The Complete Poetical Works, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poems Written in 1819.

Table of Contents

  1. Lines Written During the Castlereagh Administration.
  2. Song to the Men of England.
  3. Similes for Two Political Characters of 1819.
  4. Fragment: To the People of England.
  5. Fragment: ‘What Men Gain Fairly’.
  6. A New National Anthem.
  7. Sonnet: England in 1819.
  8. An Ode, written October, 1819, before the Spaniards had recovered their Liberty.
  9. Cancelled Stanza.
  10. Ode to Heaven.
  11. Cancelled Fragments of the Ode to Heaven.
  12. Ode to the West Wind.
  13. An Exhortation.
  14. The Indian Serenade.
  15. Cancelled Passage.
  16. To Sophia [Miss Stacey].
  17. To William Shelley.
  18. To William Shelley.
  19. To Mary Shelley.
  20. To Mary Shelley.
  21. On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery.
  22. Love’s Philosophy.
  23. Fragment: ‘Follow to the Deep Wood’s Weeds’.
  24. The Birth of Pleasure.
  25. FragmentS:
  26. Variation of the Song of the Moon.
  27. Cancelled Stanza of the Mask of Anarchy.
  28. Note on Poems of 1819, by Mrs. Shelley.

Lines Written During the Castlereagh Administration.


Corpses are cold in the tomb;

Stones on the pavement are dumb;

Abortions are dead in the womb,

And their mothers look pale — like the death-white shore


Of Albion, free no more.


Her sons are as stones in the way —

They are masses of senseless clay —

They are trodden, and move not away —

The abortion with which SHE travaileth


Is Liberty, smitten to death.


Then trample and dance, thou Oppressor!

For thy victim is no redresser;

Thou art sole lord and possessor

Of her corpses, and clods, and abortions — they pave


Thy path to the grave.


Hearest thou the festival din

Of Death, and Destruction, and Sin,

And Wealth crying “Havoc!” within?

’Tis the bacchanal triumph that makes Truth dumb,


Thine Epithalamium.


Ay, marry thy ghastly wife!

Let Fear and Disquiet and Strife

Spread thy couch in the chamber of Life!

Marry Ruin, thou Tyrant! and Hell be thy guide


To the bed of the bride!

[Published by Medwin, “The Athenaeum”, December 8, 1832; reprinted, “Poetical Works”, 1839. There is a transcript amongst the Harvard manuscripts, and another in the possession of Mr. C.W. Frederickson of Brooklyn. Variants from these two sources are given by Professor Woodberry, “Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, Centenary Edition, 1893, volume 3 pages 225, 226. The transcripts are referred to in our footnotes as Harvard and Fred. respectively.]

_4 death-white Harvard, Fred.; white 1832, 1839.

_16 festival Harvard, Fred., 1839; festal 1832.

_19 that Fred.; which Harvard 1832.

_22 Disquiet Harvard, Fred., 1839; Disgust 1832.

_24 Hell Fred.; God Harvard, 1832, 1839.

_25 the bride Harvard, Fred., 1839; thy bride 1832.

Song to the Men of England.


Men of England, wherefore plough

For the lords who lay ye low?

Wherefore weave with toil and care

The rich robes your tyrants wear?


Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,

From the cradle to the grave,

Those ungrateful drones who would

Drain your sweat — nay, drink your blood?


Wherefore, Bees of England, forge


Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,

That these stingless drones may spoil

The forced produce of your toil?


Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,

Shelter, food, love’s gentle balm?


Or what is it ye buy so dear

With your pain and with your fear?


The seed ye sow, another reaps;

The wealth ye find, another keeps;

The robes ye weave, another wears;


The arms ye forge; another bears.


Sow seed — but let no tyrant reap;

Find wealth — let no impostor heap;

Weave robes — let not the idle wear;

Forge arms — in your defence to bear.


Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;

In halls ye deck another dwells.

Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see

The steel ye tempered glance on ye.


With plough and spade, and hoe and loom,


Trace your grave, and build your tomb,

And weave your winding-sheet, till fair

England be your sepulchre.

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

Similes for Two Political Characters of 1819.


As from an ancestral oak

Two empty ravens sound their clarion,

Yell by yell, and croak by croak,

When they scent the noonday smoke


Of fresh human carrion:—


As two gibbering night-birds flit

From their bowers of deadly yew

Through the night to frighten it,

When the moon is in a fit,


And the stars are none, or few:—


As a shark and dog-fish wait

Under an Atlantic isle,

For the negro-ship, whose freight

Is the theme of their debate,


Wrinkling their red gills the while —


Are ye, two vultures sick for battle,

Two scorpions under one wet stone,

Two bloodless wolves whose dry throats rattle,

Two crows perched on the murrained cattle,


Two vipers tangled into one.

[Published by Medwin, “The Athenaeum”, August 25, 1832; reprinted by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839. Our title is that of 1839, 2nd edition. The poem is found amongst the Harvard manuscripts, headed “To S— th and O— gh”.]

_7 yew 1832; hue 1839.

Fragment: To the People of England.

People of England, ye who toil and groan,

Who reap the harvests which are not your own,

Who weave the clothes which your oppressors wear,

And for your own take the inclement air;


Who build warm houses . . .

And are like gods who give them all they have,

And nurse them from the cradle to the grave . . .

. . .

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

Fragment: ‘What Men Gain Fairly’.

(Perhaps connected with that immediately preceding (Forman). — ED.)

What men gain fairly — that they should possess,

And children may inherit idleness,

From him who earns it — This is understood;

Private injustice may be general good.


But he who gains by base and armed wrong,

Or guilty fraud, or base compliances,

May be despoiled; even as a stolen dress

Is stripped from a convicted thief; and he

Left in the nakedness of infamy.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

A New National Anthem.


God prosper, speed,and save,

God raise from England’s grave

Her murdered Queen!

Pave with swift victory


The steps of Liberty,

Whom Britons own to be

Immortal Queen.


See, she comes throned on high,

On swift Eternity!


God save the Queen!

Millions on millions wait,

Firm, rapid, and elate,

On her majestic state!

God save the Queen!


She is Thine own pure soul

Moulding the mighty whole —

God save the Queen!

She is Thine own deep love

Rained down from Heaven above —


Wherever she rest or move,

God save our Queen!


‘Wilder her enemies

In their own dark disguise —

God save our Queen!


All earthly things that dare

Her sacred name to bear,

Strip them, as kings are, bare;

God save the Queen!


Be her eternal throne


Built in our hearts alone —

God save the Queen!

Let the oppressor hold

Canopied seats of gold;

She sits enthroned of old


O’er our hearts Queen.


Lips touched by seraphim

Breathe out the choral hymn

‘God save the Queen!’

Sweet as if angels sang,


Loud as that trumpet’s clang

Wakening the world’s dead gang —

God save the Queen!

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Sonnet: England in 1819.

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king —

Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow

Through public scorn — mud from a muddy spring —

Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,


But leech-like to their fainting country cling,

Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow —

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field —

An army, which liberticide and prey

Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield —


Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;

Religion Christless, Godless — a book sealed;

A Senate — Time’s worst statute, unrepealed —

Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may

Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

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

An Ode, Written October, 1819, Before the Spaniards Had Recovered Their Liberty.

Arise, arise, arise!

There is blood on the earth that denies ye bread;

Be your wounds like eyes

To weep for the dead, the dead, the dead.


What other grief were it just to pay?

Your sons, your wives, your brethren, were they;

Who said they were slain on the battle day?

Awaken, awaken, awaken!

The slave and the tyrant are twin-born foes;


Be the cold chains shaken

To the dust where your kindred repose, repose:

Their bones in the grave will start and move,

When they hear the voices of those they love,

Most loud in the holy combat above.


Wave, wave high the banner!

When Freedom is riding to conquest by:

Though the slaves that fan her

Be Famine and Toil, giving sigh for sigh.

And ye who attend her imperial car,


Lift not your hands in the banded war,

But in her defence whose children ye are.

Glory, glory, glory,

To those who have greatly suffered and done!

Never name in story


Was greater than that which ye shall have won.

Conquerors have conquered their foes alone,

Whose revenge, pride, and power they have overthrown

Ride ye, more victorious, over your own.

Bind, bind every brow


With crownals of violet, ivy, and pine:

Hide the blood-stains now

With hues which sweet Nature has made divine:

Green strength, azure hope, and eternity:

But let not the pansy among them be;


Ye were injured, and that means memory.

[Published with “Prometheus Unbound”, 1820.]

Cancelled Stanza.

Gather, O gather,

Foeman and friend in love and peace!

Waves sleep together

When the blasts that called them to battle, cease.


For fangless Power grown tame and mild

Is at play with Freedom’s fearless child —

The dove and the serpent reconciled!

[Published in “The Times” (Rossetti).]

Ode to Heaven.



Palace-roof of cloudless nights!

Paradise of golden lights!

Deep, immeasurable, vast,

Which art now, and which wert then


Of the Present and the Past,

Of the eternal Where and When,

Presence-chamber, temple, home,

Ever-canopying dome,

Of acts and ages yet to come!


Glorious shapes have life in thee,

Earth, and all earth’s company;

Living globes which ever throng

Thy deep chasms and wildernesses;

And green worlds that glide along;


And swift stars with flashing tresses;

And icy moons most cold and bright,

And mighty suns beyond the night,

Atoms of intensest light.

Even thy name is as a god,


Heaven! for thou art the abode

Of that Power which is the glass

Wherein man his nature sees.

Generations as they pass

Worship thee with bended knees.


Their unremaining gods and they

Like a river roll away:

Thou remainest such — alway! —


Thou art but the mind’s first chamber,

Round which its young fancies clamber,


Like weak insects in a cave,

Lighted up by stalactites;

But the portal of the grave,

Where a world of new delights

Will make thy best glories seem


But a dim and noonday gleam

From the shadow of a dream!


Peace! the abyss is wreathed with scorn

At your presumption, atom-born!

What is Heaven? and what are ye


Who its brief expanse inherit?

What are suns and spheres which flee

With the instinct of that Spirit

Of which ye are but a part?

Drops which Nature’s mighty heart


Drives through thinnest veins! Depart!

What is Heaven? a globe of dew,

Filling in the morning new

Some eyed flower whose young leaves waken

On an unimagined world:


Constellated suns unshaken,

Orbits measureless, are furled

In that frail and fading sphere,

With ten millions gathered there,

To tremble, gleam, and disappear.

Cancelled Fragments of the Ode to Heaven.

The [living frame which sustains my soul]

Is [sinking beneath the fierce control]

Down through the lampless deep of song

I am drawn and driven along —


When a Nation screams aloud

Like an eagle from the cloud

When a . . .

. . .

When the night . . .

. . .

Watch the look askance and old —


See neglect, and falsehood fold . . .

[Published with “Prometheus Unbound”, 1820. Dated ‘Florence, December, 1819’ in Harvard manuscript (Woodberry). A transcript exists amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock’s “Examination”, etc., page 39.]

[Published by Mr. C.D. Locock, “Examination”, etc., 1903.]

Ode to the West Wind.

(This poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions.

The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathizes with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it. —[SHELLEY’S NOTE.])


O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,


Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,

Each like a corpse within its grave, until

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow


Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill

(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)

With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;

Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!


Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,

Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,

Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread

On the blue surface of thine aery surge,


Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge

Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,

The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night


Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,

Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere

Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh, hear!


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams


The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,

Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,

And saw in sleep old palaces and towers

Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,


All overgrown with azure moss and flowers

So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou

For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below

The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear


The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,

And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;

If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;


A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free

Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even

I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,


As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed

Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne’er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.

Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!


A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed

One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:

What if my leaves are falling like its own!

The tumult of thy mighty harmonies


Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,

Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,

My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe

Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!


And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth

Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind,


If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

[Published with “Prometheus Unbound”, 1820.]

An Exhortation.

Chameleons feed on light and air:

Poets’ food is love and fame:

If in this wide world of care

Poets could but find the same


With as little toil as they,

Would they ever change their hue

As the light chameleons do,

Suiting it to every ray

Twenty times a day?


Poets are on this cold earth,

As chameleons might be,

Hidden from their early birth

in a cave beneath the sea;

Where light is, chameleons change:


Where love is not, poets do:

Fame is love disguised: if few

Find either, never think it strange

That poets range.

Yet dare not stain with wealth or power


A poet’s free and heavenly mind:

If bright chameleons should devour

Any food but beams and wind,

They would grow as earthly soon

As their brother lizards are.


Children of a sunnier star,

Spirits from beyond the moon,

Oh, refuse the boon!

[Published with “Prometheus Unbound”, 1820. Dated ‘Pisa, April, 1820’ in Harvard manuscript (Woodberry), but assigned by Mrs. Shelley to 1819.]

The Indian Serenade.


I arise from dreams of thee

In the first sweet sleep of night,

When the winds are breathing low,

And the stars are shining bright:


I arise from dreams of thee,

And a spirit in my feet

Hath led me — who knows how?

To thy chamber window, Sweet!


The wandering airs they faint


On the dark, the silent stream —

The Champak odours fail

Like sweet thoughts in a dream;

The nightingale’s complaint,

It dies upon her heart; —


As I must on thine,

Oh, beloved as thou art!


Oh lift me from the grass!

I die! I faint! I fail!

Let thy love in kisses rain


On my lips and eyelids pale.

My cheek is cold and white, alas!

My heart beats loud and fast; —

Oh! press it to thine own again,

Where it will break at last.

Cancelled Passage.

O pillow cold and wet with tears!

Thou breathest sleep no more!

[Published, with the title, “Song written for an Indian Air”, in “The Liberal”, 2, 1822. Reprinted (“Lines to an Indian Air”) by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. The poem is included in the Harvard manuscript book, and there is a description by Robert Browning of an autograph copy presenting some variations from the text of 1824. See Leigh Hunt’s “Correspondence”, 2, pages 264-8.]

_3 Harvard manuscript omits When.

_4 shining]burning Harvard manuscript, 1822.

_7 Hath led Browning manuscript, 1822; Has borne Harvard manuscript; Has led 1824.

_11 The Champak Harvard manuscript, 1822, 1824; And the Champak’s Browning manuscript.

_15 As I must on 1822, 1824; As I must die on Harvard manuscript, 1839, 1st edition.

_16 Oh, beloved Browning manuscript, Harvard manuscript, 1839, 1st edition; Beloved 1822, 1824.

_23 press it to thine own Browning manuscript; press it close to thine Harvard manuscript, 1824, 1839, 1st edition; press me to thine own, 1822.

[Published by W.M. Rossetti, “Complete Poetical Works”, 1870.]

To Sophia [Miss Stacey].


Thou art fair, and few are fairer

Of the Nymphs of earth or ocean;

They are robes that fit the wearer —

Those soft limbs of thine, whose motion


Ever falls and shifts and glances

As the life within them dances.


Thy deep eyes, a double Planet,

Gaze the wisest into madness

With soft clear fire — the winds that fan it


Are those thoughts of tender gladness

Which, like zephyrs on the billow,

Make thy gentle soul their pillow.


If, whatever face thou paintest

In those eyes, grows pale with pleasure,


If the fainting soul is faintest

When it hears thy harp’s wild measure,

Wonder not that when thou speakest

Of the weak my heart is weakest.


As dew beneath the wind of morning,


As the sea which whirlwinds waken,

As the birds at thunder’s warning,

As aught mute yet deeply shaken,

As one who feels an unseen spirit

Is my heart when thine is near it.

[Published by W.M. Rossetti, “Complete Poetical Works”, 1870.]

To William Shelley.

(With what truth may I say —

Roma! Roma! Roma!

Non e piu come era prima!)


My lost William, thou in whom

Some bright spirit lived, and did

That decaying robe consume

Which its lustre faintly hid —


Here its ashes find a tomb,

But beneath this pyramid

Thou art not — if a thing divine

Like thee can die, thy funeral shrine

Is thy mother’s grief and mine.


Where art thou, my gentle child?

Let me think thy spirit feeds,

With its life intense and mild,

The love of living leaves and weeds

Among these tombs and ruins wild; —


Let me think that through low seeds

Of sweet flowers and sunny grass

Into their hues and scents may pass

A portion —

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. The fragment included in the Harvard manuscript book.]

Motto _1 may I Harvard manuscript; I may 1824.

_12 With Harvard manuscript, Mrs. Shelley, 1847; Within 1824, 1839.

_16 Of sweet Harvard manuscript; Of the sweet 1824, 1839.

To William Shelley.

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 —

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

To Mary Shelley.

My dearest Mary, wherefore hast thou gone,

And left me in this dreary world alone?

Thy form is here indeed — a lovely one —

But thou art fled, gone down the dreary road,


That leads to Sorrow’s most obscure abode;

Thou sittest on the hearth of pale despair,


For thine own sake I cannot follow thee.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

To Mary Shelley.

The world is dreary,

And I am weary

Of wandering on without thee, Mary;

A joy was erewhile


In thy voice and thy smile,

And ’tis gone, when I should be gone too, Mary.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery.


It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,

Upon the cloudy mountain-peak supine;

Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;

Its horror and its beauty are divine.


Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie

Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine,

Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,

The agonies of anguish and of death.


Yet it is less the horror than the grace


Which turns the gazer’s spirit into stone,

Whereon the lineaments of that dead face

Are graven, till the characters be grown

Into itself, and thought no more can trace;

’Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown

Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,


Which humanize and harmonize the strain.


And from its head as from one body grow,

As . . . grass out of a watery rock,

Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow


And their long tangles in each other lock,

And with unending involutions show

Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock

The torture and the death within, and saw

The solid air with many a ragged jaw.


And, from a stone beside, a poisonous eft

Peeps idly into those Gorgonian eyes;

Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft

Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise

Out of the cave this hideous light had cleft,


And he comes hastening like a moth that hies

After a taper; and the midnight sky

Flares, a light more dread than obscurity.


’Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;

For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare


Kindled by that inextricable error,

Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air

Become a . . . and ever-shifting mirror

Of all the beauty and the terror there —

A woman’s countenance, with serpent-locks,


Gazing in death on Heaven from those wet rocks.

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

_5 seems 1839; seem 1824.

_6 shine]shrine 1824, 1839.

_26 those 1824; these 1839.

Love’s Philosophy.


The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the Ocean,

The winds of Heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;


Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle.

Why not I with thine? —


See the mountains kiss high Heaven


And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth

And the moonbeams kiss the sea:


What is all this sweet work worth

If thou kiss not me?

[Published by Leigh Hunt, “The Indicator”, December 22, 1819. Reprinted by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824. Included in the Harvard manuscript book, where it is headed “An Anacreontic”, and dated ‘January, 1820.’ Written by Shelley in a copy of Hunt’s “Literary Pocket-Book”, 1819, and presented to Sophia Stacey, December 29, 1820.]

_3 mix for ever 1819, Stacey manuscript; meet together, Harvard manuscript.

_7 In one spirit meet and Stacey manuscript; In one another’s being 1819, Harvard manuscript.

_11 No sister 1824, Harvard and Stacey manuscripts; No leaf or 1819.

_12 disdained its 1824, Harvard and Stacey manuscripts; disdained to kiss its 1819.

_15 is all this sweet work Stacey manuscript; were these examples Harvard manuscript; are all these kissings 1819, 1824.

Fragment: ‘Follow to the Deep Wood’s Weeds’.

Follow to the deep wood’s weeds,

Follow to the wild-briar dingle,

Where we seek to intermingle,

And the violet tells her tale


To the odour-scented gale,

For they two have enough to do

Of such work as I and you.

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

The Birth of Pleasure.

At the creation of the Earth

Pleasure, that divinest birth,

From the soil of Heaven did rise,

Wrapped in sweet wild melodies —


Like an exhalation wreathing

To the sound of air low-breathing

Through Aeolian pines, which make

A shade and shelter to the lake

Whence it rises soft and slow;


Her life-breathing [limbs] did flow

In the harmony divine

Of an ever-lengthening line

Which enwrapped her perfect form

With a beauty clear and warm.

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

Fragment: Love the Universe to-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.

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

Fragment: ‘A Gentle Story of Two Lovers Young’.

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 innocent?

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

_9 cold]told cj. A.C. Bradley. For the metre cp. Fragment: To a Friend Released from Prison.

Fragment: Love’s Tender Atmosphere.

There is a warm and gentle atmosphere

About the form of one we love, and thus

As in a tender mist our spirits are

Wrapped in the . . . of that which is to us


The health of life’s own life —

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: Wedded Souls.

I am as a spirit who has dwelt

Within his heart of hearts, and I have felt

His feelings, and have thought his thoughts, and known

The inmost converse of his soul, the tone


Unheard but in the silence of his blood,

When all the pulses in their multitude

Image the trembling calm of summer seas.

I have unlocked the golden melodies

Of his deep soul, as with a master-key,


And loosened them and bathed myself therein —

Even as an eagle in a thunder-mist

Clothing his wings with lightning.

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

Fragment: ‘Is It That in Some Brighter Sphere’.

Is it that in some brighter sphere

We part from friends we meet with here?

Or do we see the Future pass

Over the Present’s dusky glass?


Or what is that that makes us seem

To patch up fragments of a dream,

Part of which comes true, and part

Beats and trembles in the heart?

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

Fragment: Sufficient Unto the Day.

Is not to-day enough? Why do I peer

Into the darkness of the day to come?

Is not to-morrow even as yesterday?

And will the day that follows change thy doom?


Few flowers grow upon thy wintry way;

And who waits for thee in that cheerless home

Whence thou hast fled, whither thou must return

Charged with the load that makes thee faint and mourn?

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

Fragment: ‘Ye Gentle Visitations of Calm Thought’.

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!

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

Fragment: Music and Sweet Poetry.

How sweet it is to sit and read the tales

Of mighty poets and to hear the while

Sweet music, which when the attention fails

Fills the dim pause —

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: The Sepulchre of Memory.

And where is truth? On tombs? for such to thee

Has been my heart — and thy dead memory

Has lain from childhood, many a changeful year,

Unchangingly preserved and buried there.

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

Fragment: ‘When a Lover Clasps His Fairest’.


When a lover clasps his fairest,

Then be our dread sport the rarest.

Their caresses were like the chaff

In the tempest, and be our laugh


His despair — her epitaph!


When a mother clasps her child,

Watch till dusty Death has piled

His cold ashes on the clay;

She has loved it many a day —


She remains — it fades away.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: ‘Wake the Serpent Not’.

Wake the serpent not — lest he

Should not know the way to go —

Let him crawl which yet lies sleeping

Through the deep grass of the meadow!


Not a bee shall hear him creeping,

Not a may-fly shall awaken

From its cradling blue-bell shaken,

Not the starlight as he’s sliding

Through the grass with silent gliding.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: Rain.

The fitful alternations of the rain,

When the chill wind, languid as with pain

Of its own heavy moisture, here and there

Drives through the gray and beamless atmosphere.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: A Tale Untold.

One sung of thee who left the tale untold,

Like the false dawns which perish in the bursting;

Like empty cups of wrought and daedal gold,

Which mock the lips with air, when they are thirsting.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: To Italy.

As the sunrise to the night,

As the north wind to the clouds,

As the earthquake’s fiery flight,

Ruining mountain solitudes,


Everlasting Italy,

Be those hopes and fears on thee.

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

Fragment: Wine of the Fairies.

I am drunk with the honey wine

Of the moon-unfolded eglantine,

Which fairies catch in hyacinth bowls.

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!

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

Fragment: A Roman’s Chamber.


In the cave which wild weeds cover

Wait for thine aethereal lover;

For the pallid moon is waning,

O’er the spiral cypress hanging


And the moon no cloud is staining.


It was once a Roman’s chamber,

Where he kept his darkest revels,

And the wild weeds twine and clamber;

It was then a chasm for devils.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Fragment: Rome and Nature.

Rome has fallen, ye see it lying

Heaped in undistinguished ruin:

Nature is alone undying.

[Published by Mrs. Shelley, “Poetical Works”, 1839, 2nd edition.]

Variation of the Song of the Moon.

(“Prometheus Unbound”, Act 4.)

As a violet’s gentle eye

Gazes on the azure sky

Until its hue grows like what it beholds;

As a gray and empty mist


Lies like solid amethyst

Over the western mountain it enfolds,

When the sunset sleeps

Upon its snow;

As a strain of sweetest sound


Wraps itself the wind around

Until the voiceless wind be music too;

As aught dark, vain, and dull,

Basking in what is beautiful,

Is full of light and love —

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

Cancelled Stanza of the Mask of Anarchy.

(For which stanzas 68, 69 have been substituted.)

From the cities where from caves,

Like the dead from putrid graves,

Troops of starvelings gliding come,

Living Tenants of a tomb.

[Published by H. Buxton Forman, “The Mask of Anarchy” (“Facsimile of Shelley’s manuscript”), 1887.]

Note on Poems of 1819, by Mrs. Shelley.

Shelley loved the People; and respected them as often more virtuous, as always more suffering, and therefore more deserving of sympathy, than the great. He believed that a clash between the two classes of society was inevitable, and he eagerly ranged himself on the people’s side. He had an idea of publishing a series of poems adapted expressly to commemorate their circumstances and wrongs. He wrote a few; but, in those days of prosecution for libel, they could not be printed. They are not among the best of his productions, a writer being always shackled when he endeavours to write down to the comprehension of those who could not understand or feel a highly imaginative style; but they show his earnestness, and with what heart-felt compassion he went home to the direct point of injury — that oppression is detestable as being the parent of starvation, nakedness, and ignorance. Besides these outpourings of compassion and indignation, he had meant to adorn the cause he loved with loftier poetry of glory and triumph: such is the scope of the “Ode to the Assertors of Liberty”. He sketched also a new version of our national anthem, as addressed to Liberty.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00