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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2016 > Shelley survives

Shelley survives

A lost poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley has been acquired by Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. The 172-line A Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things is the heart of an anonymously published pamphlet, of which the Bodleian has acquired, for an undisclosed sum, the only known surviving copy. The poem, together with an accompanying essay and notes was written between 1810-11, when Shelley was in his first year at Oxford. The work shows Shelley afire with student radicalism, attacking the abuse of the press, corrupt political institutions and war. He turns his anger on the ‘cold advisers of yet colder kings’ who ‘coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang… regardless of the poor man’s pang’.

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