Obrazy na stronie

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Thro' manya listening chamber, cave, and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth
I was not heard, I saw them not ; [is fed :
When musing deeply on the lot
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
All vital things that wake to bring
News of birds and blossoming,
Sudden, thy shadow fell on me ;
I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstacy 1

I vowed that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine: have I not kept the vow?
With beating heart and streaming eyes, even
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours [now
Each from his voiceless grave: they have in visioned
Of studious zeal or love's delight [bowers
Outwatched with me the envious night:
They know that never joy illumed my brow,
Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free
This world from its dark slavery,
That thou, O awful LovELINEss,
Wouldst give whate'er these words cannot express.

The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past: there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which thro’ the summer is not heard nor seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been
Thus let thy power, which like the truth
Of nature on my passive youth
Descended, to my onward life supply
Its calm, to one who worships thee,
And every form containing thee,
Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.


LINES WRITTEN IN THE WALE OF CHAMOUNI. --I. THE everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, Now dark—now glittering—now reflecting gloom— Now lending splendour, where from secret springs The source of human thought its tribute brings Of waters, with a sound but half its own, Such as a feeble brook will oft assume In the wild woods, among the mountains lone, Where waterfalls around it leap for ever, Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.

II. Thus thou, Ravine of Arve—dark, deep Ravine— Thou many-coloured, many-voiced vale, Over whose pines and crags and caverns sail Fast clouds, shadows, and sunbeams; awful scene, Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne, Bursting through these darkmountains like the flame Of lightning through the tempest ;-thou dost lie, The giant brood of pines around thee clinging, Children of elder time, in whose devotion,

The chainless winds still come and ever came
To drink their odours, and their mighty swinging
To hear—an old and solemn harmony :
Thine earthly rainbows stretched across the sweep
Of the ethereal waterfall, whose veil
Robes some unsculptured image ; the strange sleep
Which, when the voices of the desert fail,
Wraps all in its own deep eternity ;-
Thy caverns echoing to the Arve's commotion
A loud, lone sound, no other sound can tame ;
Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,
Thou art the path of that unresting sound—
Dizzy Ravine ! and when I gaze on thee,
I seem as in a trance sublime and strange
To muse on my own separate fantasy,
My own, my human mind, which passively
Now renders and receives fast influencings,
Holding an unremitting interchange
With the clear universe of things around ;
One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,
In the still cave of the witch Poesy,
Seeking among the shadows that pass by
Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee,
Some phantom, some faint image ; till the breast
From which they fled recalls them, thou art there !

iii. Some say that gleams of a remoter world Visit the soul in sleep, that death is slumber, And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber Of those who wake and live. I look on high ; Has some unknown omnipotence unfurled The veil of life and death or do I lie In dream, and does the mightier world of sleep Speed far around and inaccessibly Its circles For the very spirit fails, Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep That vanishes among the viewless gales | Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky, Mount Blanc appears, still, snowy, and serene— Its subject mountains their unearthly forms

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Pile around it, ice and rock ; broad vales between

Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps ;
A desert peopled by the storms alone,
Save when the eagle brings some hunter's bone,
And the wolf tracks her there—how hideously
Its shapes are heaped around! rude, bare, and high,
Ghastly, and scarred, and riven.—Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-demon taught her young
Ruin Were these their toys 2 or did a sea
Of fire envelop once this silent snow :
None can reply—all seems eternal now.
The wilderness has a mysterious tongue
Which teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild,
So solemn, so serene, that man may be
But for such faith with nature reconciled ;
Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal
Large codes of fraud and woe ; not understood,
By all, but which the wise, and great, and good,
Interpret or make felt, or deeply feel.

Iv. The fields, the lakes, the forests, and the streams, Ocean, and all the living things that dwell Within the daedal earth ; lightning, and rain, Earthquake, and fiery flood, and hurricane,

The torpor of the year when feeble dreams
Visit the hidden buds, or dreamless sleep
Holds every future leaf and flower, the bound
With which from that detested trance they leap ;
The works and ways of man, their death and birth,
And that of him, and all that his may be ;
All things that move and breathe with toiland sound
Are born and die, revolve, subside, and swell.
Power dwells apart in its tranquillity,
Remote, serene, and inaccessible:
And this, the naked countenance of earth,
On which I gaze, even these primaeval mountains,
Teach the adverting mind. The glaciers creep,
Like snakes that watch their prey,from their far foun-
Slowly rolling on ; there, many a precipice [tains,
Frost and the Sun in scorn of mortal power
Have piled—dome, pyramid, and pinnacle,
A city of death distinct with many a tower
And wall impregnable of beaming ice.
Yet not a city, but a flood of ruin
Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky
Rolls its perpetual stream ; vast pines are strewing
Its destined path, or in the mangled soil
Branchless and shattered stand ; the rocks, drawn
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown [down
The limits of the dead and living world,
Never to be reclaimed. The dwelling-place
Of insects, beasts, and birds, becomes its spoil;
Their food and their retreat for ever gone,
So much of life and joy is lost. The race

SHELLEY wrote little during this year. The Poem entitled the “Sunset” was written in the spring of the year, while still residing at Bishopsgate. He spent the summer on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. “The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” was conceived during his voyage round the lake with Lord Byron. He occupied himself during this voyage, by reading the Nouvelle Héloise for the first time. The reading it on the very spot where the scenes are laid, added to the interest; and he was at once surprised and charmed by the passionate eloquence and earnest enthralling

interest that pervades this work. There was something in the character of Saint-Preux, in his abnegation of self, and in the worship he paid to Love, that coincided with Shelley's own disposition; and, though differing in many of the views, and shocked by others, yet the effect of the whole was fascinating and delightful. “Mont Blanc” was inspired by a view of that mountain and its surrounding peaks and valleys, as he lingered on the Bridge of Arve on his way through the Valley of Chamouni. Shelley makes the following mention of this poem in his publication of the History of Six Weeks' Tour, and Letters from Switzerland :–


Of man flies far in dread ; his work and dwelling
Vanish, like smoke before the tempest's stream,
And their place is not known. Below, vast caves
Shine in the rushing torrent's restless gleam,
Which from those secret chasms in tumult welling
Meet in the Vale, and one majestic River,
The breath and blood of distant lands, for ever
Rolls its loud waters to the ocean waves,
Breathes its swift vapours to the circling air.

v. MontBlancyet gleamson high:—the power is there, The still and solemn power of many sights And many sounds, and much of life and death. In the calm darkness of the moonless nights, In the lone glare of day, the snows descend Upon that Mountain ; none beholds them there, Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun, [tend Or the star-beams dart through them:—Winds conSilently there, and heap the snow, with breath Rapid and strong, but silently Its home The voiceless lightning in these solitudes Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods Over the snow. The secret strength of things, Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee I And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea, If to the human mind's imaginings Silence and solitude were vacancy

SwitzERLAND, June 23, 1816.

“The poem entitled ‘Mont Blanc, is written by the author of the two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. It was composed under the immediate impression of the deep and powerful feelings excited by the objects which it attempts to describe; and as an undisciplined overflowing of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt to imitate the untameable wildness and inaccessible solemnity from which those feelings sprang.”

This was an eventful year, and less time was given to study than usual. In the list of his reading I find, in Greek: Theocritus, the Prometheus of AEschylus, several of Plutarch's Lives and the works of Lucian. In Latin: Lucretius, Pliny's Letters, the Annals and Germany of Tacitus. In French : the History of the French Revolution, by Lacretelle. He read for the first time, this year, Montaigne's Essays, and regarded them ever after as one of the most delightful and instructive books in the world. The list is scanty in English works—Locke's Essay, Political Justice, and Coleridge's Lay Sermon, form nearly the whole. It was his frequent habit to read aloud to me in the evening; in this way we read, this year, the New Testament, Paradise Lost, Spenser's Fairy Queen, and Don Quixote.

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He knew not of the grief within that burned,
But asked forbearance with a mournful look ;
Or spoke in words from which none ever learned

The cause of his disquietude; or shook
With spasms of silent passion; or turned pale :
So that his friends soon rarely undertook

To stir his secret pain without avail;-
For all who knew and loved him then perceived
That there was drawn an adamantine veil

Between his heart and mind,-both unrelieved Wrought in his brain and bosom separate strife. Some said that he was mad, others believed

That memories of an antenatal life
Made this, where now he dwelt, a penal hell:
And others said that such mysterious grief

From God's displeasure, like a darkness, fell On souls like his, which owned no higher law Than love ; love calm, steadfast, invincible

By mortal fear or supernatural awe;
And others, “’Tis the shadow of a dream
Which the veiled eye of memory never saw

“Butthrough the soul's abyss, like some dark stream Through shattered mines and caverns underground Rolls, shaking its foundations; and no beam

“Of joy may rise, but it is quenched and drowned
In the dim whirlpools of this dream obscure.
Soon its exhausted waters will have found

“A lair of rest beneath thy spirit pure, O Athanase !—in one so good and great, Evil or tumult cannot long endure.”

So spake they : idly of another's state Babbling vain words and fond philosophy: This was their consolation ; such debate

Men held with one another; nor did he, Like one who labours with a human woe, Decline this talk; as if its theme might be

Another, not himself, he to and fro

Questioned and canvassed it with subtlest wit;

And none but those who loved him best could know

That which he knew not, how it galled and bit His weary mind, this converse vain and cold; For like an eyeless night-mare grief did sit

Upon his being ; a snake which fold by sold
Pressed out the life of life, a clinging fiend
Which clenched him if he stirred with deadlier
hold –
And so his grief remained—let it remain—untold *.

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* The Author was pursuing a fuller development of the

ideal character of Athanase, when it struck him that in s an attempt at extreme refinement and analysis, his conceptions might be betrayed into the assuming a morbid character. The reader will judge whether he is a loser or gainer by this difference.—Author's Note.

* The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal modelled on Alastor. In the first sketch of the Poem he named it Pandemos and Urania. Athanase seeks through the world the One whom he may love. He meets, in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady, who appears to him to embody his ideal of love and beauty. But she proves to be Pandemos, or the earthly and unworthy Venus, who, after disappointing his cherished dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase, crushed by sorrow, pines and dies. “ On his death-bed the lady, who can really reply to his soul, comes and kisses his lips."—The Death-bed of Athanase. The poet describes her—

Her hair was brown, her sphered eyes were brown,
And in their dark and liquid moisture swain,
Like the dim orb of the eclipsed moon ;

Yet when the spirit flashed beneath, there came
The light from them, as when tears of delight
Double the western planet's serene frame.

This slender note is all we have to aid our imagination in
shaping out the form of the poem, such as its author imaged.

—M. S.


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