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TO THE ASSERTORS OF LIBERTY.
Arise, arise, arise! There is blood on the earth that denies ye bread;
Be your wounds like eyes To weep for the dead, the dead, the dead. What other grief were it just to pay! Your sons, your wives, your brethren, were they; Who said they were slain on the battle day '.
Awaken, awaken, awaken!
Wave, wave high the banner!
Though the slaves that fan her
Glory, glory, glory,
Never name in story
Bind, bind every brow
Hide the blood-stains now
ENGLAND IN 1819.
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,— Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow Through public scorn—mud from a muddy
spring,— Rulers, who neither see, nor feel, nor know, But leech-like to their fainting country cling, Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,— A people starved and stabbed in the untitled field,— An army, which liberticide and prey Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield, Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay,— Religion Christless, Godless—a book scaled; A Senate—Tune's worst statute unrepealed,— Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.
ODE TO HEAVEN.
Chorus Op Spirits,
Deep, immeasurable, vast,
Of the present and the past,
Presence-chamber, temple, home,
Of acts and ages yet to come!
Glorious shapes have life in thee,
Living globes which ever throng
And green worlds that glide along; And swift stars with flashing tresses;
And icy moons most cold and bright,
And mighty suns beyond the night,
Atoms of intensest light.
Even thy name is as a god,
Of that power which is the glass
Generations as they pass Worship thee with bended knees.
Their unremaining gods and they
Like a river roll away;
Thou remainest such alway.
Second Spirit. Thou art but the mind's first chamber, Round which its young fancies clamber,
Like weak insects in a cave, Lighted up by stalactites;
But the portal of the grave, Where a world of new delights
Will make thy best glories seem
But a dim and noonday gleam
From the shadow of a dream!
Peace ! the abyss is wreathed with scorn
At your presumption, atom-born!
Who its brief expanse inherit?
What are suns and spheres which flee
With the instinct of that spirit
What is heaven? a globe of dew,
Filling in the morning new
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
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's com-
Angels of rain and lightning : there are spread
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the 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 Baise's bay,
•This poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that fekirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature iB 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 b"ttom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathises with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it.
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear, And tremble and despoil themselves: Oh hear!
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 tako 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 •
Poets are on this cold earth,
As cameleons might be, Hidden from their early birth
In a cave beneath the sea; Where light is, cameleons change!
Where love is not, poets do:
Fame is love disguised: if few Find either, never think it strange That poets range.
Yet dare not stain with wealth or power
A poet's free and heavenly mind: If bright cameleons should devour
Any food but beams and wind, They would grow as earthly soon
As their brother lizards are.
Children of a sunnier star, Spirits from beyond the moon, Oh, refuse the boon!
My lost William, thou in whom
Some bright spirit lived, and did That decaying robe consume
Which its lustre faintly hid, Here its ashes find a tomb, But beneath this pyramid Thou art not—if a thing divine Like thee can die, thy funeral shrine Is thy mother's grief and mine.
Where art thou, my gentle child!
Let me think thy spirit feeds, With its life intense and mild, The love of living leaves and weeds, Among these tombs and ruins wild ;—
Let me think that through low seeds Of the sweet flowers and sunny grass, Into their hues and scents may pass, A portion
THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI,
IN THE FLORENTINE GALLERY.
It licth, gazing on the midnight sky,
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie
Loveliness like a shadow, from which shim-,
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 humanize and harmonize the strain.
And from its head as from one body grow,
Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow,
And with unending involutions show
Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock
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—
NOTE ON THE POEMS OF 1819.
BY THE EDITOR.
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 warmest 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 Cenci, 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 resolute, 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 kindheartedness of his spirit, that walked in this flaming 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 fellow-creatures.
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 Assertors of Liberty. He sketched also a new version of our national anthem, as addressed to Liberty.
God prosper, speed, and save,
Her murdered Queen!
Soe, she comes throned on high,
Gud save the Queen'
Millions on millions wait
God save the Queen!
She la thine own pure soul
God save the Queen!
God save our Queen!
Wilder her enemies
In their own dark disguise,
God save our Queen!
God save the Queen!
Be her eternal throne
God save the Queen!
O'er our hearts Queen.
Lips touched by seraphim
God save the Queen!
God save the Queen!
Shelley had suffered severely from the death of our son during this summer. Hi? heart, attuned to every kindly affection, was full of burning love for his offspring. No words can express the anguish he felt when his elder children were torn from him. In his first resentment against the Chancellor, on the passing of the decree, he had written a curse, in which there breathes, besides haughty indignation, all the tenderness of a father's love, which could imagine and fondly dwell upon its loss and the consequences. It is as follows :—
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR,
Thv country's curse is on thee, darkest Crest
Which rends our Mother's bosom—Priestly Pest!
Thy country's curse Is on thee! Justice sold.
And heaps of fraud-accumulated gold,
And whilst that slow sure Angel, which aye stands,
Watching the beck of Mutability, Delays to execute her high commands.
And, though a nation weeps, spares thine and thee;
O let a father's curse be on thy soul,
And both on thy grey head, a leaden cowl,
. * The Star Chamber.
I curse thee by a parent's outraged love,
By gentle feelings thou eouldst never prove.
By those infantine smiles of happy light,
Quenched even when kindled, in untimely night.
By those unpractised accents of young speech,
To gentlest lore, such as the wisest teach;
By all the happy see in children's growth.
Sweetness and sadness interwoven both,
By all the days under a hireling's care
0 wretched ye, if ever any were,
Sadder than orphans, yet not fatherless!
By the false cant, which on their innocent lips
By the dark creeds which cover with eclipse
By thy most impious Hell, and all its terrors.
Of thine impostures, which must be their errors.
By thy complicity with lust and hate,
The ready frauds which ever on thee wait.
By thy most killing sneer, and by thy smile.
And—for thou canst outweep the crocodile,—
By all the hate which checks a father's love.
By those most impious hands that dared remove
Yes, the despair which bids a father groan,
The blood within those veins may be mine own.
1 curse thee, though I hate thee not; O slave!
If thou eouldst quench the earth-consuming hell
At one time, while the question was still pending, the Chancellor had said some words that seemed to intimate that Shelley should not be permitted the care of any of his children, and for a moment he feared that our infant son would be torn from us. He did not hesitate to resolve, if such were menaced, to abandon country, fortune, everything, and to escape with his child ; and I find some unfinished stanzas addressed to this son, whom