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Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Born 1792. Died 1822.

The Poet.

THERE was a Poet whose untimely tomb
No human hand with pious reverence reared,
But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds
Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid
Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness.
A lovely youth, no mourning maiden decked
With weeping flowers or votive cypress-wreath
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:
Gentle and brave and generous, no lorn bard
Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh:
He lived, he died, he sang, in solitude.
Strangers have wept to hear his passionate notes;
And virgins, as unknown he passed, have pined
And wasted for fond love of his wild eyes.
The fire of those soft orbs has ceased to burn,
And Silence, too enamoured of that voice,

By solemn vision and bright silver dream

His infancy was nurtured. Every sight

And sound from the vast earth and ambient air

Sent to his heart its choicest impulses.

The fountains of divine philosophy

Fled not his thirsting lips: and all of great

Or good or lovely which the sacred past

In truth or fable consecrates he felt

And knew. When early youth had passed, he left

His cold fireside and alienated home,

To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.

Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness

Had lured his fearless steps; and he has brought

With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men,

His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps

He like her shadow has pursued, where'er

The red volcano overcanopies

Its fields of snow, and pinnacles of ice

With burning smoke; or where bitumen-lakes

On black bare pointed islets ever beat

With sluggish surge; or where the secret caves

Rugged and dark, winding among the springs

Of fire and poison, inaccessible

To avarice or pride, their starry domes

Of diamond and of gold expand above

Numberless and immeasurable halls,

Frequent with crystal column, and clear shrines

Of pearl, and thrones radiant with chrysolite.

Nor had that scene of ampler majesty

Than gems or gold, the varying roof of heaven

And the green earth, lost in his heart its claims

To love and wonder. He would linger long

In lonesome vales, making the wild his home;

Until the doves and squirrels would partake

From his innocuous hand his bloodless food,

Lured by the gentle meaning of his looks,—

And the wild antelope, that starts whene'er

The dry leaf rustles in the brake, suspend

Her timid steps, to gaze upon a form

More graceful than her own.

His wandering step Obedient to high thoughts, has visited The awful ruins of the days of old

Athens and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste

Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers

Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids,

Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange,

Sculptured on alabaster obelisk,

Or jasper tomb, or mutilated sphinx,

Dark Ethiopia on her desert hills

Conceals. Among the ruined temples there,

Stupendous columns, and wild images

Of more than man, where marble demons watch

The zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men

Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around,

He lingered, poring on memorials

Of the world's youth; through the long burning day

Gazed on those speechless shapes; nor when the moon

Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades,

Suspended he that task, but ever gazed

And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind

Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw

The thrilling secrets of the birth of time.

From Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude.

Adonais; An Elegy On The Death Of John Keats.

I WEEP for Adonais—he is dead!
Oh weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow! Say, 'With me
Died Adonais! Till our future dares
Forget the past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity.


Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,

When thy son lay, pierced by the shaft which flics

In darkness? Where was lorn Urania

When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,

Mid listening Echoes, in her paradise

She sate, while one with soft enamoured breath,

Rekindled all the fading melodies

With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,

He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of Death.

in. Oh weep for Adonais—he is dead! Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep !— Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep, Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep; For he is gone where all things wise and fair Descend. Oh dream not that the amorous deep Will yet restore him to the vital air; Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.


He will awake no more, oh never more!

'Wake thou,' cried Misery, 'childless Mother! Rise

Out of thy sleep, and slake in thy heart's core

A wound more fierce than his, with tears and sighs.'

And all the Dreams that watched Urania's eyes,

And all the Echoes whom their Sister's song

Had held in holy silence, cried 'Arise';

Swift as a thought by the snake Memory stung,

From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung.


She rose like an autumnal Night that springs
Out of the east, and follows wild and drear
The golden Day, which on eternal wings
Even as a ghost abandoning a bier,

Has left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear
So struck, so roused, so rapt, Urania;
So saddened round her like an atmosphere
Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way,
Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.


Out of her secret paradise she sped,

Through camps and cities rough with stone and steel

And human hearts, which to her aery tread

Yielding not, wounded the invisible

Palms of her tender feet where'er they fell.

And barbed tongues, and thoughts more sharp than they,

Rent the soft form they never could repel,

Whose sacred blood, like the young flowers of May,

Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way.

xxv. In the death-chamber for a moment Death, Shamed by the presence of that living Might, Mushed to annihilation, and the breath Revisited those lips, and life's pale light . Flashed through those limbs so late her dear delight. 'Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless, As silent lightning leaves the starless night! Leave me not!' cried Urania. Her distress Roused Death: Death rose and smiled, and met her vain caress.

.xxvi. 'Stay yet awhile! speak to me once again! Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live! And in my heartless breast and burning brain That word, that kiss, shall all thoughts else survive, With food of saddest memory kept alive, Now thou art dead, as if it were a part Of thee, my Adonais! I would give All that I am, to be as now thou art :— But I am chained to Time, and cannot thence depart.

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