Elegy for Shelley: death of a blind romantic

By Joel Hess


They found him there

Upon the shore

Upon his back

Next to some fishbones

And kelp

Eaten by the sea


With a draft of Keats

And a note from Sophocles


And the people held their breath

When they learned of Shelley’s death


The bass floated by

His helpless eyes

So purposely it seemed

Into the black,

chased by little bubbles

that couldn’t help




But he descended

Not able to even cry


A poet’s cry

An accidental rhyme

A heroic refrain


But instead his amazed stare

Decorated the darkness there

As his buttocks slowly sank into the sand


Oh the irony

The perfect poem that he would not be able to immortalize

To give to that pretty red haired girl

Or make the widows cry


And the people held their breath

When they learned of Shelley’s death


Oh how he loved the water

When he was a boy

As it curled up around his toes

On the shore


Or as he peered into its mysterious deep

As he sat safely afloat

in the little boat

Beneath a cloudy sky

And breathed into his lungs

The unknown truths that an unknown nature speaks


By himself he never could float

He always sank

He required something artificial

Like the words he clung to

When faced with misery or



he said,

“If only we obeyed her earthly majesty

From tyranny we would be free”


He never knew

that the lady who seemed so gentle

Who seemed to always say yes

Who made him feel like a god with her glorious mornings

Had been his lingering enemy


While he was playing

To swallow him