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Oh that I once again were mad !-
No memory more
Of misty shapes did seem to sit
And the clear north wind was driving it. Then I heard strange tongues, and saw strange flowers; And the stars, methought, grew unlike ours; And the azure sky and the stormless sea
Made me believe that I had died, And waked in a world which was to me
Drear hell, though heaven to all beside. Then a dead sleep fell on my mind ;
Whilst animal life many long years
Had rescued from a chasm of tears.
Had tended me in my distress, -
Brought in that hour my lovely boy.
That Lionel great wealth had left
By will to me—and that, of all,
The ready lies of law berest
My child and me—might well befall.
I mixed with slaves, to vindicate
Let me not say scorn is my fate,
She ceased. “Lo where red morning through the wood
Is burning o'er the dew !” said Rosalind.
Of the blue lake, beneath the leaves, now wind
With equal steps and fingers intertwined.
Is shadowed with steep rocks, and cypresses
Of blooming myrtle and faint lemon-flowers,
The liquid marble of the windless lake, And where the aged forest's limbs look hoar,
Under the leaves which their green garments make-
Like one which tyrants spare on our own land
And even within 'twas scarce like Italy.
As in an English home, dim memory
Whose mind is where his body cannot be. Till Helen led her where her child yet slept,
And said : “Observe—that brow was Lionel's,
One arm in sleep, pillowing his head with it.
Of liquid love. Let us not wake him yet.”
A shower of burning tears, which fell upon
Thenceforth; changed in all else, yet friends again, Such as they were when o'er the mountain heather
They wandered in their youth, through sun and rain. And after many years (for human things
Change even like the ocean and the wind)
Her daughter was restored to Rosalind;
The grace and gentleness from whence they came. And Helen's boy grew with her, and they fed
From the same flowers of thought, until each mind
Like springs which mingle in one flood became; And in their union soon their parents saw
The shadow of the peace denied to them.
Is cankered in its heart, the tree must fall-
Up the cold mountain she was wont to call
The charioteers of Arctos wheeled round
Its glittering point, as seen from Helen's home;
Whose sad inhabitants each year would come,
And hang long locks of hair, and garlands bound
Helen, whose spirit was of softer mould,
Whose sufferings too were less, Death slowlier led
And know that, if love die not in the dead
NOTE ON ROSALIND AND HELEN, BY MRS. SHELLEY.
Rosalind and Helen was begun at Marlow, and thrown aside-till I found it; and, at my request, it was completed. Shelley had no care for any of his poems that did not emanate from the depths of his mind, and develop some high or abstruse truth. When he does touch on human life and the human heart, no pictures can be more faithful, more delicate, more subtle, or more pathetic. He never mentioned love but he shed a grace borrowed from his own nature, that scarcely any other poet has bestowed, on that passion. When he spoke of it as the law of life, which inasmuch as we rebel against we err and injure ourselves and others, he promulgated that which he considered an irrefragable truth. In his eyes it was the essence of our being, and all woe and pain arose from the war made against it by selfishness, or insensibility, or mistake. By reverting in his mind to this first principle, he discovered the source of many emotions, and could disclose the secret of all hearts; and his delineations of passion and emotion touch the finest chords of our nature,
Rosalind and Helen was finished during the summer of 1818, while we were at the Baths of Lucca.
JULIAN AND MADDALO.
Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of ancient family and of great fortune, who, without mixing much in the society of his countrymen, resides chiefly at his magnificent palace in that city. He is a person of the most consummate genius, and capable, if he would direct his energies to such an end, of becoming the redeemer of his degraded country. But it is his weakness to be proud: he derives, from a comparison of his own extraordinary mind with the dwarfish intellects that surround him, an intense apprehension of the nothingness of human life. His passions and his powers are incomparably greater than those of other men; and, instead of the latter having been employed in curbing the former, they have mutually lent each other strength. His ambition preys upon itself, for want of objects which it can consider worthy of exertion. I say that Maddalo is proud, because I can find no other word to express the concentred and impatient feelings which consume him; but it is on his own hopes and affections only that he seems to trample, for in social life no human being can be more gentle, patient, and unassuming, than Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank, and witty. His more serious conversation is a sort of intoxication; men are held by it as by a spell. He has travelled much, and there is an inexpressible charm in his relation of his adventures in different countries.
Julian is an Englishman of good family ; passionately attached to those philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain moral superstitions, human society may yet be susceptible. Without concealing the evil in the world, he is for ever speculating how good may be made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing out his taunts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is conjectured by his friends to possess some good qualities. How far this is possible the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious.
Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems, by his own account, to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, told at length, might be like many other stories of the same kind : the unconnected exclamations of his agony will perhaps be found a sufficient comment for the text of every heart.
The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme,
I RODE one evening with Count Maddalo
Into our hearts aerial merriment.