1847 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thomas Medwin, Life of Shelley (1847); Russell, Book of Authors (1860) 451.



He looked like an elegant and slender flower whose head drooped from being surcharged with rain.... His gestures were abrupt, sometimes violent, occasionally even awkward, yet more frequently gentle and graceful. His complexion was delicate, and almost feminine, of the purest red and white, yet he was tanned and freckled by exposure to the sun.... His features, his whole head and face, were particularly small, yet the last appeared of a remarkable bulk, for his hair was long and bushy, and in fits of absence, and in the agonies (if I may use the word) of anxious thought, he often rubbed it fiercely with his hands, or passed his fingers swiftly through his locks, unconsciously, so that is was singularly rough and wild — a particularity which he had at school. His features were not symmetrical, the mouth perhaps excepted, yet was the effect of the whole extremely powerful. They breathed with an animation — a fire — an enthusiasm — a vivid and preternatural intelligence that I never met with in any other countenance.