Percy Blysshe Shelley
1792-1822

Along with Keats, Byron, Coleridge and
Wordsworth
Percy Blysshe Shelley is considered one of
the great English romantic poets.

Shelley showed signs of mental illness throughout his life and in his work.

Percy Blysshe Shelley died in 1822
at the age of 29.

FIRST SPIRIT
   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! 

SECOND SPIRIT 

     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. 

FIRST SPIRIT 

   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! 

SECOND SPIRIT 

   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. 

 


           The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
      The waves are dancing fast and bright,
         Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
         The purple noon's transparent might,
           The breath of the moist earth is light,
         Around its unexpanded buds;
           Like many a voice of one delight,
         The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
     The City's voice itself, is soft like Solitude's.

         I see the Deep's untrampled floor
         With green and purple seaweeds strown;
       I see the waves upon the shore,
       Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown:
         I sit upon the sands alone,--
       The lightning of the noontide ocean
         Is flashing round me, and a tone
       Arises from its measured motion,
   How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.

         Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
         Nor peace within nor calm around,
       Nor that content surpassing wealth
       The sage in meditation found,
         And walked with inward glory crowned--
       Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
         Others I see whom these surround--
               Smiling they live, and call life pleasure; 
To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.

         Yet now despair itself is mild,
         Even as the winds and waters are;
       I could lie down like a tired child,
       And weep away the life of care
         Which I have borne and yet must bear,
       Till death like sleep might steal on me,
         And I might feel in the warm air
       My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
   Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.

         Some might lament that I were cold,
         As I, when this sweet day is gone,
       Which my lost heart, too soon grown old,
       Insults with this untimely moan;
         They might lament--for I am one
       Whom men love not,--and yet regret, 
Unlike this day, which, when the sun
       Shall on its stainless glory set,
   Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet

 



 

Prometheus. 

         Monarch of Gods and Dæmons, and all Spirits
     But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds
     Which Thou and I alone of living things
     Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth
     Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou
     Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,
     And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,
     With fear and self-contempt and barren hope.
     Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate,
   Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn,
   O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge.
   Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,
   And moments aye divided by keen pangs
   Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
   Scorn and despair,--these are mine empire:--
   More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
   From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!
   Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
   Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
   Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
   Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
   Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
   Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!

     No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
   I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
   I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
   Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
   Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
   Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
   Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!

     The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
   Of their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chains
   Eat with their burning cold into my bones.
   Heaven's wingèd hound, polluting from thy lips
   His beak in poison not his own, tears up
   My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by,
   The ghastly people of the realm of dream,
   Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are charged
   To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds
   When the rocks split and close again behind:
   While from their loud abysses howling throng
   The genii of the storm, urging the rage
   Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail.
   And yet to me welcome is day and night,
   Whether one breaks the hoar frost of the morn,
   Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbs
   The leaden-coloured east; for then they lead
   The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom
   --As some dark Priest hales the reluctant victim--
   Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the blood
   From these pale feet, which then might trample thee
   If they disdained not such a prostrate slave.
   Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What ruin
   Will hunt thee undefended through wide Heaven!
   How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with terror,
   Gape like a hell within! I speak in grief,
   Not exultation, for I hate no more,
   As then ere misery made me wise. The curse
   Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye Mountains,
   Whose many-voicèd Echoes, through the mist
   Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell!
   Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost,
   Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept
   Shuddering through India! Thou serenest Air,
   Through which the Sun walks burning without beams!
   And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poisèd wings
   Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed abyss,
   As thunder, louder than your own, made rock
   The orbèd world! If then my words had power,
   Though I am changed so that aught evil wish
   Is dead within; although no memory be
   Of what is hate, let them not lose it now!
   What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak. 

 



 
 

 
 

 

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