Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was born on this day in Sussex, England. The eldest of six children, his father was a conservative member of Parliament.
A rebel who proudly professed his radical ideas, Shelley was outspoken about his political beliefs.
"Poets," he once said, "are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Shelley was banned and scandalized for his pamphlets, elopements, and activism.
"A poem," he said, "is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth."
Called "mad Shelley" by his classmates at Eaton, Shelley was expelled from Oxford University for his pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism. He believed in the importance of social action and said, "A single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought."
With poetry that celebrated the power of idealism, reason, and human love, he spoke out against injustice passionately. In the lyrical poem Ode To the West Wind (1819), he joined art and philosophy with nature's magical autumn wind.
Hope flowed from his inspired pen.
The melodious To a Skylark (1820) praised the free spirit with "profuse strains of unpremeditated art." In Prometheus Unbound, he wrote, "Soul meets soul on lovers' lips." His classic and beautiful Adonais (1821) was a long elegy for his mentor John Keats.
"The beginning is always today," said Shelley. Like a shooting star, his life burned brightly, but briefly. He drowned at age 30 while sailing his schooner on the Italian Riviera.
Celebrate what you have.
Shelley's Love's Philosophy: