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Nothing escapes the erosion of time, he said.

Percy Shelley was born into privilege and wealth in the late 18th century. He gave it all up to live a life unbound. He was a free spirit, rebellious and idealistic. Society regarded him as a bad boy, but his friends thought him too good for a cruel world. He wrote passionately; lyrical poetry, philosophy & science, non-violent political protest. At the age of 21 he was captivated by young Mary Shelley and they ran away together. He composed a life that suited his aesthetic vision. He began to dream of people who fell from grace and became an outcast. He fell from grace. His personal life became more and more shrouded in scandal, genteel poverty and tragedy. Still... he managed to write some of the classics of English literature. His poem Ozymandias describes the inevitable decline of all who rise to the top and of the empires they build, however mighty they might seem in their lifetime.

(Nothing escapes the erosion of time, he whispered)

He wrote the poem after hearing that the great statue Ramses II was being brought from Egypt to the British Museum. His imagination was ignited by newly arrived objects at the Museum: relics from antique lands.

He and Mary moved to a white house in the bay at Lerici, on the west coast of Italy. He loved it there. It was quiet and he could write. He renamed his boat The Ariel. He and a friend drowned while sailing home in a stormy sea. They said he left it too late. Mary paced the beach waiting for word, her small feet sinking in the wet sand. Weeks later he washed up on his pocket was a new book of poetry by Keats. His friends burned his body on the beach. His heart was pulled from the raging fire and given to Mary. She wrapped it in a silk handkerchief, collected his battered, torn, personal relics washed up after the wreck and placed them all in a shrine. She tended this shrine until she died.

The passage of time and nature works its own magic on materials, giving them the haunting beauty of decay. The worn, sea tossed relics in Percy's final collection are full of mysterious meaning now. There is one more relic to add ...a necklace.

Salt and pepper shakers, Victorian Marcasite (iron pyrite) button, Vintage steel chains


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