The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (ed. Hutchinson, 1914)/Poems written in 1817

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POEMS WRITTEN IN 1817

MARIANNE'S DREAM

[Composed at Marlow, 1817. Published in Hunt's Literary Pocket-Book, 1819, and reprinted in Posthumous Poems, 1824.]

I

A pale Dream came to a Lady fair,
And said, A boon, a boon, I pray!
I know the secrets of the air,
And things are lost in the glare of day,
Which I can make the sleeping see,5
If they will put their trust in me.


II

And thou shalt know of things unknown,
If thou wilt let me rest between
The veiny lids, whose fringe is thrown
Over thine eyes so dark and sheen:10
And half in hope, and half in fright,
The Lady closed her eyes so bright.


III

At first all deadly shapes were driven
Tumultuously across her sleep,
And o'er the vast cope of bending heaven15
All ghastly-visaged clouds did sweep;
And the Lady ever looked to spy
If the golden[1] sun shone forth on high.


IV

And as towards the east she turned,
She saw aloft in the morning air,
Which now with hues of sunrise burned,21
A great black Anchor rising there;
And wherever the Lady turned her eyes,
It hung before her in the skies.


V

The sky was blue as the summer sea,
The depths were cloudless overhead,26
The air was calm as it could be,
There was no sight or[2] sound of dread,
But that black Anchor floating still
Over the piny eastern hill.30


VI

The Lady grew sick with a weight of fear
To see that Anchor ever hanging,
And veiled her eyes; she then did hear
The sound as of a dim low clanging,
And looked abroad if she might know35
Was it aught else, or but the flow
Of the blood in her own veins, to and fro.


VII

There was a mist in the sunless air,
Which shook as it were with an earthquake's shock,
But the very weeds that blossomed there40
Were moveless, and each mighty rock
Stood on its basis steadfastly;
The Anchor was seen no more on high.


VIII

But piled around, with summits hid
In lines of cloud at intervals,45
Stood many a mountain pyramid
Among whose everlasting walls
Two mighty cities shone, and ever
Through the red mist their domes did quiver.


IX

On two dread mountains, from whose crest,50
Might seem, the eagle, for her brood,
Would ne'er have hung her dizzy nest,
Those tower-encircled cities stood.
A vision strange such towers to see,
Sculptured and wrought so gorgeously,55
Where human art could never be.


X

And columns framed of marble white,
And giant fanes, dome over dome
Piled, and triumphant gates, all bright
With workmanship, which could not come60
From touch of mortal instrument,
Shot o'er the vales, or[3] lustre lent
From its[4] own shapes magnificent.


XI

But still the Lady heard that clang
Filling the wide air far away;65
And still the mist whose light did hang
Among the mountains shook alway,
So that the Lady's heart beat fast,
As half in joy, and half aghast,
On those high domes her look she cast.70


XII

Sudden, from out that city sprung
A light that made the earth grow red;
Two flames that each with quivering tongue
Licked its high domes, and overhead
Among those mighty towers and fanes75
Dropped fire, as a volcano rains
Its sulphurous ruin on the plains.


XIII

And hark! a rush as if the deep
Had burst its bonds; she looked behind
And saw over the western steep80
A raging flood descend, and wind
Through that wide vale; she felt no fear,
But said within herself, 'Tis clear
These towers are Nature's own, and she84
To save them has sent forth the sea.


XIV

And now those raging billows came
Where that fair Lady sate, and she
Was borne towards the showering flame
By the wild waves heaped tumultuously,
And, on a little plank, the flow90
Of the whirlpool bore her to and fro.


XV

The flames[5] were fiercely vomited
From every tower and every dome,
And dreary light did widely shed
O'er that vast flood's suspended foam,95
Beneath the smoke which hung its night
On the stained cope of heaven's light.


XVI

The plank whereon that Lady sate
Was driven through the chasms, about and about,
Between the peaks so desolate100
Of the drowning mountains[6], in and out,
As the thistle-beard on a whirlwind sails—
While the flood was filling those hollow vales.


XVII

At last her plank an eddy crossed,
And bore her to the city's wall,105
Which now the flood[7] had reached almost;
It might the stoutest heart appal
To hear the fire roar and hiss
Through the domes of those mighty palaces.


XVIII

The eddy whirled her round and round110
Before a gorgeous gate, which stood
Piercing the clouds of smoke which bound
Its aëry arch with light like blood;
She looked on that gate of marble clear,
With wonder that extinguished fear.


XIX

For it was filled with sculptures rarest,116
Of forms most beautiful and strange,
Like nothing human, but the fairest
Of wingèd shapes, whose legions range
Throughout the sleep of those that[8] are,120
Like this same Lady, good and fair.


XX

And as she looked, still lovelier grew
Those marble forms;—the sculptor sure
Was a strong spirit, and the hue
Of his own mind did there endure
After the touch, whose power had braided126
Such grace, was in some sad change faded.


XXI

She looked, the flames were dim, the flood
Grew tranquil as a woodland river
Winding through hills in solitude;
Those marble shapes then seemed to quiver,131
And their fair limbs to float in motion,
Like weeds unfolding in the ocean.


XXII

And their lips moved; one seemed to speak,
When suddenly the mountains[9] cracked,135
And through the chasm the flood did break
With an earth-uplifting cataract:
The statues gave a joyous scream,
And on its wings the pale thin Dream
Lifted the Lady from the stream.140


XXIII

The dizzy flight of that phantom pale
Waked the fair Lady from her sleep,
And she arose, while from the veil
Of her dark eyes the Dream did creep.
And she walked about as one who knew145
That sleep has sights as clear and true
As any waking eyes can view.


TO CONSTANTIA, SINGING

[Published by Mrs. Shelley in Posthumous Poems, 1824. Amongst the Shelley MSS. at the Bodleian is a chaotic first draft, from which Mr. Locock [Examination, &c., 1903, pp. 60-62] has, with patient ingenuity, disengaged a first and a second stanza consistent with the metrical scheme of stanzas iii and iv. The two stanzas thus recovered are printed here immediately below the poem as edited by Mrs. Shelley. It need hardly be added that Mr. Locock's restored version cannot, any more than Mrs. Shelley's obviously imperfect one, be regarded in the light of a final recension.]

I

Thus to be lost and thus to sink and die,
Perchance were death indeed!—Constantia, turn!
In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie,
Even though the sounds which were thy voice, which burn
Between thy lips, are laid to sleep;5
Within thy breath, and on thy hair, like odour, it is yet,
And from thy touch like fire doth leap.
Even while I write, my burning cheeks are wet.
Alas, that the torn heart can bleed, but not forget!


II

A breathless awe, like the swift change10
Unseen, but felt in youthful slumbers,
Wild, sweet, but uncommunicably strange,
Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers.
The cope of heaven seems rent and cloven
By the enchantment of thy strain,15
And on my shoulders wings are woven,
To follow its sublime career
Beyond the mighty moons that wane
Upon the verge of Nature's utmost sphere,
Till the world's shadowy walls are past and disappear.20


III

Her voice is hovering o'er my soul—it lingers
O'ershadowing it with soft and lulling wings,
The blood and life within those snowy fingers
Teach witchcraft to the instrumental strings.
My brain is wild, my breath comes quick—25
The blood is listening in my frame,
And thronging shadows, fast and thick,
Fall on my overflowing eyes;
My heart is quivering like a flame;
As morning dew, that in the sunbeam dies,30
I am dissolved in these consuming ecstasies.


IV

I have no life, Constantia, now, but thee,
Whilst, like the world-surrounding air, thy song
Flows on, and fills all things with melody.—
Now is thy voice a tempest swift and strong,35
On which, like one in trance upborne,
Secure o'er rocks and waves I sweep,
Rejoicing like a cloud of morn.
Now 'tis the breath of summer night,
Which when the starry waters sleep,
Round western isles, with incense-blossoms bright,40
Lingering, suspends my soul in its voluptuous flight.


STANZAS I and II

As restored by Mr. C. D. Locock

I

Cease, cease—for such wild lessons madmen learn
Thus to be lost, and thus to sink and die
Perchance were death indeed!—Constantia turn
In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie
Even though the sounds its voice that were5
Between [thy] lips are laid to sleep:
Within thy breath, and on thy hair
Like odour, it is [lingering] yet
And from thy touch like fire doth leap—
Even while I write, my burning cheeks are wet—10
Alas, that the torn heart can bleed but not forget.


II

[A deep and] breathless awe like the swift change
Of dreams unseen but felt in youthful slumbers
Wild sweet yet incommunicably strange
Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers....15


TO CONSTANTIA

[Dated 1817 by Mrs. Shelley, and printed by her in the Poetical Works, 1839, 1st edition. A copy exists amongst the Shelley MSS. at the Bodleian. See Mr. C. D. Locock's Examination, &c., 1903, p. 46.]

I

The rose[10] that drinks the fountain dew
In the pleasant[11] air of noon,
Grows pale and blue with altered hue—
In the gaze of the nightly moon;
For the planet of frost, so cold and bright,5
Makes it wan with her[12] borrowed light.


II

Such is my heart—roses are fair,
And that at best a withered blossom;
But thy false care did idly wear
Its withered leaves in a faithless bosom;10
And fed with love, like air and dew,
Its growth——


FRAGMENT: TO ONE SINGING

[Dated 1817 by Mrs. Shelley, and published in the Poetical Works, 1839, 1st edition. The MS. original, by which Mr. Locock has revised and (by one line) enlarged the text, is amongst the Shelley MSS. at the Bodleian. The metre, as Mr. Locock (Examination, &c., 1903, p. 63) points out, is terza rima.]

My spirit like a charmèd bark doth swim
Upon the liquid waves of thy sweet singing,
Far far away[13] into the regions dim


Of rapture—as a boat, with swift sails winging
Its way adown some manv-winding river,5
Speeds through dark forests o'er the waters swinging[14]...


A FRAGMENT: TO MUSIC

[Published in Poetical Works, 1839, 1st ed. Dated 1817 (Mrs. Shelley).]

Silver key of the fountain of tears,
Where the spirit drinks till the brain is wild;
Softest grave of a thousand fears,
Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child,
Is laid asleep in flowers.5


ANOTHER FRAGMENT TO MUSIC

[Published in Poetical Works, 1839, 1st ed. Dated 1817 (Mrs. Shelley).]

No, Music, thou art not the 'food of Love.'
Unless Love feeds upon its own sweet self,
Till it becomes all Music murmurs of.


'MIGHTY EAGLE'

SUPPOSED TO BE ADDRESSED TO WILLIAM GODWIN

[Published in 1882 (P. W. of B. P. S.) by Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., by whom it is dated 1817.]

Mighty eagle! thou that soarest
O'er the misty mountain forest,
And amid the light of morning
Like a cloud of glory hiest,
And when night descends defiest5
The embattled tempests' warning!


TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR

[Published in part (v-ix, xiv) by Mrs. Shelley, P. W., 1839, 1st ed. (without title); in full 2nd ed. (with title). Four transcripts in Mrs. Shelley's hand are extant: two—Leigh Hunt's and Ch. Cowden Clarke's—described by Forman, and two belonging to Mr. C. W. Frederickson of Brooklyn, described by Woodberry [P. W., Centenary Edition, iii. 193-6]. One of the latter (here referred to as Fa) is corrected in Shelley's autograph. A much-corrected draft in Shelley's hand is in the Harvard MS. book.]

I

Thy country's curse is on thee, darkest crest
Of that foul, knotted, many-headed worm
Which rends our Mother's bosom—Priestly Pest!
Masked Resurrection of a buried Form!


II

Thy country's curse is on thee! Justice sold,5
Truth trampled, Nature's landmarks overthrown,
And heaps of fraud-accumulated gold,
Plead, loud as thunder, at Destruction's throne.


III

And, whilst that sure slow Angel which aye[15] stands
Watching the beck of Mutability10
Delays to execute her high commands,
And, though a nation weeps, spares thine and thee,


IV

Oh, let a father's curse be on thy soul,
And let a daughter's hope be on thy tomb;
Be both, on thy gray head, a leaden cowl15
To weigh thee down to thine approaching doom.


V

I curse thee by a parent's outraged love,
By hopes long cherished and too lately lost,
By gentle feelings thou couldst never prove,
By griefs which thy stern nature never crossed;20


VI

By those infantine smiles of happy light,
Which were a fire within a stranger's hearth,
Quenched even when kindled, in untimely night
Hiding the promise of a[16] lovely birth:


VII

By those unpractised accents of young speech,25
Which he who is a father thought to frame
To gentlest lore[17], such as the wisest teach—
Thou strike the lyre of mind!—oh, grief and shame!


VIII

By all the happy see in children's growth—
That undeveloped flower of budding years—30
Sweetness and sadness interwoven both,
Source of the sweetest hopes and saddest[18] fears—


IX

By all the days, under an hireling's care,
Of dull constraint and bitter heaviness,—
O wretched ye if ever any were,—35
Sadder than orphans, yet not fatherless![19]


X

By the false cant which on their innocent lips
Must hang like poison on an opening bloom,
By the dark creeds which cover with eclipse
Their pathway from the cradle to the tomb—40


XI

By thy most impious Hell, and all its terror;
By all the grief, the madness, and the guilt
Of thine impostures, which must be their error—
That sand on which thy crumbling power is built—[20]


XII

By thy complicity with lust and hate—45
Thy thirst for tears—thy hunger after gold—
The ready frauds which ever on thee wait—
The servile arts in which thou hast grown old—


XIII

By thy most killing sneer, and by thy smile—
By all the arts and snares[21] of thy black den,50
And—for thou canst outweep the crocodile—
By thy false tears—those millstones braining men—


XIV

By all the hate which checks a father's love—
By all the scorn which kills a father's care—
By those most impious hands which dared remove55
Nature's high bounds—by thee—and by despair—


XV

Yes, the despair which bids a father groan,
And cry, 'My children are no longer mine—
The blood within those[22] veins may be mine own,
But—Tyrant—their polluted souls are thine;—60


XVI

I curse thee—though I hate thee not.—O slave!
If thou couldst quench the earth-consuming Hell
Of which thou art a daemon, on thy grave
This curse should be a blessing. Fare thee well!


TO WILLIAM SHELLEY

[Published by Mrs. Shelley (i, v, vi), P. W., 1839, 1st ed.; in full, P. W., 1839, 2nd ed. A transcript is extant in Mrs. Shelley's hand.]

I

The billows on the beach[23] are leaping around it,
The bark is weak and frail,
The sea looks black, and the clouds that bound it
Darkly strew the gale.
Come with me, thou delightful child,5
Come with me, though the wave is wild,
And the winds are loose, we must not stay,
Or the slaves of the law[24] may rend thee away.


II

They have taken thy brother and sister dear,
They have made them unfit for thee;10
They have withered the smile and dried the tear
Which should have been sacred to me.
To a blighting faith and a cause of crime
They have bound them slaves in youthly prime[25],
And they will curse my name and thee15
Because we fearless are[26] and free.


III

Come thou, beloved as thou art;
Another sleepeth still
Near thy sweet mother's anxious heart,
Which thou with joy shalt[27] fill,20
With fairest smiles of wonder thrown
On that which is indeed our own,
And which in distant lands will be
The dearest playmate unto thee.


IV

Fear not the tyrants will rule for ever,25[28]
Or the priests of the evil faith;
They stand on the brink of that raging river,
Whose waves they have tainted with death.
It is fed from the depth of a thousand dells,
Around them it foams and rages and swells;30
And their swords and their sceptres I floating see,
Like wrecks on the surge of eternity.


V

Rest, rest, and[29] shriek not, thou gentle child!
The rocking of the boat thou fearest,
And the cold spray and the clamour wild?—35
There, sit between us two, thou dearest—
Me and thy mother—well we know
The storm at which thou tremblest so,
With all its dark and hungry graves,
Less cruel than the savage slaves40
Who hunt us[30] o'er these sheltering waves.


VI

This hour will[31] in thy memory
Be a dream of days forgotten long[32].
We soon shall dwell by the azure sea
Of serene and golden Italy,45
Or Greece, the Mother of the free;
And I will teach thine infant tongue
To call upon those[33] heroes old
In their own language, and will mould
Thy growing spirit in the flame
Of Grecian lore, that by such name50
A patriot's birthright thou mayst claim!


FROM THE ORIGINAL DRAFT OF THE POEM TO WILLIAM SHELLEY

[Published in Dr. Garnett's Relics of Shelley, 1862.]

I

The world is now our dwelling-place;
Where'er the earth one fading trace
Of what was great and free does keep,
That is our home!...
Mild thoughts of man's ungentle race5
Shall our contented exile reap;
For who that in some happy place
His own free thoughts can freely chase
By woods and waves can clothe his face
In cynic smiles? Child! we shall weep.10


II

This lament,
The memory of thy grievous wrong
Will fade...
But genius is omnipotent
To hallow...15


ON FANNY GODWIN

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, among the poems of 1817, in P. W., 1839, 1st ed.]

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—O Misery,5
This world is all too wide for thee.


LINES

[Published by Mrs. Shelley with the date 'November 5th, 1817,' in Posthumous Poems, 1824.]

I

That time is dead for ever, child!
Drowned, frozen, dead for ever!
We look on the past
And stare aghast
At the spectres wailing, pale and ghast,5
Of hopes which thou and I beguiled
To death on life's dark river.


II

The stream we gazed on then rolled by;
Its waves are unreturning;
But we yet stand10
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.


DEATH

[Published by Mrs. Shelley in Posthumous Poems, 1824.]

I

They 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 the names of kindred, friend and lover,
Which he so feebly calls[34]—they all are gone—5
Fond wretch, all dead! those vacant names alone,
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II

Dark is the realm of grief: but human things
Those may not know who cannot weep for them.
 . . . . .

III

                                 Once more descend
The shadows of my soul upon mankind,
For to those hearts with which they never blend,
  Thoughts are but shadows which the flashing mind
From the swift clouds which track its flight of fire, i
  Casts on the gloomy world it leaves behind.

'O THAT A CHARIOT OF CLOUD WERE MINE'

[Published by Dr. Garnett, Relics of Shelley, 1862.]

O that a chariot of cloud were mine !
   Of cloud which the wild tempest weaves in air,
When the moon over the ocean's line
   Is spreading the locks of her bright gray hair.
O that a chariot of cloud were mine ! 5
   I would sail on the waves of the billowy wind
To the mountain peak and the rocky lake,
And the . . .

FRAGMENT: TO A FRIEND RELEASED FROM PRISON

[Published by Dr. Garnett, Belies of Shelley, 1862.]

For me, my friend, if not that tears did tremble
  In my faint eyes, and that my heart beat fast
With feelings which make rapture pain resemble,
  Yet, from thy voice that falsehood starts aghast,
     I thank thee — let the tyrant keep 5
     His chains and tears, yea, let him weep
     With rage to see thee freshly risen,
     Like strength from slumber, from the prison,
In which he vainly hoped the soul to bind
Which on the chains must prey that fetter humankind. io

FRAGMENT: SATAN BROKEN LOOSE

[Published by Rossetti, Complete P. W. of P. B. S., 1870.]

A golden-winged Angel stood
   Before the Eternal Judgement-seat:
His looks were wild, and Devils' blood
   Stained his dainty bands and feet.
The Father and the Son 5
Knew that strife was now begun.

Fragment: To a Friend. — For the metre seep. 579. {A. C. Bradley.)

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1817 545

They knew that Satan had broken his chain.
And with millions of daemons in his train,
Was ranging over the world again.
Before the Angel had told his tale, 10
   A sweet and a creeping sound
   Like the rushing of wings was heard around ;
And suddenly the lamps grew pale —
The lamps, before the Archangels seven,
That burn continually in Heaven. 15

FRAGMENT: IGNIGULUS DESIDERII

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, P. W., 1839, 1st ed. This fragment
is amongst the Shelley MSS. at the Bodleian. See Mr. C. D. Locock's
Examination, &c., 1903, p. 63.]

To thirst and find no fill— to wail and wander
With short unsteady steps— to pause and ponder —
To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle
Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle ;
To nurse the image of unfelt caresses
Till dim imagination just possesses
The half-created shadow, then all the night
Sick . . .
FRAGMENT: AMOR AETERNU8
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, P. W., 1839, 1st ed.]
Wealth and dominion fade into the mass
Of the great sea of human right and wrong,
When once from our possession they must pass ;
But love, though misdirected, is among
The things which are immortal, and surpass
All that frail stuff which will be— or which was.
FRAGMENT: THOUGHTS COME AND GO IN
SOLITUDE
[Published by Mrs. Shelley, P. W., 1839, 1st ed.]
My thoughts arise and fade in solitude,
The verse that would invest them melts away
Like moonlight in the heaven of spreading day :
How beautiful they were, how firm they stood,
Flecking the starry sky like woven pearl !
Igniculus, <fe. — 2 unsteady B. ; uneasy 1SS9, 1st ed. 7. 8 then . . .
Sick B. ; wanting, 1839, 1st cd.

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  1. golden 1819; gold 1824, 1839.
  2. or 1824; nor 1839.
  3. or] a cj. Rossetti.
  4. its] their cj. Rossetti.
  5. flames cj. Rossetti; waves 1819, 1824, 1839.
  6. mountains 1819; mountain 1824, 1839.
  7. flood] flames cj. James Thomson ('B.V.').
  8. that 1819, 1824; who 1839.
  9. mountains 1819; mountain 1824, 1839.
  10. The rose] The red Rose B.
  11. pleasant] fragrant B.
  12. her omitted B.
  13. Far far away B.; Far away 1889.
  14. Speeds ... swinging B.; omitted 1839
  15. Angel which aye cancelled by Shelley for Fate which ever Fa.
  16. promise of a 1839, 2nd ed.; promises of 1839, 1st ed.
  17. lore] love Fa.
  18. and saddest] the saddest Fa.
  19. yet not fatherless! cancelled by Shelley for why not fatherless? Fa.
  20. 41-4 By ... built 'crossed by Shelley and marked dele by Mrs. Shelley' (Woodberry) Fa.
  21. arts and snares 1839, 1st ed.; snares and arts Harvard Coll. MS.; snares and nets Fa.; acts and snares 1839, 2nd ed.
  22. those] their Fa.
  23. on the beach omitted 1839, 1st ed.
  24. of the law 1839, 1st ed.; of law 1839, 2nd ed.
  25. prime transcript; time edd. 1839.
  26. fearless are edd. 1839; are fearless transcript.
  27. shalt transcript; wilt edd. 1839.
  28. 25-32 Fear ... eternity omitted, transcript. See Rosalind and Helen, Ll. 894-901.
  29. and transcript; omitted edd. 1839.
  30. us transcript, 1839, 1st ed.; thee 1839, 2nd ed.
  31. will in transcript, 1839. 2nd ed.; will sometime in 1839, lst ed.
  32. long transcript; omitted edd. 1839.
  33. those transcript, 1839, 1st ed.; their 1839, 2nd ed.
  34. calls edd. 1839; called 1824.