Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

last ray

pourest thine

And wanders up the vault of the Like the polar Paradise, blue day,

Magnet-like of lovers' eyes; Outlives the noon, and on the sun's I, a most enamoured maiden

Whose weak brain is overladen Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and With the pleasure of her love, amethyst.

Maniac-like around thee move

Gazing, an insatiate bride,
The Moon. ,

On thy form from every side
Thou art folded, thou art lying

Like a Mänad, round the cup In the light which is undying

Which Agave lifted up Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile In the weird Cadmæn forest. divine;

Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest All suns and constellations shower I must hurry, whirl and follow

On thee a light, a life, a power Through the heavens wide and hollow, Which doth array thy sphere; thou Sheltered by the warm embrace

Of thy soul from hungry space,
On mine, on mine!

Drinking from thy sense and sight

Beauty, majesty, and might,
The Earth.

As a lover or chameleon
I spin beneath my pyramid of night, Grows like what it looks upon,
Which points into the heavens As a violet's gentle eye
dreaming delight,

Gazes on the azure sky Murmuring victorious joy in my en-Until its hue grows like what it beholds, chanted sleep;

As a gray and watery mist As a youth lulled in love-dreams Glows like solid amethyst faintly sighing,

Athwart the western mountain it enfolds, Under the shadow of his beauty lying, When the sunset sleeps Which round his rest a watch of light Upon its snow. and warmth doth keep.

The Earth.

And the weak day weeps
The Moon.

That it should be so.
As in the soft and sweet eclipse, Oh, gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight

When soul meets soul on lovers' lips, Falls on me like thy clear and tender light High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes Soothing the seaman, borne the summer are dull;

night, So when thy shadow falls on me, Through isles for ever calm;

Then am I mute and still, by thee Oh, gentle Moon, thy crystal accents Covered; of thy love, Orb most beau- pierce tiful,

The caverns of my pride's deep universe, Full, oh, too full !

Charming the tiger joy, whose tramp

lings fierce Thou art speeding round the sun Made wounds which need thy balm. Brightest world of many a one;

Panthea. I rise as from a bath of Green and azure sphere which shinest sparkling water, With a light which is divinest A bath of azure light, among dark rocks, Among all the lamps of Heaven Out of the stream of sound. To whom life and light is given; Ione.

Ah me! sweet sister, I, thy crystal paramour

The stream of sound has ebbed away Borne beside thee by a power

from us,

are

verse

And you pretend to rise out of its wave,

A Voice from above. Because your words fall like the clear, Our great Republic hears, we soft dew

blest, and bless. Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's

Demogorgon. limbs and hair.

Ye happy dead, whom beams of brightest Panthea. Peace! peace! A mighty

Power, which is as darkness, Are clouds to hide, not colours to Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky portray, Is showered like night, and from within Whether your nature is that universe the air

Which once ye saw and suffered — Bursts, like eclipse which had been

A Voice from beneath. gathered up

Or as they Into the pores of sunlight : the bright Whom we have left, we change and visions,

pass away. Wherein the singing spirits rode and

Demogorgon. shone,

Ye elemental Genii, who have homes Gleam like pale meteors through a From man's high mind even to the watery night.

central stone lone. There is a sense of words upon Of sullen lead; from Heaven's starmine ear.

fretted domes Panthea. An universal sound like To the dull weed some sea - worm words: Oh, list!

battens on: Demogorgon.

A confused Voice. Thou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul,

We hear: thy words waken Oblivion. Sphere of divinest shapes and har

Demogorgon. monies,

Spirits, whose homes are flesh: ye Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll

beasts and birds, The love which paves thy path along

Ye worms, and fish; ye living leaves the skies :

and buds;

Lightning and wind; and ye untameThe Earth.

able herds, I hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies.

Meteors and mists, which throng air's Demogorgon.

solitudes :Thou, Moon, which gazest on the

A Voice. nightly Earth

Thy voice to us is wind among still With wonder, as it gazes upon thee;

woods. Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the

Demogorgon. swift birth

Man, who wert once a despot and a slave; Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, har- A dupe and a deceiver; a decay; mony:

A traveller from the cradle to the grave The Moon.

Through the dim night of this imI hear : am a leaf shaken by thee!

mortal day : Demogorgon.

All. Ye kings of suns and stars, Dæmons Speak : thy strong words may never and Gods,

pass away. Ætherial Dominations, who possess

Demogorgon. Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes This is the day, which down the void abysm Beyond Heaven's constellated wilder. At the Earth - born's spell yawns for

Heaven's despotism,

ness :

assurance

And Conquest is dragged captive be improved by a milder climate; he through the deep:

suffered very much during the winter preLove, from its awful throne of patient vious to his emigration, and this decided power

his vacillating purpose.

In December In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour 1817 he had written from Marlow to a Of dead endurance, from the slippery,

friend, saying:

" My health has been materially worse. steep, And narrow verge of crag-like agony,

My feelings at intervals are of a deadly

and torpid kind, or awakened to such a springs

state of unnatural and keen excitement And folds over the world its healing that, only to instance the organ of sight, wings.

I find the very blades of grass and the Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endur. boughs of distant trees present themselves

to me with microscopic distinctness. Toance, These are the seals of that most firm wards evening I sink into a state of lethargy

and inanimation, and often remain for

hours on Which bars the pit over Destruction's waking, a prey to the most painful irrita

the sofa between sleep and strength;

bility of thought. Such, with little interAnd if, with infirm hand, Eternity, mission, is my condition. The hours Mother of many acts and hours, should devoted to study are selected with vigilant free

caution from among these periods of enThe serpent that would clasp her with durance. It is not for this that I think of his length;

travelling to Italy, even if I knew that

But I have exThese are the spells by which to reassume Italy would relieve me. An empire o'er the disentangled doom.

perienced a decisive pulmonary attack;

and although at present it has passed To suffer woes which Hope thinks in- away without any considerable vestige of finite;

its existence, yet this symptom sufficiently To forgive wrongs darker than death or shows the true nature of my disease to be night;

consumptive. It is to my advantage that To defy Power, which seems omni- this malady is in its nature slow, and, if

one is sufficiently alive to its advances, is potent; To love, and bear; to hope till Hope In the event of its assuming any decided

susceptible of cure from a warm climate. creates

shape, it would be my duty to go to Italy From its own wreck the thing it con- without delay. It is not mere health, but templates;

life, that should seek, and that not for Neither to change, nor falter, nor my own sake -- I feel I am capable of repent;

trampling on all such weakness; but for This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be the sake of those to whom my life may be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and a source of happiness, utility, security, free;

and honour, and to some of whom my This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and death might be all that is the reverse. Victory.

In almost every respect his journey to Italy was advantageous. He left behind

friends to whom he was attached; but NOTE ON PROMETHEUS UN cares of a thousand kinds, many springing BOUND, BY MRS. SHELLEY. from his lavish generosity, crowded round

him in his native country, and, except the On the 12th of March 1818 Shelley quitted society of one or two friends, he had no England, never to return. His principal compensation. The climate caused him motive was the hope that his health would to consume half his existence in helpless suffering. His dearest pleasure, the free during a bright and beautiful Spring, he enjoyment of the scenes of Nature, was gave up his whole time to the composition. marred by the same circumstance. The spot selected for his study was, as he

He went direct to Italy, avoiding even mentions in his preface, the mountainous Paris, and did not make any pause till he ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. These are arrived at Milan. The first aspect of Italy little known to the ordinary visitor at enchanted Shelley; it seemed a garden of Rome. He describes them in a letter, delight placed beneath a clearer and with that poetry and delicacy and truth of brighter heaven than any he had lived description which render his narrated imunder before, He wrote long descriptive pressions of scenery of unequalled beauty letters during the first year of his residence and interest. in Italy, which, as compositions, are the At first he completed the drama in three most beautiful in the world, and show how acts. It was not till several months after, truly he appreciated and studied the won- when at Florence, that he conceived that ders of Nature and Art in that divine a fourth act, a sort of hymn of rejoicing in land.

the fulfilment of the prophecies with regard The poetical spirit within him speedily to Prometheus, ought to be added to comrevived with all the power and with more plete the composition. than all the beauty of his first attempts. The prominent feature of Shelley's He meditated three subjects as the ground theory of the destiny of the human species work for lyrical dramas. One was the was that evil is not inherent in the system story of Tasso; of this a slight fragment of the creation, but an accident that might of a song of Tasso remains. The other be expelled. This also forms a portion of was one founded on the Book of Job, which Christianity: God made earth and man he never abandoned in idea, but of which perfect, till he, by his fall, no trace remains among his papers.

The

"Brought death into the world and all our woe." third was the Prometheus Unbound. The Greek tragedians were his most Shelley believed that mankind had only to familiar companions in his wanderings, will that there should be no evil, and there and the sublime majesty of Æschylus filled would be none. It is not my part in these him with wonder and delight. The father Notes to notice the arguments that have of Greek tragedy does not possess the been urged against this opinion, but to pathos of Sophocles, nor the variety and mention the fact that he entertained it, and tenderness of Euripides; the interest on was indeed attached to it with fervent enwhich he founds his dramas is often ele- thusiasm. That man could be so pervated above human vicissitudes into the fectionised as to be able to expel evil from mighty passions and throes of gods and his own nature, and from the greater part demi-gods : such fascinated the abstract of the creation, was the cardinal point of imagination of Shelley.

his system. And the subject he loved We spent a month at Milan, visiting the best to dwell on was the image of One Lake of Como during that interval. warring with the Evil Principle, oppressed Thence we passed in succession to Pisa, not only by it, but by all—even the good, Leghorn, the Baths of Lucca, Venice, who were deluded into considering evil a Este, Rome, Naples, and back again to necessary portion of humanity; a victim Rome, whither we returned early in March full of fortitude and hope and the spirit of 1819. During all this time Shelley medi- triumph, emanating from a reliance in the tated the subject of his drama, and wrote ultimate omnipotence of Good. Such he portions of it. Other poems were com- had depicted in his last poem, when he posed during this interval, and while at made Laon the enemy and the victim of the Bagni di Lucca he translated Plato's tyrants. He now took a more idealised Symposium. But, though he diversified image of the same subject. He followed his studies, his thoughts centred in the certain classical authorities in figuring Prometheus. At last, when at Rome, Saturn as the good principle, Jupiter the

now

usurping evil one, and Prometheus as the superseded by the Spirit of the Earth, the regenerator, who, unable to bring mankind guide of our planet through the realms of back to primitive innocence, used know. sky; while his fair and weaker companion ledge as a weapon to defeat evil, by lead and attendant, the Spirit of the Moon, reing mankind, beyond the state wherein ceives bliss from the annihilation of Evil in they are sinless through ignorance, to that the superior sphere. in which they are virtuous through wisdom. Shelley develops more particularly in the Jupiter punished the temerity of the Titan lyrics of this drama his abstruse and inby chaining him to a rock of Caucasus, aginative theories with regard to the creaand causing a vulture to devour his still- tion. It requires a mind as subtle and renewed heart, There was a prophecy penetrating as his own to understand the afloat in heaven portending the fall of Jove, mystic meanings scattered throughout the the secret of averting which was known poem. They elude the ordinary reader only to Prometheus; and the god offered by their abstraction and delicacy of disfreedom from torture on condition of its tinction, but they are far from vague. It being communicated to him. According was his design to write prose metaphysical to the mythological story, this referred to essays on the nature of Man, which would the offspring of Thetis, who was destined have served to explain much of what is to be greater than his father. Prometheus obscure in his poetry; a few scattered at last bought pardon for his crime of en- fragments of observations and remarks riching mankind with his gifts, by reveal. alone remain. He considered these ing the prophecy. Hercules killed the philosophical views of Mind and Nature vulture, and set him free; and Thetis was to be instinct with the intensest spirit of married to Peleus, the father of Achilles. poetry.

Shelley adapted the catastrophe of this More popular poets clothe the ideal with story to his peculiar views. The son familiar and sensible imagery. Shelley greater than his father, born of the nuptials loved to idealise the real — to gift the of Jupiter and Thetis, was to dethrone mechanism of the material universe with a Evil, and bring back a happier reign than soul and a voice, and to bestow such also that of Saturn. Prometheus defies the on the most delicate and abstract emotions power of his enemy, and endures centuries and thoughts of the mind. Sophocles was of torture; till the hour arrives when Jove, his great master in this species of imagery. blind to the real event, but darkly guessing I find in one of his manuscript books that some great good to himself will flow, some remarks on a line in the Edipus espouses Thetis. At the moment, the Tyrannus, which show at once the critical Primal Power of the world drives him from subtlety of Shelley's mind, and explain his his usurped throne, and Strength, in the apprehension of those “minute and reperson of Hercules, liberates Humanity, mote distinctions of feeling, whether retypified in Prometheus, from the tortures lative to external nature or the living beings generated by evil done or suffered. Asia, which surround us," which he pronounces, one of the Oceanides, is the wife of Pro- in the letter quoted in the note to the metheus —she was, according to other Revolt of Islam, to comprehend all that is mythological interpretations, the same as sublime in man. Venus and Nature. When the benefactor In the Greek Shakespeare, Sophocles, of mankind is liberated, Nature resumes we find the image, the beauty of her prime, and is united to Πολλάς δ' οδούς ελθόντα φροντίδος πλάνοις : her husband, the emblem of the human race, in perfect and happy union. In the a line of almost unfathomable depth of fourth Act, the Poet gives further scope to poetry; yet how simple are the images in his imagination, and idealises the forms of which it is arrayed ! creation-such as we know them, instead ' Coming to many ways in the wanderings of of such as they appeared to the Greeks. careful thought.' Maternal Earth, the mighty parent, is If the words odous and it dávols had not

« PredošláPokračovať »