Upon his premature death in 1822, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley had published a remarkable nine volumes of poetry. However, he left behind him a range of unpublished longer poems, personal lyrics and poems on political issues that were too controversial to publish at the time. These other works were scattered throughout correspondence to friends, in notebooks and on loose sheets, often written in his indecipherable handwriting.
For scholars and readers of Shelley, these fragments need to be brought together from the various libraries and archives in which they are located, and represented in a definitive, printed edition which can be easily consulted. The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley – which is being produced through the editorial collaboration of a number of scholars and researchers – will provide just such a comprehensive resource. Each volume includes critically edited texts of the poems and translations that Shelley published or circulated among friends, as well as of his significant incomplete poetic drafts and fragments. The poems are accompanied by discussions of their composition, circulation and critical reception.
Volume Three of the Complete Poetry includes Alastor, one of Shelley’s first major works, and all the poems that Shelley completed, for either private circulation or publication, during the turbulent years from 1814 to March 1818.
Michael O’Neill, who co-edited a selection of Shelley’s poetry and prose with Zachary Leader for Oxford’s Major Works series (2003), is one of the associate editors for the project. For Volume Three he has edited a number of shorter poems, including Mont Blanc, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty (and the versions of those poems in the Scrope Davies Notebook, rediscovered in 1976), “To Constantia,” “Marianne’s Dream,” and “Ozymandias.” He will be editing other poems for later volumes, including Letter to Maria Gisborne, The Witch of Atlas, and Adonais.
There will eventually be eight volumes in the series, which will be the defining testament to this extraordinary and radical poet.