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Obscure clouds, moulded by the casual air ;
And of this stuff the car's creative ray
Wrapt all the busy phantoms that were there,
“ As the sun shapes the clouds ; thus on the
way Mask after mask fell from the countenance And form of all; and long before the day
“Was old, the joy which waked like heaven's glance The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died ; And some grew weary of the ghastly dance,
“And fell, as I have fallen, by the way-side ;Those soonest from whose forms most shadows past, And least of strength and beauty did abide.
Then, what is life? I cried.”_
dear friend, is a new book for you ;
I have already dedicated two
To other friends, one female and one male,
you are, is a thing that I must veil;
What can this be to those who praise or rail ?
I never was attached to that great sect
Whose doctrine is that each one should select
Out of the world a mistress or a friend,
And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend
To cold oblivion—though it is the code
Of modern morals, and the beaten road
Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread
Who travel to their home
the dead, By the broad highway of the world—and so With one sad friend, and many a jealous foe, The dreariest and the longest journey go.
Free love has this, different from gold and clay,
That to divide is not to take away.
* These fragments do not properly belong to the poems of 1822. They are gleanings from Shelley's manuscript books and papers; preserved not only because they are beautiful in themselves, but as affording indications of his feelings and virtues.
Like ocean, which the general north wind breaks
Into ten thousand waves, and each one makes
A mirror of the moon ; like some great glass,
Which did distort whatever form might pass,
Dashed into fragments by a playful child,
Which then reflects its eyes and forehead mild,
Giving for one, which it could ne'er express,
A thousand images of loveliness.
If I were one whom the loud world held wise,
I should disdain to quote authorities
In the support of this kind of love ;-
Why there is first the God in heaven above,
Who wrote a book called Nature, 'tis to be
Reviewed I hear in the next Quarterly ;
And Socrates, the Jesus Christ of Greece;
And Jesus Christ himself did never cease
To urge all living things to love each other,
And to forgive their mutual faults, and smother
The Devil of disunion in their souls.
It is a sweet thing friendship, a dear balm,
A happy and auspicious bird of calm,
Which rides o'er life's ever tumultuous Ocean;
A God that broods o'er chaos in commotion;
A flower which fresh as Lapland roses are,
Lifts its bold head into the world's pure air,
And blooms most radiantly when others die,
Health, hope, and youth, and brief prosperity;
And, with the light and odour of its bloom,
Shining within the dungeon and the tomb;
Whose coming is as light and music are
'Mid dissonance and gloom—a star
Which moves not ʼmid the moving heavens alone,
among dark frowns—a gentle tone
Among rude voices, a beloved light,
A solitude, a refuge, a delight.
If I had but a friend ! why I have three,
Even by my own confession; there may be
Some more, for what I know; for 'tis my mind
To call my friends all who are wise and kind,
And these, Heaven knows, at best are very few,
But none can ever be more dear than you.
Why should they be? my muse has lost her wings,
Or like a dying swan who soars and sings
I should describe you in heroic style,
But as it is—are you not void of guile?
A lovely soul, formed to be blessed and bless;
A well of sealed and secret happiness ;
A lute, which those whom love has taught to play
Make music on, to cheer the roughest day ?
And who feels discord now or sorrow?
Love is the universe to-day-
These are the slaves of dim to-morrow,
Darkening Life’s labyrinthine way.
Thy little footsteps on the sands
Of a remote and lonely shore ;
The twinkling of thine infant hands
Where now the worm will feed no more :
Thy mingled look of love and glee
When we returned to gaze on thee.
A GENTLE story of two lovers young,
Who met in innocence and died in sorrow,
And of one selfish heart, whose rancour clung
Like curses on them; are ye slow to borrow
The lore of truth from such a tale ?
Or in this world's deserted vale,
Do ye not see a star of gladness
Pierce the shadows of its sadness,
When ye are cold, that love is a light sent
From heaven, which none shall quench, to cheer the inno-
I am drunk with the honey wine
Of the moon-unfolded eglantine,
Which fairies catch in hyacinth buds
The bats, the dormice, and the moles
Sleep in the walls or under the sward
Of the desolate Castle yard ;
And when 'tis spilt on the summer earth
Or its fumes arise among the dew,
Their jocund dreams are full of mirth,
They gibber their joy in sleep; for few
Of the fairies bear those bowls so new !
Ye gentle visitations of calm thought
Moods like the memories of happier earth,
Which come arrayed in thoughts of little worth,
Like stars in clouds by the weak winds enwrought,
But that the clouds depart and stars remain,
While they remain, and ye, alas, depart !