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TO WILLIAM SHELLEY.
(With what truth I may say
Roma, Roma, Roma,
My lost William, thou in whom
Some bright spirit lived, and did That decaying robe consume
Which its lustre faintly hid, Here its ashes find a tomb,
But beneath this pyramid Thou art not—if a thing divine Like thee can die, thy funeral shrine Is thy mother's grief and mine.
Where art thou, my gentle child ?
Let me think thy spirit feeds, With its life intense and mild, The love of living leaves and weeds, Among these tombs and ruins wild ;
Let ine think that through low seeds Of the sweet flowers and sunny grass, Into their hues and scents may pass, A portion
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1819 ;
BY THE EDITOR.
THOL GH Shelley's first eager desire to excite his country. men to resist openly the oppressions existent during "the good old times" had faded with early youth, still lis warmest sympathies were for the people. He was a republican, and loved a democracy. He looked on all human beings as inheriting an equal right to possess the dearest privileges of our nature, the necessaries of life, when fairly earned by labour, and intellectual instruction.
His hatred of any despotism, that looked upon the people as not to be consulted or protected from want and ignorance, was intense. He was residing near Legliorn, at Villa Valsovano, writing The Cenci, when the news of the Manchester Massacre reached us; it roused in him violent emotions of indignation and compassion. The great truth that the many, if accordant and resolute, could control the few, as was shown some years after, made him long to teach his injured countrymen how to resist. Inspired by these feelings, he wrote the Masque of Anarchy, which he sent to his friend, Leigh Hunt, to be nserted in the Examiner, of which he was then the Editur.
“I did not insert it," Leigh Hunt writes in his valuable and interesting preface to this poem, when he printed it in 1832, “because I thought that the public at large had not become sufficiently discerning to do justice to the sincerity and kind-heartedness of his spirit, that walked in this flaming robe of verse." Days of outrage have passed away, and with them the exasperation that would cause such an appeal to the many to be injurious. Without being aware of them they at one time acted on his suggestions, and gained the tay; but they rose when human life was respected by the
minister in power; such was not the case during the administration which excited Shelley's abhorrence.
The poem was written for the people, and is therefore in a more popular tone than usual; portions strike as abrupt and unpolished, but many stanzas are all his own. I heard him repeat, and admired those beginning,
My Father Time is old and gray, before I knew to what poem they were to belong. But the most touching passage is that which describes the blessed effects of liberty; they might make a patriot of any man, whose heart was not wholly closed against his humbler fel. low-creatures.
Shelley loved the people, and respected them as often more virtuous, as always more suffering, and, therefore, more deserving of sympathy, than the great. He believed that a clash between the two classes of society was inevitable, and he eagerly ranged himself on the people's side. He had an idea of publishing a series of poems adapted expressly to commemorate their circumstances and wrongs—he wrote a few, but in those days of prosecution for libel they could not be printed. They are not among the best of his productions, a writer being always shackled when he endeavours to write down to the comprehension of those who could not understand or feel a highly imaginative style; but they show his earnestness, and with what heartfelt compassion ne went home to the direct point of injury—that oppression is detestable, as being the parent of starvation, nakedness, and ignorance. Besides these outpourings of compassion and indignation, he had meant to adorn the cause he loved with loftier poetry of glory and triumph-such is the scope of the Ode to the Assertors of Liberty. He sketched also a new version of our antional anthem, as addressed to Liberty.
God prosper, speed, and save,
Her murdered Queen!
Shelley had suffered severely from the death of our son during this summer. His heart, attuned to every kindly affection, was full of burning love for his offspring. No words can express the anguish he felt when his elder children were torn from him. In his first resentment against the Chancellor, on the passing of the decree, he had written a curse, in which there breathes, besides haughty indignatio:), all the tenderness of a father's love, which could imagine and fondly dwell upon its loss and the consequences. It is as follows:
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR.
Thy country's curse is on thee, darkest crest
Of that foul, knotted, many-headed worm,
Masked Resurrection of a buried forin! *
Thy country's curse is on thee! Justice sold,
Truth trampled, Nature's landmarks overthrown,
Plead, loud as thunder, at Destruction's throne.
And whilst that slow sure angel, which aye stands,
Watching the beck of Mutability,
And, though a nation weeps, spares thine and thee;
O let a father's curse be on thy soul,
And let a daughter's hope be on thy tomb,
To weigh thee down to thine approaching dooin!
I curse thee by a parent's outraged love,
By hopes long cherished and too lately lost,
By griefs which thy stern nature never crost:
* The Star-chamber.