"Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, 
Stains the white radiance of Eternity."
~ Adonais 

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the most important poets of the Romantic period and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent lyric poets of the English language (though I’m a Frost man myself). Shelley had a short stint at University College at Oxford University before he was unceremoniously expelled for penning a pamphlet titled, “The Necessity of Atheism.” It is rumored that he only attended one lecture in his time at Oxford. Though he died under auspicious circumstances in a boating accident at the age of 29, Shelley’s influence reached into the next several generations of Victorian poets and he was a considerable figure to members of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Mark Twain even took aim at Shelley’s eccentricities and behavior after he abandoned his first wife, Harriet Shelley, when she became pregnant.

Shelley died after his schooner, the Don Juan (an homage to Byron), was overtaken by a sudden squall in the Gulf of Spezia on the way from Livorno to Livici. His body washed up on shore in a much similar fashion to the way the title character did in his epic poem Adonais. Only, Shelley’s body was so badly disfigured from several days floating in the ocean that there was no flesh upon the body parts not covered by clothing.

The Shelley memorial can be viewed in a portico built specifically for the monument at University College in Oxford. The monument was sculpted by Edward Onslow Ford and the impetus for the design was drawn specifically from the death scene in Adonais.