Understanding Percy Shelley Through Timothy Morton's wWithin You Without You
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Nature and civilization have always shared a strong bond and; as seen throughout history, when human interaction challenges this bond a tension between Mother Nature and humankind arises. One job of the poet is to reveal this tension through his or her poetry in an attempt to quell the quarreling. Percy Shelley was one such poet that viewed society as being fractured from nature and throughout his poetry one can find examples of this as well as of the benefits from society becoming synchronized with the world. Timothy Morton’s “Within You Without You”; a section within The Cambridge Companion to Shelley, attempts to summarize Shelley’s argument in his poetry that mankind and Mother Nature are in a state of disagreement and need to reconcile to be harmonious. Although Morton accurately analyses the majority of Shelly’s works, which leads to theories that can apply universally in his poetry, some of the statements Morton presents challenge what the poet wrote.
Morton’s interpretations of Shelley’s A Defense Against Poetry, The Revolt of Islam, Alastor, To A Balloon Laden With Knowledge, Ode To The West Wind, and On Launching Some Bottles Filled With Knowledge Into The Boston Channel support his views on the poet while creating a loose manifesto to the poet’s writing. Morton starts out his paper by explaining the similarities between culture and nature, “‘culture’ can mean the growth of a plant, or of bacteria in a laboratory, or ‘cultivation’, as in ‘agriculture’” (Cambridge 185). This literal connection is a connection Shelly practices through the motif of several of his poems, what Morton refers to as, “[avocation of] an anti-dualist idea of the mind as embedded in nature … [through] continuity between the mind and its env...
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...s to become optimally beneficial to one another when they are in harmony while providing tension and conflict when their objectives and needs collide. Upon analyzing other parts of Shelley’s works that Morton used to support his thesis, readers can find evidence that supports, contradicts, and adds to the correlation between culture and nature in Shelley’s works.
Morton, Timothy. "Within You Without You." The Cambridge Companion to Shelley. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2006. 185-93. Print.
NIRMALA. "What Is Advaita or Nonduality?" Endless Satsang. NIRMALA, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
Shelley, Percy. "A Defense Against Poetry." Ed. Duncan Wu. Romanticism: An Anthology. Vol. 4. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2012. 1233-247. Print.
Shelley, Percy. "Ode to the West Wind." Ed. Duncan Wu. Romanticism: An Anthology. Vol. 4. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2012. 1131-134. Print.