1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Leigh Hunt, in Imagination and Fancy (1844) 296-97.



In general, if Coleridge is the sweetest of our poets, Shelley is at once the most ethereal and most gorgeous; the one who has clothed his thoughts in draperies of the most evanescent and most magnificent words and imagery. Not Milton himself is more learned in Grecisms, or nicer in etymological propriety; and nobody, throughout, has a style so Orphic and primaeval. His poetry is full of mountains, seas, and skies, of light, and darkness, and the seasons, and all the elements of our being, as if Nature herself has written it, with the creation and its hopes newly cast around her; not, it must be confessed, without too indiscriminate a mixture of great and small, and a want of sufficient shade, — a certain chaotic brilliancy, "dark with excess of light."