The Complete Poetical Works, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poems Written in 1817.

Table of Contents

Marianne’s Dream.

To Constantia, Singing.

Stanzas 1 and 2.

To Constantia.

Fragment: To One Singing.

A Fragment: To Music.

Another Fragment: To Music.

‘Mighty Eagle’. Supposed to Be Addressed to William Godwin.

To the Lord Chancellor.

To William Shelley.

From the Original Draft of the Poem to William Shelley.

On Fanny Godwin.




Fragments Supposed to Be Parts of Otho.

Fragment: ‘O that a chariot of cloud were mine’.

Fragment: To a Friend Released From Prison.

Fragment: Satan Broken Loose.

Fragment: “Igniculus Desiderii”.

Fragment: “Amor Aeternus”.

Fragment: Thoughts Come and Go in Solitude.

A Hate-Song.

Lines to a Critic.


Note on Poems of 1817, by Mrs. Shelley.

Marianne’s Dream.


A pale Dream came to a Lady fair,

And said, A boon, a boon, I pray!

I know the secrets of the air,

And things are lost in the glare of day,


Which I can make the sleeping see,

If they will put their trust in me.


And thou shalt know of things unknown,

If thou wilt let me rest between

The veiny lids, whose fringe is thrown


Over thine eyes so dark and sheen:

And half in hope, and half in fright,

The Lady closed her eyes so bright.


At first all deadly shapes were driven

Tumultuously across her sleep,


And o’er the vast cope of bending heaven

All ghastly-visaged clouds did sweep;

And the Lady ever looked to spy

If the golden sun shone forth on high.


And as towards the east she turned,


She saw aloft in the morning air,

Which now with hues of sunrise burned,

A great black Anchor rising there;

And wherever the Lady turned her eyes,

It hung before her in the skies.


The sky was blue as the summer sea,

The depths were cloudless overhead,

The air was calm as it could be,

There was no sight or sound of dread,

But that black Anchor floating still


Over the piny eastern hill.


The Lady grew sick with a weight of fear

To see that Anchor ever hanging,

And veiled her eyes; she then did hear

The sound as of a dim low clanging,


And looked abroad if she might know

Was it aught else, or but the flow

Of the blood in her own veins, to and fro.


There was a mist in the sunless air,

Which shook as it were with an earthquake’s shock,


But the very weeds that blossomed there

Were moveless, and each mighty rock

Stood on its basis steadfastly;

The Anchor was seen no more on high.


But piled around, with summits hid


In lines of cloud at intervals,

Stood many a mountain pyramid

Among whose everlasting walls

Two mighty cities shone, and ever

Through the red mist their domes did quiver.


On two dread mountains, from whose crest,

Might seem, the eagle, for her brood,

Would ne’er have hung her dizzy nest,

Those tower-encircled cities stood.

A vision strange such towers to see,


Sculptured and wrought so gorgeously,

Where human art could never be.


And columns framed of marble white,

And giant fanes, dome over dome

Piled, and triumphant gates, all bright


With workmanship, which could not come

From touch of mortal instrument,

Shot o’er the vales, or lustre lent

From its own shapes magnificent.


But still the Lady heard that clang


Filling the wide air far away;

And still the mist whose light did hang

Among the mountains shook alway,

So that the Lady’s heart beat fast,

As half in joy, and half aghast,


On those high domes her look she cast.


Sudden, from out that city sprung

A light that made the earth grow red;

Two flames that each with quivering tongue

Licked its high domes, and overhead


Among those mighty towers and fanes

Dropped fire, as a volcano rains

Its sulphurous ruin on the plains.


And hark! a rush as if the deep

Had burst its bonds; she looked behind


And saw over the western steep

A raging flood descend, and wind

Through that wide vale; she felt no fear,

But said within herself, ’Tis clear

These towers are Nature’s own, and she


To save them has sent forth the sea.


And now those raging billows came

Where that fair Lady sate, and she

Was borne towards the showering flame

By the wild waves heaped tumultuously.


And, on a little plank, the flow

Of the whirlpool bore her to and fro.


The flames were fiercely vomited

From every tower and every dome,

And dreary light did widely shed


O’er that vast flood’s suspended foam,

Beneath the smoke which hung its night

On the stained cope of heaven’s light.


The plank whereon that Lady sate

Was driven through the chasms, about and about,


Between the peaks so desolate

Of the drowning mountains, in and out,

As the thistle-beard on a whirlwind sails —

While the flood was filling those hollow vales.


At last her plank an eddy crossed,


And bore her to the city’s wall,

Which now the flood had reached almost;

It might the stoutest heart appal

To hear the fire roar and hiss

Through the domes of those mighty palaces.


The eddy whirled her round and round

Before a gorgeous gate, which stood

Piercing the clouds of smoke which bound

Its aery arch with light like blood;

She looked on that gate of marble clear,


With wonder that extinguished fear.


For it was filled with sculptures rarest,

Of forms most beautiful and strange,

Like nothing human, but the fairest

Of winged shapes, whose legions range


Throughout the sleep of those that are,

Like this same Lady, good and fair.


And as she looked, still lovelier grew

Those marble forms; — the sculptor sure

Was a strong spirit, and the hue


Of his own mind did there endure

After the touch, whose power had braided

Such grace, was in some sad change faded.


She looked, the flames were dim, the flood

Grew tranquil as a woodland river


Winding through hills in solitude;

Those marble shapes then seemed to quiver,

And their fair limbs to float in motion,

Like weeds unfolding in the ocean.


And their lips moved; one seemed to speak,


When suddenly the mountains cracked,

And through the chasm the flood did break

With an earth-uplifting cataract:

The statues gave a joyous scream,

And on its wings the pale thin Dream


Lifted the Lady from the stream.


The dizzy flight of that phantom pale

Waked the fair Lady from her sleep,

And she arose, while from the veil

Of her dark eyes the Dream did creep,


And she walked about as one who knew

That sleep has sights as clear and true

As any waking eyes can view.

[Composed at Marlow, 1817. Published in Hunt’s “Literary Pocket-Book”, 1819, and reprinted in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]

_18 golden 1819; gold 1824, 1839.

_28 or 1824; nor 1839.

_62 or]a cj. Rossetti.

_63 its]their cj. Rossetti.

_92 flames cj. Rossetti; waves 1819, 1824, 1839.

_101 mountains 1819; mountain 1824, 1839.

_106 flood]flames cj. James Thomson (‘B.V.’).

_120 that 1819, 1824; who 1839.

_135 mountains 1819; mountain 1824, 1839.

To Constantia, Singing.


Thus to be lost and thus to sink and die,

Perchance were death indeed! — Constantia, turn!

In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie,

Even though the sounds which were thy voice, which burn


Between thy lips, are laid to sleep;

Within thy breath, and on thy hair, like odour, it is yet,

And from thy touch like fire doth leap.

Even while I write, my burning cheeks are wet.

Alas, that the torn heart can bleed, but not forget!


A breathless awe, like the swift change

Unseen, but felt in youthful slumbers,

Wild, sweet, but uncommunicably strange,

Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers.

The cope of heaven seems rent and cloven


By the enchantment of thy strain,

And on my shoulders wings are woven,

To follow its sublime career

Beyond the mighty moons that wane

Upon the verge of Nature’s utmost sphere,


Till the world’s shadowy walls are past and disappear.


Her voice is hovering o’er my soul — it lingers

O’ershadowing it with soft and lulling wings,

The blood and life within those snowy fingers

Teach witchcraft to the instrumental strings.


My brain is wild, my breath comes quick —

The blood is listening in my frame,

And thronging shadows, fast and thick,

Fall on my overflowing eyes;

My heart is quivering like a flame;


As morning dew, that in the sunbeam dies,

I am dissolved in these consuming ecstasies.


I have no life, Constantia, now, but thee,

Whilst, like the world-surrounding air, thy song

Flows on, and fills all things with melody. —


Now is thy voice a tempest swift and strong,

On which, like one in trance upborne,

Secure o’er rocks and waves I sweep,

Rejoicing like a cloud of morn.

Now ’tis the breath of summer night,

Which when the starry waters sleep,


Round western isles, with incense-blossoms bright,

Lingering, suspends my soul in its voluptuous flight.

Stanzas 1 and 2.

As restored by Mr. C.D. Locock.


Cease, cease — for such wild lessons madmen learn

Thus to be lost, and thus to sink and die

Perchance were death indeed! — Constantia turn

In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie


Even though the sounds its voice that were

Between [thy] lips are laid to sleep:

Within thy breath, and on thy hair

Like odour, it is [lingering] yet

And from thy touch like fire doth leap —


Even while I write, my burning cheeks are wet —

Alas, that the torn heart can bleed but not forget.


[A deep and] breathless awe like the swift change

Of dreams unseen but felt in youthful slumbers

Wild sweet yet incommunicably strange


Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers . . .

[Published by Mrs. Shelley in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. Amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian is a chaotic first draft, from which Mr. Locock [“Examination”, etc., 1903, pages 60-62] has, with patient ingenuity, disengaged a first and a second stanza consistent with the metrical scheme of stanzas 3 and 4. The two stanzas thus recovered are printed here immediately below the poem as edited by Mrs. Shelley. It need hardly be added that Mr. Locock’s restored version cannot, any more than Mrs. Shelley’s obviously imperfect one, be regarded in the light of a final recension.]

To Constantia.


The rose that drinks the fountain dew

In the pleasant air of noon,

Grows pale and blue with altered hue —

In the gaze of the nightly moon;


For the planet of frost, so cold and bright,

Makes it wan with her borrowed light.


Such is my heart — roses are fair,

And that at best a withered blossom;

But thy false care did idly wear


Its withered leaves in a faithless bosom;

And fed with love, like air and dew,

Its growth —

[Dated 1817 by Mrs. Shelley, and printed by her in the “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition. A copy exists amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian. See Mr. C.D. Locock’s “Examination”, etc., 1903, page 46.]

_1 The rose]The red Rose B.

_2 pleasant]fragrant B.

_6 her omitted B.

Fragment: To One Singing.

My spirit like a charmed bark doth swim

Upon the liquid waves of thy sweet singing,

Far far away into the regions dim

Of rapture — as a boat, with swift sails winging


Its way adown some many-winding river,

Speeds through dark forests o’er the waters swinging . . .

[Dated 1817 by Mrs. Shelley, and published in the “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition. The manuscript original, by which Mr. Locock has revised and (by one line) enlarged the text, is amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian. The metre, as Mr. Locock (“Examination”, etc., 1903, page 63) points out, is terza rima.]

_3 Far far away B.; Far away 1839.

_6 Speeds . . . swinging B.; omitted 1839.

A Fragment: To Music.

Silver key of the fountain of tears,

Where the spirit drinks till the brain is wild;

Softest grave of a thousand fears,

Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child,


Is laid asleep in flowers.

[Published in “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition. Dated 1817 (Mrs. Shelley).]

Another Fragment: To Music.

No, Music, thou art not the ‘food of Love.’

Unless Love feeds upon its own sweet self,

Till it becomes all Music murmurs of.

[Published in “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition. Dated 1817 (Mrs. Shelley).]

‘Mighty Eagle’.

Supposed to Be Addressed to William Godwin.

Mighty eagle! thou that soarest

O’er the misty mountain forest,

And amid the light of morning

Like a cloud of glory hiest,


And when night descends defiest

The embattled tempests’ warning!

[Published in 1882 (“Poetical Works of P. B. S.”) by Mr. H. Buxton Forman, C.B., by whom it is dated 1817.]

To the Lord Chancellor.


Thy country’s curse is on thee, darkest crest

Of that foul, knotted, many-headed worm

Which rends our Mother’s bosom — Priestly Pest!

Masked Resurrection of a buried Form!


Thy country’s curse is on thee! Justice sold,

Truth trampled, Nature’s landmarks overthrown,

And heaps of fraud-accumulated gold,

Plead, loud as thunder, at Destruction’s throne.


And whilst that sure slow Angel which aye stands


Watching the beck of Mutability

Delays to execute her high commands,

And, though a nation weeps, spares thine and thee,


Oh, let a father’s curse be on thy soul,

And let a daughter’s hope be on thy tomb;


Be both, on thy gray head, a leaden cowl

To weigh thee down to thine approaching doom.


I curse thee by a parent’s outraged love,

By hopes long cherished and too lately lost,

By gentle feelings thou couldst never prove,


By griefs which thy stern nature never crossed;


By those infantine smiles of happy light,

Which were a fire within a stranger’s hearth,

Quenched even when kindled, in untimely night

Hiding the promise of a lovely birth:


By those unpractised accents of young speech,

Which he who is a father thought to frame

To gentlest lore, such as the wisest teach —

THOU strike the lyre of mind! — oh, grief and shame!


By all the happy see in children’s growth —


That undeveloped flower of budding years —

Sweetness and sadness interwoven both,

Source of the sweetest hopes and saddest fears-


By all the days, under an hireling’s care,

Of dull constraint and bitter heaviness —


O wretched ye if ever any were —

Sadder than orphans, yet not fatherless!


By the false cant which on their innocent lips

Must hang like poison on an opening bloom,

By the dark creeds which cover with eclipse


Their pathway from the cradle to the tomb —


By thy most impious Hell, and all its terror;

By all the grief, the madness, and the guilt

Of thine impostures, which must be their error —

That sand on which thy crumbling power is built —


By thy complicity with lust and hate —

Thy thirst for tears — thy hunger after gold —

The ready frauds which ever on thee wait —

The servile arts in which thou hast grown old —


By thy most killing sneer, and by thy smile —


By all the arts and snares of thy black den,

And — for thou canst outweep the crocodile —

By thy false tears — those millstones braining men —


By all the hate which checks a father’s love —

By all the scorn which kills a father’s care —


By those most impious hands which dared remove

Nature’s high bounds — by thee — and by despair —


Yes, the despair which bids a father groan,

And cry, ‘My children are no longer mine —

The blood within those veins may be mine own,


But — Tyrant — their polluted souls are thine; —


I curse thee — though I hate thee not. — O slave!

If thou couldst quench the earth-consuming Hell

Of which thou art a daemon, on thy grave

This curse should be a blessing. Fare thee well!

[Published in part (5-9, 14) by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition (without title); in full 2nd edition (with title). Four transcripts in Mrs. Shelley’s hand are extant: two — Leigh Hunt’s and Ch. Cowden Clarke’s — described by Forman, and two belonging to Mr. C.W. Frederickson of Brooklyn, described by Woodberry [“Poetical Works”, Centenary Edition, 3 193-6]. One of the latter (here referred to as Fa) is corrected in Shelley’s autograph. A much-corrected draft in Shelley’s hand is in the Harvard manuscript book.]

_9 Angel which aye cancelled by Shelley for Fate which ever Fa.

_24 promise of a 1839, 2nd edition; promises of 1839, 1st edition.

_27 lore]love Fa.

_32 and saddest]the saddest Fa.

_36 yet not fatherless! cancelled by Shelley for why not fatherless? Fa.

_41-_44 By . . . built ‘crossed by Shelley and marked dele by Mrs. Shelley’ (Woodberry) Fa.

_50 arts and snares 1839, 1st edition; snares and arts Harvard Coll. manuscript; snares and nets Fa.; acts and snares 1839, 2nd edition.

_59 those]their Fa.

To William Shelley.


The billows on the beach are leaping around it,

The bark is weak and frail,

The sea looks black, and the clouds that bound it

Darkly strew the gale.

Come with me, thou delightful child,


Come with me, though the wave is wild,

And the winds are loose, we must not stay,

Or the slaves of the law may rend thee away.


They have taken thy brother and sister dear,


They have made them unfit for thee;

They have withered the smile and dried the tear

Which should have been sacred to me.

To a blighting faith and a cause of crime

They have bound them slaves in youthly prime,


And they will curse my name and thee

Because we fearless are and free.


Come thou, beloved as thou art;

Another sleepeth still

Near thy sweet mother’s anxious heart,


Which thou with joy shalt fill,

With fairest smiles of wonder thrown

On that which is indeed our own,

And which in distant lands will be

The dearest playmate unto thee.


Fear not the tyrants will rule for ever,

Or the priests of the evil faith;

They stand on the brink of that raging river,

Whose waves they have tainted with death.

It is fed from the depth of a thousand dells,


Around them it foams and rages and swells;

And their swords and their sceptres I floating see,

Like wrecks on the surge of eternity.


Rest, rest, and shriek not, thou gentle child!

The rocking of the boat thou fearest,


And the cold spray and the clamour wild? —

There, sit between us two, thou dearest —

Me and thy mother — well we know

The storm at which thou tremblest so,

With all its dark and hungry graves,


Less cruel than the savage slaves

Who hunt us o’er these sheltering waves.


This hour will in thy memory

Be a dream of days forgotten long.

We soon shall dwell by the azure sea

Of serene and golden Italy,


Or Greece, the Mother of the free;

And I will teach thine infant tongue

To call upon those heroes old

In their own language, and will mould

Thy growing spirit in the flame


Of Grecian lore, that by such name

A patriot’s birthright thou mayst claim!

[Published by Mrs. Shelley (1, 5, 6), “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition; in full, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition. A transcript is extant in Mrs. Shelley’s hand.]

_1 on the beach omitted 1839, 1st edition.

_8 of the law 1839, 1st edition; of law 1839, 2nd edition.

_14 prime transcript; time editions 1839.

_16 fearless are editions 1839; are fearless transcript.

_20 shalt transcript; wilt editions 1839.

_25-_32 Fear . . . eternity omitted, transcript. See “Rosalind and Helen”, lines 894-901.

_33 and transcript; omitted editions 1839.

_41 us transcript, 1839, 1st edition; thee 1839, 2nd edition.

_42 will in transcript, 1839, 2nd edition; will sometime in 1839, 1st edition.

_43 long transcript; omitted editions 1839.

_48 those transcript, 1839, 1st edition; their 1839, 2nd edition.

From the Original Draft of the Poem to William Shelley.


The world is now our dwelling-place;

Where’er the earth one fading trace

Of what was great and free does keep,

That is our home! . . .


Mild thoughts of man’s ungentle race

Shall our contented exile reap;

For who that in some happy place

His own free thoughts can freely chase

By woods and waves can clothe his face


In cynic smiles? Child! we shall weep.


This lament,

The memory of thy grievous wrong

Will fade . . .

But genius is omnipotent


To hallow . . .

[Published in Dr. Garnett’s “Relics of Shelley”, 1862.]

On Fanny Godwin.

Her voice did quiver as we parted,

Yet knew I not that heart was broken

From which it came, and I departed

Heeding not the words then spoken.


Misery — O Misery,

This world is all too wide for thee.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, among the poems of 1817, in “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition.]



That time is dead for ever, child!

Drowned, frozen, dead for ever!

We look on the past

And stare aghast


At the spectres wailing, pale and ghast,

Of hopes which thou and I beguiled

To death on life’s dark river.


The stream we gazed on then rolled by;

Its waves are unreturning;


But we yet stand

In a lone land,

Like tombs to mark the memory

Of hopes and fears, which fade and flee

In the light of life’s dim morning.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley with the date ‘November 5th, 1817,’ in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]



They die — the dead return not — Misery

Sits near an open grave and calls them over,

A Youth with hoary hair and haggard eye —

They are the names of kindred, friend and lover,


Which he so feebly calls — they all are gone —

Fond wretch, all dead! those vacant names alone,

This most familiar scene, my pain —

These tombs — alone remain.


Misery, my sweetest friend — oh, weep no more!


Thou wilt not be consoled — I wonder not!

For I have seen thee from thy dwelling’s door

Watch the calm sunset with them, and this spot

Was even as bright and calm, but transitory,

And now thy hopes are gone, thy hair is hoary;


This most familiar scene, my pain —

These tombs — alone remain.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824.]

_5 calls editions 1839; called 1824.



Thou wert not, Cassius, and thou couldst not be,

Last of the Romans, though thy memory claim

From Brutus his own glory — and on thee

Rests the full splendour of his sacred fame:


Nor he who dared make the foul tyrant quail

Amid his cowering senate with thy name,

Though thou and he were great — it will avail

To thine own fame that Otho’s should not fail.


’Twill wrong thee not — thou wouldst, if thou couldst feel,


Abjure such envious fame — great Otho died

Like thee — he sanctified his country’s steel,

At once the tyrant and tyrannicide,

In his own blood — a deed it was to bring

Tears from all men — though full of gentle pride,


Such pride as from impetuous love may spring,

That will not be refused its offering.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition.]

_13 bring cj. Garnett; buy 1839, 1st edition; wring cj. Rossetti.

Fragments Supposed to Be Parts of Otho.


Those whom nor power, nor lying faith, nor toil,

Nor custom, queen of many slaves, makes blind,

Have ever grieved that man should be the spoil

Of his own weakness, and with earnest mind


Fed hopes of its redemption; these recur

Chastened by deathful victory now, and find

Foundations in this foulest age, and stir

Me whom they cheer to be their minister.


Dark is the realm of grief: but human things


Those may not know who cannot weep for them.

. . .


Once more descend

The shadows of my soul upon mankind,

For to those hearts with which they never blend,

Thoughts are but shadows which the flashing mind


From the swift clouds which track its flight of fire,

Casts on the gloomy world it leaves behind.

. . .

[Published by Dr. Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862 — where, however, only the fragment numbered 2 is assigned to “Otho”. Forman (1876) connects all three fragments with that projected poem.]

‘O that a chariot of cloud were mine’.

O that a chariot of cloud were mine!

Of cloud which the wild tempest weaves in air,

When the moon over the ocean’s line

Is spreading the locks of her bright gray hair.


O that a chariot of cloud were mine!

I would sail on the waves of the billowy wind

To the mountain peak and the rocky lake,

And the . . .

[Published by Dr. Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862.]

Fragment: To a Friend Released From Prison.

For me, my friend, if not that tears did tremble

In my faint eyes, and that my heart beat fast

With feelings which make rapture pain resemble,

Yet, from thy voice that falsehood starts aghast,


I thank thee — let the tyrant keep

His chains and tears, yea, let him weep

With rage to see thee freshly risen,

Like strength from slumber, from the prison,

In which he vainly hoped the soul to bind


Which on the chains must prey that fetter humankind.

[Published by Dr. Garnett, “Relics of Shelley”, 1862.]

NOTE: For the metre see Fragment: “A Gentle Story” (A.C. Bradley.)

Fragment: Satan Broken Loose.

A golden-winged Angel stood

Before the Eternal Judgement-seat:

His looks were wild, and Devils’ blood

Stained his dainty hands and feet.


The Father and the Son

Knew that strife was now begun.

They knew that Satan had broken his chain,

And with millions of daemons in his train,

Was ranging over the world again.


Before the Angel had told his tale,

A sweet and a creeping sound

Like the rushing of wings was heard around;

And suddenly the lamps grew pale —

The lamps, before the Archangels seven,


That burn continually in Heaven.

[Published by Rossetti, “Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1870.]

Fragment: “Igniculus Desiderii”.

To thirst and find no fill — to wail and wander

With short unsteady steps — to pause and ponder —

To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle

Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle;


To nurse the image of unfelt caresses

Till dim imagination just possesses

The half-created shadow, then all the night

Sick . . .

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition. This fragment is amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian. See Mr. C.D. Locock’s “Examination”, etc., 1903, page 63.]

_2 unsteady B.; uneasy 1839, 1st edition.

_7, _8 then . . . Sick B.; wanting, 1839, 1st edition.

Fragment: “Amor Aeternus”.

Wealth and dominion fade into the mass

Of the great sea of human right and wrong,

When once from our possession they must pass;

But love, though misdirected, is among


The things which are immortal, and surpass

All that frail stuff which will be — or which was.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition.]

Fragment: Thoughts Come and Go in Solitude.

My thoughts arise and fade in solitude,

The verse that would invest them melts away

Like moonlight in the heaven of spreading day:

How beautiful they were, how firm they stood,


Flecking the starry sky like woven pearl!

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 1st edition.]

A Hate-Song.

A hater he came and sat by a ditch,

And he took an old cracked lute;

And he sang a song which was more of a screech

‘Gainst a woman that was a brute.

[Published by Rossetti, “Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, 1870.]

Lines to a Critic.


Honey from silkworms who can gather,

Or silk from the yellow bee?

The grass may grow in winter weather

As soon as hate in me.


Hate men who cant, and men who pray,

And men who rail like thee;

An equal passion to repay

They are not coy like me.


Or seek some slave of power and gold


To be thy dear heart’s mate;

Thy love will move that bigot cold

Sooner than me, thy hate.


A passion like the one I prove

Cannot divided be;


I hate thy want of truth and love —

How should I then hate thee?

[Published by Hunt in “The Liberal”, No. 3, 1823. Reprinted in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824, where it is dated December, 1817.]


I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,


And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:


‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

[Published by Hunt in “The Examiner”, January, 1818. Reprinted with “Rosalind and Helen”, 1819. There is a copy amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock’s “Examination”, etc., 1903, page 46.]

_9 these words appear]this legend clear B.

Note on Poems of 1817, by Mrs. Shelley.

The very illness that oppressed, and the aspect of death which had approached so near Shelley, appear to have kindled to yet keener life the Spirit of Poetry in his heart. The restless thoughts kept awake by pain clothed themselves in verse. Much was composed during this year. The “Revolt of Islam”, written and printed, was a great effort —“Rosalind and Helen” was begun — and the fragments and poems I can trace to the same period show how full of passion and reflection were his solitary hours.

In addition to such poems as have an intelligible aim and shape, many a stray idea and transitory emotion found imperfect and abrupt expression, and then again lost themselves in silence. As he never wandered without a book and without implements of writing, I find many such, in his manuscript books, that scarcely bear record; while some of them, broken and vague as they are, will appear valuable to those who love Shelley’s mind, and desire to trace its workings.

He projected also translating the “Hymns” of Homer; his version of several of the shorter ones remains, as well as that to Mercury already published in the “Posthumous Poems”. His readings this year were chiefly Greek. Besides the “Hymns” of Homer and the “Iliad”, he read the dramas of Aeschylus and Sophocles, the “Symposium” of Plato, and Arrian’s “Historia Indica”. In Latin, Apuleius alone is named. In English, the Bible was his constant study; he read a great portion of it aloud in the evening. Among these evening readings I find also mentioned the “Faerie Queen”; and other modern works, the production of his contemporaries, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Moore and Byron.

His life was now spent more in thought than action — he had lost the eager spirit which believed it could achieve what it projected for the benefit of mankind. And yet in the converse of daily life Shelley was far from being a melancholy man. He was eloquent when philosophy or politics or taste were the subjects of conversation. He was playful; and indulged in the wild spirit that mocked itself and others — not in bitterness, but in sport. The author of “Nightmare Abbey” seized on some points of his character and some habits of his life when he painted Scythrop. He was not addicted to ‘port or madeira,’ but in youth he had read of ‘Illuminati and Eleutherarchs,’ and believed that he possessed the power of operating an immediate change in the minds of men and the state of society. These wild dreams had faded; sorrow and adversity had struck home; but he struggled with despondency as he did with physical pain. There are few who remember him sailing paper boats, and watching the navigation of his tiny craft with eagerness — or repeating with wild energy “The Ancient Mariner”, and Southey’s “Old Woman of Berkeley”; but those who do will recollect that it was in such, and in the creations of his own fancy when that was most daring and ideal, that he sheltered himself from the storms and disappointments, the pain and sorrow, that beset his life.

No words can express the anguish he felt when his elder children were torn from him. In his first resentment against the Chancellor, on the passing of the decree, he had written a curse, in which there breathes, besides haughty indignation, all the tenderness of a father’s love, which could imagine and fondly dwell upon its loss and the consequences.

At one time, while the question was still pending, the Chancellor had said some words that seemed to intimate that Shelley should not be permitted the care of any of his children, and for a moment he feared that our infant son would be torn from us. He did not hesitate to resolve, if such were menaced, to abandon country, fortune, everything, and to escape with his child; and I find some unfinished stanzas addressed to this son, whom afterwards we lost at Rome, written under the idea that we might suddenly be forced to cross the sea, so to preserve him. This poem, as well as the one previously quoted, were not written to exhibit the pangs of distress to the public; they were the spontaneous outbursts of a man who brooded over his wrongs and woes, and was impelled to shed the grace of his genius over the uncontrollable emotions of his heart. I ought to observe that the fourth verse of this effusion is introduced in “Rosalind and Helen”. When afterwards this child died at Rome, he wrote, a propos of the English burying-ground in that city: ‘This spot is the repository of a sacred loss, of which the yearnings of a parent’s heart are now prophetic; he is rendered immortal by love, as his memory is by death. My beloved child lies buried here. I envy death the body far less than the oppressors the minds of those whom they have torn from me. The one can only kill the body, the other crushes the affections.’

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