Percy Shelley: Poems
The Danger of Deranged Appetites: When Hunger Hijacks Existence College
“And he has bought / With his sweet voice and eyes,
from savage men, / His rest and food.”
- Percy Shelley’s Alastor
In Shelley’s Alastor, the Poet is initially presented as an “early youth” relying upon his “sweet” words to obtain his nourishment. In an effort to satisfy his appetite for Nature’s “deep mysteries,” the Poet journeys through a vast wilderness and heartily indulges in the numerous beautiful scenes Nature has to offer. The Poet also partakes in his “bloodless food,” revealing a vegetarian diet that adds to his harmonious relationship with Nature (129). Guided by a healthy appetite for Nature’s innermost secrets, the Poet is able to be adequately nourished. However, this once normal sense of hunger becomes permanently deranged after a fascinating dream awakens in him an insatiable hunger for the impossible- a supernatural ideal. This dangerous corruption of hunger is what renders the Poet’s aesthetic abilities useless and draws out his final, passive surrender as an artist.
Throughout Alastor, the Poet’s hunger operates deceptively to drain his energy, manipulating his life-long journey towards the hopeless pursuit of intellectual beauty until the final surrender to death. The first misdeeds of the Poet’s hunger are...
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