Thus writes Percy Bysshe Shelley at the end of Adonais (1821), the poem with which religious readings of Shelley begin and – perhaps – end. Its conclusion has been read as everything from a belated affirmation of religious faith to a final confirmation of doubt. Shelley was posthumously converted to Christianity by Matthew Arnold and re-confirmed as an atheist by George Bernard Shaw before the end of the nineteenth century. 2 For twentieth-century critics, Shelley’s poem became first a triumphant vindication of Christianity, then a tragic acceptance of the necessary fiction of transcendence, later still a heroic recognition of unknowability, and finally an ironic appropriation of the language of transcendence for secular ends. 3 The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries represented the high-water mark of the debate about Shelley’s religiousness, in retrospect, and the tide has clearly moved in the opposite direction since then. This once central debate now seems to have become the sole preserve of a dwindling band of card-carrying believers or sceptics such as Paul Foot, Paul Johnson and A.N. Wilson. 4 To ask whether Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poetry is ‘really’ religious or not – or could have been, or might be for readers today – is to enter a debate that death has apparently trampled to fragments.