Why I went…
On March 19th, I decided to go to Oxford to see some memorials to some of my favorite authors (both old and new favorites). This past semester I read Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, as well as a selection of poetry by her husband, Percy Shelley. I had heard of Mary Shelley before, but I did not know that her husband was a poet. Actually, I had not even read a lot of poetry before taking this class. However, I absolutely loved the poetry! I found it so interesting how the Romantic poets wrote poetry on poetry—trying to pick their craft apart and understand it in its purest form. I admire Shelley because of the dignity with which he regarded poetry. He wanted it to be respected and if anyone (like Wordsworth?) disrespected poetry or the creative process, he was not happy. My favorite poem by him is ‘Ode to the West Wind’ where it says:
“Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!”
I love this as a call for creative inspiration about taking the bad and turning it into good.
What I got out of the experience…
It was so exciting to see where Shelley studied at Oxford. I find it interesting that, even though he was dismissed from the University, they still have a statue for him. I also find the nature of the statue interesting. I don’t know why Shelley’s daughter-in-law chose to memorialize him as she did—dead and naked. Our tour guide said that he thought it could be to communicate that, even though Shelley is dead, his influence is eternal. He also said that the statue had been subject to a lot of pranks from Oxford students in the past. He said one time students filled the area with water and dumped gold fish in it (hence the presence of the giant golden gate that I’m standing in front of in the picture). Anyways, it was so neat to not only see the statue of Shelley, but walk around the college where he studied and the city where he lived. It put his age into perspective too. He was just a few years older than me when he wrote ‘Ode to the West Wind’. It inspired me to be more intentional about my writing. A lot of times I say to myself “oh I’m only 20, I still have a time to write.” A lot of the poets that we’ve read about in class, though, had done a lot more writing than I have by the time they were twenty. My trip to the picturesque town of Oxford served as a nice break from school and a motivational boost for my writing.