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When the broad sunrise filled with deepening gold
And dark-green chasms shades beautiful and white
Amid sweet sounds across our path
Its whirlpools where all hues did
Of wide and vaulted caves whose roofs were bright
With starry gems we fled, whilst from their deep
In converse wild and sweet and wonderful,
And in quick smiles whose light would come and go
Like music o'er wide waves, and in the flow
Of sudden tears, and in the mute
For a deep shade was cleft, and we did know
That virtue, though obscured on Earth, not less
Survives all mortal change in lasting loveliness.
Three days and nights we sailed, as
through the sky The sphered lamps of day and night,
New changes and new glories, rolled on high,
Sun, moon, and moonlike lamps, the progeny
Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair: On the fourth day, wild as a windwrought sea
The stream became, and fast and faster bare
To see far off the sunbeams chase the shadows
Over the grass sometimes beneath The spirit-winged boat, steadily speed.
Steady and swift, where the waves rolled like mountains
Within the vast ravine whose rifts
Tumultuous floods from their ten- The charmèd boat approached, and there
The thunder of whose earth-uplifting
Where its wild surges with the lake
Motionless resting on the lake awhile, I saw its marge of snow-bright mountains rear
And in the midst, afar, even like a
Hung in one hollow sky, did there
appear The Temple of the Spirit; on the sound
Like the swift moon this glorious earth around,
Our bark hung there, as on a line
Between two heavens, that windless
Which four great cataracts from four vales, attended By mists, aye feed: from rocks and clouds they break,
As a poet, his intellect and compositions were powerfully influenced by exterior circumstances, and especially by his place of abode. He was very fond of travelling, and ill-health increased this restlessness. The sufferings occasioned by a cold English winter made him pine, especially when our
And of that azure sea a silent refuge make. colder Spring arrived, for a more genial
climate. In 1816 he again visited Switzerland, and rented a house on the banks of the Lake of Geneva; and many a day, in cloud or sunshine, was passed alone in his boat-sailing as the wind listed, or welter
Their peaks aloft, I saw each radiant ing on the calm waters. The majestic
aspect of Nature ministered such thoughts as he afterwards enwove in verse. His lines on the Bridge of the Arve, and his
Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, were written at this time. Perhaps during this summer his genius was checked by association with another poet whose nature was utterly dissimilar to his own, yet who, in the poem
Which issued thence drawn nearer he wrote at that time, gave tokens that he
and more near,
shared for a period the more abstract and
NOTE ON THE REVOLT OF
SHELLEY possessed two remarkable qualities of intellect-a brilliant imagination, and a logical exactness of reason. His inclinations led him (he fancied) almost alike to poetry and metaphysical discussions. I say "he fancied," because I believe the former to have been paramount, and that it would have gained the mastery even had he struggled against it. However, he said that he deliberated at one time whether he should dedicate himself to poetry or metaphysics; and, resolving on the former, he educated himself for it, discarding in a great measure his philosophical pursuits, and engaging himself in the study of the poets of Greece, Italy, and England. To these may be added a constant perusal of portions of the Old Testament-the Psalms, the Book of Job, the Prophet Isaiah, and others, the sublime poetry of which filled him with delight.
etherealised inspiration of Shelley. The (I hope it is altered now) by a very poor saddest events awaited his return to population. The women are lacemakers, and lose their health by sedentary labour, for which they were very ill paid. The Poor-laws ground to the dust not only the paupers, but those who had risen just above that state, and were obliged to pay poor-rates. The changes produced by peace following a long war, and a bad harvest, brought with them the most heartrending evils to the poor. Shelley afforded what alleviation he could. In the winter, while bringing out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, caught while visiting the poor cottages. I mention these things-for this minute and active sympathy with his fellow-creatures gives a thousandfold interest to his speculations, and stamps with reality his pleadings for the human race.
England; but such was his fear to wound the feelings of others that he never expressed the anguish he felt, and seldom gave vent to the indignation roused by the persecutions he underwent; while the course of deep unexpressed passion, and the sense of injury, engendered the desire to embody themselves in forms defecated of all the weakness and evil which cling to real life.
He chose therefore for his hero a youth nourished in dreams of liberty, some of whose actions are in direct opposition to the opinions of the world; but who is animated throughout by an ardent love of virtue, and a resolution to confer the boons of political and intellectual freedom on his fellow-creatures. He created for this youth a woman such as he delighted to imagine -full of enthusiasm for the same objects; and they both, with will unvanquished, and the deepest sense of the justice of their cause, met adversity and death. There exists in this poem a memorial of a friend of his youth. The character of the old man who liberates Laon from his towerprison, and tends on him in sickness, is founded on that of Doctor Lind, who, when Shelley was at Eton, had often stood by to befriend and support him, and whose name he never mentioned without love and veneration.
During the year 1817 we were established at Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Shelley's choice of abode was fixed chiefly by this town being at no great distance from London, and its neighbourhood to the Thames. The poem was written in his boat, as it floated under the beechgroves of Bisham, or during wanderings in the neighbouring country, which is distinguished for peculiar beauty. The chalk hills break into cliffs that overhang the Thames, or form valleys clothed with beech; the wilder portion of the country is rendered beautiful by exuberant vegetation; and the cultivated part is peculiarly fertile. With all this wealth of Nature which, either in the form of gentlemen's parks or soil dedicated to agriculture, flourishes around, Marlow was inhabited
The poem, bold in its opinions and uncompromising in their expression, met with many censurers, not only among those who allow of no virtue but such as supports the cause they espouse, but even among those whose opinions were similar to his own. I extract a portion of a letter written in answer to one of these friends. It best details the impulses of Shelley's mind, and his motives: it was written with entire unreserve; and is therefore a precious monument of his own opinion of his powers, of the purity of his designs, and the ardour with which he clung, in adversity and through the valley of the shadow of death, to views from which he believed the permanent happiness of mankind must eventually spring.
"Marlow, Dec. 11, 1817. "I have read and considered all that you say about my general powers, and the particular instance of the poem in which I have attempted to develop them. Nothing can be more satisfactory to me than the interest which your admonitions express. But I think you are mistaken in some points with regard to the peculiar nature of my powers, whatever be their amount. I listened with deference and selfsuspicion to your censures of The Revolt of Islam; but the productions of mine which you commend hold a very low place
in my own esteem; and this reassures me, in some degree at least. The poem was produced by a series of thoughts which filled my mind with unbounded and sustained enthusiasm. I felt the precariousness of my life, and I engaged in this task, resolved to leave some record of myself. Much of what the volume contains was written with the same feeling-as real, though not so prophetic-as the communications of a dying man. I never presumed indeed to consider it anything approaching to faultless; but, when I consider contemporary productions of the same apparent pretensions, I own I was filled with confidence. I felt that it was in many respects a genuine picture of my own mind. I felt that the sentiments were true, not assumed. And in this have I long believed that my power consists; in sympathy, and that part of the imagination which relates to sentiment and contemplation. I am formed, if for anything not in common with the herd of mankind, to apprehend minute and remote distinctions of feeling, whether relative to external nature or the living beings which surround us, and to communicate the conceptions which result from considering either the moral or the material universe as a whole. Of course, I believe these faculties, which perhaps comprehend all that is sublime in man, to exist very imperfectly in my own mind. But, when you advert to my Chancerypaper a cold, forced, unimpassioned, insignificant piece of cramped and cautious argument, and to the little scrap about Mandeville, which expressed my feelings indeed, but cost scarcely two minutes' thought to express, as specimens of my powers more favourable than that which grew as it were from the agony and bloody sweat of intellectual travail; surely I must feel that, in some manner, either I am mistaken in believing that I have any talent at all, or you in the selection of the specimens of it. Yet, after all, I cannot but be conscious, in much of what I write, of an absence of that quillity which is the attribute and accompaniment of power. This feeling alone would make your most kind and wise admonitions, on the subject of the economy
of intellectual force, valuable to me. And, if I live, or if I see any trust in coming years, doubt not but that I shall do something, whatever it may be, which a serious and earnest estimate of my powers will suggest to me, and which will be in every respect accommodated to their utmost limits."
THERE was a youth, who, as with toil and travel,
Had grown quite weak and gray before his time;
Nor any could the restless griefs unravel
Which burned within him, withering up
Not his the load of any secret crime,
For nought of ill his heart could under-
Not his the thirst for glory or command
Baffled with blast of hope-consuming
Nor evil joys which fire the vulgar breast
1 The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal modelled on Alastor. In the first sketch of the poem, he named it Pandemos and Urania. Athanase seeks through the world the One whom he may love. He meets, in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady who appears to him to embody his ideal Pandemos, or the earthly and unworthy Venus; of love and beauty. But she proves to be who, after disappointing his cherished dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase, crushed by "On his deathbed, the sorrow, pines and dies. lady who can really reply to his soul comes and tran-kisses his lips." (The Deathbed of Athanase.) The poet describes her [in the words of the final fragment, p. 215]. This slender note is all we form of the poem, such as its author imagined. have to aid our imagination in shaping out the [Mrs. Shelley's Note.]
Had left within his soul their dark un- With those who toil'd and wept, the
poor and wise, His riches and his cares he did divide.
Nor what religion fables of the grave
Fearless he was, and scorning all disguise,
For none than he a purer heart could have,
What he dared do or think, though men might start,
Or that loved good more for itself alone; Of nought in heaven or earth was he the He spoke with mild yet unaverted eyes; slave.
What sorrow strange, and shadowy, and unknown,
Sent him, a hopeless wanderer, through mankind?--
If with a human sadness he did groan,
He had a gentle yet aspiring mind;
That from such toil he never found relief.
In others' joy, when all their own is He neither spurned nor hated, though with fell
He loved, and laboured for his kind in
And yet, unlike all others, it is said,
His soul had wedded wisdom, and her dower
Is love and justice, clothed in which he
Apart from men, as in a lonely tower,
Liberal he was of soul, and frank of heart,
And to his many friends-all loved him well
Whate'er he knew or felt he would impart,
Pitying the tumult of their dark estate-
If words he found those inmost thoughts to tell;
If not, he smiled or wept; and his weak foes
And mortal hate their thousand voices rose,
They past like aimless arrows from his
Nor did his heart or mind its portal close
To those, or them, or any whom life's sphere
May comprehend within its wide array. What sadness made that vernal spirit sere?
He knew not.
Though his life, day
Was failing like an unreplenished stream,
Those false opinions which the harsh Through which his soul, like Vesper's rich use serene beam
To blind the world they famish for their Piercing the chasms of ever rising clouds, pride; Shone, softly burning; though his lips did seem
Nor did he hold from any man his dues,
But like a steward in honest dealings Like reeds which quiver in impetuous floods;