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PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

1792-1822

612                                           Hymn of Pan

FROM the forests and highlands
   We come, we come;
From the river-girt islands,
   Where loud waves are dumb,
Listening to my sweet pipings.
   The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
     The bees on the bells of thyme,
   The birds on the myrtle bushes,
     The cicale above in the lime,
And the lizards below in the grass,
Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,
   Listening to my sweet pipings.
Liquid Peneus was flowing,
   And all dark Tempe lay
In Pelions shadow, outgrowing
   The light of the dying day,
Speeded by my sweet pipings.
   The Sileni and Sylvans and Fauns,
     And the Nymphs of the woods and waves,
   To the edge of the moist river-lawns,
     And the brink of the dewy caves,
And all that did then attend and follow,
Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,
   With envy of my sweet pipings.
I sang of the dancing stars,
   I sang of the dædal earth,
And of heaven, and the giant wars,
   And love, and death, and birth.
And then I changed my pipings
   Singing how down the vale of Mænalus
     I pursued a maiden, and claspd a reed:
   Gods and men, we are all deluded thus;
     It breaks in our bosom, and then we bleed.
All weptas I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood
   At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.

613                                              The Invitation

BEST and brightest, come away!
Fairer far than this fair Day,
Which, like thee to those in sorrow,
Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow
To the rough Year just awake
In its cradle on the brake.
The brightest hour of unborn Spring,
Through the winter wandering,
Found, it seems, the halcyon Morn
To hoar February born.
Bending from heaven, in azure mirth,
It kissd the forehead of the Earth;
And smiled upon the silent sea;
And bade the frozen streams be free;
And waked to music all their fountains;
And breathed upon the frozen mountains;
And like a prophetess of May
Strewd flowers upon the barren way,
Making the wintry world appear
Like one on whom thou smilest, dear.
Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs
To the silent wilderness
Where the soul need not repress
Its music lest it should not find
An echo in anothers mind,
While the touch of Natures art
Harmonizes heart to heart.
I leave this notice on my door
For each accustomd visitor:
I am gone into the fields
To take what this sweet hour yields.
Reflection, you may come to-morrow;
Sit by the fireside with Sorrow.
You with the unpaid bill, Despair,
You tiresome verse-reciter, Care,
I will pay you in the grave,
Death will listen to your stave.
Expectation too, be off!
To-day is for itself enough.
Hope, in pity, mock not Woe
With smiles, nor follow where I go;
Long having lived on your sweet food,
At length I find one moments good
After long pain: with all your love,
This you never told me of.
Radiant Sister of the Day,
Awake! arise! and come away!
To the wild woods and the plains;
And the pools where winter rains
Image all their roof of leaves;
Where the pine its garland weaves
Of sapless green and ivy dun
Round stems that never kiss the sun;
Where the lawns and pastures be,
And the sandhills of the sea;
When the melting hoar-frost wets
The daisy-star that never sets,
And wind-flowers, and violets
Which yet join not scent to hue,
Crown the pale year weak and new;
When the night is left behind
In the deep east, dun and blind,
And the blue noon is over us,
And the multitudinous
Billows murmur at our feet
Where the earth and ocean meet,
And all things seem only one
In the universal sun.

614                                               Hellas

THE worlds great age begins anew,
   The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
   Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
A brighter Hellas rears its mountains
   From waves serener far;
A new Peneus rolls his fountains
   Against the morning star;
Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep
Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep.
A loftier Argo cleaves the main,
   Fraught with a later prize;
Another Orpheus sings again,
   And loves, and weeps, and dies;
A new Ulysses leaves once more
Calypso for his native shore.
O write no more the tale of Troy,
   If earth Deaths scroll must be
Nor mix with Laian rage the joy
   Which dawns upon the free,
Although a subtler Sphinx renew
Riddles of death Thebes never knew.
Another Athens shall arise,
   And to remoter time
Bequeath, like sunset to the skies,
   The splendour of its prime;
And leave, if naught so bright may live,
All earth can take or Heaven can give.
Saturn and Love their long repose
   Shall burst, more bright and good
Than all who fell, than One who rose,
   Than many unsubdued:
Not gold, not blood, their altar dowers,
But votive tears and symbol flowers.
O cease! must hate and death return?
   Cease! must men kill and die?
Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn
   Of bitter prophecy!
The world is weary of the past
O might it die or rest at last!

615                                          To a Skylark

           HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!
             Bird thou never wert
           That from heaven or near it
              Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
           Higher still and higher
              From the earth thou springest,
           Like a cloud of fire;
              The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
           In the golden lightning
              Of the sunken sun,
           Oer which clouds are brightning,
              Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
           The pale purple even
              Melts around thy flight;
           Like a star of heaven,
              In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight
           Keen as are the arrows
              Of that silver sphere
           Whose intense lamp narrows
              In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
           All the earth and air
              With thy voice is loud,
           As, when night is bare,
              From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowd
           What thou art we know not;
              What is most like thee?
           From rainbow clouds there flow not
              Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody:
           Like a poet hidden
              In the light of thought,
           Singing hymns unbidden,
              Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:
           Like a high-born maiden
              In a palace tower,
           Soothing her love-laden
              Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:
           Like a glow-worm golden
              In a dell of dew,
           Scattering unbeholden
              Its aëerial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the view:
           Like a rose embowerd
              In its own green leaves,
           By warm winds deflowerd,
              Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-wingàd thieves:
           Sound of vernal showers
              On the twinkling grass,
           Rain-awakend flowers
              All that ever was
Joyous and clear and freshthy music doth surpass.
           Teach us, sprite or bird,
              What sweet thoughts are thine:
           I have never heard
              Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
           Chorus hymeneal,
              Or triumphal chant,
           Matchd with thine would be all
              But an empty vaunt
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
           What objects are the fountains
              Of thy happy strain?
           What fields, or waves, or mountains?
              What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
           With thy clear keen joyance
              Languor cannot be:
           Shadow of annoyance
              Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but neer knew loves sad satiety.
           Waking or asleep,
              Thou of death must deem
           Things more true and deep
              Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
          We look before and after,
              And pine for what is not:
           Our sincerest laughter
              With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
           Yet, if we could scorn
              Hate and pride and fear,
           If we were things born
              Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
           Better than all measures
              Of delightful sound,
           Better than all treasures
              That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
           Teach me half the gladness
              That thy brain must know;
           Such harmonious madness
              From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

616                                               The Moon

I

AND, like a dying lady lean and pale,
      Who totters forth, wrappd in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky east
A white and shapeless mass.

II

      Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
      Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

617                                    Ode to the West Wind

I

O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumns being
   Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
   Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou
   Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The wingàd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
   Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
   Her clarion oer the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
   With living hues and odours plain and hill;
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, O hear!

II

Thou on whose stream, mid the steep skys commotion,
   Loose clouds like earths decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean,
   Angels of rain and lightning! there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
   Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Mæand, even from the dim verge
   Of the horizon to the zeniths height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
   Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
   Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: O hear!

III

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
   The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulld by the coil of his crystalline streams,
   Beside a pumice isle in Baiæs bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
   Quivering within the waves intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers
   So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantics level powers
   Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
   The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!

IV

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
   If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
   The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! if even
   I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
   As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemd a visionI would neer have striven
   As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
O! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
   I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chaind and bowd
One too like theetameless, and swift, and proud.

V

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
   What if my leaves are falling like its own?
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
   Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
   My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
   Like witherd leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse,
   Scatter, as from an unextinguishd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
   Be through my lips to unawakend earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

618                                        The Indian Serenade

I ARISE from dreams of thee
   In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
   And the stars are shining bright.
I arise from dreams of thee,
   And a spirit in my feet
Hath led mewho knows how?
   To thy chamber window, Sweet!
The wandering airs they faint
   On the dark, the silent stream
And the Champaks odours [pine]
   Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
The nightingales complaint,
   It dies upon her heart,
As I must on thine,
   O belovèd as thou art!
O lift me from the grass!
   I die! I faint! I fail!
Let thy love in kisses rain
   On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
   My heart beats loud and fast:
O press it to thine own again,
   Where it will break at last!

619                                                Night

SWIFTLY walk oer the western wave,
           Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear
Which make thee terrible and dear,
           Swift be thy flight!
Wrap thy form in a mantle grey,
           Star-inwrought!
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out.
Then wander oer city and sea and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand
           Come, long-sought!
When I arose and saw the dawn
           I sighd for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turnd to her rest,
Lir gering like an unloved guest,
           I sighd for thee.
Thy brother Death came, and cried,
           Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmurd like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?And I replied,
           No, not thee!
Death will come when thou art dead,
           Soon, too soon
Sleep will come when thou art fled.
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovàd Night
Swift be thine approaching flight,
           Come soon, soon!

620                                          From the Arabic

AN IMITATION

MY faint spirit was sitting in the light
         Of thy looks, my love;
   It panted for thee like the hind at noon
          For the brooks, my love.
   Thy barb, whose hoofs outspeed the tempests flight,
         Bore thee far from me;
   My heart, for my weak feet were weary soon,
         Did companion.
Ah! fleeter far than fleetest storm or steed,
           Or the death they bear,
   The heart which tender thought clothes like a dove
           With the wings of care;
In the battle, in the darkness, in the need,
            Shall mine cling to thee,
   Nor claim one smile for all the comfort, love,
         It may bring to thee.

621                                                 Lines

   WHEN the lamp is shatterd,
The light in the dust lies dead;
   When the cloud is scatterd,
The rainbows glory is shed;
   When the lute is broken,
Sweet tones are rememberd not;
   When the lips have spoken,
Loved accents are soon forgot.
   As music and splendour
Survive not the lamp and the lute,
   The hearts echoes render
No song when the spirit is mute
   No song but sad dirges,
Like the wind through a ruind cell,
   Or the mournful surges
That ring the dead seamans knell.
   When hearts have once mingled,
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
   The weak one is singled
To endure what it once possest.
   O Love, who bewailest
The frailty of all things here,
   Why choose you the frailest
For your cradle, your home, and your bier?
   Its passions will rock thee,
As the storms rock the ravens on high:
   Bright reason will mock thee,
Like the sun from a wintry sky.
   From thy nest every rafter
Will rot, and thine eagle home
   Leave thee naked to laughter,
When leaves fall and cold winds come.

622                                                 To

ONE word is too often profaned
   For me to profane it;
One feeling too falsely disdaind
   For thee to disdain it;
One hope is too like despair
   For prudence to smother;
And pity from thee more dear
   Than that from another.
I can give not what men call love:
   But wilt thou accept not
The worship the heart lifts above
   And the heavens reject not,
The desire of the moth for the star,
   Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar
   From the sphere of our sorrow?

623                                                The Question

I DREAMD that, as I wanderd by the way,
   Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring;
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
   Mixd with a sound of waters murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
   Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kissd it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.
There grew pied wind-flowers and violets;
   Daisies, those pearld Arcturi of the earth,
The constellated flower that never sets;
   Faint oxlips; tender bluebells, at whose birth
The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets
   Like a child, half in tenderness and mirth
Its mothers face with heaven-collected tears
When the low wind, its playmates voice, it hears.
And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine,
   Green cowbind and the moonlight-colourd May,
And cherry-blossoms, and white cups whose wine
   Was the bright dew yet draind not by the day;
And wild roses, and ivy serpentine,
   With its dark buds and leaves wandering astray;
And flowers, azure, black, and streakd with gold,
Fairer than any wakend eyes behold.
And nearer to the rivers trembling edge
   There grew broad flag-flowers, purple prankd with white,
And starry river-buds among the sedge,
   And floating water-lilies, broad and bright,
Which lit the oak that overhung the hedge
   With moonlight beams of their own watery light;
And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green
As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.
Methought that of these visionary flowers
   I made a nosegay, bound in such a way
That the same hues which in their natural bowers
   Were mingled or opposed, the like array
Kept these imprisond children of the Hours
   Within my hand;and then, elate and gay,
I hastend to the spot whence I had come,
That I might there present itO! to whom?

624                                                 Remorse

AWAY! the moor is dark beneath the moon,
   Rapid clouds have drunk the last pale beam of even:
Away! the gathering winds will call the darkness soon,
   And profoundest midnight shroud the serene lights of
      heaven.
Pause not! the time is past! Every voice cries Away!
   Tempt not with one last tear thy friends ungentle mood:
Thy lovers eye, so glazed and cold, dares not entreat thy
      stay:
   Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude.
Away, away! to thy sad and silent home;
   Pour bitter tears on its desolated hearth;
Watch the dim shades as like ghosts they go and come,
   And complicate strange webs of melancholy mirth.
The leaves of wasted autumn woods shall float around thine
       head,
   The blooms of dewy Spring shall gleam beneath thy feet:
But thy soul or this world must fade in the frost that binds the
      dead,
   Ere midnights frown and mornings smile, ere thou and
  peace, may meet.
The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose,
   For the weary winds are silent, or the moon is in the deep;
Some respite to its turbulence unresting ocean knows;
   Whatever moves or toils or grieves hath its appointed sleep.
Thou in the grave shalt rest:yet, till the phantoms flee,
   Which that house and heath and garden made dear to thee
      erewhile,
Thy remembrance and repentance and deep musings are not
       free
   From the music of two voices, and the light of one sweet
   smile.

625                                      Music, when Soft Voices die

MUSIC, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heapd for the belovàds bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

 

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