Prometheus Unbound

Let Fury Have the Hour - Shelley and The Clash

Let Fury Have the Hour - Shelley and The Clash

One of my favourite bands from the 1970s was Buzzcocks, an English outfit fronted by a man named Pete Shelley. Pete had been born as Peter McNeish; but when he took to the stage he changed his name to honour his favourite romantic poet. I was enthralled by this idea and when I wrote my masters thesis, I included three musical epigraphs: two from the Sex Pistols and one from Buzzcocks. It was perhaps a stretch - however in my youthful rebellious mind I thought it was apt.

But was it really so far-fetched to tie together punk music and romantic poetry? To test this, I thought I would be fun to have a quick glance at one of the classics of the era to see if there are, in fact, any Shelleyan overtones. That classic? Clampdown by The Clash from the album London Calling. Let’s dig in.

Roland Duerksen: A Shelleyan Life

Roland Duerksen: A Shelleyan Life

In the early summer of 2017, I received a letter from the daughter of the noted Shelley scholar Roland Duerksen.  Susan had read my article “My Father’s Shelley” and it had struck a chord.  She wanted to connect me with her father, now 91 years old and living in New Oxford, Ohio. Roland is the author of two noteworthy and important books on Shelley: "Shelleyan Ideas in Victorian Literature" and "Shelley's Poetry of Involvement". His analysis is penetrating and nuanced, the style conversational and accessible. But it is his overall approach which makes him different, it is imbued with a humanity that reflects well both on himself and his subject. This much I knew, but I knew less about the man himself. I was thrilled that Susan had reached out to me, it was a chance to meet one of the great Shelleyans, but I had no idea whatsoever of the magic which lay in wait for me.

Let Liberty Lead Us; Connecting the Radical Poetry of Cottingham, Eminem and Shelley

Let Liberty Lead Us; Connecting the Radical Poetry of Cottingham, Eminem and Shelley

My point in drawing attention to these two modern poets is to remind us that one of the true fountainheads of radical opposition to tyranny and oppression was Shelley. And whether modern poets knowingly operate in that tradition, as Cottingham appears to, or not, they do function as the voice of the people and in that sense as our representatives; or as Shelley would have said, as our legislators. Eminem has drawn his line in the sand. Shelley has discharged his collected lightening. Arielle Cottingham has unleashed her hurricane. They are all philanthropos tropos: lovers of humanity. Let's join them at the barricades. Let Liberty lead us.

The Revolutionary Percy Shelley in His Time and Ours

The Revolutionary Percy Shelley in His Time and Ours

"I am a lover of mankind, a democrat and an atheist."When Shelley wrote these words in the hotel register at Chamonix, he was, as PMS Dawson has suggested deliberately, intentionally and provocatively “nailing his colours to the mast”.  He knew full well people would see these words and that they would inflame passions. The words, however may require some context and explanation.  Many people have sought to diminish the importance of these words and the circumstances under which they were written.  Some modern scholars have even ridiculed him.  I think his choice of words was very deliberate and central to how he defined himself and how wanted the world to think of him.  They may well have been the words he was most famous (or infamous) for in his lifetime.

"I am a Lover of Humanity, a Democrat and an Atheist.” What did Shelley Mean?

"I am a Lover of Humanity, a Democrat and an Atheist.” What did Shelley Mean?

The "catch phrase" I have used for the Shelley section of my blog ("Atheist. Lover of Humanity. Democrat.") may require some explanation.  The words originated with Shelley himself, but when did he write it, where did he write it and most important why did he write it.  Many people have sought to diminish the importance of these words and the circumstances under which they were written.  Some modern scholars have even ridiculed him.  I think his choice of words was very deliberate and central to how he defined himself and how wanted the world to think of him.  They may well have been the words he was most famous (or infamous) for in his lifetime.Five explosive little words that harbour a universe of meaning and significance.

1816: The Message of Diodati

1816: The Message of Diodati

Percy and Mary Shelley joined Byron in Geneva for part of the summer of 1816.  They spent much of their time at Byron's residence: the Villa Diodati. It was there that some of the most important ideas of the Romantic era were conceived. Can we distill one of the core principles? I think we can. Join me for the first installment of my exploration the life and times of the extraordinary Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Episode One - 1816: The Message Of Diodati

Percy Bysshe Shelley In Our Time.

Percy Bysshe Shelley In Our Time.

MASSIVE, NON-VIOLENT PROTEST. FROM SHELLEY TO #WOMENSMARCH

Shelley imagines a radical reordering of our world.  It starts with us. Are we up for the challenge? Shelley was. Take the closing words of Prometheus Unbound and print them out. Pin them to your fridge, memorize them, share them with loved ones and enemies alike.  Let them inspire you. Let them change you.  And never forget he was 27 when he wrote these words and dead with in three years.