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Like babbling gossips safe, who hear the war
Of winds, and sigh, but tremble not; - or how
You listened to some interrupted flow
Of visionary rhyme, — in joy and pain
Struck from the inmost fountains of my brain,
With little skill perhaps; or how we sought
Those deepest wells of passion or of thought
Wrought by wise poets in the waste of years,
Staining their sacred waters with our tears, -
Quenching a thirst ever to be renewed.
Or how I, wisest lady! then indued
The language of a land which now is free,
And, winged with thoughts of truth and majesty,
Flits round the tyrant's sceptre like a cloud,
And bursts the peopled prisons, and cries aloud,
"My name is Legion!"- that majestic tongue
Which Calderon over the desert flung
Of ages and of nations, and which found
An echo in our hearts, and with the sound
Startled oblivion; thou wert then to me
As is a nurse when inarticulately
A child would talk as its grown parents do.
If living winds the rapid clouds pursue,
If hawks chase doves through the ethereal way,
Huntsmen the innocent deer, and beasts their prey,
Why should not we rouse with the spirit's blast
Out of the forest of the pathless past
These recollected pleasures?
You are now
In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow
173 their, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || the, Mrs. Shelley, 1824. 188 ethereal, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || aërial, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore
Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more.
Yet in its depth what treasures! You will see
That which was Godwin,
greater none than he
Though fallen- and fallen on evil times-to stand
Among the spirits of our age and land,
Before the dread tribunal of to come
The foremost, while Rebuke cowers pale and
You will see Coleridge - he who sits obscure
In the exceeding lustre and the pure
Intense irradiation of a mind,
Which, with its own internal lightning blind,
Flags wearily through darkness and despair -
A cloud-encircled meteor of the air,
A hooded eagle among blinking owls.
You will see Hunt - one of those happy souls
Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom
This world would smell like what it is a tomb;
Who is what others seem; his room no doubt
Is still adorned by many a cast from Shout,
With graceful flowers tastefully placed about,
And coronals of bay from ribbons hung,
And brighter wreaths in neat disorder flung, -
The gifts of the most learned among some dozens
197-201 Boscombe MS., Mrs. Shelley, transcript || omit, Mrs. Shelley, 1824, 18391.
Your old friend Godwin, greater none than he;
Though fallen on evil times, yet will he stand,
Among the spirits of our age and land,
Before the dread tribunal of To-come
The foremost, whilst rebuke stands pale and dumb.
Mrs. Shelley, 18392. 205 lightning, Boscombe MS., Mrs. Shelley, transcript || lustre, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
Of female friends, sisters-in-law and cousins.
And there is he with his eternal puns,
Which beat the dullest brain for smiles, like duns
Thundering for money at a poet's door;
Alas! it is no use to "I'm poor!
Or oft in graver mood, when he will look
Things wiser than were ever read in book,
Except in Shakespeare's wisest tenderness. -
You will see Hogg, and I cannot express
His virtues, though I know that they are great,
Because he locks, then barricades the gate
Within which they inhabit; of his wit
And wisdom you'll cry out when you are bit.
He is a pearl within an oyster shell,
One of the richest of the deep. And there
Is English Peacock, with his mountain fair,
Turned into a Flamingo, — that shy bird
That gleams i' the Indian air; - have you not
When a man marries, dies, or turns Hindoo,
His best friends hear no more of him? - but
Will see him, and will like him too, I hope,
With the milk-white Snowdonian Antelope
Matched with this cameleopard; his fine wit
Makes such a wound, the knife is lost in it;
A strain too learnèd for a shallow age,
Too wise for selfish bigots; let his page
Which charms the chosen spirits of the time,
224 read, Boscombe MS. || said, Mrs. Shelley, transcript, 1824. 240 this, Mrs. Shelley, 1824 || the, Mrs. Shelley, transcript; his, Mrs. Shelley, 18391.
244 time, Boscombe MS., Mrs. Shelley, transcript || age, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
Fold itself up for the serener clime
Of years to come, and find its recompense
In that just expectation. Wit and sense,
Virtue and human knowledge; all that might
Make this dull world a business of delight,
Are all combined in Horace Smith. And these,
With some exceptions, which I need not tease
Your patience by descanting on, are all
You and I know in London.
My thoughts, and bid you look upon the night.
As water does a sponge, so the moonlight
Fills the void, hollow, universal air.
What see you?-unpavilioned heaven is fair
Whether the moon, into her chamber gone,
Leaves midnight to the golden stars, or wan
Climbs with diminished beams the azure steep;
Or whether clouds sail o'er the inverse deep,
Piloted by the many-wandering blast,
And the rare stars rush through them dim and
All this is beautiful in every land.
But what see you beside?—a shabby stand
Of Hackney coaches-a brick house or wall
Fencing some lonely court, white with the scrawl
Of our unhappy politics; or worse —
A wretched woman reeling by, whose curse
Mixed with the watchman's, partner of her trade,
You must accept in place of serenade,
245 the, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || a, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
247 expectation, Mrs. Shelley, 1824 || reputation, Mrs. Shelley, transcript.
Or yellow-haired Pollonia murmuring
To Henry, some unutterable thing.
I see a chaos of green leaves and fruit
Built round dark caverns, even to the root
Of the living stems that feed them-in whose
There sleep in their dark dew the folded flowers;
Beyond, the surface of the unsickled corn
Trembles not in the slumbering air, and borne
In circles quaint and ever changing dance,
Like winged stars, the fireflies flash and glance,
Pale in the open moonshine, but each one
Under the dark trees seems a little sun,
A meteor tamed, a fixed star gone astray
From the silver regions of the milky way;
Afar the Contadino's song is heard,
Rude, but made sweet by distance—and a bird
Which cannot be the Nightingale, and yet
I know none else that sings so sweet as it
At this late hour; and then all is still.
Now Italy or London, which you will!
Next winter you must pass with me; I'll have My house by that time turned into a grave Of dead despondence and low-thoughted care, And all the dreams which our tormentors are ; Oh! that Hunt, Hogg, Peacock and Smith were there,
With every thing belonging to them fair!—
272, 273 Mrs. Shelley, 18392 || omit, Mrs. Shelley, transcript, 1824, 18391.
276 that, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || who, Mrs. Shelley, 1824. 288 the, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || a, Mrs. Shelley, 1824. 296 Boscombe MS., Mrs. Shelley, transcript.