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TO EDWARD WILLIAMS.
1. The serpent is shut out from paradise:
The wounded deer must seek the herb no more
In which its heart-cure lies:
Of hatred I am proud,—with scorn content;
Indifference, which once hurt me, is now grown
Dear friends, dear friend'.' know that I only fly
Your looks because they stir
You spoil me for the task
Full half an hour, to-day, I tried my lot
With various flowers, and every one still said,
"She loves me, — loves me not."
The crane o'er seas and forests seeks her home;
When it no more would roam;
I asked her yesterday if she believed
That I had resolution. One who had
Would ne'er have thus relieved His heart with words,—but what his judgment bad Would do, and leave the scorner unrelieved.— These verses were too sad To send to you, but that I know, Happy yourself, you feel another's woe.
One word is too often profaned
For me to profane it;
For thee to disdain it;
For prudence to smother;
Than that from another.
I can give not what men call love:
But wilt thou accept not
And the Heavens reject not:
Of the night for the morrow,
From the sphere of our sorrow?
When passion's trance is overpast
It were enough to feel, to see,
Thy soft eyes gazing tenderly,
And dream the rest—and burn, and be
The secret food of fires unseen—
Couldst thou but be as thou hast been.
After the slumber of the year
The woodland violets re-appear;
All things revive in field or grove,
And sky and sea,—but two, which move
And form all others, life and love.
A BRIDAL SONG. The golden gates of Sleep unbar,
Where Strength and Beauty, met together, Kindle their image, like a star
In a sea of glassy weather.
Darkness, weep thy holiest dew!
On a pair so true.
278 POEMS OF 1821— MRS SHELLEY'S NOTE.
Fairies, sprites, and angels, keep her!
Holy stars, peVmit no wrong!
Dawn, ere it be long!
NOTE ON POEMS OF. 1821, BY MRS. SHELLEY.
My task becomes inexpressibly painful as the year draws near that which scaled our earthly fate, and each poem, and each event it records, has a real or mysterious connexion with the fatal catastrophe. I feel that I am incapable of putting on paper the history of those times. The heart of the man, abhorred of the poet, who could
"peep And botanirc upon his mother's grave," does not appear to me less inexplicably framed than that of one who can dissect and probe past woes, and repeat to the public ear the groans drawn from them in the throes of their agony.
The year 1821 was spent in Pisa, or at the Baths of San Gtuliano. Wc were not, as our wont had been, alone—friends had gathered round us. Nearly all are dead, and, when Memory recurs to the past, she wanders among tombs. The genius, with all his blighting errors and mighty powers; the companion of Shelley's oceanwanderings, and the sharer of his fate, than whom no man ever existed more gentle, generous, and fearless ; and others, who found in Shelley's society, and in his great knowledge and warm sympathy, delight, instruction, and solace ; have joined him beyond the grave. A few survive who have felt life a desert since he left it. What misfortune can equal death? Change can convert every other into a blessing, or heal its sting—death alone has no cure. It shakes the foundations of the earth on which we tread; it destroys its beauty; it casts down our shelter; it exposes us bare to desolation. When those we love have passed into eternity, "life is the desert and the solitude" in which we arc forced to linger—but ucver find comfort more.
There is much in the Adortnts which seems now more applicable to Shelley himself than to the young and gifted poet whom he mourned. The poetic view he takes of death, and the lofty scorn he displays towards his caluminators, are as a prophecy on his own destiny when received among immortal names, and the poisonous breath of critics has vanished into emptiness before the fame he inherits.
Shelley's favourite taste was boating; when living near the Thames or by the lake of Geneva, much of his life was spent on the water. On the shore of every lake or stream or sea near which he dwelt, he had a boat moored. He had latterly enjoyed this pleasure again. There are no pleasure-boats on the Arno; and the shallowness of its waters (except in winter time, when the stream is too turbid and impetuous for boating) rendered it difficult to get any skifTlight enough to float. Shelley, however, overcame the difficulty; he, together with a friend, contrived a boat such as the huntsmen carry about with them in the Maremma, to cross the sluggish but deep streams that intersect the forests, —a boat of laths and pitched canvas. It held three persons ; and he was often seen on the Arno in it, to the horror of the Italians, who remonstrated on the danger, and could not understand how any one could take pleasure in an exercise that risked life. "Ma va per la vita I" they exclaimed. I little thought how true their words would prove. He once ventured, with a friend, on the glassy sea of a calm day, down the Arno and round the coast, to Leghorn, which by keeping close in shore was very practicable. They returned to Pisa by the canal, when, missing the direct cut, they got entangled among weeds, and the boat upset; a wetting was all the harm done, except that the intense cold of his drenched clothes made Shelley faint. Once I went down with him to the mouth of the Arno; where the stream, then high and swift, met the tideless sea, and disturbed its sluggish waters. It was a waste and dreary scene; the desert sand stretched into a point surrounded by waves that broke idly though perpetually around; it was a scene very similar to Lido, of which he had said,—
"I love all waste
Our little boat was of greater use, unaccompanied by any danger, when we removed to the Baths. Some friends lived at the village of Pugnano, four miles off, and we went to and fro to see them, in our boat, by the canal; which, fed by the Serchio, was, though an artificial, a full and picturesque stream, making its way under verdant banks, sheltered by trees that dipped their boughs into the murmuring waters. By day, multitudes of ephemera darted to and fro on the surface ; at night, the fireflies came out among the shrubs on the banks ; the cicale at noonday kept up theirhum; the aziola cooed in the quiet evening. Itwas a pleasant summer, bright in all but Shelley's health and inconstant spirits ; yet he enjoyed himself greatly, and became more and more attached to the part of the country where chance appeared to cast us. Sometimes he projected taking a farm situated on the height of one of the near hills, surrounded by chesnut and pine woods, and overlooking a wide extent of country ; or settling still further in the maritime Apennines, at Massa. Several of his slighter and unfinished poems were inspired by these scenes, and by the companions around us. It is the nature of that poetry however which overflows from the M)ul oftener to express sorrow and regret than joy; for it is when oppressed by the weight of life, and away from those he loves, that the poet has recourse to the solace of expression in verse.
Still, Shelley's passion was the ocean ; and he wished that our summers, instead of being passed among the hills near Pisa, should be spent on the shores of the sea. It was very difficult to find a spot. Wc shrank from Naples from a fear that the heats would disagree with Percy: Leghorn had lost its only attraction, since our friends who had resided there were returned to England ; and, Monte Nero being the resort of many English, we did not wish to find ourselves in the midst of a colony of chance travellers. No one then thought it possible to reside at Via Reggio, which latterly has become a summer resort. The low lands and bad air of Marcmma, stretch the whole length of the western shores of the M editerranean, till broken by the rocks and hills of Speria. It was a vague idea, but Shelley suggested an excursion to Spezia, to see whether it would be feasible to spend a summer there. The beauty of the bay enchanted him. Wc saw no house to suit us: but the notion took root, and many circumstances, enchained as by fatality, occurred to urge him to execute it.
He looked forward this autumn with great pleasure to the prospect of a visit from Leigh Hunt. When Shelley visited Lord Byron at Ravenna, the latter had suggested his coming out, together with the plan of a periodical work in which they should all join. Shelley saw a prospect of good for the fortunes of his friend, and pleasure in his society ; and instantly exerted himself to have the plan executed. He did not intend himself joining in the work: partly from pride, not wishing to have the air of acquiring readers for his poetry by associating it with the compositions of more popu