Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley Poems

Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the most important English poets. He was born in 1792 and died in 1822 at twenty-nine. He was part of the Romantic poetry movement in England and influenced a generation of poets. Read more about Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Some of his best-known poems are ‘Ozymandias‘ and To a Skylark.’


by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Ozymandias’ is about the nature of power. It is an important piece that features how a great ruler like Ozymandias, and his legacy, was prone to impermanence and decay.

This poem is a prime example of Shelley's poetry in several ways. It reflects his political and social radicalism, which is evident in his condemnation of tyrants and his belief in the power of literature to bring about social change. The poem portrays the hubris of a ruler who believed that his power and fame would last forever, only to be forgotten by history.

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,


Ode to the West Wind

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Ode to the West Wind’ was written in Cascine Woods, outside of Florence, Italy, and published in 1820. It focuses on death’s necessary destruction and the possibilities of rebirth.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a key figure in the Romantic movement, and 'Ode to the West Wind' encapsulates many themes prevalent in his work, such as the awe of nature and the desire for societal and personal transformation. Shelley often sought to break conventional boundaries, both in form and content, and this is visible in the poem's intricate structure and profound thematic depth. This piece is one of his most important and commonly studied.

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,

To a Skylark

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘To a Skylark’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley is an ode. It celebrates the beauty of nature and the bliss of a skylark’s song.

This poem is a great example of Shelley's poetic style, characterized by his use of vivid imagery, lyrical language, and celebration of nature's beauty and majesty. Like many of Shelley's works, this poem celebrates the beauty and freedom of nature and its ability to inspire and uplift the human spirit. The skylark in the poem is personified as a "blithe spirit" whose song is compared to the music of the spheres.

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! 

Bird thou never wert, 

That from Heaven, or near it,

A Song: “Men of England”

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘A Song: “Men of England”’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a Romantic poem that calls for the English revolution. It is set in England in 1819 when the poem itself was written. 

Men of England, wherefore plough

For the lords who lay ye low?

Wherefore weave with toil and care

The rich robes your tyrants wear?

England in 1819

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;

Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow

Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring;

Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know,

Explore more poems from Percy Bysshe Shelley


by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Mutability’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a description of the variable nature of our world and the fleeting lives of human beings.

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;

  How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,

Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon

  Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:

On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci..’ by P.B. Shelley describes the beautiful and terrifying gaze of Medusa and the speaker’s perception of her life. 

It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,

  Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;

Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;

  Its horror and its beauty are divine.

Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the feelings a speaker suffers from and how he attempts to sooth his pain.

The sun is warm, the sky is clear,

         The waves are dancing fast and bright,

      Blue isles and snowy mountains wear

      The purple noon's transparent might,

The Cloud

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,

And whiten the green plains under,

And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.

The cold earth slept below

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘The cold earth slept below’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the state of the world on a freezing winter night and the discovery of a lover’s cold body. 

The cold earth slept below;

         Above the cold sky shone;

                And all around,

                With a chilling sound,

The Indian Serenade

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘The Indian Serenade’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a dreamlike, lyrical love poem told from the perspective of a desperate lover.

I arise from dreams of thee

In the first sweet sleep of night,

When the winds are breathing low,

And the stars are shining bright:

The Question

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘The Question’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley tells of a dream in which a speaker encounters a vast forest of pristine, blooming flowers. 

I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,

Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,

And gentle odours led my steps astray,

Mixed with a sound of waters murmuring

The Recollection

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Now the last day of many days,

All beautiful and bright as thou,

The loveliest and the last, is dead,

Rise, Memory, and write its praise!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,

Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe

Are brackish with the salt of human tears!

Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow

To Night

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,

Spirit of Night!

Out of the misty eastern cave,

Where, all the long and lone daylight,

To the Moon

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth, —

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