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The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley

4. Poems as Presents

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the idea of poetry as a gift or present, focusing in particular on the poems 'With a Guitar, to Jane' and 'The Question'. We also think about Shelley's interest in dream poetry, as well as his use of rhyme as structuring principle across multiple stanzas, as we see in 'The Question'.


In this course, Dr Ross Wilson (University of Cambridge) explores the poetry of the great Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. We begin in the first module by providing a brief overview of Shelley's short life and career with an emphasis on his rebelliousness and the unconventional nature of his life, and a broad overview of the variety of his writings. After that, we turn to his early verse ('The Wandering Jew', 'Queen Mab', 'The Cold Earth Slept Below') before turning in the third module to his writings in Italy ('Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples', 'The Vine-Shroud', 'Alas! This Is Not What I Thought Life Was'). In the fourth module, we think about the concept of poetry as a gift to be given ('With a Guitar, to Jane', 'The Question'), before turning in the fifth and sixth modules to two of Shelley's most well-known poems: 'Ode to the West Wind' in the fifth module, and Shelley's great, final, uncompleted poem, 'The Triumph of Life' in the sixth.


Ross Wilson was born in Salford and brought up in north Manchester, where he attended Philips High School and Bury College. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and University College London before completing his doctorate at Cambridge in 2004. He held a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel (2004-7) and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Faculty of English, Cambridge (2007-9) before being appointed to a lectureship in Literature in the School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2009. He returned to Cambridge in 2013 as Lecturer in Criticism in the Faculty of English and took up a fellowship at Trinity College. He is editor of Romantic Circles Reviews & Receptions and very occasionally tweets @RossWilso . In 2015-16 he is the Crausaz Wordsworth Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wilson, R. (2019, January 07). The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley - Poems as Presents [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wilson, R. "The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley – Poems as Presents." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Jan 2019,