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When the winds are breathing low,
Hath led me—who knows how?
The champak odours fail
As I must die on thine,
I die, I faint, I fail!
My heart beats loud and fast:
LINES WRITTEN FOR MISS SOPHIA STACEY.
Of the nymphs of earth or ocean.
Those soft limbs of thine, whose motion
Are those thoughts of gentle gladness
If the fainting soul is faintest
When it hears thy harp's wild measure,
Wonder not that, when thou speakest,
Of the weak my heart is weakest.
As dew beneath the wind of morning,
As the birds at thunder's warning,
As one who feels an unseen spirit,
Is my heart when thine is near it.
SHELLEY'S NOTE ON THE ODE TO THE WEST WIND. P. 307.
This poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset, with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions.
The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathizes with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influl by the winds which announce it.
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1819, BY MRS. SHELLEY.
Though Shelley's first eager desire to excite his countrymen to resist openly the oppressions existent during "the good old times" had faded with early youth, still his wannest 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 Leghorn, at Villa Valsovano, writing The Cenei, 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 re* solute, 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 inserted in the Examiner, of which he was then the Editor.
"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 the spirit that walked in this naming 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 day. 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 grey,*' 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 follow-crcatures.
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 he 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 Asscrters of Liberty. He sketched also a new version of our national anthem, as addressed to Liberty.
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1820.
And the rivers with the ocean;
With a sweet emotion;
All things by a law divine
See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;—
ODE TO LIBERTY.
Yet, Freedom, yet, thy banner, torn but flying,
The lightning of the nations: Liberty,
Scattering contagious fire into the sky,
Till from its station in the heaven of Fame
Of the remotest sphere of living flame
The burning stars of the abyss were hurled Into the depths of heaven; the daedal earth,
That island in the ocean of the world, Hung in its cloud of all-sustaining air. But this divinest universe Was yet a chaos and a curse, For Thou wert not: but, power from worst producing worse, The spirit of the beasts was kindled there,
And of the birds, and of the watery forms,— And there was war among them, and despair
Within them, raging without truce or terms. The bosom of their violated nurse Groaned, for beasts warred on beasts, and worms on worms, And men on men; each heart was as a hell of storms.
His generations under the pavilion
Temple and prison, to many a swarming million
Were as to mountain-wolves their ragged caves.
Hung Tyranny; beneath sate deified
Into the shadow of her pinions wide.
"The nodding promontories and blue isles
And cloud-like mountains and dividuous waves Of Greece basked glorious in the open smiles
Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves Prophetic echoes flung dim melody On the unapprehensive wild. The vine, the corn, the olive mild, Grew, savage yet, to human use unreconciled; And, like unfolded flowers beneath the sea,
Ljke_the_rnan-'s thought dark iajhejnjant's brain, Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,
Art's deathless dreams lay veiled by many a vein Of Parian stone: and, yet a speechless child, Verse murmured, and Philosophy did strain Her lidless eyes for Thee;—when o'er the jEgean main
"Athens arose: a city such as vision
Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean floors
Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will
For Thou wert, and thine all-creative skill Peopled, with forms that mock the eternal dead