Shelley at Work: A Critical Inquiry

By Neville Rogers | Go to book overview

7. The Dome. The Eye and the Star. The Philosophic Imagination

SINCE it may well have seemed that in following the Boat- Isle symbolism to and fro in Shelley's imagination between his poetry and his life our own excursions have been a trifle over-imaginative, it is time to give a piece of evidence which will show that we have by no means overleaped him or exaggerated the significance they held for him. So powerful indeed was his imagination in its search for philosophical reality that these particular symbols could actually take on a reality that was physical as well. They came, in fact, to form part of a landscape which, like the daemons, he was even able to embody in a drawing.

A facsimile of this drawing, a pen-sketch found inside the front cover of a notebook of 1817,1 may be seen in Plate Ia. It has been reproduced at least once2 before but never, I believe, studied in relation to its connexions, which are clearly demonstrable--first with passages from Laon and Cythna with which it is contemporary and secondly with the 'Fragments of an Unfinishd Drama' written five years later. Over and above its interest in relation to the Boat and the Isle it leads us on to two other paths of symbolism and takes us eventually deep into Shelley's inner world of philosophical imagination.

Professor White is somewhat in error in describing the notebook containing the drawing as 'the MS of Laon and Cythna' since beyond one jotting, a memorandum (on the opposite page) of Shelley revised title, 'The Revolt of Islam', it contains little or no writing connected with the poem. But the memorandum itself is a useful enough hint that, anyhow, the book was in his hands when the poem and its revision were in his thoughts--possibly somewhere around 15 December 1817, for we have Mary's record that 'alterations for Cythna' were made on that day.3 Not that we really need any such testimony of dating: a single thoughtful glance will reveal the connexions of the pen-sketch. What Shelley has illustrated--with some minor variations and with some fairly

____________________
1
Bod. MS. Shelley, E. 4.
2
White, Shelley, i. 530.
3
Jones, Mary Shelley's Journal, p. 87.

-105-

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Shelley at Work: A Critical Inquiry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • MANUSCRIPTS xv
  • Bibliography xvii
  • Part One - 'The Wanderings of Careful Thought' 1
  • 1. Shelley's Notebooks: 'Method in his Madness' 1
  • 2. The Mind and Its Path. Philosophy and Symbolism in Shelley's Poetry 15
  • 3. Thought, Feeling, and Symbols. Necessity and the New Birth 24
  • 4. 'Ariadne'. Love and Intellectual Beauty; Virtue and Power 37
  • 5. Daemons and Other 'Monsters of His Thought' 64
  • 6. Boats. Isles 91
  • 7. The Dome. The Eye and the Star. The Philosophic Imagination 105
  • 8. The Veil. Mutability 120
  • 9. The Cave 147
  • 10. The Dream of Life 169
  • Part Two - The Wind, the lyre, and the Labour 195
  • 11. Shelley at Work: A Closer View 195
  • 12. Shelley and the West Wind 211
  • 13. Italian Platonics and Epipsychidion 230
  • 14. 'Ginevra': Emilia to Keats 249
  • 15. Adonais: Keats to Intellectual Beauty and the One 255
  • 16 From Hellas to 'the Triumph of Life' 273
  • 17. Poetry and the Power of Mind 305
  • APPENDIXES 327
  • Appendix I 328
  • Appendix II 329
  • Appendix III 334
  • Appendix IV 339
  • Appendix V 340
  • Index 344
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