Manuscript of 'Laon and Cythna' by P B Shelley


Written in 1817, this is a fair copy in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s handwriting of Canto I, stanza VII (lines 181-189), of his poem 'Laon and Cythna'.  

'Laon and Cythna' is a long, ambitious, and ultimately optimistic poem; Shelley worked on it for six months, and described the work as,

an experiment on the temper of the public mind, as to how far a thirst for a happier condition of moral and political society survives, among the enlightened and refined, the tempests which have shaken the age in which we live.

The poem very much derives from topical events, specifically from the French Revolution.

There are two revisions in the fragment. In line 187 'winds' is inserted above the deleted word 'blasts', and 'Floated' in line 188 is altered from 'Floating'.

Full title:
'Laon and Cythna': a poem by P B Shelley; 1817. Autograph fair copy, with two revisions, of Canto I, stanza VII
Manuscript / Fair copy
Percy Bysshe Shelley
© Estate of Percy Bysshe Shelley & Harriet Shelley
Held by
British Library
Ashley MS A4048

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