« AnteriorContinuar »
afterwards we lost at Rome, written under the idea that we might suddenly be forced to cross the sea, so to preserve him. This poem, as well as the one previously quoted, were not written to exhibit the pangs of distress to the public ; they were the spontaneous outbursts of a man who brooded over his wrongs and woes, and was impelled to shed the grace of his genius over the uncontrollable emotions of his heart:—
The billows on the beach are leaping around it,
The bark is weak and frail.
Darkly strew the gale.
They have taken thy brother and sister dear,
They have made them unfit for thee;
Which should have been sacred to me.
Come tbou, beloved as thou art,
Another aleepeth still,
Which thou with joy wilt fill;
Fear not the tyrants will rule for ever,
Or the priests of the evil faith;
Whose waves thoy have tainted with death.
Rest, rest, shriek not, thou gentle child!
The rocking of the boat thou fearest.
There sit between us two, thou dearest;
This hour will in thy memory
Be a dream of days forgotten;
Of serene and golden Italy,
Or Greece, the Mother of the free.
I ought to observe that the fourth verse of this effusion is introduced in Rosalind and Helen.
When afterwards this child died at Rome, he wrote, apropos of the English burying-ground in that city, " This spot is the repository of a sacred loss, of which the yearnings of a parent's heart are now prophetic ; he is rendered immortal by love, as his memory is by death. My beloved child lies buried here. I envy death the body far less than the oppressors the minds of those whom they have torn from me. The one can only kill the body, the other crushes the affections."
In this new edition I have added to the poems of this year, " Peter Bell the Third." A critique on Wordsworth's Peter Bell reached us at Leghorn, which amused Shelley exceedingly and suggested this poem.
I need scarcely observe that nothing personal to the Author of Peter Bell is intended in this poem. No man ever admired Wordsworth's poetry moro ;—he read it perpetually, and taught others to appreciate its beauties. This poem is, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. He conceived the idealism of a poet—a man of lofty and creative genius,—quitting the glorious calling of discovering and announcing the beautiful and good, to support and propagate ignorant prejudices and pernicious errors ; imparting to the unenlightened, not that ardour for truth and spirit of toleration which Shelley looked on as the sources of the moral improvement and happiness of mankind ; but false and injurious opinions, that evil was good, and that ignorance and force were the best allies of purity and virtue. His idea was that a man gifted even as transcendantly as the Author of Peter Bell, with the highest qualities of genius, must, if he fostered such errors, bo infected with dulness. This poem was written, as a warning—not as a narration of the reality. He was unacquainted personally with Wordsworth or with Coleridge, (to whom he alludes in the fifth part of the poem,) and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely ideal ;—it contains something of criticism on the compositions of these great poets, but nothing injurious to the men themselves.
No poem contains more of Shelley's peculiar views, with regard to the errors into which many of the wisest have fallen, and of the pernicious effects of certain opinions on society. Much of it is beautifully written—and though, like the burlesque drama of Swellfoot, it must be looked on as a plaything, it has so much merit and poetry—so much of himself in it, that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and by right belongs to the world for whose instruction and benefit it was written.
POEMS WRITTEN IN MDCCCXX.
THE SENSITIVE PLANT.
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew,
And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
But none ever trembled and panted with bliss
The snowdrop, and then the violet,
Then the pied windflowers and the tulip tall,
And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest,
And tho wand-like lily, which lifted up,
As a Mienad, its moonlight-coloured cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
Gazed through the clear dew on the tender sky;
And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
And on the stream whose inconstant bosom
Broad water-lilies lay tremulously,
And starry river-buds glimmered by,
And around them the soft stream didglide and dance
With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.
And the sinuous paths of lawn and of moss,
Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells,
And from this undefiled Paradise
When Heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them,
For each one was interpenetrated
But the Sensitive Plant, which could give small fruit
For the sensitive Plant has no bright flower;
The light winds, which from unsustaining wings
The plumed insects swift and free,
The unseen clouds of the dew, which lie
The quivering vapours of dim noontide,
Each and all like ministering angels were
And when evening descended from heaven above,
And the beasts, and the birds, and the insects were In an ocean of dreams without a sound; [drowned Whose waves nevermark, though they ever impress The light sand which paves it, consciousness;
(Only overhead the sweet nightingale
Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail,
And snatches of its Elysian chant
Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Plant.)
The Sensitive Plant was the earliest
There was a Power in this sweet place,
A Lady, the wonder of her kind,
Tended the garden from morn to even:
She had no companion of mortal race,
As if some bright Spirit for her sweet sake
Had deserted heaven while the stars were awake,
As if yet around her he lingering were,
Though the veil of daylight concealed him from her.
Her step seemed to pity the grass it prest:
And wherever her airy footstep trod,
I doubt not the flowers of that garden sweet
She sprinkled bright water from the stream
She lifted their heads with her tender hands,
And all killing insects and gnawing worms,
In a basket, of grasses and wild flowers full,
But the bee and the beamlike ephemeris,
kiss Tlic sweet lips of the flowers, and harm not, did she Make her attendant angels be.
And many an antenatal tomb,
This fairest creature from earliest spring
Three days the flowers of the garden fair,
And on the fourth, the Sensitive Plant
The weary sound and the heavy breath,
The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass,
The garden, once fair, became cold and foul,
Swift summer into the autumn flowed,
The rose-leaves, like flakes of crimson snow,
And Indian plants, of scent and hue
And the leaves, brown, yellow, and grey, and red,
And the gusty winds waked the winged seeds
The water-blooms under the rivulet
Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks
Between the time of the wind and the snow,
All loathliest weeds began to grow,
Whose coarse leaves were splashed with many a
speck, Like the water-snake's belly and the toad's back.
And thistles, and nettles, and darnels rank,
And plants, at whose names the verse feels loath,
And agarics and fungi, with mildew and mould,
Spawn, weeds, and filth, a leprous scum,
And hour by hour, when the air was still,
And unctuous meteors from spray to spray
The Sensitive Plant, like one forbid,
For the leaves soon fell, and the branches toon
For Winter came: the wind was his whip;
His breath was a chain which without a sound
Then the weeds which were forms of living death,
And under the roots of the Sensitive Plant
First there came down a thawing rain,
And a northern whirlwind, wandering about
When winter had gone and spring came baek,
darnels, Rose like the dead from their ruined chamett. CONCLUSION.
Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that
Whether that lady's gentle mind,
I dare not guess; but in this life
It is a modest creed, and yet
That garden sweet, that lady fair,
For love, and beauty, and delight,
A VISION OF THE SEA.
Tis the terror of tempest. The rags of the sail Are flickering in ribbons within the fierce gale: From the stark night of vapours the dim rain is
driven, And when lightning is loosed like a deluge from
heaven, She sees the black trunks of the water-spouts spin, And bend, as if heaven was ruining in, Which they seemed to sustain with their terrible
mass As if ocean had sunk from beneath them : they
pass To their graves in the deep with an earthquake of
sound, And the waves and the thunders, made silent
around, Leave the wind to its echo. The vessel, now tossed Through the low trailing rack of the tempest, is
lost In the skirts of the thunder-cloud: now down the
sweep Of the wind-cloven wave to the chasm of the deep It sinks, and the walls of the watery vale Whose depths of dread calm are unmoved by the
gale, Dim mirrors of ruin, hang gleaming about; W hile the surf, like a chaos of stars, like a rout Of death-flames, like whirlpools of fire-flowing
iron, With splendour and terror the black ship environ;
Or like sulphur-flakes hurled from a mine of pale
The great ship seems splitting I it cracks as a tree,
blast Of the whirlwind that stript it of branches has
past. The intense thunder-balls which are raining from
heaven Have shattered its mast, and it stands black and
riven. The chinks suck destruction. The heavy dead hulk On the living sea rolls an inanimate bulk, Like a corpse on the clay which is hung'ring to
fold Its corruption around it. Meanwhile, from the
hold, One deck is burst up from the waters below, And it splits like the ice when the thaw-breezes
blow O'er the lakes of the desert! Who sit on the other! Is that all the crew that lie burying each other, Like the dead in a breach, round the foremast 1
Are those Twin tigers, who burst, when the waters arose, In the agony of terror, their chains in the hold (What now makes them tame, is what then made
them bold) Who crouch, side by side, and have driven, like a
crank, The deep grip of their claws through the vibrating Are these all 1 [plank t
Nine weeks the tall vessel had lain On the windless expanse of the watery plain, Where the death-darting sun cast no shadow at
noon, And there seemed to be fire in the beams of the
moon, Till a lead-coloured fog gathered up from the deep, Whose breath was quick pestilence; then, the cold
sleep Crept, like blight through the ears of a thick field
of corn, O'er the populous vessel. And even and morn, With their hammocks for coffins the seamen
aghast Like dead men the dead limbs of their comrades
cast Down the deep, which closed on them above and
around, And the sharks and the dog-fish their grave-clothes
unbound, And were glutted like Jews with this manna rained
down From God on their wilderness. One after one The mariners died; on the eve of this day, When the tempest was gathering in cloudy array, But seven remained. Six the thunder had smitten, And they lie black as mummies on which Time has
written His scorn of the embalmer; the seventh, from the
deck An oak splinter pierced through his breast and his
back, And hung out to the tempest, a wreck on the wreck.