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"Phantoms diffused around; and some did fling Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves, Behind them; some like eaglets on the wing
"Were lost in the white day; others like elves Danced in a thousand nnimagincd shapes Upon the sunny streams and grassy shelves;
"And others sate chattering like restless apes On vulgar hands, * * *
Some made a cradle of the ermined capes
"Of kingly mantles; some across the tire
"A baby's or an idiot's brow, and made
Their nests in it The old anatomies
Sate hatching their bare broods under the shade
"Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes
To re-assume the delegated power,
Arrayed in which those worms did monarchise,
"Who made this earth their champ!. Others more
Humble, like falcons, sat upon the fist
Of common men, and round their heads did soar;
"Or like small gnats and flies, as thick as mist On evening marshes, thronged about the brow Of lawyers, statesmen, priest, and theorist;—
"And others, like discoloured flakes of snow On fairest bosoms and the sunniest hair, Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow
"Which they extinguished ;and, like tears, they were A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained In drops of Borrow. I became aware
"Of whence thosefonns proceeded which thus stain'd The track in which we moved. After brief space, From every form the beauty slowly waned;
"From every firmest limb and fairest face
The strength and freshness fell like dust, and left
The action and the shape without the grace
"Of life. The marble brow of youth was cleft With care ; andinthose eyeswhereoncehopeshone, Desire, like a lioness bereft
"Of her last cub, glared ere it died; each one
Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly
These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown
"In autumn evening from a poplar tree,
"Obscure clouds, moulded by the casual air;
"As the sun shapes the clouds; thus on the way
"Was old, the joy which waked like heaven's glance The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died; And some grew weary of the ghastly dance,
"And fell, as I have fallen, by the way-side;— Those soonest from whose forms most shadows pact And least of strength and beauty did abide.
"Then, what is life! I cried.'
Here, my dear friend, is a new book for you;
1 have already dedicated two
To other friends, one female and one male,
What you are, is a thing that I must veil;
Wliat can this be to those who praise or rail!
I never was attached to that great sect
Whose doctrine is that each one should select
Out of the world a mistress or a friend,
And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend
To cold oblivion—though it is the code
Of modern morals, and the beaten road
Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread
Who travel to their home among the dead,
By the broad highway of the world—and so
With one sad friend, and many a jealous foe,
The dreariest and the longest journey go.
Free love has this, different from gold and clay,
If I were one whom the loud world held wise,
* Theso fragments do not properly belong to the poems of 1822. They arc gleanings from Shelley's manuscript books and papers; preserved not only because they are beautiful in themselves, but as affording indications of his feelings and virtues.
Who wrote a book called Nature, 'tis to be
It is a sweet thing friendship, a dear balm,
If I had but a friend! why I have three.
Even by my own confession ; there may be
Some more, for what I know ; for 'tis my mind
To call my friends all who are wise and kind,
And these, Heaven knows, at best are very few,
But none can ever be more dear than you.
Why should they be 1 my muse has lost her wings.
Or hke a dying swan who soars and sings
I should describe you in heroic style.
But as it is—are you not void of guile 1
A lovely soul, formed to be blessed and bless;
A well of sealed and secret happiness;
A lute, which those whom love has taught to play
Make music on, to cheer the roughest day 1
A gentle story of two lovers young,
Who met in innocence and died in sorrow, And of one selfish heart, whose rancour clung Like curses on them ; are ye slow to borrow The lore of truth from such a tale? Or in this world's deserted vale, Do ye not see a star of gladness Pierce the shadows of its sadness, When ye are cold, that love is a light sent From heaven, which none shall quench, to cheerthe innocent 1
I am drunk with the honey wine
Love is the universe to-day—
Darkening Life's labyrinthine way.
When a lover clasps his fairest,
When a mother clasps her child,
One sung of thee who left the tale untold,
Likethefalsedawnswhich perish in the bursting:
Like empty cups of wrought and daedal gold. Which mock the lips with air, when they are thirsting.
Ye gentle visitations of calm thought—
Like stars in clouds by the weak winds enwroofOC
In the cave which wild weeds cover
It was once a Roman's chamber,
Rome has fallen, ye see it lying
Heaped in undistinguished ruin: Nature is alone undying.
How sweet it is to sit and read the tales
Wake the serpent not—lest he
The fitful alternations of the rain,
When the chill wind, languid as with pain
Of its own heavy moisture, here and there
Drives through the grey and beamless atmosphere. XVII.
There is a warm and gentle atmosphere
Wrapt in the of that which is to us
The health of life's own life.
What men gain fairly—that they should possess,
And children may inherit idleness,
From him who earns it—This is understood;
Private injustice may be general good.
But he who gains by base and armed wrong,
Or guilty fraud, or base compliances,
May bo despoiled; even as a stolen dress
Is stript from a convicted thief, and he
Left in the nakedness of infamy.
I would not be a king—enough
Of woo it is to love;
And tempests reign above.
I would not climb the imperial throne;
Thaws in the height of noon.
He wanders, like a day-appearing dream, Through the dim wildernesses of the mind;
Through desert woods and tracts, which seem Like ocean, homeless, boundless, unconfinad.
0 thou immortal deity
Whose throne is in the depth of human thought,
1 do adjure thy power and thee
By all that man may be, by all that he is not,
WHO DBMRCD THAT ON HIS TOMB KlIOULO HE 1NRCRIDRD—
"Here lieth One whose name was writ on water!"
Of Adonaia 1—
The rude wind is singing
The cold worms are clinging
What art thou, Presumptuous, who profanest
The wreath to mighty poets only due, Even whilst like a forgotten moon thou wancst?
Touch not those leaves which for the eternal few, Who wander o'er the paradise of fame,
In sacred dedication ever grew,—
Bright though it seem, it is not the same
Its dew is poison and the hopes that quicken Under its chilling shade, though seeming fair,
Are flowers which die almost before they sicken.
When soft winds and sunny skies
The babe is at peace within the womb,
These are two friends whose lives were undivided;
NOTE ON THE POEMS OF 1822.
BY TIIE EDITOR.
This mom thy gallant bark
'Tia noon, and tempests dark
By spirits of the deop
Thou'rt cradled on the billow,
To thy eternal sleep.
Thou sleep'st upon the shore
And sea-nymphs evermore
The spirits of the deep.
From far across the sea
I hear a loud lament.
From ocean's caverns sent.
With this last year of the life of Shelley these Notes end. They are not what I intended them to be. I began with energy and a burning desire to impart to the world, in worthy language, the sense I have of the virtues and genius of the Beloved and the Lost; my strength has failed under the task. Recurrence to the past—full of its own deep and unforgottcn joys and sorrows, contrasted with succeeding years of painful and solitary struggle, has shaken my health. Days of great suffering have followed my attempts to write, and these again produced a weakness and languor that spread their sinister influence over these notes. I dislike speaking of myself, hut cannot help apologising to the dead, and to the public, for not having executed in the manner I desired the history I engaged to give of Shelley's writings *.
• I at one time feared that the correction of tho press might bo less exact through my illness; but, I believe that it is nearly free from error. No omissions have been mado In this edition; (In the last of 1839 they were confined to certain passages of " Queen Mab";) some asterisks occur in a few pages, as they did in tho volume of Posthumous Poems, cither because they refer to private concerns, or because the original manuscript was left imperfect. Did any one see tho papers from which I drew that volume, the wonder would bo how any eyes or patience were cupablo of extracting it from so confused a mass.
The winter of 1822 was passed in Pisa, n* we might call that season winter in which autumn merged into spring, after the interval of but few days of bleaker weather. Spring sprang up early, and with extreme beauty. Shelley had conceived the idea of writing a tragedy on the subject of Charles I. It was one that he believed adapted for a drama; full of intense interest, contrasted character, and busy passion. He had recommended it long before, when he encouraged me to attempt a play. Whether the subject proved more difficult than he anticipated, or whether ia fact he could not bend his mind away from the broodings and wanderings of thought, divested from human interest, which he best loved, I cannot tell ; but he proceeded slowly, and threw it aside for one of the most mystical of his poenw. "The Triumph of Life," on which he was employed at the last.
His passion for boating was fostered at this time by having among our friends several sailor*: his favourite companion, Edward Ellerker Williams, of the Rth Light Dragoons, had begun his life
Interlined and broken Into fragment*, so that the •«-» could only be deciphered and Joined by K^cokh. »hili might heom rather intuitivo than founded on; Yet 1 believe no mistake was made.