Romantic Poetry and the Grammar of Weather

By Tess Somervell

In our latest Romantic Climates blog post, Dr Thomas H. Ford (Melbourne) reflects on the statement ‘it is raining’.

In the second edition of the Works of Percy Shelley published in 1839, Mary Shelley included a number of previously unpublished poetic fragments that she had transcribed from a notebook of drafts, notes and drawings originally compiled by Shelley between the spring of 1819 and the spring of 1820. Amongst the fragments she included can be found the following enigmatic short verse:

The fitful alternations of the rain
Which the chill wind, languid as if with pain
Of its own heavy moisture, here & there
Drives through the grey & beamless atmosphere

Mary Shelley’s motives for publishing these fragments may be surmised from an editorial note to the first edition of the Works, in which she stated:

In addition to such poems as have an intelligible aim and shape, many a stray idea and transitory emotion found imperfect and abrupt expression, and then again lost themselves in silence… I find many such in his manuscript books, that scarcely bear record; while some of them, broken and vague as they are, will appear valuable to those who love Shelley’s mind, and desire to trace its workings.

Taking Mary Shelley’s comment …read more