Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


I've been reading Shelley's Hellas- once to get the gist of it, a second time to feel its power.

The year is 1821. The Greeks are in revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish Sultan receives news of defeats and victories- and struggles with the knowledge that however many he kills and however many times his armies win, he and his tyranny belong to the past- and a new world- a greater Hellas- is struggling to be born.

The verse teems with abstractions and coruscates with images of natural forces- earthquake, storm and fire. I have held Shelley at a distance for a long time- ever since adolescence in fact. Suddenly I find him timely.

The world’s great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
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