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Lost words of Shelley – The Existing State of Things – Politics

my word in your ear

Friday 8 July marked the bicentenary of Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) and below are some lost words only discovered in 2006 from a political pamphlet.

Shelley’s poem was “lost” for nearly 200 years, before a single copy of the pamphlet was“rediscovered” in 2006, and a decade later bought by Oxford’s Bodleian Library, so finally it could be read by the public again

“Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by, 
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead? – is courage gone?”

These lines are taken fromPoetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, an excoriation of the moral devastation wreaked in late Georgian Britain two centuries ago. It was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley and published anonymously in 1811, in support of the…

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By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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