Shelley, Percy Bysshe – Trelawny describes how inspiration came to Shelley
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
As quoted in G N M Tyrrell - The Personality of Man
The task of consciousness is not to create, but to seize this inrush [of inspiration and revelation] and express it. The difficulty is immense. What comes with baffling "altogetherness" has to be spread out in sequence and put into words. Trelawny records how Shelley had wandered off into the pine forests near Pisa, where he found him, propped against a tree with several sheets of manuscript beside him.
"It was a frightful scrawl," he says; "words smeared out with the finger and one upon the other, over and over in tiers and -all run together. . . . It might have been taken for a sketch of a marsh overgrown with bull-rushes, and the blots for wild ducks; such a dash-off daub as self-conceited artists mistake for a manifestation of genius. On my observing this to him he answered: 'When my brain gets heated-with thought, it soon boils and throws off images and words faster than I can skim them off."'
"Poetry," declared Shelley, "is not like reasoning, a power, to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say: 'I will write poetry.' The greatest poet even cannot say it."
One after another the great writers, poets and artists confirm the fact that their work comes to them from beyond the threshold of consciousness. It is not as though this material carne passively floating towards them. It is imperious, dynamic and wilful.