Shelley Sunday: Scribblings, Fragments, Doodles…

From Shelley’s Ghost:

On one side of this leaf Shelley has sketched trees and written a few rough lines of verse. Some of the lines Mary Shelley later drew out and published as ‘To F.G.’ (Fanny Godwin). Above this are further lines, seemingly written at a later date, which Mary Shelley published separately as ‘To William Shelley’ (see ‘Poems and Fragments by Percy Bysshe Shelley’). It has however been pointed out that the first line seems to refer to phrases used by Mary Wollstonecraft in letters to describe Fanny when she was separated from her daughter.

On the other side of the leaf are a number of rough drawings of trees, staircases and flower pots, and few stray lines: ˜These cannot be forgotten “ years / May flow; ‘Breaks thine indissoluble sleep / Miserable; ˜When said I so? It is not my fault“ it is not to be attribut[e]d [?] to me. On one flowerpot Shelley has written the words: ˜I drew this flower pot in October 1816 and now it is 1817.

As so often with Shelley’s manuscripts, it is difficult to trace precisely the various layers of draft, revision and later addition; to link the poetry usefully to events in Shelley’s life; to find significance in the various sketches and doodles. Do the lines beginning ‘Thy voice did quiver as we parted’ describe Shelley’s final meeting with Fanny before her suicide, an event which shook him deeply? Did he return to the lines in 1817, on the anniversary of Fanny’s death, and add to them? Do the various flowerpots suggest a graveyard, or the staircases the progression from one state to another?


Source: Shelley’s GhostBodleian Digital Archive


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