This book presents a major reassessment of Shelley's poetry. Whereas other criticism has stressed the philosophical and political concerns of his poetry in isolation, Angela Leighton argues that Shelley's philosophy and politics are presented as problems of poetic utterance and are this inseparable from his aesthetics. The author begins by tracing the origins of Shelley's poetic theory in eighteenth-century ideas of the sublime. She then discusses the effect of such a theory on the language of seven of Shelley's most important poems including 'Hymn to Intellectual Beauty', Prometheus Unbound, 'Ode to the West Wind', 'To a Skylark' and Adonais. In these poems the task of political change is expressed as the prerogative of the inspired poet, who desires to reunite the fallen language of poetry with the original impulse of inspiration that it supplants. This significant contribution to Shelley studies will interest all serious students of English Romantic poetry and aesthetics.