« AnteriorContinuar »
scenes of the countries which he inhabited. In early life h« visited the most beautiful parts of this country and Ireland. Afterwards the Alps of Switzerland became his inspireTM. "Prometheus Unbound" was written among the deserted and flower-grown ruins of Borne; and when he made his home under the Pisan hills, their roofless recesses harboured him as he composed "The Witch of Atlas," "Adonais," and "Hellas." In the wild but beautiful Bay of Spezia, the winds and waves which he loved became his playmates. His days were chiefly spent on the water; the management of his boat, its alterations and improvements, were his principal occupation. At night, when the unclouded moon shone on the calm sea, be often went alone in his little shallop to the rocky caves that bordered it, and sitting beneath their shelter wrote "The Triumph of Life," the last of his productions. The beauty but strangeness of this lonely place, the refined pleasure which he felt in the companionship of a few selected friends, our entire sequestration from the rest of the world, all contributed to render this period of his life one of continued enjoyment. I am convinced that the two months we passed there were the happiest which he had ever known: bis health even rapidly improved, and he was never better than when I last saw him, full of spirits and joy, embark for Leghorn, that he might there welcome Leigh Huht to Italy. I was to have accompanied him, but illness confined me to my room, and thus put the seal on my misfortune. His vessel bore out of sight with a favourable wind, and I remained awaiting his return by the breakers of that sea which was about to engulf him.
He spent a week at Pisa, employed in kind offices toward his friends, and enjoying with keen delight the renewal of their intercourse. He then embarked with Williams, the chosen and beloved sharer of his pleasures and of his fate, to return to us. We waited for them in vain; the sea by its restless moaning seemed to desire to inform us of what we
would not learn: but a veil may well be drawn over such
misery. The real anguish of those moments transcended til the fictions that the most flowing imagination ever por trayed: our seclusion, the savage nature of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and our immediate vicinity to the troubled sea, combined to imbue with strange horror our days of uncertainty. The truth was at last known,— > truth that made our loved and lovely Italy appear a tomb, its sky a pall. Every heart echoed the deep lament, and my only consolation was in the praise and earnest love that each voice bestowed and eaoh countenance demonstrated for him we had lost,—not, I fondly hope, for ever: his Tinearthly and elevated nature is a pledge of the continuation of his being, although in an altered form. Rome received his ashes; they are deposited beneath its weedgrown wall, and "the world's sole monument" is enriched by his remains.
I must add a few words concerning the contents of this volume. "Julian and Maddalo," "The Witch of Atlas," and most of the Translations, were written some years ago; and, with the exception of " The Cyclops," and the " Scenes from the Magico Prodigioso," may be considered as having received the author's ultimate corrections. "The Triumph of Life" was his last work, and was left in so unfinished a state, that I arranged it in its present form with great difficulty. All his poems which were scattered in periodical works are collected in this volume, and I have added a reprint of "Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude:" — the difficulty with which a copy can be obtained is the cause of its republication. Many of the Miscellaneous Poems, written on the spnr of the occasion, and never retouched, I found among his manuscript books, and have carefully copied. I have subjoined, whenever I have been able, the date of their composition.
I do not know whether the critics will reprehend the insertion of some of the most imperfeot among them; but [ frankly own that I have been more actuated by the fear Itst any monument of his genius should escape me, tnar the wish of presenting nothing but what was complete to the fastidious reader. I feel secure that the lovers of Shelley's poetry (who know how more than any poet ot !he present day every line and word he wrote is instinct with peculiar beauty) will pardon and thank me: I consecrate this volume to them.
The size of this collection has prevented the insertion of any prose pieces. They will hereafter appear in a separate publication.
Mary W. Shzlutt.
Loidob, June 14, 1834.