My lost William (To William Shelley)

A portrait of William Shelley

“My lost William” (“To William Shelley”) was written in response to the death of the Shelleys’ son William in Rome on June 17, 1819, at the age of three-and-a-half. It was given the title “To William Shelley” when it was first published by MWS in Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1824. It was almost certainly composed in Florence during November 1819, when PBS was planning a monument for William’s grave.

Oil portrait of William Shelley from NYPL Digital Collections.