we discover our ignorance.
How wonderful is death! Death and his brother sleep.
O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Tragedy delights by affording a shadow of the pleasure which exists in pain.
All love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, And its familiar voice wearies not ever. They who inspire is most are fortunate, As I am now: but those who feel it most Are happier still.
Government is an evil; it is only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a necessary evil. When all men are good and wise, government will of itself decay.
There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!
All of us, who are worth anything, spend our manhood in unlearning the follies, or expiating the mistakes of our youth.
Familiar acts are beautiful through love.
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep -- he hath awakened from the dream of life -- 'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife.
It is impossible that had Buonaparte descended from a race of vegetable feeders that he could have had either the inclination or the power to ascend the throne of the Bourbons.
Rulers, who neither see, nor feel, nor know, but leech-like to their fainting country cling, till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow, -- a people starved and stabbed in the untilled field...
It were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might discover the formal principle of its color and odor, as seek to transfuse from one language into another the creations of a poet. The plant must spring again from its seed, or it will bear no flower -- and this is the burthen of the curse of Babel.
In a drama of the highest order there is little food for censure or hatred; it teaches rather self-knowledge and self-respect.
Love is free; to promise for ever to love the same woman is not less absurd than to promise to believe the same creed; such a vow in both cases excludes us from all inquiry.
All things are sold: the very light of heaven is venal; earth's unsparing gifts of love, the smallest and most despicable things that lurk in the abysses of the deep, all objects of our life, even life itself, and the poor pittance which the laws allow of liberty, the fellowship of man, those duties which his heart of human love should urge him to perform instinctively, are bought and sold as in a public mart of not disguising selfishness, that sets on each its price, the stamp-mark of her reign.
Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal. Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood by all, but which the wise, and great, and good interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel.
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Only nature knows how to justly proportion to the fault the punishment it deserves.
Obscenity, which is ever blasphemy against the divine beauty in life... is a monster for which the corruption of society forever brings forth new food, which it devours in secret.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.
Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whatever it touches.
I think that the leaf of a tree, the meanest insect on which we trample, are in themselves arguments more conclusive than any which can be adduced that some vast intellect animates Infinity.
Revenge is the naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age.
January gray is here, like a sexton by her grave; February bears the bier, march with grief doth howl and rave, and April weeps -- but, O ye hours! Follow with May's fairest flowers.
The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.
To be omnipotent but friendless is to reign.
There is no real wealth but the labor of man.
The Galilean is not a favorite of mine. So far from owing him any thanks for his favor, I cannot avoid confessing that I owe a secret grudge to his carpentership.
The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
Cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.
A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.
Is it not odd that the only generous person I ever knew, who had money to be generous with, should be a stockbroker.
The gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present.
Their errors have been weighed and found to have been dust in the balance; if their sins were as scarlet, they are now white as snow: they have been washed in the blood of the mediator and the redeemer, Time.
Constancy has nothing virtuous in itself, independently of the pleasure it confers, and partakes of the temporizing spirit of vice in proportion as it endures tamely moral defects of magnitude in the object of its indiscreet choice.
There was no corn -- in the wide market-place all loathliest things, even human flesh, was sold; They weighed it in small scales -- and many a face was fixed in eager horror then; his gold the miser brought; the tender maid, grown bold through hunger, bared her scorned charms in vain.
Man who man would be, must rule the empire of himself.
Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, the signet of its all-enslaving power, upon a shining ore, and called it gold: before whose image bow the vulgar great, the vainly rich, the miserable proud, the mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and kings, and with blind feelings reverence the power that grinds them to the dust of misery.
The beauty of the internal nature cannot be so far concealed by its accidental vesture, but that the spirit of its form shall communicate itself to the very disguise and indicate the shape it hides from the manner in which it is worn. A majestic form and graceful motions will express themselves through the most barbarous and tasteless costume.
He has outsoared the shadow of our night; envy and calumny and hate and pain, and that unrest which men miscall delight, can touch him not and torture not again; from the contagion of the world's slow stain, he is secure.
Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic.
If we reason, we would be understood; if we imagine, we would that the airy children of our brain were born anew within another s; if we feel, we would that another's nerves should vibrate to our own, that the beams of their eyes should kindle at once and mix and melt into our own, that lips of motionless ice should not reply to lips quivering and burning with the heart's best blood. This is Love.
Here I swear, and as I break my oath may eternity blast me, here I swear that never will I forgive Christianity! It is the only point on which I allow myself to encourage revenge. Oh, how I wish I were the Antichrist, that it were mine to crush the Demon; to hurl him to his native Hell never to rise again -- I expect to gratify some of this insatiable feeling in Poetry.
Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality.
Man's yesterday may never be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability.
Concerning God, freewill and destiny: Of all that earth has been or yet may be, all that vain men imagine or believe, or hope can paint or suffering may achieve, we descanted.
The odious and disgusting aristocracy of wealth is built upon the ruins of all that is good in chivalry or republicanism; and luxury is the forerunner of a barbarism scarcely capable of cure.
War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade.
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes. . . .
The warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing, The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying, And the Year On the earth her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead, Is lying. . . .
As an earthquake rocks a corse In its coffin in the clay, So White Winter, that rough nurse, Rocks the death-cold Year to-day; Solemn Hours! wail aloud For your mother in her shroud.
My dearest Mary, wherefore hast thou gone, And left me in this dreary world alone? Thy form is here indeed--a lovely one--But thou art fled, gone down the dreary road, That lead to Sorrow's most obscure abode.
Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone, But grief returns with the revolving year.
Best and brightest, come away! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Away, away, from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs--To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music lest it should not find An echo in another's mind.