left biblioblography: Profiles in Atheism - The Mad Poet

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Profiles in Atheism - The Mad Poet


[Published (from the Esdaile manuscript book) by Bertram Dobell, 1887.]

Is it the Eternal Triune, is it He
Who dares arrest the wheels of destiny
And plunge me in the lowest Hell of Hells?
Will not the lightning's blast destroy my frame?
Will not steel drink the blood-life where it swells?
No--let me hie where dark Destruction dwells,
To rouse her from her deeply caverned lair,
And, taunting her cursed sluggishness to ire,
Light long Oblivion's death-torch at its flame
And calmly mount Annihilation's pyre.
Tyrant of Earth! pale Misery's jackal Thou!
Are there no stores of vengeful violent fate
Within the magazines of Thy fierce hate?
No poison in the clouds to bathe a brow
That lowers on Thee with desperate contempt?
Where is the noonday Pestilence that slew
The myriad sons of Israel's favoured nation?
Where the destroying Minister that flew
Pouring the fiery tide of desolation
Upon the leagued Assyrian's attempt?
Where the dark Earthquake-daemon who engorged
At the dread word Korah's unconscious crew?
Or the Angel's two-edged sword of fire that urged
Our primal parents from their bower of bliss
(Reared by Thine hand) for errors not their own
By Thine omniscient mind foredoomed, foreknown?
Yes! I would court a ruin such as this,
Almighty Tyrant! and give thanks to Thee--
Drink deeply--drain the cup of hate; remit this--I may die.

Another blast from the past - radical, free-thinker, poet.

Percy Bysshe Shelley -

"Is ranked as one of the great English poets of the romantic period.

A Tempestuous Life

"The son of a prosperous squire, he entered Oxford in 1810, where readings in philosophy led him toward a study of the empiricists and the modern skeptics, notably William Godwin. In 1811 he and his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg published their pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism, which resulted in their immediate expulsion from the university. The same year Shelley eloped with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook, by whom he eventually had two children, Ianthe and Charles.

"Supported reluctantly by their fathers, the young couple traveled through Great Britain. Shelley's life continued to be dominated by his desire for social and political reform, and he was constantly publishing pamphlets. His first important poem, Queen Mab, privately printed in 1813, set forth a radical system of curing social ills by advocating the destruction of various established institutions.

"In 1814 Shelley left England for France with Mary Godwin, the daughter of William Godwin. During their first year together they were plagued by social ostracism and financial difficulties. However, in 1815 Shelley's grandfather died and left him an annual income. Laon and Cynthna appeared in 1817 but was withdrawn and reissued the following year as The Revolt of Islam; it is a long poem in Spenserian stanzas that tells of a revolution and illustrates the growth of the human mind aspiring toward perfection.

"After Harriet Shelley's suicide in 1816, Shelley and Mary officially married. In 1817 Harriet's parents obtained a decree from the lord chancellor stating that Shelley was unfit to have custody of his children. The following year Shelley and Mary left England and settled in Italy. By this time their household consisted of their own three children and Mary's half-sister Claire Claremont and her daughter Allegra (whose father was Lord Byron). On July 8, 1822, Shelley was drowned while sailing in the Bay of Spezia, near Lerici.


"Shelley composed the great body of his poetry in Italy. The Cenci, a tragedy in verse exploring moral deformity, was published in 1819, followed by his masterpiece, Prometheus Unbound (1820). In this lyrical drama Shelley poured forth all his passions and beliefs, which were modeled after the ideas of Plato. Epipsychidion (1821) is a poem addressed to Emilia Viviani, a young woman whom Shelley met in Pisa and with whom he developed a brief but close friendship.

"His great elegy, Adonais (1821), written in memory of Keats, asserts the immortality of beauty. Hellas (1822), a lyrical drama, was inspired by the Greek struggle for independence. His other poems include Alastor (1816) and the shorter poems “Ode to the West Wind,” “To a Skylark,” “Ozymandias,” “The Indian Serenade,” and “When the Lamp Is Shattered.”


"Most of Shelley's poetry reveals his philosophy, a combination of belief in the power of human love and reason, and faith in the perfectibility and ultimate progress of man. His lyric poems are superb in their beauty, grandeur, and mastery of language. Although Matthew Arnold labeled him an “ineffectual angel,” 20th-century critics have taken Shelley seriously, recognizing his wit, his gifts as a satirist, and his influence as a social and political thinker."

Some quotes, to wet the palate:

"Concerning God, freewill and destiny: Of all that earth has been or yet may be, all that vain men imagine or believe, or hope can paint or suffering may achieve, we descanted."

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"

"Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep -- he hath awakened from the dream of life -- 'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep with phantoms an unprofitable strife."

"Life may change, but it may fly not; Hope may vanish, but can die not; Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; Love repulsed, -- but it returneth."

"Man's yesterday may never be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability."

"Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality."

"Here I swear, and as I break my oath may eternity blast me, here I swear that never will I forgive Christianity! It is the only point on which I allow myself to encourage revenge. Oh, how I wish I were the Antichrist, that it were mine to crush the Demon; to hurl him to his native Hell never to rise again -- I expect to gratify some of this insatiable feeling in Poetry."

His complete works can be found here, for the interested reader.

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Feza said...

Hi Krystalline,

I came across your website. I am a muslim and I too have a website. It's about verses from The Qur'an. I just started it so there will be more entries coming, God willing. If you and your readers can take a look at it, it may help you understand us better.
Thank you and best wishes to all.

remy said...

I thought Tourette's only manifested itself verbally.

It is interesting to read things that have been a part of your life. After a certain point one forgets that one is the sum of these random pieces of literature and science.

karen said...

Uh oh.
Moderation's gonna go back on.
Hi remy.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen - naw, I'm not turning it back on.
Nemesis' constant visits are actually driving my traffic up, thereby making me smile.
It's a small thing to just delete the infantile nuggets he leaves behind.

remy said...

Hi Karen,
I haven't been around much. I pop into see KA and Beep and Beaj as well as gifs and NGB, but time is limited so can't say much.

I can't read much of jcc either. I admire how the two of you keep up the fight. I really don't know how you do it. It can be so exasperating.

Are either of you going to respond to feza?

Krystalline Apostate said...

Oh yeah:
Hey Feza.
I am actually somewhat up on Islam. Look under 'topics' - I have 19 on Islam alone.
Be forewarned - I'm as critical of Islam as I am of any religion under the sun.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Keep going, nemesis.
You're just pushing my numbers up.

beepbeepitsme said...

lol KA.

It's all good for business.

RE: shelley

I had no idea he was so repulsed by christianity. An original anti-theist it seems.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - yeah, Shelley was pretty hardcore.
He used a lotta the language of the day, I'm sure some theist somewhere'll claim, "Hey, look, he capitalized gawd, or providence!", like it's some form of inferred nod to the whole thing.

karen said...

I like beep and beaj too, but their sites take soooo long for my dial-up to load. I just don't stop in there too much.
I actually like jcc. I know-there's no accounting for taste! But I'm trying to be more tolerant and he's good to practice on.
I wasn't going to respond to feza here, but I might go check his blog.

on Shelley
I like the featured poem. I also had no idea he was so anti god.

That last quote about never forgiving Christianity is quite strong. I wonder what inspired it?
But I don't wonder enough to slog through Shelley, I'm afraid.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen - yeah, I'll remember to haul this example out next time some nimbulb calls atheists 'infrahuman'.
Feza's blog seems to be in its birthing throes right now.
Interesting that he/she reached out to a kaffir like myself.
Course, that open-armed attitude might change in the near future.

karen said...

Little Neme's verbal diarrhea bursts are getting shorter. Perhaps he is getting weak. Or maybe he just lost his Dirty Word Flash Cards. Face east and pray to jeebus, Neme.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I now have your I.P address, location, & ISP.
Do it again, & I'll contact your ISP, report you as a sexual harasser, & I'm sure your parents will find your activities...interesting.
So go ahead.
Make my day.