19 OCTOBER 1991, Page 40

Shelley at Keswick

If, once established, you're confronted by Youth, big ideas, reformist zeal — old hat, Old hat — and can't dodge past the hungry eye Starved of encouragement, remember that When Shelley came to Keswick, where he stayed, Improbably, at Chestnut Cottage on The Penrith Road, Southey, not mountainside And lake, was summit, fountain, pilgrim-shrine: • The great good man, Godwinian, Pantheist, Fearless dawn-watcher of the world's new age, Who's walked and talked with Wordsworth and the rest, Hazlitt, De Quincey, Hunt, Lamb, Coleridge, Was promptly written off, of course, because Safely armchaired and booklined he refused To play the fool idealist he once was: Instead he got young Shelley's rent reduced.

Robert Roberts