« AnteriorContinuar »
The rose that drinks the fountain dew
In the pleasant air of noon,
In the gaze of the nightly moon;
Such is my heart—roses are fair,
But thy false care did idly wear
Its withered leaves in a faithless bosom!
And fed with love, like air and dew,
Thet die—the dead return not—Misery
Sits near an open grave and calls them over, A Youth with hoary hair and haggard eye—
They are names of kindred, friend and lover, Which he so feebly calls—they all are gone! Fond wretch, all dead, those vacant names alone, This most familiar scene, my pain— These tombs alone remain.
Misery, my sweetest friend—oh! weep no more!
Thou wilt not be consoled—I wonder not 1 For I have seen thee from thy dwelling's door
Watch the calm sunset with them, and this spot Was even as bright and calm, but transitory, And now thy hopes are gone, thy hair is hoary; This most familiar scene, my pain— These tombs alone remain.
ON F. G.
Her voice did quiver as we parted,
Yet knew I not that heart was broken From which it came, and I departed Heeding not the words then spoken. Misery—0 Misery, This world is all too wide for thee.
LINES TO A CRITIC.
Honey from silkworms who can gather, Or silk from the yellow bee i
The grass may grow in winter weather As soon as hate in me.
Hate men who cant, and men who pray,
An equal passion to repay
Or seek some slave of power and gold,
Thy love will move that bigot cold,
A passion like the one I prove
Cannot divided be;
How should I then hate thee 1
I Met a traveller from an antique land
That time is dead for ever, child,
We look on the past,
And stare aghast At the spectres wailing, pale, and ghast, Of hopes which thou and I beguiled
To death on life's dark river.
The stream we gazed on then rolled by; Its waves are mire turning;
But we yet stand
In a lone land, Like tombs to mark the memory Of hopes and fears, which fade and flee
In the light of life's dim morning.
November Mh, 1817
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1817.
BY THE EDITOR.
The very illness that oppressed, and the aspect of death which had approached so near Shelley, appears to have kindled to yet keener life the Spirit of Poetry in his heart. The restless thoughts kept awake by pain clothed themselves in verse. Much was composed during this year. The "Revolt of Islam," written and printed, was a great effort—" Rosalind and Helen" was begun— and the fragments and poems I can trace to the same period, show how full of passion and reflection were his solitary hours.
In addition to such poems as have an intelligible aim and shape, many a stray idea and transitory emotion found imperfect and abrupt expression, and then again lost themselves in silence. As he never wandered without a book, and without implements of writing, I find many such in his manuscript books, that scarcely bear record; while some of them, broken and vague as they are, will appear valuable to those who love Shelley's mind, and desire to trace its workings. Thus in the same book that addresses « Constantia, Singing," I find these lines :—
My spirit like a charmed bark doth swim
Fax away into the regions dim
Of rapture—as a boat with swift sails winging
And this apostrophe to Music:
No, Music, thou art not the God of Love,
In another fragment he calls it—
The silver key of the fountain of tears,
Where the Bpirit. drinks till the brain is wild;
Softest grave of a thousand fears,
Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child,
And then again this melancholy trace of the sad thronging thoughts, which were the well whence he drew the idea of Athanase, and express the restless, passion-fraught emotions of one whose sensibility, kindled to too intense a life, perpetually preyed upon itself:
To thirst and And no fill—to wail and wander
In the next page I find a calmer sentiment, better fitted to Bustain one whose whole being was Ioto:
Wealth and dominion fade into the mass
In another book, which contains some passionate outbreaks with regard to the great injustice that he endured this year, the poet writes:
My thoughts arise and fade in solitude,
He had this year also projected a poem on the subject of Otho, inspired by the pages of Tacitus. I find one or two stanzas only, which were to open the subject:—
Thou wert not, Cassius, and thou couldst not be.
Nor he who dared make the foul tyrant quail,
Twill wrong thee not—thou wouldBt, if thou couldst feel.
I insert here also the fragment of a song, though I do not know the date when it was written,—but it was early :—
Yet look on me—take not thine eyes away,
Which feed upon the love within mine own, Which is indeed but the reflected ray
Of thine own beauty from my spirit thrown.
Yet speak to me—thy voice is as the tone
Of my heart's echo, and I think I hear That tbou yet lovest me; yet thou alone
Like one before a mirror, without care
Of aught but thine own features, imaged there;
And yet I wear out life in watching thee; A toil so sweet at times, and thou indeed
Art kind when I am sick, and pity me.
He projected also translating the Hymns of Homer; his version of several of the shorter ones remain, as well as that to Mercury, already published in the Posthumous Poems. H is readings this year were chiefly Greek. Besides the Hymns of Homer and the Iliad, he read the Dramas of iEschylus and Sophocles, the Symposium of Plato, and Arrian's Historia Indica. In Latin, Apuleius alone is named. In English, the Bible was his
constant study; he read a great portion of it aloud in the evening. Among these evening readings, I find also mentioned the Fairy Queen, and other modern works, the production of his contemporaries, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Moore, and Byron.
His life was now spent more in thought than action—he had lost the eager spirit which believed it could achieve what it projected for the benefit of mankind. And yet in the converse of daily life Shelley was far from being a melancholy man. Ho was eloquent when philosophy, or politics, or taste, were the subjects of conversation. He was playful—and indulged in the wild spirit that mocked itself and others—not in bitterness, but in sport. The Author of " Nightmare Abbey" seized on some points of his character and some habits of his life when he painted Scythrop. He was not addicted to "port or madeira," but in youth he had read of " Illuminati and Eleutherachs," and believed that he possessed the power of operating an immediate change in the minds of men and the state of society. These wild dreams had faded ; sorrow and adversity had struck home ; but he struggled with despondency as he did with physical pain. There are few who remember him sailing paper boats, and watching the navigation of his tiny craft with eagerness— or repeating with wild energy the "Ancient Mariner," and Southey's "Old Woman of
Berkeley," but those who do, will recollect that
it was in such, and in the creations of his own fancy, when that was most daring and ideal, that he sheltered himself from the storms and disappointments, the pain and sorrow, that beset his life, ADVERTISEMENT
POEMS WRITTEN IN MDCCCXVIII.
ROSALIND AND HELEN.
ROSALIND AND HELEN, AND LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUOANEAN HILLS.
The story of Rosalind and Helen is, undoubtedly, not an attempt in the highest style of poetry. It is in no degree calculated to excite profound meditation; and if, by interesting the affections and amusing the imagination, it awaken a certain ideal melancholy favourable to the reception of more important impressions, it will produce in the reader all that the writer experienced in the composition. I resigned myself, as I wrote, to the impulse of tho feelings which moulded the conception of the story; and this impulse determined the pauses of a measure, which only pretends to he regular, inasmuch as it corresponds with, and expresses, the irregularity of the imaginations which inspired it.
I do not know which of the few scattered poena I left in England will be selected by my bookseller to add to this collection. One, which I sent from Italy, was written after a day'sexcursion among those lovely mountains which surround what was once the retreat,and where is now the sepulchre, of Petrarch. If any one is inclined to condemn the insertion of the introductory lines, which image forth the sudden relief of a state of deep despondency by tho radiant visions disclosed by the sudden burst of an Italian sunrise in* autumn, on the highest peak of those delightful mountains, I can only offer as my excuse, that they were not erased at the request of a dear friend, with whom added years of intercourse only add to my apprehension of its value, and who would have had more right than any one to complain, that she has not been able to extinguish in me the very power of delineating sadness.
Naples, Dee. 20,1818.
SCENE.—The Shore of the Lake a/Como.
Rosalind, Helen, and her Child.
Those heathy paths, that inland stream,
Speak to me. Leave me not,—When morn did
Is it a dream, or do I see
And hear frail Helen? I would flee
Thy tainting touch ; but former years
Arise, and bring forbidden tears;
And my o'crburthened memory
Seeks yet its lost repose in thee.
I share thy crime. I cannot choose
But weep for thee : mine own strange grief
But seldom stoops to such relief;
Nor ever did I love thee less,
Alas! not there; I cannot bear
The murmur of this lake to hear.
A sound from thee, Rosalind dear,
Which never yet I heard elsewhere
But in our native land, recurs,
Even here where now we meet. It stirs
Too much of suffocating sorrow!
In the dell of yon dark chesnut wood
Is a stone seat, a solitude
Less like our own. The ghost of peace
Will not desert this spot. To-morrow,
If thy kind feelings should not cease,
We may sit here.
Thou lead, my sweet, And I will follow.
'Tis Fenici's seat
Yes ; I know; I was bewildered. Kiss me, and be gay, Dear boy, why do you sob!
I do not know:
It is a gentle child, my friend. Go home,
In silence then they took the way
And the grey shades of evening
O'er that green wilderness did fling
Still deeper solitude.
Pursuing still the path that wound
The vast and knotted trees around,
Through which slow shades were wandering,
To a deep lawny dell they came,
To a stone seat beside a spring,
O'er which the colnmned wood did frame
A roofless temple, like the fane
Where, ere new creeds could faith obtain,
Man's early race once knelt beneath
The overhanging deity.
O'er this fair fountain hung the sky,
Now spangled with rare stars. The snake,
The pale snake, that with eager breath
Creeps here his noontide thirst to slake,
Is beaming with many a mingled hue,
Shed from yon dome's eternal blue,
When he floats on that dark and lucid flood
In the light of his own loveliness;
And the birds that in the fountain dip
Their plumes, with fearless fellowship
Above and round him wheel and hover.
The fitful wind is heard to stir
One solitary leaf on high;
The chirping of the grasshopper
Fills every pause. There is emotion
In all that dwells at noontide here:
Then, through the intricate wild wood,
A maze of life and light and motion
Is woven. But there is stillness now;
Gloom, and the trance of Nature now:
The snake is in his cave asleep;
The birds are on the branches dreaming;
Only the shadows creep;
Only the glow-worm is gleaming;
Only the owls and the nightingales
Wake in this dell when day-light fails,
And grey shades gather in the woods;
And the owls have all fled far away
In a merrier glen to hoot and play,
For the moon is veiled and sleeping now.
The accustomed nightingale still broods
On her accustomed bough,
But she is mute; for her false mate
Has fled and left her desolate.
This silent spot tradition old
Had peopled with the spectral dead.
For the roots of the speaker's hair felt cold
And stiff, as with tremulous lips he told
That a hellish shape at midnight led
The ghost of a youth with hoary hair,
And sate on the seat beside him there,
Till a naked child came wandering by,
When the fiend would change to a lady fair!
A fearful tale! The truth was worse:
For here a sister and a brother
Had solemnised a monstrous curse,
Meeting in this fair solitude:
For beneath yon very sky,
Had they resigned to one another
Body and soul. The multitude,
Tracking them to the secret wood,
Tore limb from limb their innocent child.
And stabbed and trampled on its mother;
But the youth, for God's most holy grace,
A priest saved to burn in the market-place.