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O THOU, who plumed with strong desire
Wouldst float above the earth, beware!
A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire -
Night is coming!
Bright are the regions of the air,
And among the winds and beams
It were delight to wander there
Night is coming!
The deathless stars are bright above;
If I would cross the shade of night,
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day!
And the moon will smile with gentle light
On my golden plumes where'er they move; The meteors will linger round my flight, And make night day.
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain?
See, the bounds of the air are shaken
Night is coming!
The red swift clouds of the hurricane
Yon declining sun have overtaken;
The Two Spirits. Published by Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain
Night is coming!
I see the light, and I hear the sound;
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark,
With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day;
And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark, Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound; My moon-like flight thou then mayst mark On high, far away.
Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
Mid Alpine mountains ;
And that the languid storm pursuing
That winged shape forever flies
Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
Its aëry fountains.
Some say when nights are dry and clear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass, Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller, Which make night day ;
And a silver shape like his early love doth pass,
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
And, when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
He finds night day.
31 moon-like, Mrs. Shelley, 1824 || moonlight, Mrs. Shelley, 18391. 44 makes, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
LEGHORN, July 1, 1820.
THE spider spreads her webs whether she be
In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree;
The silkworm in the dark green mulberry leaves
His winding sheet and cradle ever weaves;
So I, a thing whom moralists call worm,
Sit spinning still round this decaying form,
From the fine threads of rare and subtle thought-
No net of words in garish colors wrought
To catch the idle buzzers of the day
But a soft cell, where when that fades away
Memory may clothe in wings my living name
And feed it with the asphodels of fame,
Which in those hearts which must remember me
Grow, making love an immortality.
Whoever should behold me now, I wist, Would think I were a mighty mechanist, Bent with sublime Archimedean art To breathe a soul into the iron heart Of some machine portentous, or strange gin, Which by the force of figured spells might win Its way over the sea, and sport therein; For round the walls are hung dread engines, such As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to clutch Ixion or the Titan, or the quick
Letter to Maria Gisborne. Mrs. Shelley, 18391 || Letter to Mrs. Shelley, 1824. Published by Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
2 cellar, or barn, Mrs. Shelley, 1824 || cellar, barn, Mrs. Shelley, transcript.
13 must, Boscombe MS. | most, Mrs. Shelley, transcript, 1824.
Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,
To convince Atheist, Turk or Heretic,
Or those in philanthropic council met,
Who thought to pay some interest for the debt
They owed to Jesus Christ for their salvation,
By giving a faint foretaste of damnation
To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser and the rest
Who made our land an island of the blest,
When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes her fire
On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with Empire: -
With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth and spike
Which fishers found under the utmost crag
Of Cornwall and the storm-encompassed isles,
Where to the sky the rude sea rarely smiles
Unless in treacherous wrath. as on the morn
When the exulting elements in scorn,
Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay
Sleeping in beauty on their mangled prey,
As panthers sleep; — and other strange and dread
Magical forms the brick floor overspread
Proteus transformed to metal did not make
More figures, or more strange; nor did he take
Such shapes of unintelligible brass,
Or heap himself in such a horrid mass
Of tin and iron, not to be understood,
And forms of unimaginable wood
27 philanthropic, Boscombe MS. || philosophic, Mrs. Shelley, transcript, 1824.
29 Mrs. Shelley, 18392" They owed . . . Mrs. Shelley, 1824.
36 Which fishers, Boscombe MS., Mrs. Shelley, transcript || Which fishes, Mrs. Shelley, 1824, With fishes, Mrs. Shelley, 18391. 38 rarely, Mrs. Shelley, transcript seldom, Mrs. Shelley, 1824. 49 and, Mrs. Shelley, 1824 || or, Mrs. Shelley, transcript.
To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his brood;
Great screws, and cones, and wheels, and groovèd blocks,
The elements of what will stand the shocks
Of wave and wind and time. Upon the table
More knacks and quips there be than I am able
To catalogize in this verse of mine: —
A pretty bowl of wood - not full of wine,
But quicksilver; that dew which the gnomes drink
When at their subterranean toil they swink,
Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who
Reply to them in lava - cry halloo !
And call out to the cities o'er their head,
Roofs, towers and shrines, the dying and the dead,
Crash through the chinks of earth- and then all
Another rouse, and hold their sides and laugh.
This quicksilver no gnome has drunk within
The walnut bowl it lies, veinèd and thin,
In color like the wake of light that stains
The Tuscan deep, when from the moist moon rains
The inmost shower of its white fire- the breeze
Is still-blue heaven smiles over the pale seas.
And in this bowl of quicksilver - for I
Yield to the impulse of an infancy
Outlasting manhood - I have made to float
A rude idealism of a paper boat,
A hollow screw with cogs
Henry will know
The thing I mean and laugh at me, if so
He fears not I should do more mischief. Next
Lie bills and calculations much perplexed,
With steamboats, frigates, and machinery quaint
63 towers, Mrs. Shelley, transcript || towns, Mrs. Shelley, 1824.