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DIRGE FOR THE YEAR.
ORPHAN hours, the year is dead,
Come and sigh, come and weep!
For the year is but asleep:
As an earthquake rocks a corse
In its coffin in the clay,
Rocks the dead-cold year to-day;
mother in her shroud.
As the wild air stirs and
Rocks the year :-be calm and mild,
January grey is here,
Like a sexton by her grave;
March with grief doth howl and rave,
They were two cousins, almost like two twins,
ONE word is too often profaned
For me to profane it,
For thee to disdain it.
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
And the Heavens reject not:
Of the night for the morrow,
From the sphere of our sorrow?
NOTE ON THE POEMS OF 1821.
BY THE EDITOR.
My task becomes inexpressibly painful as the year draws near that which sealed our earthly fate ; and each poem
and each event it records, has a real or mysterious connexion with the fatal catastrophe. I feel that I am incapable of putting on paper the history of those times. The heart of the man, abhorred of the poet,
Who could peep and botanize upon his mother's grave,
does not appear to me less inexplicably framed than that of one who can dissect and probe past woes, and repeat to the public ear the groans drawn from them in the throes of
The year 1821 was spent in Pisa, or at the baths of San Giuliano. We were not, as our wont had been, alonefriends had gathered round us. Nearly all are dead ; and when memory recurs to the past, she wanders
tombs : the genius with all his blighting errors and mighty powers ; the companion of Shelley's ocean-wanderings, and the sharer of his fate, than whom no man ever existed more gentle, generous, and fearless ; and others, who found in Shelley's society, and in his great knowledge and warm sympathy,
delight, instruction and solace, have joined him beyond the grave. A few survive who have felt life a desert since he left it. What misfortune can equal death? Change can convert every other into a blessing, or heal its sting—death alone has no cure ; it shakes the foundations of the earth on which we tread, it destroys its beauty, it casts down our shelter, it exposes us bare to desolation ; when those we love have passed into eternity, “life is the desert and the solitude,” in which we are forced to linger—but never find comfort more.
There is much in the Adonais which seems now more applicable to Shelley himself, than to the young and gifted poet whom he mourned. The poetic view he takes of death, and the lofty scorn he displays towards his calumniators, are as a prophecy on his own destiny, when received among immortal names, and the poisonous breath of critics has vanished into emptiness before the fame he inherits.
Shelley's favourite taste was boating ; when living near the Thames, or by the lake of Geneva, much of his life was spent on the water. On the shore of every lake, or stream, or sea, near which he dwelt, he had a boat moored. He had latterly enjoyed this pleasure again. There are no pleasureboats on the Arno, and the shallowness of its waters except in winter time, when the stream is too turbid and impetuous for boating, rendered it difficult to get any skiff light enough to float. Shelley, however, overcame the difficulty ; he, together with a friend, contrived a boat such as the huntsmen carry about with them in the Maremma, to cross the sluggish but deep streams that intersect the forests, a boat of laths and pitched canvas ; it held three persons, and he was often seen on the Arno in it, to the horror of the Italians, who