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VERSES ADDRESSED TO THE NOBLE
AND UNFORTUNATE LADY
NOW IMPRISONED IN THE CONVENT OF
L'anima amante si slancia fuori del creato, e si crea nell' infinito un mondo tutto per essa, diverso assai da questo oscuro e pauroso baratro.
HER OWN WORDS.
Epipsychidion was published, without Shelley's name, apparently in an edition of one hundred copies, at London in the summer of 1821, under the imprint of S. & R. Bentley for C. & J. Ollier. The poem was composed at Pisa during the first weeks of 1821. The lady who inspired it was Teresa Emilia Viviani, eldest daughter of Count Viviani, a nobleman of Pisa. She had been placed by her family in the neighboring Convent of St. Anna, and there Shelley met her at the beginning of December, 1820, and interested himself in her fortunes.
The writer of the following lines died at Florence, as he was preparing for a voyage to one of the wildest of the Sporades, which he had bought and where he had fitted up the ruins of an old building, and where it was his hope to have realized a scheme of life, suited perhaps to that happier and better world of which he is now an inhabitant, but hardly practicable in this. His life was singular; less on account of the romantic vicissitudes which diversified it than the ideal tinge which it received from his own character and feelings. The present Poem, like the Vita Nuova of Dante, is sufficiently intelligible to a certain class of readers without a matter-offact history of the circumstances to which it relates ; and to a certain other class it must ever remain incomprehensible from a defect of a common organ of perception for the ideas of which it treats. Not but that, gran vergogna sarebbe a colui, che rimasse cosa sotto veste di figura o di colore rettorico: e domandato non sapesse denudare le sue parole da cotal veste, in guisa che avessero verace intendimento.
The present poem appears to have been intended by the writer as the dedication to some longer one.
The stanza on the opposite [following] page is almost a literal translation from Dante's famous Canzone
Voi, ch' intendendo, il terzo ciel movete, etc. The presumptuous application of the concluding lines to his own composition will raise a smile at the expense of my unfortunate friend : be it a smile not of contempt, but pity.
My Song, I fear that thou wilt find but few
SWEET Spirit ! sister of that orphan one, Whose empire is the name thou weepest on, In my heart's temple I suspend to thee These votive wreaths of withered memory.
Poor captive bird ! who from thy narrow cage Pourest such music that it might assuage The rugged hearts of those who prisoned thee, Were they not deaf to all sweet melody, This song shall be thy rose ; its petals pale Are dead, indeed, my adored nightingale ! But soft and fragrant is the faded blossom, And it has no thorn left to wound thy bosom.
High, spirit-winged Heart! who dost forever Beat thine unfeeling bars with vain endeavor, Till those bright plumes of thought, in which
arrayed It over-soared this low and worldly shade, Lie shattered ; and thy panting wounded breast Stains with dear blood its unmaternal nest! I weep vain tears; blood would less bitter be, Yet poured forth gladlier, could it profit thee.
Seraph of Heaven ! too gentle to be human, Veiling beneath that radiant form of Woman