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WE are as clouds that veil the midnight
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:
This world is the nurse of all we know,
Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
This world is the mother of all we feel, And the coming of death is a fearful blow To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel;
Give various response to each varying When all that we know, or feel, or see, like an unreal mystery.
blast, To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.
And the billows of cloud that around thee roll
Shall sleep in the light of a wondrous day,
Where hell and heaven shall leave thee
To the universe of destiny.
We rest.—A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. One wandering thought No longer will live to hear or to see pollutes the day; We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or In the boundless realm of unending All that is great and all that is strange
weep; Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
Nought may endure but Mutability.
The secret things of the grave are there, Where all but this frame must surely be,
Though the fine-wrought eye and the
Sheds on a lonely and sea-girt isle,
Is the flame of life so fickle and wan
Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death?
Who lifteth the veil of what is to come?
Who painteth the shadows that are
The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb?
Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be With the fears and the love for that which we see?
THERE IS NO WORK, NOR DEVICE, NOR KNOW-
THE pale, the cold, and the moony smile A SUMMER EVENING CHURCH
Which the meteor beam of a starless
O man! hold thee on in courage of soul In duskier braids around the languid Through the stormy shades of thy
eyes of day:
Silence and twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.
They breathe their spells towards the
Light, sound, and motion own the potent sway,
Responding to the charm with its own
ΔΑΚΡΥΣΙ ΔΙΟΙΣΩ ΠΟΤΜΟΝ 'ΑΠΟΤΜΟΝ
Oh! THERE are spirits of the air,
And genii of the evening breeze,
As star-beams among twilight trees :-
The winds are still, or the dry church- With mountain winds, and babbling tower grass
Knows not their gentle motions as they
And moonlight seas, that are the voice Of these inexplicable things
Thou didst hold commune, and rejoice When they did answer thee; but they Cast, like a worthless boon, thy love
Thou too, aërial Pile! whose pinnacles
Around whose lessening and invisible Another's wealth:-tame sacrifice
Thus solemnised and softened, death is mild
And terrorless as this serenest night: Here could I hope, like some inquiring child
Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human sight
Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless
And thou hast sought in starry eyes Beams that were never meant for thine,
The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres : And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrill- Ah! wherefore didst thou build thine ing sound
Half sense, half thought, among the darkness stirs,
Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around,
And mingling with the still night and Could steal the power to wind thee in
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.
On the false earth's inconstancy? Did thine own mind afford no scope
Of love, or moving thoughts to thee? That natural scenes or human smiles
Yes, all the faithless smiles are fled Whose falsehood left thee brokenhearted;
The glory of the moon is dead;
Night's ghosts and dreams have now
Thine own soul still is true to thee,
That loveliest dreams perpetual watch This fiend, whose ghastly presence ever Beside thee like thy shadow hangs,
recovered from a severe pulmonary attack; the weather was warm and pleasant. He lived near Windsor Forest; and his life was spent under its shades or on the water, meditating subjects for verse. Hitherto,
NOTE ON THE EARLY POEMS, BY he had chiefly aimed at extending his political doctrines, and attempted so to do by appeals in prose essays to the people, exhorting them to claim their rights; but he had now begun to feel that the time for action was not ripe in England, and that the pen was the only instrument wherewith to prepare the way for better things.
In the scanty journals kept during those years I find a record of the books that Shelley read during several years. During the years of 1814 and 1815 the list is extensive. It includes, in Greek, Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus, the histories of Thucydides and Herodotus, and Diogenes Laertius. In Latin, Petronius, Suetonius, some of the works of Cicero, a large proportion of those of Seneca and Livy. In English, Milton's Poems, Wordsworth's Excursion, Southey's Madoc and Thalaba, Locke On the Human Understanding, Bacon's Novum Organum. In Italian, Ariosto, Tasso, and Alfieri. In French, the Réveries d'un Solitaire of Rousseau. To these may be added several modern books of travels. He read few novels.
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
Might visit thee at will.
THE remainder of Shelley's Poems will be arranged in the order in which they were written. Of course, mistakes will occur in placing some of the shorter ones; for, as I have said, many of these were thrown aside, and I never saw them till I had the misery of looking over his writings after the hand that traced them was dust; and some were in the hands of others, and I never saw them till now. The subjects of the poems are often to me an unerring guide; but on other occasions I can only guess, by finding them in the pages of the same manuscript book that contains poems with the date of whose composition I am fully conversant. In the present arrangement all his poetical translations will be placed together at the end.
THERE late was One within whose subtle being,
The loss of his early papers prevents my being able to give any of the poetry of his boyhood. Of the few I give as Early Poems, the greater part were published with Alastor; some of them were written previously, some at the same period. The poem beginning "Oh, there are spirits in the air was addressed in idea to Coleridge, whom he never knew; and at whose character he could only guess imperfectly, through his writings, and accounts he heard of him from some who knew him well. He regarded his change of opinions as rather an act of will than As light and wind within some delicate conviction, and believed that in his inner heart he would be haunted by what Shelley considered the better and holier aspirations of his youth. The summer evening that suggested to him the poem written in the churchyard of Lechlade occurred during his voyage up the Thames in 1815. He had been advised by a physician to live as much as possible in the open air; and a fortnight of a bright warm July was spent in tracing the Thames to its source. He never spent a season more tranquilly First than the summer of 1815. He had just
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1816
That fades amid the blue noon's burning
The sweetness of the joy which made
Fail, like the trances of the summer air, When, with the Lady of his love, who then
knew the unreserve of mingled being,