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Lost Shelley poem execrating 'rank corruption' of ruling class made public

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Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, a ferocious attack on war and oppression, becomes Bodleian Library’s 12 millionth book

An incendiary lost poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in which the young poet attacks the “cold advisers of yet colder kings” who “coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang … regardless of the poor man’s pang”, was made public for the first time in more than 200 years on Tuesday.

Shelley was just 18 and in his first year at Oxford University when he wrote his Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things. The 172-line poem, accompanied by an essay and Shelley’s notes, was written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who had been jailed for libelling the Anglo-Irish politician Viscount Castlereagh.

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