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What is heaven? and what are ye
What aro suns and sphereswhich flee
Of which ye aro but a part?
Drops which Nature's mighty heart
Drives through thinnest veins. Depart!
What is heaven? a globe of dew,
Filling in the morning new
Some eyed flower, whose young leaves waken
On an unimagined world:
Orbits measureless, are furled
ODE TO THE WEST WIND.*
O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
• 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 violont tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and ligntning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions.
The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is wetl known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of tho sea, of riven, and of lakes, sympathises with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it.
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere,
Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
Of some fierce Maennd, even from tho dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: Oh hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
Beside a pumice isle in Baiac's bay,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense taints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
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
The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
The trumpet of a prophecy! 0 wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Cameleons feed on light and air:
If in this wide world of care
With as little toil as they,
Would they ever change their hue
Suiting it to every ray
Twenty times a-day 1
Poets are on this cold earth,
As cameleons might be,
In a cave beneath the sea;
Where light is, cameleons change 1
Find either, never think it strange
That poets range.
Yet dare not stain with wealth or power
A poet's free and heavenly mind:
Any food but beams and wind,
As their brother lizards are.
Children of a sunnier star,
THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCL
IN THE FLORENTINE OALLEBY.
It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie
Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,
The agonies of anguish and of death.
Yet it is less the horror than the grace
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face
Into itself, and thought no more can trace;
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
Which humanised and harmonise the strain.
And from its head as from one body grow,
Hail's which are vipers, and they curl and flow,
And with unending involutions show
The torture and the death within, and saw
The solid air with many a ragged jaw.
And from a stone beside, a poisonous eft
Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft
Out of the cave this hideous light hath cleft,
After a taper; and the midnight sky
Flares, a light more dread than obscurity.
'Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;
For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare Kindled by that inextricable error,
Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Of all the beauty and the terror there—
TO WILLIAM SHELLEY.
(With what truth I may say—
Roma I Roma! Romal
My lost William, thou in whom
Some bright spirit lived, and did
Which its lustre faintly hid,
But beneath this pyramid
Where art thou, my gentle child?
Let me think thy spirit feeds,
The love of living leaves and weeds,