Short summary - The Revolt of Islam - Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Short summary - The Revolt of Islam
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shelley devoted his romantic poem in twelve songs to «the cause of broad and liberating morality,» to the ideas of freedom and justice. The poem is written by the so-called Spencer stanza.

During a thunderstorm raging over the earth, the poet suddenly opens among the clouds a gap of celestial azure, and against this background his eyes face the struggle of the Eagle and the Serpent over the depths of the sea; The Eagle torments the Snake, it strives to sting him in the chest, but in the end the Eagle releases its prey, and the Snake falls into the water.

On the shore, the poet sees a beautiful woman; she picks up the Snake, puts it on her marble chest and offers the poet to go in a dream shuttle with her on the road. During a journey in a magic boat, a woman explained that the Evil that once enveloped the earth soared high, and the Spirit of Good began to crawl, and as a result «no one distinguished good from evil». Thus, even the poet did not recognize in the Serpent the Spirit of Good, which fought with Evil in the form of an Eagle.


A woman tells her story. Before her death, the earthly woman, the young poet revealed many secrets of life to her, with his speeches he lit the light of freedom in her soul. Once she saw in a dream a beautiful young man and since then has been looking for him everywhere.

Cheln finally lands on the shore, the poet enters the light hazy labyrinth and suddenly finds himself in the temple, where a beautiful stranger is sitting on the crystal throne and is the poet’s wonderful companion.

The stranger - his name is Laon - tells the poet his story. His bright childhood was overshadowed by the brutal tyranny that reigned in his native country: "Everything in her chains languished: a tyrant and a slave, a soul and a body, a victim and a tormentor." In the soul of Laon, the desire for freedom grew and grew stronger. Then he recognized Tsitna, and they dearly fell in love with each other. Young Tsitna fully shared the desire of her beloved to free peoples from the burdensome chains, although she understood that the struggle with the forces of Evil would be fierce and unequal, that separation and even death could await them from her beloved.


Both have terrible visionary visions. Laon dreams that she and Tsitna are flying in space, but monsters are seized by Tsitna, robbing him of him. Waking up, he discovers that he is surrounded by Tiran's minions, and in the distance he hears a desperate female scream. Laon breaks through a crowd of enemies and sees on Earth connected Citna. Blinded by anger, he rushes to her guards, but there are too many of them, and he, severely beaten, is chained in a tower on top of a rock. From grief and wounds, Laon almost loses his mind, he refuses food and drink and is ready to accept death, but in oblivion he suddenly appears the wondrous Elder. He breaks the shackles, wipes Laon's body with a damp cloth and, with words of consolation, takes him in a shuttle to himself, to a tower in the middle of the sea. There he takes a long time - seven whole years - nursing Laon. When consciousness returns to Laon, the Elder says that even to his solitary castle the fame of the freedom-loving Laon has come; therefore, he went to Argolis, the country of Laon, where he saved the freedom-loving brave man. The elder also heard about the amazing girl who was sentenced to death, but the executioner, softened at the sight of her beauty, released her, Inflamed by the example and fiery speeches of Laon and Tsitna, peoples everywhere rebel against their oppressors, but the Elder fears that blood may be spilled, and Laon, he believes, is able to avoid bloodshed.

Laon returns to his hometown. But on the very first night, enemies are creeping up to the sleeping soldiers, killing many, but the loud cry «Laon!» Raises troops to battle — the enemies are swept away. Not wanting extra bloodshed, breeding hatred and enmity, Laon does not allow to kill those around him; raising his hand, he even takes the blow of a spear aimed at the chest of the doomed enemy, and exhorting both those and others not to engage in fratricide, loses consciousness. When he comes to his senses, he discovers that his words reached the hearts of men, a thirst for good seized everyone.

Amid the general glee, Laon sets off in search of a beautiful virgin, who calls herself Laon, and comes to the palace of all the abandoned Tirana. A flocking crowd demands that the despot be put to death. Having experienced fear and shame for the first time, the Tyrant loses consciousness. Laon turns to fellow citizens with the words of mercy: "You understand that the truth is forgiveness, / In love, not in malice, and not in terrible revenge."

However, in the black soul of Tirana, malice is still smoldering.

In the midst of popular jubilation, the terrible news is spreading: having gathered an army in other countries, the Tyrant goes to war on his own people. The ranks of those who feasted thin out under the blows of hirelings. Birds feeding on carrion flock from the surrounding mountains to the smell of blood and death. The festival of good and national liberation turns into a feast of vultures. Laon and his friends fight bravely, but the forces are unequal; here the Elder falls under the blows, and the last close friend of Laon has already been killed. Everyone except Laon perishes, he is seriously wounded.

Suddenly, through the ranks of enemies, crushing them, a fearless rider breaks on a powerful horse. Enemies run scattered. The horseman turns out to be a beautiful girl - this is Tsitna. She puts Laon with her on a horse and takes him away from the terrible battlefield.

Only now, far from human strife and atrocities, lovers can finally completely belong to each other and pour out their overwhelming love.

Tsitna tells Laon what happened to her during the separation. When she was captured by Tiran’s minions and Tiran saw her beauty, he inflamed her with passion, and in her, forced to endure hateful caresses, such a light of madness and thirst for freedom was lit that Tyran in horror backed away from her. He commanded to send the rebellious maiden to a distant castle in the middle of the sea.

In a clouding of reason, Tsitna thought that she had a daughter similar to Laon, but the sailing servant of Tirana robbed her of her dearly beloved child. For many years she lived alone on this island. The madness is gone, all that remains is the thought of Laon, of the daughter, of freedom.

A sudden earthquake destroyed the castle, and with a lonely rock sticking out of the sea, Tsitnu was picked up by a ship that was transporting new prisoners to Tirana. However, inflamed by the speeches of Tsitna about universal equality and freedom, the sailors released the captives. Laon and Tsitna decide to leave in order to separately fight for the freedom and happiness of all people. The lovers believe that sooner or later they will reunite again.

Meanwhile, freedom was again violated by the despotic authorities in the Golden City and neighboring countries, hunger and the plague were raging there, rivers were poisoned, people were suffering innumerable disasters; word of mouth is the legend of Laon and of the beautiful horsewoman, bearing the hope of liberation. Priests and lords offer prayers to God, each to his own. And here is the insidious Iberian Priest, who decided to forge from Islam his mortal enemy, the Priest, to his enemies. He persuades Tyrant and the priests to burn Laon and Laon on a huge fire - this will bring salvation to the kingdom and autocratic power of Tirana.


Suddenly a beautiful stranger appears in front of Tyran. He addresses the despot and his entourage with a passionate speech. The tyrant makes an attempt to stab him, but for some inexplicable reason his hand does not obey. The stranger promises to deliver Laon to them that very evening, provided that they send Tsit unscathed to the land of Liberty, America. The stranger throws off his cloak - this is Laon. Suddenly, a powerful horse with a beautiful horsewoman bursts into the throne room. The tyrant and her family run in horror before her, but the Iberian Priest shames them, calls to capture Tsitna and, in violation of the oath, execute with Laon. Tsitna herself rises to the bonfire to Laon.

Laon comes to life on the shore; he is caressed by the gentle hands of Tsitna. They are approached by an air boat in which a beautiful child with silver wings sits - their daughter. She tells parents that their death deeply struck their fellow tribesmen and will surely «cast their reflection in the silent abyss of future centuries.»

The air boat carries all three to the bright Temple of the Spirit.