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This review is taken from PN Review 270, Volume 49 Number 4, March - April 2023.

Cover of Keats and Shelley: Winds of Light
Judith ChernaikKelvin Everest, Keats and Shelley: Winds of Light (OUP)
Keats and Shelley

A distinguished writer on all aspects of Romanticism, Kelvin Everest, chief editor of Longman’s multi-volume edition of Shelley’s poem, has been living closely with Shelley’s manuscript drafts, fragments and completed texts since the 1980s. His unrivalled knowledge of these manuscripts gives special interest to the essays collected here, five on Keats, six on Shelley, with a close reading of Adonais linking the two halves of the collection.

Adonais beautifully illustrates the literary relations of the two poets. Keats’s own poems are closely incorporated into Shelley’s elegy: ‘He is made one with Nature: there is heard / His voice in all her music, from the moan / Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird…’ The final stanzas move from Keats to Shelley himself, elegist, mourner and fellow poet. The lines seem to prophecy Shelley’s death by drowning when his sailboat capsized in the Gulf of Spezia: ‘The breath whose might I have invoked in song / Descends on me; my spirit’s bark is driven, / Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng / Whose sails were never to the tempest given…’. Stanza xliv provides the dedication and subtitle of Everest’s essays:
    ...When lofty thought
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,
And love and life contend in it, for what
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.
Shelley argues here that art – poetry, lofty thought – survives its maker as ‘winds of light’ – ...

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