An Odyssey of the Soul, Shelley's Alastor

An Odyssey of the Soul, Shelley's Alastor

An Odyssey of the Soul, Shelley's Alastor

An Odyssey of the Soul, Shelley's Alastor

Excerpt

Shelley is so often thought of as a dreamer given to hanging glittering cobwebs on the horns of the moon (to appropriate an engaging figure from Arthur Symons) that the attempt which I have made in this book to show consistency in his first beautiful long poem may seem presumptuous. But all too often in our reading of poetry we impose our own limitations on the matter before us and the poet becomes obscure or capricious because our minds are lacking in certain associations which his mind possessed. To revive the main ideas and impressions which had either conscious or unconscious force for Shelley when he wrote "Alastor" is to remove in large part this disability of our vision.

Accordingly, I have tried to assemble from Shelley's reading and observation of nature what seem to me the essential materials which went to the making of the poem. That I have achieved completeness in this undertaking I do not for a moment profess. The philosophical conceptions which attracted Shelley most when he wrote can be traced with some approach to exactness; but when we turn from the theme to the intricate imagery of the poem, we become aware that there is much which eludes our grasp. The reading which Shelley had done before writing "Alastor" baffles by its very quantity, and most of the impressions of nature which influenced him at that time are lost except as presented in the poem. A good many of the materials included here as pertinent to the imagery . . .

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