Shelley on Cantos III, IV and V.
(a) Extract from letter of 17 April 1821, to Byron: ‘. . . You have now arrived about at the age at which those eternal poets, of whom we have authentic accounts, have ever begun their supreme poems; considering all their others, however transcendent, as the steps, the scaffolding, the exercise which may sustain and conduct them to their great work. If you are inferior to these, it is not in genius, but industry and resolution. Oh, that you would subdue yourself to the great task of building up a poem containing within itself the germs of a permanent relation to the present, and to all succeeding ages! . . .’ (The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. F. L. Jones, 1964, II, 283–4.)