Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Poète anglais, qui fut considéré comme l'un des plus grands poètes de son temps mais aussi comme la figure la plus influente et la plus emblématique du mouvement romantique.
Percy Bysshe Shelley naquit le 4 août 1792 à Field Place, près de Horsham, dans le Sussex, au sein d'une famille de vieille noblesse. Il fit ses études à Eton, puis à l'université d'Oxford, d'où il fut renvoyé au bout d'un an. Avec un autre étudiant, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, il avait en effet - entre autres manifestations d'insoumission - écrit et fait circuler un pamphlet, la Nécessité de l'athéisme (1811), qui choqua naturellement les dirigeants de l'université. Peu après son expulsion, Shelley, âgé de 19 ans, épousa la jeune Harriet Westbrook et partit s'installer dans la région des Lacs pour y étudier et y écrire.
Deux années plus tard, il publia son premier véritable ouvrage, la Reine Mab (1813), poème philosophique en neuf chants mêlant vers blancs et vers lyriques. La rédaction de ce poème n'était pas sans rapport avec l'amitié qui liait le poète au philosophe William Godwin, puisque Shelley y développait les idées socialistes de ce libre-penseur. Cette amitié eut également pour conséquence la rencontre de Shelley avec la fille de Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, qui le fascina par sa culture et sa grande liberté de pensée, traits inhabituels chez les jeunes filles de l'époque.
En 1814, après avoir quitté sa femme, Shelley s'enfuit avec Mary pour l'Europe. Pendant l'été 1816, le couple rencontra lord Byron, lui aussi exilé de sa terre natale. En décembre de la même année, trois semaines après le suicide de sa femme, dont le corps fut retrouvé dans un parc de Londres, Shelley épousa Mary et, au début de l'année 1818, après plusieurs aller et retour entre l'Angleterre et le continent, ils quittèrent définitivement leur pays. Voyageant et résidant dans diverses villes d'Italie, le couple Shelley rencontra le poète britannique Leigh Hunt avec sa famille et retrouva Byron.
Peu de temps avant son 30e anniversaire, le 18 juillet 1822, Shelley se noya accidentellement près des rivages d'Italie, pris dans une tempête alors qu'il essayait de rejoindre La Spezia en bateau. Dix jours plus tard, son corps fut retrouvé et incinéré sur le rivage en présence de Byron.
Nombre de critiques considèrent Shelley comme l'un des plus grands poètes qu'ait connus l'Angleterre. Parmi ses premières œuvres, marquées par sa révolte contre les contraintes sociales autant que contre la condition faite à l'homme ici-bas, citons une allégorie en vers, Alastor (1816), annonciatrice de ses travaux ultérieurs, et, en 1817, un long poème, récit symbolique de la Révolution, qui fut réédité sous le titre de la Révolte de l'islam (1818). Shelley rédigea également un certain nombre de pamphlets et de tracts révolutionnaires, où s'exprimaient son anticonformisme et sa révolte.
C'est pendant les quatre dernières années de sa vie que Shelley produisit ses œuvres les plus remarquables. Parmi ces vers, où s'exprime toujours son insoumission, mais avec une tonalité lyrique, il convient de citer les célèbres odes intitulées À une alouette (1820), Ode au vent d'ouest (1819) et le Nuage (1820), où le poète s'essaye avec talent à l'harmonie imitative pour restituer telle quelle la voix de la nature. Sont également très admirés les courts poèmes qu'il consacra à l'amour, le poème platonicien Epipsychidion (1821) et Adonaïs (1821), élégie en strophes spensériennes sur la mort du poète John Keats.
Le lyrisme profond qui transparaît dans ces œuvres est également sensible dans les drames en vers de Shelley, tels que les Cenci (1819), tragédie qui relate un viol incestueux et un parricide dans la Rome du XVIe siècle, et Prométhée délivré (1820), drame en vers dédié à l'amour insoumis qui constitue aussi un appel à la révolution. Ces drames sont les œuvres d'un poète lyrique plus que d'un dramaturge, et ils sont réputés impossibles à mettre en scène. Shelley est également l'auteur d'œuvres brillantes en prose, parmi lesquelles une traduction du Symposium de Platon (1818) et un ouvrage critique inachevé, Défense de la poésie (1821), où il assigne au poète le rôle d'intermédiaire entre l'univers naturel et les hommes.
Certains critiques, notamment des antiromantiques, reprochèrent à Shelley le raffinement et la sentimentalité de son œuvre, soutenant que son influence fut moindre que celle d'autres poètes de la même période, tels que Byron, Keats ou William Wordsworth.
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I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams ;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noon-day dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the Sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast ;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning my pilot sits ;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits ;
Over Earth and Ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea ;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains ;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead ;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit Sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine äery nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor
By the midnight breezes strewn ;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof, of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her, and peer ;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone
And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl ;
The volcanos are dim and the stars reel and swim
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof --
The mountains its columns be !
The triumphal arch, through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the Air, are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured Bow ;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove
While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky ;
I pass through the pores, of the ocean and shores ;
I change, but I cannot die --
For after the rain, when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
Build up the blue dome of Air --
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, live a ghost from the tomb,
I arise, and unbuild it again. --
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Hymn to Selene
Daughters of Jove, whose voice is melody,
Muses, who know and rule all minstrelsy,
Sing the wide-winged Moon! Around the earth,
From her immortal head in Heaven shot forth,
Far light is scattered--boundless glory springs ;
Where'er she spreads her many-beaming wings
The lampless air glows round her golden crown.
But when the Moon divine from Heaven is gone
Under the sea, her beams within abide,
Till, bathing her bright limbs in Ocean's tide,
Clothing her form in garments glittering far,
And having yoked to her immortal car
The beam-invested steeds whose necks on high
Curve back, she drives to a remoter sky
A western Crescent, borne impetuously.
Then is made full the circle of her light,
And as she grows, her beams more bright and bright
Are poured from Heaven, where she is hovering then,
A wonder and a sign to mortal men.
The Son of Saturn with this glorious Power
Mingled in love and sleep--to whom she bore
Pandeia, a bright maid of beauty rare
Among the Gods, whose lives eternal are.
Hail Queen, great Moon, white-armed Divinity,
Fair-haired and favorable! thus with thee
My song beginning, by its music sweet
Shall make immortal many a glorious feat
Of demigods, with lovely lips, so well
Which minstrels, servants of the Muses, tell.
Hymnes homériques, environ 7ième siècle av. J.-C.
Traduit du grec par Percy Bysshe Shelley
The keen stars were twinkling,
And the fair moon was rising among them,
The guitar was tinkling,
But the notes were not sweet till you sung them
As the moon's soft splendour
O'er the faint cold starlight of Heaven
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter
Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1822, dans Poetical Works (1839)
Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of Night !
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear, --
Swift be thy flight !
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day ;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand --
Come, long-sought !
When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee ;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest.
I sighed for thee.
Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me ?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side ?
Wouldst thou me ? -- And I replied,
No, not thee !
Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon --
Sleep will come when thou art fled ;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovèd Night --
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon !
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821, dans Posthumous Poems (1824)
One word is too often profaned
For me to profane it,
One feeling too falsely disdained
For thee to disdain it ;
One hope is too like despair
For prudence to smother,
And pity from thee more dear
Than that from another.
I can give not what men call love,
But wilt thou accept not
The worship the heart lifts above
And the Heavens reject not, --
The desire of the moth for the star,
Of the night for the morrow,
The devotion to something afar
From the sphere of our sorrow ?
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1821, dans Posthumous Poems (1824)
To the Moon
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Among the stars that have a different birth, --
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy ?
Thou chosen sister of the Spirit,
That gazes on thee till in thee it pities...
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820, dans Posthumous Poems (1824)
The Two Spirits : an allegory
O thou, who plum'd with strong desire
Wouldst float above the earth, beware !
A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire --
Night is coming !
Bright are the regions of the air,
And among the winds and beams
It were delight to wander there --
Night is coming !
The deathless stars are bright above ;
If I would cross the shade of night,
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day !
And the moon will smile with gentle light
On my golden plumes where'er they move ;
The meteors will linger round my flight,
And make night day.
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain ;
See, the bounds of the air are shaken --
Night is coming !
The red swift clouds of the hurricane
Yon declining sun have overtaken,
The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain --
Night is coming !
I see the light, and I hear the sound ;
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark,
With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day :
And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound,
My moon-like flight thou then mayst mark
On high, far away.
Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
Mid Alpine mountains ;
And that the languid storm pursuing
That winged shape, for ever flies
Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
Its aëry fountains.
Some say when nights are dry and dear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
Which make night day :
And a silver shape like his early love doth pass
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
And when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
He finds night day.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820, dans Posthumous Poems (1824)
Prometheus Unbound (Act IV)
SCENE-- A part of the Forest near the Cave of PROMETHEUS. PANTHEA and IONE are sleeping: they awaken gradually during the first Song.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITSTHE pale stars are gone !
For the sun, their swift shepherd
To their folds them compelling,
In the depths of the dawn,
Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and they flee
Beyond his blue dwelling,
As fawns flee the leopard,
But where are ye ?
[A Train of dark Forms and Shadows passes by confusedly, singing.]
Here, oh, here !
We bear the bier
Of the father of many a cancelled year !
Of the dead Hours be ;
We bear Time to his tomb in eternity.
Strew, oh, strew
Hair, not yew !
Wet the dusty pall with tears, not dew !
Be the faded flowers
Of Death's bare bowers
Spread on the corpse of the King of Hours !
Haste, oh, haste !
As shades are chased,
Trembling, by day, from heaven's blue waste,
We melt away,
Like dissolving spray,
From the children of a diviner day,
With the lullaby
Of winds that die
On the bosom of their own harmony !
IONEWhat dark forms were they ?
PANTHEAThe past Hours weak and gray,
With the spoil which their toil
From the conquest but One could foil.
IONEHave they passed ?
PANTHEAThey have passed ;
They outspeeded the blast,
While 't is said, they are fled !
IONEWhither, oh, whither ?
PANTHEATo the dark, to the past, to the dead.
VOICE OF UNSEEN SPIRITSBright clouds float in heaven,
Dew-stars gleam on earth,
Waves assemble on ocean,
They are gathered and driven
By the storm of delight, by the panic of glee !
They shake with emotion,
They dance in their mirth.
But where are ye ?
The pine boughs are singing
Old songs with new gladness,
The billows and fountains
Fresh music are flinging,
Like the notes of a spirit from land and from sea ;
The storms mock the mountains
With the thunder of gladness,
But where are ye ?
IONEWhat charioteers are these ?
PANTHEAWhere are their chariots ?
SEMICHORUS OF HOURSThe voice of the Spirits of Air and of Earth
Has drawn back the figured curtain of sleep,
Which covered our being and darkened our birth
In the deep.
A VOICEIn the deep ?
SEMICHORUS IIOh ! below the deep.
SEMICHORUS IAn hundred ages we had been kept
Cradled in visions of hate and care,
And each one who waked as his brother slept
Found the truth --
SEMICHORUS IIWorse than his visions were !
SEMICHORUS IWe have heard the lute of Hope in sleep ;
We have known the voice of Love in dreams ;
We have felt the wand of Power, and leap --
SEMICHORUS IIAs the billows leap in the morning beams !
CHORUSWeave the dance on the floor of the breeze,
Pierce with song heaven's silent light,
Enchant the day that too swiftly flees,
To check its flight ere the cave of night.
Once the hungry Hours were hounds
Which chased the day like a bleeding deer,
And it limped and stumbled with many wounds
Through the nightly dells of the desert year.
But now, oh, weave the mystic measure
Of music, and dance, and shapes of light,
Let the Hours, and the Spirits of might and pleasure,
Like the clouds and sunbeams, unite --
A VOICEUnite !
PANTHEASee, where the Spirits of the human mind,
Wrapped in sweet sounds, as in bright veils, approach.
CHORUS OF SPIRITSWe join the throng
Of the dance and the song,
By the whirlwind of gladness borne along ;
As the flying-fish leap
From the Indian deep
And mix with the sea-birds half-asleep.
CHORUS OF HOURSWhence come ye, so wild and so fleet,
For sandals of lightning are on your feet,
And your wings are soft and swift as thought,
And your eyes are as love which is veiled not ?
CHORUS OF SPIRITSWe come from the mind
Which was late so dusk, and obscene, and blind ;
Now 't is an ocean
Of clear emotion,
A heaven of serene and mighty motion.
From that deep abyss
Of wonder and bliss,
Whose caverns are crystal palaces ;
From those skyey towers
Where Thought's crowned powers
Sit watching your dance, ye happy Hours !
From the dim recesses
Of woven caresses,
Where lovers catch ye by your loose tresses ;
From the azure isles,
Where sweet Wisdom smiles,
Delaying your ships with her siren wiles.
From the temples high
Of Man's ear and eye,
Roofed over Sculpture and Poesy ;
From the murmurings
Of the unsealed springs,
Where Science bedews his dædal wings.
Years after years,
Through blood, and tears,
And a thick hell of hatreds, and hopes, and fears,
We waded and flew,
And the islets were few
Where the bud-blighted flowers of happiness grew.
Our feet now, every palm,
Are sandalled with calm,
And the dew of our wings is a rain of balm ;
And, beyond our eyes,
The human love lies,
Which makes all it gazes on Paradise.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS AND HOURSThen weave the web of the mystic measure ;
From the depths of the sky and the ends of the earth,
Come, swift Spirits of might and of pleasure,
Fill the dance and the music of mirth,
As the waves of a thousand streams rush by
To an ocean of splendor and harmony !
CHORUS OF SPIRITSOur spoil is won,
Our task is done,
We are free to dive, or soar, or run ;
Beyond and around,
Or within the bound
Which clips the world with darkness round.
We'll pass the eyes
Of the starry skies
Into the hoar deep to colonize ;
Death, Chaos and Night,
From the sound of our flight,
Shall flee, like mist from a tempest's might.
And Earth, Air and Light,
And the Spirit of Might,
Which drives round the stars in their fiery flight ;
And Love, Thought and Breath,
The powers that quell Death,
Wherever we soar shall assemble beneath.
And our singing shall build
In the void's loose field
A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield ;
We will take our plan
From the new world of man,
And our work shall be called the Promethean.
CHORUS OF HOURSBreak the dance, and scatter the song ;
Let some depart, and some remain ;
SEMICHORUS IWe, beyond heaven, are driven along ;
SEMICHORUS IIUs the enchantments of earth retain ;
SEMICHORUS ICeaseless, and rapid, and fierce, and free,
With the Spirits which build a new earth and sea,
And a heaven where yet heaven could never be ;
SEMICHORUS IISolemn, and slow, and serene, and bright,
Leading the Day, and outspeeding the Night,
With the powers of a world of perfect light ;
SEMICHORUS IWe whirl, singing loud, round the gathering sphere,
Till the trees, and the beasts, and the clouds appear
From its chaos made calm by love, not fear ;
SEMICHORUS IIWe encircle the ocean and mountains of earth,
And the happy forms of its death and birth
Change to the music of our sweet mirth.
CHORUS OF HOURS AND SPIRITSBreak the dance, and scatter the song ;
Let some depart, and some remain ;
Wherever we fly we lead along
In leashes, like star-beams, soft yet strong,
The clouds that are heavy with love's sweet rain.
PANTHEAHa ! they are gone !
IONEYet feel you no delight
From the past sweetness ?
PANTHEAAs the bare green hill,
When some soft cloud vanishes into rain,
Laughs with a thousand drops of sunny water
To the unpavilioned sky !
IONEEven whilst we speak
New notes arise. What is that awful sound ?
PANTHEA'T is the deep music of the rolling world,
Kindling within the strings of the waved air
How every pause is filled with under-notes,
Clear, silver, icy, keen awakening tones,
Which pierce the sense, and live within the soul,
As the sharp stars pierce winter's crystal air
And gaze upon themselves within the sea.
PANTHEABut see where, through two openings in the forest
Which hanging branches overcanopy,
And where two runnels of a rivulet,
Between the close moss violet-inwoven,
Have made their path of melody, like sisters
Who part with sighs that they may meet in smiles,
Turning their dear disunion to an isle
Of lovely grief, a wood of sweet sad thoughts ;
Two visions of strange radiance float upon
The ocean-like enchantment of strong sound,
Which flows intenser, keener, deeper yet,
Under the ground and through the windless air.
IONEI see a chariot like that thinnest boat
In which the mother of the months is borne
By ebbing night into her western cave,
When she upsprings from interlunar dreams ;
O'er which is curved an orb-like canopy
Of gentle darkness, and the hills and woods,
Distinctly seen through that dusk airy veil,
Regard like shapes in an enchanter's glass ;
Its wheels are solid clouds, azure and gold,
Such as the genii of the thunder-storm
Pile on the floor of the illumined sea
When the sun rushes under it; they roll
And move and grow as with an inward wind ;
Within it sits a winged infant--white
Its countenance, like the whiteness of bright snow,
Its plumes are as feathers of sunny frost,
Its limbs gleam white, through the wind-flowing folds
Of its white robe, woof of ethereal pearl,
Its hair is white, the brightness of white light
Scattered in strings; yet its two eyes are heavens
Of liquid darkness, which the Deity
Within seems pouring, as a storm is poured
From jagged clouds, out of their arrowy lashes,
Tempering the cold and radiant air around
With fire that is not brightness; in its hand
It sways a quivering moonbeam, from whose point
A guiding power directs the chariot's prow
Over its wheeled clouds, which as they roll
Over the grass, and flowers, and waves, wake sounds,
Sweet as a singing rain of silver dew.
PANTHEAAnd from the other opening in the wood
Rushes, with loud and whirlwind harmony,
A sphere, which is as many thousand spheres ;
Solid as crystal, yet through all its mass
Flow, as through empty space, music and light ;
Ten thousand orbs involving and involved,
Purple and azure, white, green and golden,
Sphere within sphere; and every space between
Peopled with unimaginable shapes,
Such as ghosts dream dwell in the lampless deep ;
Yet each inter-transpicuous; and they whirl
Over each other with a thousand motions,
Upon a thousand sightless axles spinning,
And with the force of self-destroying swiftness,
Intensely, slowly, solemnly, roll on,
Kindling with mingled sounds, and many tones,
Intelligible words and music wild.
With mighty whirl the multitudinous orb
Grinds the bright brook into an azure mist
Of elemental subtlety, like light ;
And the wild odor of the forest flowers,
The music of the living grass and air,
The emerald light of leaf-entangled beams,
Round its intense yet self-conflicting speed
Seem kneaded into one aerial mas
Which drowns the sense. Within the orb itself,
Pillowed upon its alabaster arms,
Like to a child o'erwearied with sweet toil,
On its own folded wings and wavy hair
The Spirit of the Earth is laid asleep,
And you can see its little lips are moving,
Amid the changing light of their own smiles,
Like one who talks of what he loves in dream.
IONE'T is only mocking the orb's harmony.
PANTHEAAnd from a star upon its forehead shoot,
Like swords of azure fire or golden spears
With tyrant-quelling myrtle overtwined,
Embleming heaven and earth united now,
Vast beams like spokes of some invisible wheel
Which whirl as the orb whirls, swifter than thought,
Filling the abyss with sun-like lightnings,
And perpendicular now, and now transverse,
Pierce the dark soil, and as they pierce and pass
Make bare the secrets of the earth's deep heart ;
Infinite mine of adamant and gold,
Valueless stones, and unimagined gems,
And caverns on crystalline columns poised
With vegetable silver overspread ;
Wells of unfathomed fire, and water-springs
Whence the great sea even as a child is fed,
Whose vapors clothe earth's monarch mountain-tops
With kingly, ermine snow. The beams flash on
And make appear the melancholy ruins
Of cancelled cycles; anchors, beaks of ships ;
Planks turned to marble; quivers, helms, and spears,
And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels
Of scyth'd chariots, and the emblazonry
Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts,
Round which death laughed, sepulchred emblems
Of dead destruction, ruin within ruin !
The wrecks beside of many a city vast,
Whose population which the earth grew over
Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie,
Their monstrous works, and uncouth skeletons,
Their statues, homes and fanes; prodigious shapes
Huddled in gray annihilation, split,
Jammed in the hard, black deep; and over these,
The anatomies of unknown wing'd things,
And fishes which were isles of living scale,
And serpents, bony chains, twisted around
The iron crags, or within heaps of dust
To which the tortuous strength of their last pangs
Had crushed the iron crags; and over these
The jagged alligator, and the might
Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once
Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy shores,
And weed-overgrown continents of earth,
Increased and multiplied like summer worms
On an abandoned corpse, till the blue globe
Wrapped deluge round it like a cloak, and they
Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or some God,
Whose throne was in a comet, passed, and cried,
Be not! and like my words they were no more.
THE EARTHThe joy, the triumph, the delight, the madness !
The boundless, overflowing, bursting gladness,
The vaporous exultation not to be confined !
Ha ! ha ! the animation of delight
Which wraps me, like an atmosphere of light,
And bears me as a cloud is borne by its own wind.
THE MOONBrother mine, calm wanderer,
Happy globe of land and air,
Some Spirit is darted like a beam from thee,
Which penetrates my frozen frame,
And passes with the warmth of flame,
With love, and odor, and deep melody
Through me, through me !
THE EARTHHa ! ha ! the caverns of my hollow mountains,
My cloven fire-crags, sound-exulting fountains,
Laugh with a vast and inextinguishable laughter.
The oceans, and the deserts, and the abysses,
And the deep air's unmeasured wildernesses,
Answer from all their clouds and billows, echoing after.
They cry aloud as I do. Sceptred curse,
Who all our green and azure universe
Threatenedst to muffle round with black destruction, sending
A solid cloud to rain hot thunder-stones
And splinter and knead down my children's bones,
All I bring forth, to one void mass battering and blending,
Until each crag-like tower, and storied column,
Palace, and obelisk, and temple solemn,
My imperial mountains crowned with cloud, and snow, and fire,
My sea-like forests, every blade and blossom
Which finds a grave or cradle in my bosom,
Were stamped by thy strong hate into a lifeless mire :
How art thou sunk, withdrawn, covered, drunk up
By thirsty nothing, as the brackish cup
Drained by a desert-troop, a little drop for all ;
And from beneath, around, within, above,
Filling thy void annihilation, love
Bursts in like light on caves cloven by the thunder-ball !
THE MOONThe snow upon my lifeless mountains
Is loosened into living fountains,
My solid oceans flow, and sing and shine ;
A spirit from my heart bursts forth,
It clothes with unexpected birth
My cold bare bosom. Oh, it must be thine
On mine, on mine !
Gazing on thee I feel, I know,
Green stalks burst forth, and bright flowers grow,
And living shapes upon my bosom move ;
Music is in the sea and air,
Wing'd clouds soar here and there
Dark with the rain new buds are dreaming of :
'T is love, all love !
THE EARTHIt interpenetrates my granite mass,
Through tangled roots and trodden clay doth pass
Into the utmost leaves and delicatest flowers ;
Upon the winds, among the clouds 't is spread,
It wakes a life in the forgotten dead, --
They breathe a spirit up from their obscurest bowers ;
And like a storm bursting its cloudy prison
With thunder, and with whirlwind, has arisen
Out of the lampless caves of unimagined being ;
With earthquake shock and swiftness making shiver
Thought's stagnant chaos, unremoved forever,
Till hate, and fear, and pain, light-vanquished shadows, fleeing,
Leave Man, who was a many-sided mirror
Which could distort to many a shape of error
This true fair world of things, a sea reflecting love ;
Which over all his kind, as the sun's heaven
Gliding o'er ocean, smooth, serene, and even,
Darting from starry depths radiance and life doth move :
Leave Man even as a leprous child is left,
Who follows a sick beast to some warm cleft
Of rocks, through which the might of healing springs is poured ;
Then when it wanders home with rosy smile,
Unconscious, and its mother fears awhile
It is a spirit, then weeps on her child restored :
Man, oh, not men! a chain of linked thought,
Of love and might to be divided not,
Compelling the elements with adamantine stress ;
As the sun rules even with a tyrant's gaze
The unquiet republic of the maze
Of planets, struggling fierce towards heaven's free wilderness :
Man, one harmonious soul of many a soul,
Whose nature is its own divine control,
Where all things flow to all, as rivers to the sea ;
Familiar acts are beautiful through love ;
Labor, and pain, and grief, in life's green grove
Sport like tame beasts; none knew how gentle they could be !
His will, with all mean passions, bad delights,
And selfish cares, its trembling satellites,
A spirit ill to guide, but mighty to obey,
Is as a tempest-winged ship, whose helm
Love rules, through waves which dare not overwhelm,
Forcing life's wildest shores to own its sovereign sway.
All things confess his strength. Through the cold mass
Of marble and of color his dreams pass --
Bright threads whence mothers weave the robes their children wear ;
Language is a perpetual Orphic song,
Which rules with dædal harmony a throng
Of thoughts and forms, which else senseless and shapeless were.
The lightning is his slave; heaven's utmost deep
Gives up her stars, and like a flock of sheep
They pass before his eye, are numbered, and roll on !
The tempest is his steed, he strides the air ;
And the abyss shouts from her depth laid bare,
'Heaven, hast thou secrets ? Man unveils me ; I have none.'
THE MOONThe shadow of white death has passed
From my path in heaven at last,
A clinging shroud of solid frost and sleep ;
And through my newly woven bowers,
Wander happy paramours,
Less mighty, but as mild as those who keep
Thy vales more deep.
THE EARTHAs the dissolving warmth of dawn may fold
A half unfrozen dew-globe, green, and gold,
And crystalline, till it becomes a winged mist,
And wanders up the vault of the blue day,
Outlives the noon, and on the sun's last ray
Hangs o'er the sea, a fleece of fire and amethyst.
THE MOONThou art folded, thou art lying
In the light which is undying
Of thine own joy, and heaven's smile divine ;
All suns and constellations shower
On thee a light, a life, a power,
Which doth array thy sphere; thou pourest thine
On mine, on mine !
THE EARTHI spin beneath my pyramid of night
Which points into the heavens, dreaming delight,
Murmuring victorious joy in my enchanted sleep ;
As a youth lulled in love-dreams faintly sighing,
Under the shadow of his beauty lying,
Which round his rest a watch of light and warmth doth keep.
THE MOONAs in the soft and sweet eclipse,
When soul meets soul on lovers' lips,
High hearts are calm, and brightest eyes are dull ;
So when thy shadow falls on me,
Then am I mute and still, by thee
Covered; of thy love, Orb most beautiful,
Full, oh, too full !
Thou art speeding round the sun,
Brightest world of many a one ;
Green and azure sphere which shinest
With a light which is divinest
Among all the lamps of Heaven
To whom life and light is given ;
I, thy crystal paramour,
Borne beside thee by a power
Like the polar Paradise,
Magnet-like, of lovers' eyes ;
I, a most enamoured maiden,
Whose weak brain is overladen
With the pleasure of her love,
Maniac-like around thee move,
Gazing, an insatiate bride,
On thy form from every side,
Like a Mænad round the cup
Which Agave lifted up
In the weird Cadmean forest.
Brother, wheresoe'er thou soarest
I must hurry, whirl and follow
Through the heavens wide and hollow,
Sheltered by the warm embrace
Of thy soul from hungry space,
Drinking from thy sense and sight
Beauty, majesty and might,
As a lover or a chameleon
Grows like what it looks upon,
As a violet's gentle eye
Gazes on the azure sky
Until its hue grows like what it beholds,
As a gray and watery mist
Glows like solid amethyst
Athwart the western mountain it enfolds,
When the sunset sleeps
Upon its snow.
THE EARTHAnd the weak day weeps
That it should be so.
O gentle Moon, the voice of thy delight
Falls on me like thy clear and tender light
Soothing the seaman borne the summer night
Through isles forever calm ;
O gentle Moon, thy crystal accents pierce
The caverns of my pride's deep universe,
Charming the tiger joy, whose tramplings fierce
Made wounds which need thy balm.
PANTHEAI rise as from a bath of sparkling water,
A bath of azure light, among dark rocks,
Out of the stream of sound.
IONEAh me! sweet sister,
The stream of sound has ebbed away from us,
And you pretend to rise out of its wave,
Because your words fall like the clear soft dew
Shaken from a bathing wood-nymph's limbs and hair.
PANTHEAPeace, peace! a mighty Power, which is as darkness,
Is rising out of Earth, and from the sky
Is showered like night, and from within the air
Bursts, like eclipse which had been gathered up
Into the pores of sunlight; the bright visions,
Wherein the singing Spirits rode and shone,
Gleam like pale meteors through a watery night.
IONEThere is a sense of words upon mine ear.
PANTHEAAn universal sound like words: Oh, list !
DEMOGORGONThou, Earth, calm empire of a happy soul,
Sphere of divinest shapes and harmonies,
Beautiful orb! gathering as thou dost roll
The love which paves thy path along the skies :
THE EARTHI hear: I am as a drop of dew that dies.
DEMOGORGONThou, Moon, which gazest on the nightly Earth
With wonder, as it gazes upon thee ;
Whilst each to men, and beasts, and the swift birth
Of birds, is beauty, love, calm, harmony :
THE MOONI hear : I am a leaf shaken by thee.
DEMOGORGONYe kings of suns and stars, Dæmons and Gods,
Ethereal Dominations, who possess
Elysian, windless, fortunate abodes
Beyond Heaven's constellated wilderness :
A VOICE (from above )Our great Republic hears : we are blessed, and bless.
DEMOGORGONYe happy dead, whom beams of brightest verse
Are clouds to hide, not colors to portray,
Whether your nature is that universe
Which once ye saw and suffered --
A VOICE FROM BENEATHOr, as they
Whom we have left, we change and pass away.
DEMOGORGONYe elemental Genii, who have homes
From man's high mind even to the central stone
Of sullen lead; from Heaven's star-fretted domes
To the dull weed some sea-worm battens on :
A CONFUSED VOICEWe hear : thy words waken Oblivion.
DEMOGORGONSpirits, whose homes are flesh ; ye beasts and birds,
Ye worms and fish; ye living leaves and buds ;
Lightning and wind; and ye untamable herds,
Meteors and mists, which throng air's solitudes :
A VOICEThy voice to us is wind among still woods.
DEMOGORGONMan, who wert once a despot and a slave,
A dupe and a deceiver ! a decay,
A traveller from the cradle to the grave
Through the dim night of this immortal day :
ALLSpeak : thy strong words may never pass away.
DEMOGORGONThis is the day which down the void abysm
At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism,
And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep ;
Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs
And folds over the world its healing wings.
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance --
These are the seals of that most firm assurance
Which bars the pit over Destruction's strength ;
And if, with infirm hand, Eternity,
Mother of many acts and hours, should free
The serpent that would clasp her with his length,
These are the spells by which to reassume
An empire o'er the disentangled doom.
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite ;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night ;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent ;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates ;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent ;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free ;
This is alone Life ; Joy, Empire, and Victory !
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The splendours of the firmament of time
May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not ;
Like stars to their appointed height they climb,
And death is a low mist which cannot blot
The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought
Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair,
And love and life contend in it, for what
Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there
And move like winds of light on dark and stormy air.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Percy Bysshe Shelley - The Complete Poetical Works : http://www.bartleby.com/139/
- Selected poetry and prose of Percy Bysshe Shelley : http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/authors/shelley.html
- The Percy Bysshe Shelley Resource Page : http://www.wam.umd.edu/~djb/shelley/home.html
- Academy of American Poets - Percy Bysshe Shelley : http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=182
- Percy Bysshe Shelley : http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/FrankenDemo/PShelley/pshelley.html
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