Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the major Romantic poets, and wrote what is critically recognised as some of the finest lyric poetry in the English language. This is the third volume of the five-volume The Poems of Shelley, which presents all of Shelleys poems in chronological order and with full annotation. Date and circumstances of composition are provided for each poem and all manuscript and printed sources relevant to establishing an authoritative text are freshly examined and assessed. Headnotes and footnotes furnish the personal, literary, historical and scientific information necessary to an informed reading of Shelleys varied and allusive verse.
Most of the poems in the present volume were composed between autumn 1819 and autumn 1820. The poems written in response to the political crisis in England following the Peterloo massacre in August 1819 feature largely, among them The Mask of Anarchy and 'An Ode (Arise, arise, arise!)'. The popular songs, which Shelley intended to gather into a volume to inspire reformers from the labouring classes, several accompanied by significantly new textual material recovered from draft manuscripts, are included, as are the important political works 'Ode to Liberty', 'Ode to Naples' and Oedipus Tyrannus, Shelley's burlesque Greek tragedy on the Queen Caroline affair. Other major poems featured include 'The Sensitive-Plant', 'Ode to the West Wind', 'Letter to Maria Gisborne', an exuberant translation from the ancient Greek of the Homeric 'Hymn to Mercury', and the brilliantly inventive 'The Witch of Atlas'.
In addition to accompanying commentaries, there are extensive bibliographies, a chronology of Shelleys life, and indexes to titles and first lines. Leigh Hunt's informative Preface of 1832 to The Mask of Anarchy is also included as an Appendix. The volumes of The Poems of Shelley form the most comprehensive edition of Shelley's poetry available to students and scholars.