Study Guide

Percy Bysshe Shelley Quotes

"A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds."

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

"Shelley possessed a quality of mind which experience has shown me to be of the rarest occurrence among human beings: this was his unworldliness. The usual motives that rule men, prospects of present or future advantage, the rank and fortune of those around, the taunts and censures, or the praise, of those who were hostile to him, had no influence whatever over his actions, and apparently none over his thoughts."

Mary Shelley, Introductory Note to Queen Mab, 1839 Edition

"It was not until he spoke that you could discern anything uncommon in him - but the first sentence he uttered, when excited by his subject, riveted your attention. The light from his very soul streamed from his eyes."

Edward John Trelawny, Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron

"Let the advocate of animal food, force himself to a decisive experiment on its fitness, and as Plutarch recommends, tear a living lamb with his teeth, and plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood; when fresh from the deed of horror let him revert to the irresistible instincts of nature that would rise in judgment against it, and say, Nature formed me for such work as this. Then, and then only, would he be consistent."

Percy Bysshe Shelley on vegetarianism

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!

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Hellas

Thy wisdom speaks in me, and bids me dareBeacon the rocks on which high hearts are wreckt.I never was attached to that great sect,Whose doctrine is, that each one should selectOut of the crowd a mistress or a friend,And all the rest, though fair and wise, commendTo cold oblivion, though it is in the codeOf modern morals, and the beaten roadWhich those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread,Who travel to their home among the deadBy the broad highway of the world, and soWith one chained friend, - perhaps a jealous foe,The dreariest and the longest journey go.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Epipsychidion

I met a traveller from an antique landWho said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,Tell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:And on the pedestal these words appear:'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away."

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

When the lamp is shatteredThe light in the dust lies dead -When the cloud is scattered,The rainbow's glory is shed.When the lute is broken,Sweet tones are remembered not;When the lips have spoken,Loved accents are soon forgot.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, "When the Lamp Is Shattered"

"Those who love not their fellow-beings live unfruitful lives, and prepare for their old age a miserable grave."

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Preface to Alastor