Shelley’s guitar

Handel’s Messiah

This Treasure is paired with: Handel’s Messiah (Making music)

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley bought this Pisan guitar for his final muse, Jane Williams, around April 1822. Inspired perhaps by the maker’s name, Ferdinando, he presented it with a poem alluding to Shakespeare’s Tempest, in which Jane and her husband are Miranda and Ferdinand, and Shelley himself is Ariel. He was surely thinking of the instrument’s coffin-like box in sending Jane these lines:

Poor Ariel sends this silent token
Of more than ever can be spoken …
And now, alas! the poor sprite is
Imprisoned for some fault of his
In a body like a grave. –

This Treasure isn’t currently on display in the Weston Library.