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ing them, by no means to the advantage of his soming trees, which are extended in ever-winding poetry. At the age of eighteen he produced a labyrinths upon its immense platforms and dizzy wild atheistical poem, Queen Mab, written in the arches suspended in the air. The bright blue sky rhythm of Southey's Thalaba, and abounding in of Rome, and the effect of the vigorous awakening passages of great power and melody. Shortly after of spring in that divinest climate, and the new life this he married a young woman of humble station in life, which still further exasperated his parents and relatives, without adding to his own happiness. He seems, however, to have been free from pecuniary difficulties, and after a tour on the continent, during which he visited some of the more magnificent scenes of Switzerland, he settled in the neighbourhood of Windsor Forest, and in this woodland retreat composed his poem, Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude, designed, as he states, to represent a youth of uncorrupted feelings and adventurous genius, led forth by an imagination inflamed and purified through familiarity with all that is excellent and majestic, to the contemplation of the universe. The mind of his hero, however, becomes awakened, and thirsts for intercourse with an intelligence similar to itself. He seeks in vain for a prototype of his conception ; and, blasted by his disappointment, he descends to an untimely grave. In this picture Shelley undoubtedly drew from his own experience, and in none of his subsequent works has he excelled the descriptive passages in · Alastor.' The copious picturesqueness of his language, and the boldness of his imagination, are here strikingly exemplified. The poet's fortunes did not improve with his genius.
sto His domestic unhappiness induced him to separate from his wife, by whom he had two children, and the unfortunate woman afterwards destroyed her, self. Shelley was on this account subjected to much
Cool obloquy and misrepresentation, and the cup of his misery was filled by a chancery decree, depriving
Shelley's House. him of the guardianship of his children, on the with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxica. ground of his immorality and atheism. He felt this tion, were the inspiration of this drama.' No change deeply, and in a poetical fragment on the subject, of scene, however, could permanently affect the he invokes a curse on the administrator of the law, nature of Shelley's speculations, and his "Prometheus' by a parent's outraged love,' and in one exquisite is as mystical and metaphysical, and as daringly verse
sceptical, as any of his previous works. The cardiBy all the happy see in children's growth,
nal point of his system is described by Mrs Shelley That undeveloped flower of budding years,
as a belief that man could be so perfectionised as to Sweetness and sadness interwoven both,
be able to expel evil from his own nature, and from Source of the sweetest hopes and saddest fears !
the greater part of the creation; and the subject he
loved best to dwell on, was the image of one warring Shelley contracted a second marriage with the with the evil principle, oppressed not only by it, but daughter of Mr Godwin, author of Caleb Williams, by all, even the good, who were deluded into conand established himself at Marlow, in Buckingham- sidering evil a necessary portion of humanity. His shire. Here he composed the 'Revolt of Islam,' a next work was The Cenci, a tragedy, published in poem more energetic than ‘Alastor, yet containing 1819, and dedicated to Mr Leigh Xunt. Those the same allegorical features and peculiarities of writings,' he remarks in the dedication, which I thought and style, and rendered more tedious by have hitherto published, have been little else than the want of human interest. It is honourable to visions which impersonate my own apprehensions Shelley that, during his residence at Marlow, he of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in was indefatigable in his attentions to the poor ; his them the literary defects incidental to youth and widow relates that, in the winter, while bringing impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, out his poem, he had a severe attack of ophthalmia, or may be. The drama which I now present to you caught while visiting the poor cottages. This cer- is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous attitainly stamps with reality his pleadings for the tude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with human race, though the nature of his philosophy such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which and opinions would have deprived them of the highest has been.' The painting is dark and gloomy; but; of earthly consolations. The poet now prepared to in spite of a revolting plot, and the insane unnatural go abroad. A strong sense of injury, and a burning character of the Cenci, Shelley's tragedy is one of desire to redress what he termed the wrongs of the best of modern times. As an effort of intellecsociety, rendered him miserable in England, and he tual strength, and an embodiment of human passion, hoped also that his health would be improved by a it may challenge a comparison with any dramatic milder climate. Accordingly, on the 12th of March work since Otway; and it is incomparably the best 1818, he quitted this country, never to return. He of the poet's productions. His remaining works are went direct to Italy, and whilst residing at Rome, Hellas ; The Witch of Atlas; Adonais ; Rosalind and composed his classic drama of Prometheus Unbound. Helen; and a variety of shorter productions, with * This poem,' he says, “ was chiefly written upon the scenes translated from Calderon and the Faust of mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among Goethe. In Italy Shelley renewed his acquaintance the flowery glades and thickets of odoriferous blos- I with Lord Byron, who thought his philosophy too
spiritual and romantic.' He was temperate in his the past. Poetry thus makes immortal all that is habits, gentle, affectionate, and generous; so that best and most beautiful in the world ; it arrests the even those who most deeply deplored or detested vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations his opinions, were charmed with the intellectual of life, and veiling them, or in language or in form, purity and benevolence of his life. His favourite sends them forth among mankind, bearing sweet amusement was boating and sailing; and whilst news of kindred joy to those with whom their sisters returning one day, the 8th of July 1822, from Leg- abide-abide, because there is no portal of expreshorn (whither he had gone to welcome Leigh Hunt sion from the caverns of the spirit which they into Italy), the boat in which he sailed, accompanied habit into the universe of things. Poetry redeems by Mr Williams, formerly of the 8th dragoons, and from decay the visitations of the divinity in man.' a single seaman, went down in the bay of Spezia, The remote abstract character of Shelley's poetry, and all perished. A volume of Keats's poetry was and its general want of anything real or tangible, found open in Shelley's coat pocket when his body by which the sympathies of the heart are awakened, was washed ashore. The remains of the poet were must always prevent its becoming popular. His reduced to ashes by fire, and being taken to Rome, mystic idealism renders him obscure, and his imagery were deposited in the Protestant burial ground, near is sometimes accumulated, till both precision and those of a child he had lost in that city. A complete effect are lost, and the poet becomes harsh and inedition of Shelley's Poetical Works, with notes by volved in expression. He sought to reason high in his widow, has been published in four volumes; and verse--not like Dryden, Pope, or Johnson, but in the same accomplished lady has given to the world cold and glittering metaphysics, where the idealism two volumes of his prose Essays, Letters from of Berkeley stood in the place of the moral truths Abroad, Translations and Fragments. Shelley's and passions of actual life. There is no melancholy life was a dream of romance-a tale of mystery and grandeur in his pictures, or simple unity in his degrief. That he was sincere in his opinions, and signs. Another fault is his partiality for painting benevolent in his intentions, is now undoubted. He ghastly and repulsive scenes. He had, however, looked upon the world with the eyes of a visionary, many great and shining qualities--a rich and fertile bent on unattainable schemes of intellectual excel- imagination, a passionate love of nature, and a diclence and supremacy. His delusion led to misery, tion singularly classical and imposing in sound and and made him, for a time, unjust to others. It structure. The descriptive passages in `Alastor,' and alienated him from his family and friends, blasted the river-voyage at the conclusion of the Revolt of his prospects in life, and distempered all his views Islam,' are among the most finished of his productions. and opinions. It is probable that, had he lived to a His morbid ghastliness is there laid aside, and his riper age, he might have modified some of those better genius leads him to the pure waters and the extreme speculative and pernicious tenets, and we depth of forest shades, which none of his contempohave no doubt that he would have risen into a purer raries knew better how to describe. Some of the atmosphere of poetical imagination. The troubled minor poems are also imbued with a true poetical and stormy dawn was fast yielding to the calm noon- spirit, and speak the genuine feelings of nature. One day brightness. He had worn out some of his fierce striking peculiarity of his style is his constant perantipathies and morbid affections; a happy domestic sonification of inanimate objects. In the Cenci' we circle was gathered around him; and the refined have a strong and almost terrible illustration of this simplicity of his tastes and habits, joined to wider original feature of his poetry :and juster views of human life, would imperceptibly
I remember, have given a new tone to his thoughts and studies. He had a high idea of the art to which he devoted Two miles on this side of the fort, the road his faculties.
Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and narrow,
And winds with short turns down the precipice ; • Poetry,' he says in one of his essays, " is the record of the best and happiest moments of the hap: Which has from unimaginable years
And in its depth there is a mighty rock piest and best minds. We are aware of evanescent Sustained itself with terror and with toil visitations of thought and feeling, sometimes associated with place or person, sometimes regarding with which it clings, seems slowly coming down ;
Over a gulf, and with the agony our own mind alone, and always arising unforeseen Even as a wretched soul, hour after hour, and departing unbidden, but elevating and delightful Clings to the mass of life, yet clinging, leans, beyond all expression ; so that, even in the desire And leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss and the regret they leave, there cannot but be plea- In which it fears to fall--beneath this crag, sure, participating as it does in the nature of its Huge as despair, as if in weariness, object. It is, as it were, the interpenetration of a The melancholy mountain yawns; below diviner nature through our own; but its footsteps You hear, but see not, an impetuous torrent are like those of a wind over the sea, which the Raging among the caverns, and a bridge morning calm erases, and whose traces remain only, Crosses the chasm; and high above there grow, as on the wrinkled sand which paves it. These and with intersecting trunks, from crag to crag, corresponding conditions of being are experienced Cedars and yews, and pines, whose tangled hair principally by those of the most delicate sensibility Is matted in one solid roof of shade and the most enlarged imagination; and the state of By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday here mind produced by them is at war with every base | "T'is twilight, and at sunset blackest night. desire. The enthusiasm of virtue, love, patriotism, and friendship, is essentially linked with such emo The Flight of the Hours in 'Promethus’ is equally tions; and whilst they last, self appears as what it is, vivid, and touched with a higher grace -an atom to a universe. Poets are not only subject
Behold! to these experiences as spirits of the most refined | The rocks are cioven, and through the purple night organisation, but they can colour all that they com I see cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds, bine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world; Which trample the dim winds : in each there stands a word, a trait in the representation of a scene or A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight. passion, will touch the enchanted chord, and re Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there, animate, in those who have ever experienced those And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars : emotions, the sleeping, the cold, the buried image of others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drinks
With eager lips the wind of their.own speed,
From the seas and the streams; Stream like a comet's flashing hair: they all
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken Of whom thou didst demand. One waits for thee. The sweet birds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast, [Opening of Queen Mab.]
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under;
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves, remains;
And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack
When the morning star shines dead.
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit, one moment may sit Whose sleepless spirit waits to catch
In the light of its golden wings;
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the moon, Around a marble column.
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear, That round a lonely ruin swells,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof, Which, wandering on the echoing shore,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee, 'Tis softer than the west wind's sigh ;
Like a swarm of golden bees, 'Tis wilder than the unmeasured notes
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, Of that strange lyre whose strings
Till the calm river, lakes, and seas,
**The odes to the Skylark and the Cloud, in the opinion of Are like the moonbeams when they fall
many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his Through some cathedral window, but the teints productions. They were written as his mind prompted, listen. Are such as may not find
ing to the carolling of the bird aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or Comparison on earth.
marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated
in his boat on the Thames. No poet was ever warmed by a Behold the chariot of the fairy queen!
more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air ;
gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits, and Their filmy pennons at her word they furl,
rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward And stop obedient to the reins of light :
objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, These the queen of spells drew in ;
among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments
we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors, She spread a charm around the spot,
fraught with pain; to escape from such he delivered up his And leaning graceful from the ethereal car,
soul to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself from Long did she gaze, and silently,
the influence of human sympathies in the wildest regions of Upon the slumbering maid.
fancy.'-Mrs Shelley, Pref. to Poct. Works.
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Like a poet hidden Are each paved with the moon and these.
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden, I bind the sun's throne with a burning zone,
Till the world is wrought And the moon's with a girdle of pearl ;
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not: The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim, When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
Like a high-born maiden From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
In a palace tower, Over a torrent sea,
Soothing her love-laden Sunbeam proof, I hang like a roof,
Soul in secret hour The mountains its columns be.
With music sweet as lore, which overflows her bower. The triumphal arch through which I march, With hurricane, fire, and snow,
Like a glow-worm golden When the powers of the air are chained to my chair,
In a dell of dew, Is the million-coloured bow;
Scattering unbeholden The sphere-fire above, its soft colours wove,
Its aërial hue While the moist earth was laughing below.
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from
the view. I am the daughter of the earth and water,
Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex
Sound of vernal showers Build up the blue dome of air,
On the twinkling grass, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
Rain-awakened flowers, And out of the caverns of rain,
All that ever was Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.
tomb, I rise and upbuild it again.
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine;
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
Or triumphal chant,
Matched with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain ?
What fields, or waves, or mountains !
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain ?
With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream, Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream!
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught:
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest
Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear, flowed.
I know not how thy joy we ever could come near.
Better than all measures
Of delight and sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
From my lips would flow,
[From "The Sensitive Plant.'] A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light, And closed them beneath the kisses of night. And the spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on earth's dark breast Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest. But none ever trembled and panted with bliss In the garden, the field, or the wilderness, Like a doe in the noontide with love's sweet want, As the companionless Sensitive Plant. The snow-drop, and then the violet, Arose from the ground with warın rain wet, And their breath was mixed with fresh odour, sent From the turf, like the voice and the instrument. Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall, And narcissi, the fairest among them all, Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess, Till they die of their own dear loveliness ; And the Naiad-like lily of the vale, Whom youth makes so fair, and passion so pale, That the light of its tremulous bells is seen Through their pavilions of tender green; And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue, Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew Of music so delicate, soft, and intense, It was felt like an odour within the sense; And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest, Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast, Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air The soul of her beauty and love lay bare ; And the wand-like lily, which lifted up, As a Mænad, its moonlight-coloured cup, Till the fiery star, which is its eye, Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky; And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose, The sweetest flower for scent that blows; And all rare blossoms from every clime, Grew in that garden in perfect prime. And on the stream whose inconstant bosom Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom, With golden and green light slanting through Their heaven of many a tangled hue. Broad water-lilies lay tremulously, And starry river-buds glimmered by, And around them the soft stream did glide and dance With a motion of sweet sound and radiance. And the sinuous paths of lawn and of moss, Which led through the garden along and across, Some open at once to the sun and the breeze, Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees, Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells As fair as the fabulous asphodels; And flowrets which, drooping as day drooped too, Fell into pavilions, white, purple, and blue, To roof the glow-worm from the evening dew. And from this undefiled Paradise The flowers (as an infant's awakening eyes Smile on its mother, whose singing sweet Can first lull, and at last must awaken it),
When heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them,
lovers whom youth and love make dear,
drowned In an ocean of dreams without a sound; Whose waves never mark, though they ever impress The light sand which paves it-consciousness ; (Only overhead the sweet nightingale Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail, And snatches of its Elysian chant Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Plant.) The Sensitive Plant was the earliest Up-gathered into the bosom of rest; A sweet child weary of its delight, The feeblest and yet the favourite, Cradled within the embrace of night.
A wandering stream of wind,