Most of Shelley's poetry reveals his philosophy, a combination of belief in the power of human love and reason, and faith in the perfectibility and ultimate progress of humanity. His verse is at once deeply political, sensuous, and passionate, and his lyric poems are superb in their beauty, grandeur, and mastery of language. Although Matthew Arnold labeled him an "ineffectual angel," later critics have taken Shelley seriously, recognizing his wit, his gifts as a satirist, and his influence as a social and political thinker.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.