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fants' eyes,

Expanding its immense and knotty arms, Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings Embraces the light beech. The pyra- Have spread their glories to the gaze of

mids Of the tall cedar overarching frame Most solemn domes within, and far Hither the Poet came. His eyes bebelow,

held Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky, Their own wan light through the re. The ash and the acacia floating hang

fiected lines Tremulous and pale. Like restless ser- Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark pents, clothed

depth In rainbow and in fire, the parasites, Of that still fountain; as the human Starred with ten thousand blossoms,

heart, flow around

Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave, The gray trunks, and, as gamesome in- Sees its own treacherous likeness there.

He heard With gentle meanings, and most in- The motion of the leaves, the grass that nocent wiles,

sprung Fold their beams round the hearts of Startled and glanced and trembled even those that love,

to feel These twine their tendrils with the An unaccustomed presence, and the wedded boughs

sound Uniting their close union; the woven Of the sweet brook that from the secret leaves

springs Make network of the dark blue light of Of that dark fountain rose. A Spirit day,

seemed And the night's noontide clearness, To stand beside him--clothed in no bright mutable

robes As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft Of shadowy silver or enshrining light, mossy lawns

Borrowed from aught the visible world Beneath these canopies extend their

affords swells,

Of grace, or majesty, or mystery ;-Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and But undulating woods, and silent well, eyed with blooms

And leaping rivulet, and evening gloom Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen Now deepening the dark shades, for Sends from its woods of musk-rose, speech assuming, twined with jasmine,

Held commune with him, as if he and it A soul-dissolving odor, to invite

Were all that was,-only. when his To some more lovely mystery. Through regard the dell,

Was raised by intense pensiveness, Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters,

two eyes, keep

Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of Their noonday watch, and sail among thought, the shades,

And seemed with their serene and azure Like vaporous shapes half seen ; beyond,

smiles a well,

To beckon him. Dark, glearning, and of most translucent wave,

Obedient to the light Images all the woven boughs above, That shone within his soul, he went, And each depending leaf, and every pursuing speck

The windings of the dell.-The rivulet Of azure sky, darting between their Wanton and wild, through many a green chasms ;

ravine Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes Its portraiture, but some inconstant star

it fell Between one foliaged lattice twinkling Among the moss with hollow harmony fair,

Dark and profound. Now on the polished Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the

stones moon,

It danced ; like childhood laughing as it Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,

went :

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Rolled through the labyrinthine dell,

and there Fretted a path through its descending With its wintry speed. On every side


now rose

What oozy cavern or what wandering

cloud Contains thy waters, as the universe Tell where these living thoughts reside,

when stretched Upon thy flowers my bloodless limbs

shall waste I’ the passing wind!”

Beside the grassy shore of the small stream he went; he did

impress On the green moss his tremulous step,

that caught Strong shuddering from his burning

limbs. As one Roused by some joyous madness from

the couch Of fever, he did move ; yet not like him Forgetful of the grave, where, when

the flame of his frail exultation shall be spent, He must descend. With rapid steps he

went Beneath the shade of trees, beside the

flow Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now The forest's solemn canopies

changed For the uniform and lightsome evening

sky. Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss,

and stemmed The struggling brook : tall spires of

windlestrae Threw their thin shadows down the

rugged slope, And nought but gnarled roots of ancient

pines Bi chless and blasted, clenched with

grasping roots The unwilling soil. A gradual change

was here,


Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, Lifted their black and barren pinnacles In the light of evening, and, its precipice Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above, Mid toppling stones, black gulfs and

yawning caves, Whose windings gave ten thousand

various tongues To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass

expands Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain

breaks, And seems, with its accumulated crags, To overhang the world : for wide expand Beneath the wan stars and descending Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty

streams, Dim tracts and vast, robed in the

lustrous gloom Of leadlen-colored even, and fiery hills Mingling their flames with twilight, on

the verge Of the remote horizon. The near scene, In naked and severe simplicity, Made contrast with the universe. A

pine, Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the

vacancy Its swinging boughs, to each inconstant

blast Yielding one ouly response, at each pause In most familiar cadence, with the howl The thunder and the hiss of liomeless

streams Mingling its solemn song, whilst the

broad river,


Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged

path, Fell into that immeasurable void Scattering its waters to the passing


Yet the gray precipice and solemn

pine And torrent were not all ;-one silent

nook Was there. Even on the edge of that

vast mountain, Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks, It overlooked in its serenity The dark earth, and the bending vault

of stars. It was a tranquil spot, that seemed to

smile Even in the lap of horror. Ivy clasped The fissured stones with its entwining

arms, And did embower with leaves for ever

green, And berries dark, the smooth and even

space Of its in violated floor, and here 'The children of the autumnal whirlwind

bore, In wanton sport, those bright leaves,

whose decay, Red, yellow, or ethereally pale, Rivals the pride of summer. 'Tis the

haunt Of every gentle wind, whose breath can

teach The wilds to love tranquillity. One

step, One human step alone, has ever broken The stillness of its solitude :-one voice Alone inspired its echoes ;-even that

voice Which hither came, floating among the

winds, And led the loveliest among human

forms To make their wild haunts the deposi

tory Of all the grace and beauty that endued Its motions, render up its majesty, Scatter its music on the unfeeling

storm, And to the damp leaves and blue cavern

mould, Nurses of rainbow flowers and branch

ing moss, Commit the colors of that varying

cheek, That snowy breast, those dark and

drooping eyes.

The dim and hornèd moon hung low,

and poured A sea of lustre on the horizon's verge That overflowed its mountains. Yellow

mist Filled the unbounded atmosphere, and

drank Wan moonlight even to fulness : not a

star Shone, not a sound was heard ; the very

winds, Danger's grim playmates, on that preci

pice Slept, clasped in his embrace.-0, storm

of death! Whose sightless speed divides this sullen

night: And thou, colossal Skeleton, that, still Guiding its irresistible career In thy devastating omnipotence, Art king of this frail world, from the

red field Of slaughter, from the reeking hos

pital, The patriot's sacred couch, the snowy

bed Of innocence, the scaffold and the

throne, A mighty voice invokes thee. Ruin

calls His brother Death. A rare and regal

prey He hath prepared, prowling around the

world; Glutted with which thou mayst repose,

and men Go to their graves like flowers or creep

ing worms, Norever more offer at thy dark shrine The unheeded tribute of a broken heart.

When on the threshold of the green

recess The wanderer's footsteps fell, he knew

that death Was on him. Yet a little, ere it fled, Did he resign his high and holy soul To images of the majestic past, That paused within his passive being

now, Like winds that bear sweet music, when

they breathe Throug, some dim latticed chamber.

He did place His pale lean hand upon the rugged

trunk of the old pine. Upon an ivied stone Reclined his languid head, his limbs did


Diffused and motionless, on the smooth

brink Of that obscurest chasm ;-and thus he

lay, Surrendering to their final impulses The hovering powers of life. Hope and

despair, The torturers, slept; no mortal pain or

fear Marred his repose, the influxes of sense, And his own being unalloyed by pain, Yet feebler and more feeble, calmly fed The stream of thought, till he lay breath

ing there At peace, and faintly smiling :-his last

sight Was the great moon, which o'er the

western line Of the wide world her mighty horn sus

pended, With whose dun beams in woven dark

ness seemed To mingle. Now upon the jagged hills It rests, and still as the divided frame Of the vast meteor sunk, the Poet's blood, That ever beat in mystic sympathy With nature's ebb and flow, grew feebler

still : And when two lessening points of light

alone Gleamed through the darkness, the alter

0, for Medea's wondrous alchemy, Which wheresoe'er it fell made the earth

gleam With bright flowers, and the wintry

boughs exhale From vernal blooms fresh fragrance !

0, that God, Profuse of poisons, would concede the

chalice Which but one living man has drained,

who now Vessel of deathless wrath, a slave that

feels No proud exemption in the blighting

curse He bears, over the world wanders for

ever, Lone as incarnate deathı! O, that the

dream Of dark magician in his visioned care, Raking the cinders of a crucible For life and power, even when his feeble

hand Shakes in its last decay, were the true

law Of this so lovely world ! But thou art

fled Like some frail exhalation; which the

dawn Robes in its golden beams,--ah! thou

hast fled ! The brave, the gentle, and the beautiful, The child of grace and genius. Heart

less things Are done and said if the world, and

many worms And beasts and men live on, and mighty

Earth From sea and mountain, city and wilder

ness, In vesper low or joyous orison, Lifts still its solemn voice:but thou

art fledThou canst no longer know or love the

shapes Of this phantasmal scene, who have to

thee Been purest ministers, who are, alas ! Now thou art not. Upon those pallid

lips So sweet even in their silence, on those

eyes That image sleep in death, upon that

form Yet safe from the worm's outrage, let

no tear Be shed—not even in thought. Nor

when those hues Are gone, and those divinest lineaments

nate gasp

Oi his faint respiration scarce did stir The stagnate night :--till the minutest

ray Was quenched, the pulse yet lingered in

his heart. It paused-it fluttered. But when

heaven remained Utterly black, the murky shades in

volved An image, silent, cold, and motionless, As their own voiceless earth and vacant

air. Even as a vapor fed with golden beams That ministerell on sunlight, ere the west Eelipses it, was now that wondrous

frameNo sense, no motion, no divinityA fragile lute, on whose harmonious

strings The breath of heaven did wander-a

bright stream Once fed with many-voicèd waves--a

dream of youth, which night and time have

quenched forever, Still, dark, and dry, and unremembered




I THE awful shadow of some unseen Power Floats tho' unseen amongst us,

visiting This various world with as inconstant

wing As summer winds that creep from flower

to flower, Like moonbeams that behind some piny

mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance

Each human heart and countenance; Like hues and harmonies of evening,

Like clouds in starlight widely

spread, -
Like memory of music fled,

Like aught that for its grace may be Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.

II Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate

With thine own hues all thou dost

shine upon

Worn by the senseless wind, shall live

alone In the fra i pauses of this simple strain, Let not high verse, mourning the

memory Of that which is no more, or painting's

woe Or sculpture, speak in feeble imagery Their own cold powers. Art and elo

quence, And all the shows o' the world are frail

and vain To weep a loss that turns their lights to

shade. It is a woe too “ dean for tears," when

all Is reft at once, when some surpassing

Spirit, Whose light adorned the world around

it, leaves Those who remain behind, not sobs or

groans, The passionatetumult of a clinging hope ; But pale despair and cold tranquillity, Nature's vast frame, the web of human

things, Birth and the grave, that are not as they were. 1

1815. March, 1816. 1 None of Shelley's poems is more character. istic than this. The solemn spirit that reigns throughout, the worship of the majesty of nature, the broodings of a poet's heart in solitude -the mingling of the exulting joy which the various aspects of the visible universe inspires with the sad and struggling pangs which human passion imparts-give a touching interest to the whole. The death which he had often contem. plated during the last months as certain and near he here represented in such colors as had, in his lonely musings, soothed his soul to peace. The versification sustains the solemn spirit waich breathes throughout: it is peculiarly melodious. The poem ought rather to be considered didactic than narrative: it was the outpouring of his own emotions, embodied in the purest form he could conceive, painted in the ideal hues which his brilliant imagination inspired, and softened by the recent anticipation of death. (Mrs. Shelley's note.)

The deeper meaning of Alastor is to be found, not in the thought of death nor in the poet's recent communings with nature, but in the motto from St. Augustine placed upon its titlepage, and in the Hymn to intellectual Beauty, composed about a year later. Enamored of ideal loveliness, the poet pursues his vision through the universe, vainly hoping to assuage the thirst which has been stimulated in his spirit, and vaiply longing for some mortal real. ization of his love. Alastor, like Epipsychidion, reveals the mistake which Shelley made in thinking that the idea of beauty could become incarnate for him in any earthly form : while the Hymn to Intellectual Beauty recognizes the truth that such realization of the ideal is impossible. The very last letter written by Shelley sets the misconception in its proper light : "I think one is always in love with something or

Of human thought or form,-where

art thou gone? Why dost thou pass away and leave our

state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and

desolate? Ask why the sunlight not for ever Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain

river, Why aught should fail and fade that

once is shown, Why fear and dream and death and

birth Cast on the daylight of this earth Such gloom,-why man has such a

scope For love and hate, despondency and



No voice from some sublimer world hath

ever To sage or poet these responses

given Therefore the names of Demon,

Ghost, and Heaven,

other; the error, and I confess it is not easy for spirits cased in flesh and blood to avoid it, consists in seeking in a mortal image the likeness of what is, perhaps, eternal." But this Shelley discovered only with “ the years that bring the philosophic mind,” and when he was upon the very verge of his untimely death. ( Life of Shelley.)

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