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After many years And many changes, I returned. The name Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same. But Maddalo was travelling, far away, Among the mountains of Armenia: His dog was dead: his child had now become A woman, such as it has been my doom To meet with few; a wonder of this earth, Where there is little of transcendent worth,— Like one of Shakspeare's women. Kindly she, And with a manner beyond courtesy, Received her father's friend; and, when I asked Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked, And told, as she had heard, the mournful tale :— That the poor sufferer's health began to fail Two years from my departure; but that then The lady who had left him came again. "Her mien had been imperious, but she now Looked meek; perhaps remorse had brought her low. Her coming made him better; and they stayed Together at my father's—(for I played, As I remember, with the lady's shawl; I might be six years old).—But, after all, She left him."

"Why, her heart must have been tough! How did it end?"

"And was not this enough? They met, they parted."

"Child, is there no more?"

"Something within that interval which Ixire

The stamp of why they parted, how they met.—

Yet, if thine aged eyes disdain to wet

Those wrinkled cheeks with youth's remembered tears,

Ask me no more; but let the silent years

Be closed and cered over their memory,—

As yon mute marble where their corpses lie."

I urged and questioned still. She told me how
All happened—But the cold world shall not know.


From the Baths of Lucca, in 1818, Shelley visited Venice; and, circumstances rendering it eligible that we should remain a few weeks in the neighbourhood of that city, he accepted the offer of Lord Byron, who lent him the use of a villa he rented near Estc ; and he sent for his family from Lucca to join him.

I Capuccini was a villa built on the site of a Capuchin convent, demolished when the French suppressed religious houses; it was situated on the very overhanging brow of a low hill at the foot of a range of higher ones. The house was cheerful and pleasant; a vinc-trelliscd walk {a.pcrgola, as it is called in Italian) led from the hall door to a summer-house at the end of the garden, which Shelley made his study, and in which he began the Prometheus; and here also, as he mentions in a letter, he wrote Julian and Maddaio. A slight ravine, with a road in its depth, divided the garden from the hill, on which stood the ruins of the ancient castle of Estc, whose dark massive wall gave forth an echo, and from whose ruined crevices owls and bats flitted forth at night, as the crescent moon sunk behind the black and heavy battlements. We looked from the garden over the wide plain of Lombardy, bounded to the west by the far Apennines, while to the east the horizon was lost in misty distance. After the picturesque but limited view of mountain, ravine, and chesnut wood, at the Baths of Lucca, there was something infinitely gratifying to the eye in the wide range of prospect commanded by our new abode.

Our first misfortune, of the kind from which we soon suffered even more severely, happened here. Our little girl, an infant in whose small features I fancied that I traced great resemblance to her father, showed symptoms of suffering from the heat of the climate. Teething increased her illness and danger. We were at Estc, and, »hen we became alarmed, hastened to Venice for the best advice. When we arrived at Fusina, we found that we had forgotten our passport,.and the soldiers on duty attempted to prevent our crossing the laguna; but they could not resist Shelley's impetuosity at such a moment. We had scarcely arrived at Venice before life fled from the little sufferer, and we returned to Este to weep her loss.

After a few weeks spent in this retreat, which were interspersed by visits to Venice, we proceeded southward.


Audisne hscc, Amphiarae, sub terrain abdite?


The Greek tragic writers, in selecting as their subject any portion of their nations history or mythology, employed in their treatment of it a certain arbitrary discretion. They by no means conceived themselves bound to adhere to the common interpretation, or to imitate in story, as in title, their rivals and predecessors. Such a system would have amounted to a resignation of those claims to preference over their competitors which incited the composition. The Agamemnonian story was exhibited on the Athenian theatre with as many variations as dramas.

. I have presumed to employ a similar license. The Prometheus Unbound of ^schylus supposed the reconciliation of Jupiter w,ith his victim as the price of the disclosure of the danger threatened to his empire by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis, Thetis, according to this view of the subject, was given in VOL. I. U

marriage to Peleus; and Prometheus, by the permission of Jupiter, delivered froa his captivity by Hercules. Had I framed my story on this model, I should hate done no more than have attempted to restore the lost drama of ^schylus; an ambition which, if my preference to this mode of treating the subject had incited me to cherish, the recollection of the high comparison such an attempt would challenge might well abate. But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance oi Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language, and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary. The enly imaginary being resembling in any degree Prometheus is Satan: and Prometheus is, in my judgment, a more poetical character than Satan, because, in addition to courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenue, and a desire for personal aggrandizement, which, in the Hero of Paradise Lxi, interfere with the interest. The character of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry, which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction with a religious feeling, it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature, impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends.

This poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowery glades, and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, which are extending in ever-winding labyrinths upon its immense platforms a\nd diny arches suspended in the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect of the vigorous awakening of Spring in that divinest cb'mate, and the new life with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of this drama.

The imagery which I have. . em played will be found, in many instances, to-haw been drawn from the operations of the human mind, or from those cxternaljicjiOQiiy which thej.axe^^prcjcsedj.^This is unusual in modern poetry, although Dante and Shakspeare are full of instances of the same kind: Dante indeed more than any other poet, and with greater success. But the Greek poets, as writers to whom no resource of awakening the sympathy of their contemporaries was unknown, were ifl the habitual use of this power ; and it is the study of their works {since a highs merit would probably be denied me) to which I am willing that my readers should impute this singularity.

One word is due in candour to the degree in which the study of contemporary writings may have tinged my composition; for such has been a topic of censure with regard to poems far more popular, and indeed more deservedly popular, than mineIt is impossible that any one who inhabits the same age with such writers as those who stand in the foremost ranks of our own can conscientiously assure himself that his language and tone of thought may not have been modified by the study of the productions of those extraordinary intellects. It is true that, not the spirit of their genius, but the forms in which it has manifested itself are due less to the peculiarities of their own minds than to the peculiarity of the moral and intellectual condition Ql the minds among which they have been produced. Thus a number of writers pes*'s the form, whilst they want the spirit, of those whom, it is alleged, they imitate: because the former is the endowment of the age in which they live, and the latter must be the uncommunicated lightning of their own mind.

The peculiar style of intense and comprehensive imagery which distinguishes the modern literature of England has not been, as a general power, the product of the imitation of any particular writer. The mass of capabilities remains at every period materially the same; the circumstances which awak.en it to action perpetually change If England were divided into forty republies, each equal in population and extent to Athens, there is no reason to suppose but that, under institutions not more perfect than those of Athens, each would produce philosophers and poets equal to those who (if we except Shakspeare) have never been surpassed. We owe the great writers of the golden age of our literature to that fervid awakening of the public mind which shook to dust the oldest and most oppressive form of the Christian religion. We owe Milton to the progress and development of the same spirit: the sacred Milton was, let it ever be remembered, a republican, and a bold enquirer into morals and religion. The great writers of our own age are, we have reason to suppose, the companions and forerunners of some unimagined change in our social condition, or the opinions which cement it. The cloud of mind is discharging its collected lightning, and the equilibrium between institutions and opinions is now restoring, or U about to be restored.

As to imitation, poetry is a mimetic art. It creates, but it creates by combination and representation. Poetical abstractions are beautiful and new, not because the portions of which they arc composed had no previous existence in the mind of man or in nature, but because the whole produced by their combination has some intelligible and beautiful analogy with those sources of emotion and thought, and with the con temporary condition of them: one great poet is a masterpiece of nature which another not only ought to study, but must study. He might as wisely and as easily determine that his mind should no longer be the mirror of all that is lovely in the visible universe as exclude from his contemplation the beautiful which exists in the writings of a great contemporary. The pretence of doing it would be a presumption in any but the greatest; the effect, even in him, would be strained, unnatural, and ineffectual. A poet is the combined product of such internal powers as modify the nature of others, and of such external influences as excite and sustain these powers: he is not one, but both. Every man's mind is, in this respect, modified by all the objects of nature and art; by every word and every suggestion which he ever admitted to act upon his consciousness; it is the mirror upon which all forms arc reflected, and in which they compose one form. Poets—not otherwise than philosophers, painters, sculptors, and musicians—are, in one sense, the creators, and, in another, the creations, of their age. From this subjection the loftiest do not escape. There is a similarity between Homer and Hesiod, between /Eschylus and Euripides, between Virgil and Horace, between Dante and Petrarch, between Shakspeare and '. Fletcher, between Dryden and Pope; each has a generic resemblance under which the specific distinctions are arranged. If this similarity be the result of imitation, I j am willing to confess that I have imitated.

Let this opportunity be conceded to me of acknowledging that I hayc_wh.at-a Scotch phUosophfr rh^"^-*''*''—^^p-*"""» "° ri"'-.-" for reforming the world i^ what passion incited him to write and publish his book he omits to explain. Forjpx. pan. 1 haH rather fa 'l?m.p»H with Phi* and fcnrii liirnn than gn tn ^CA\tin ^,h _' yPa)ey. and Malthus. But it is a mistake to suppose that I dedicate my poetical com■positions solely to the direct enforcement of reform, or that I consider them in any 'degree as containing a reasoned system on the theory of human life. Didactic poetry is my abhorrence; nothing can be equally well expressed in prose that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse. My purpose has hitherto been simply to familiarize the highly refined imagination of the more select classes of poetical readers with beautiful idealisms of moral excellence; aware that, until the mind can love, and admire, and trust, and hope, and endure, reasoned principles of moral conduct are seeds cast upon the highway of life, which the unconscious passenger tramples into dust although they would bear the harvest of his happiness. Should I live to accomplish what I propose—that is, produce a systematical history of what appear to me to be the genuine elements of human society—let not the advocates_o£ injustice and superstition flatter themselves that I should take iEschylus rather than Plato as my model.

The having spoken of myself with unaffected freedom will need little apology with the candid ; and let the uncandid consider that they injure me less than their own hearts and minds by misrepresentation. Whatever talents a person may possess Vi amuse and instruct others, be they ever so inconsiderable, he is yet bound to exert them. If his attempt be ineffectual, let the punishment of an unaccomplished purpose have been sufficient; let none trouble themselves to heap the dust of oblivion upon his efforts; the. pile they raise will betray his grave, which might otherwise have been unknown.





The Earth.





Asia, "}

Panthea, }. Oceanides.

Ione, )

The Phantasm Of Jufiter.

The Stirit of The Earth.

The Sfirit Of The Moon.

Sfirits Of The Hours.

Sfirits. Echoes. Fauns.



SCENE—A Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian Caueasus. PROMETHECS is discovered bound to the Precipice. Panthea and Ione are seated at his feet. Time, Night. During the Scene, Morning slcnrly breaks.

Prometheus. Monarch of Gods and Daemons, 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, 0 Mighty God!
Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here

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