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WRITTEN ON HEARING THE NEWS OF THE DEATH OF
WHAT! alive and so bold, O Earth?
Art thou not over-bold !
In the light of thy morning mirth,
What spark is alive on thy hearth ?
And livest thou still, Mother Earth ?
“ Or who has my story told ? It is thou who art over bold.”
And the lightning of scorn laughed forth As she sung, “ To my bosom I fold All my sons when their knell is knolled, And so with living motion all are fed, And the quick spring like weeds out of the dead. “ Still alive and still bold," shouted Earth,
“I grow bolder, and still more bold. The dead fill me ten thousandfold
Fuller of speed, and splendour, and mirth ;
“Napoleon's fierce spirit rolled,
A torrent of ruin to death from his birth.
Wild, pale, and wonder-stricken, even as one
The bride-maidens who round her thronging came,
But they are all dispersed—and lo ! she stands Looking in idle grief on her white hands, Alone within the garden now her own ; And through the sunny air, with jangling tone, The music of the merry marriage-bells, Killing the azure silence, sinks and swells ;Absorbed like one within a dream who dreams That he is dreaming, until slumber seems A mockery of itself—when suddenly Antonio stood before her, pale as she. With agony, with sorrow, and with pride, He lifted his wan eyes upon the bride, And said—“Is this thy faith ?” and then as one Whose sleeping face is stricken by the sun With light like a harsh voice, which bids him rise And look upon his day of life with eyes Which weep in vain that they can dream no more, Ginevra saw her lover, and forbore To shriek or faint, and checked the stilling blood Rushing upon her heart, and unsubdued Said—“ Friend, if earthly violence or ill, Suspicion, doubt, or the tyrannic will
* This fragment is part of a poem which Shelley intended to write, founded on a story to be found in the first volume of a book entitled “L'Osservatore Fiorentino."
As a violet's gentle eye
Gazes on the azure sky, Until its hue grows like what it beholds ;
As a grey and empty mist
Lies like solid Amethyst,
Upon its snow.
Wraps itself the wind around, Until the voiceless wind be music too ;
As aught dark, vain and dull,
Basking in what is beautiful, Is full of light and love.
Of parents, chance, or custom, time, or change, From every living heart which it possesses,
Through seas and winds, cities and wildernesses,
Till some one asked—“Where is the Bride ?” And The cheek that whitens from the eyes that dart A bride's-maid went, and ere she came again then Imperious inquisition to the heart
A silence fell upon the guests—a pause
Of expectation, as when beauty awes
Then wonder, and then fear that wonder quelled;-
The colour from the hearer's cheeks, and flew
Louder and swifter round the company;
They found Ginevra dead ! if it be death,
And open eyes, whose fixed and glassy light
Mocked at the speculation they had owned.
If it be death, when there is felt around
And giving all it shrouded to the earth,
And leaving as swift lightning in its flight Which, like a prophet or a shadow, brought Ashes, and smoke, and darkness : in our night News of the terrors of the coming time.
Of thought we know thus much of death,—no more Like an accuser branded with the crime
Than the unborn dream of our life before
Their barks are wrecked on its inhospitable shore.
Was turned to funeral pomp—the company,
On which that form, whose fate they weep in vain,
The lamps which, half extinguished in their haste, And left her at her own request to keep
Gleamed few and faint o'er the abandoned feast, An hour of quiet and rest :- like one asleep
Showed as it were within the vaulted room With open eyes and folded hands she lay,
A cloud of sorrow hanging, as if gloom Pale in the light of the declining day.
Had passed out of men's minds into the air.
Some few yet stood around Gherardi there,
The consolation that he wanted not,
Awe in the place of grief within him wrought. Reflected from a thousand hearts and eyes Their whispers made the solemn silence seem Kindling a momentary Paradise.
More still some wept, [
] This crowd is safer than the silent wood,
Some melted into tears without a sob,
Leant on the table, and at intervals
Shuddered to hear through the deserted halls Tempers the deep emotions of the time
And corridors the thrilling shrieks which came
Upon the breeze of night, that shook the flame
From out the chamber where the women kept ;-
Returned like ravens from a corpse whereon
OLD winter was gone
WHERE art thou, beloved To-morrow? In his weakness back to the mountains hoar, When young and old, and strong and weak, And the spring came down
Rich and poor, through joy and sorrow, From the planet that hovers upon the shore
Thy sweet smiles we ever seek,Where the sea of sunlight encroaches
In thy place--ah! well-a-day !
We find the thing we fled— To-day.
A BRIDAL SONG.
On the bridal couch,
The golden gates of sleep unbar
Where strength and beauty met together,
In a sea of glassy weather.
Night, with all thy stars look down,
Darkness, weep thy holiest dew,Ere the sun through heaven once more has rolled, Never smiled the inconstant moon The rats in her heart
On a pair so true. Will have made their nest,
Let eyes not see their own delight ;-
Fairies, sprites, and angels, keep her!
Holy stars, permit no wrong!
Dawn,-ere it be long.