A quest poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) published in 1816. The full title is “Alastor: or, the Spirit of Solitude.” MacDonald quotes lines 484-488 in which the Poet encounters his soulmate. Shelley’s poem is a major influence on Phantastes, and Shelley’s Preface to “Alastor” offers a nice gloss on MacDonald’s fantasy. “The poem entitled ‘Alastor’ may be considered as allegorical of one of the most interesting situations of the human mind. It represents a youth of uncorrupted feelings and adventurous genius led forth by an imagination inflamed and purified through familiarity with all that is excellent and majestic, to the contemplation of the universe. He drinks deep of the fountains of knowledge, and is still insatiate. The magnificence and beauty of the external world sinks profoundly into the frame of his conceptions, and affords to their modifications a variety not to be exhausted. So long as it is possible for his desires to point towards objects thus infinite and unmeasured, he is joyous, and tranquil, and self-possessed. But the period arrives when these objects cease to suffice. His mind is at length suddenly awakened and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence similar to itself. He images to himself the Being whom he loves. Conversant with speculations of the sublimest and most perfect natures, the vision in which he embodies his own imaginations unites all of wonderful, or wise, or beautiful, which the poet, the philosopher, or the lover could depicture.”
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, "Phantastes Chapter 1: Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude" (1816). German Romantic and Other Influences. 1.