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Shelley's Living Artistry: Letters, Poems, Plays$
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Madeleine Callaghan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940247

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940247.001.0001

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‘The right road to Paradise’

‘The right road to Paradise’

Adonais and The Triumph of Life

(p.236) Chapter Eight ‘The right road to Paradise’
Shelley's Living Artistry: Letters, Poems, Plays

Madeleine Callaghan

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reads Adonais and The Triumph of Life as united by their intense exploration of the purpose, possibilities, and limits of poetry, from elegiac commemoration to visionary rhyme. Though many of Shelley’s poetic works are informed by close attention to these questions, their significance becomes heightened in these late poems. The reading of Adonais sees Shelley’s and Keats’s 1820 letters influence the elegy profoundly, and I read Shelley as fashioning Adonais as a response to their mutual advice. The Triumph of Life grows out of the echo chamber of his response to the literature in which he was steeped as he composed his final poem. Yet rather than the poem being of interest for its status in relation to other works, a letter to John Gisborne of 10 April 1822 reveals the complexity of Shelley’s artistic reaction to his peers which he embeds into the poem. Both poems stand as achievements of serious ambition and poetic consequence.

Keywords:   Adonais Keats Letters Rivalry Triumph Life Wordsworth

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