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"And again, that philosophical truth, felicitously imaged forth :
"Revenge and wrong bring forth their kind,
Their den is in the guilty mind,
And conscience feeds them with despair.'
"The conclusion of the last chorus is among the most beautiful of his lyrics; the imagery is distinct and majestic; the prophecy, such as poets love to dwell upon, the regeneration of mankind and that regeneration reflecting back splendor on the foregone time, from which it inherits so much of intellectual wealth, and memory of past virtuous deeds, as must render the possession of happiness and peace of tenfold value."
Edward Williams's Journal (Fortnightly Review, June, 1878): "Friday, October 26, 1821. As a poet Shelley is certainly the most imaginative of the day, and if he applied himself to human affections he would be the greatest. His greatest fault is ignorance of his own worth. He asked me yesterday what name he should fix to the drama he is now engaged with. I proposed Hellas, which he will adopt. I mention the circumstance, as I was proud at being asked the question, and more so that the name pleased him. Monday, November 5, 1821.—Shelley read me some passages of his Hellas, which are very fine.
"Tuesday, November 6, 1821. Commence writing out for S. a fair copy of his Hellas.
-Finish [writing out]
"Saturday, November 10, 1821. the notes and preface to Hellas. If such a poem becomes popular, we may flatter ourselves with having advanced a step towards improvement and perfection in all things, moral and political.
"Wednesday, April 10, 1822. - S. receives his Hellas.” Shelley (from Pisa) to Peacock, March 21, 1821: “I want you to do something for me: that is, to get me two pounds' worth of Tassi's gems, in Leicester Square, the prettiest, according to your taste; among them, the head of
Alexander; and to get me two seals engraved and set, one smaller, and the other handsomer; the device a dove with outspread wings, and this motto round it :
‘Μάντις εἰμ ̓ ἐσθλῶν ἀγώνων.''
Peacock, Works, iii. 473.
Shelley (from Pisa) to John Gisborne, October 22, 1821 : "I am just finishing a dramatic poem, called Hellas, upon the contest now raging in Greece a sort of imitation of the Perse of Eschylus, full of lyrical poetry. I try to be what I might have been, but am not successful. I find that (I dare say I shall quote wrong) :—
'Den herrlichsten, den sich der Geist empfängt,
Drängt immer fremd und fremder Stoff sich an.'"
Mrs. Shelley, Essays and Letters, ii. 334.
Shelley (from Pisa) to Ollier, November 11, 1821: “I send you the drama of Hellas, relying on your assurance that you will be good enough to pay immediate attention to my literary requests. What little interest this poem may ever excite, depends upon its immediate publication; I entreat you, therefore, to have the goodness to send the MS. instantly to a printer, and the moment you get a proof despatch it to me by the post. The whole might be sent at once. Lord Byron has his poem sent to him in this manner, and I cannot see that the inferiority in the composition of a poem can affect the powers of a printer in the matter of despatch, &c. If any passages should alarm you in the notes, you are at liberty to suppress them; the poem contains nothing of a tendency to danger.
"Within a few days I may have to write to you on a subject of greater interest. Meanwhile, I rely on your kindness for carrying my present request into immediate effect.
"The Ode to Napoleon to print at the end." Shelley Memorials, p. 160.
Shelley (from Pisa) to John Gisborne, April 10, 1822: "I have received Hellas, which is prettily printed, and with
fewer mistakes than any poem I ever published. Am I to thank you for the revision of the press? or who acted as midwife to this last of my orphans, introducing it to oblivion, and me to my accustomed failure? May the cause it celebrates be more fortunate than either! Tell me how you like Hellas, and give me your opinion freely. It was written without much care, and in one of those few moments of enthusiasm which now seldom visit me, and which make me pay dear for their visits." Mrs. Shelley, Essays and Letters, ii. 335, 336.
Shelley (from Pisa) to Horace Smith, April 11, 1822 : “I have, as yet, received neither the [Nympholept] nor his metaphysical companions- Time, my Lord, has a wallet on his back, and I suppose he has bagged them by the way. As he has had a good deal of alms for oblivion out of me, I think he might as well have favored me this once; I have, indeed, just dropped another mite into his treasury, called Hellas, which I know not how to send to you; but I dare say, some fury of the Hades of authors will bring one to Paris. It is a poem written on the Greek cause last summer
- a sort of lyrical, dramatic, nondescript piece of business." Mrs. Shelley, Essays and Letters, ii. 341, 342.
Shelley (from Lerici) to John Gisborne, June 18, 1822: "Hellas too I liked on account of the subject one always finds some reason or other for liking one's own composition." The Fortnightly Review, June, 1878.
Mrs. Shelley's Note, 18392, p. 194: "The remainder of Shelley's Poems will be arranged in the order in which they were written. Of course, mistakes will occur in placing some of the shorter ones; for, as I have said, many of these were thrown aside, and I never saw them till I had the misery of looking over his writings, after the hand that traced them was dust; and some were in the hands of others, and I never saw them till now. The subjects of the poems are often to me an unerring guide; but on other occasions, I can only guess, by finding them in the pages of the same manuscript book that contains poems with the date of whose
composition I am fully conversant. In the present arrangement all his poetical translations will be placed together at the end of the volume. The loss of his early papers prevents my being able to give any of the poetry of his boyhood."
EARLY POEMS, 1813-1815
Mrs. Shelley's Note, 18391, iii. 16: "He never spent a season more tranquilly than the summer of 1815. He had just recovered from a severe pulmonary attack; the weather was warm and pleasant. He lived near Windsor Forest, and his life was spent under its shades, or on the water; meditating subjects for verse. Hitherto, he had chiefly aimed at extending his political doctrines; and attempted so to do by appeals, in prose essays, to the people, exhorting them to claim their rights; but he had now begun to feel that the time for action was not ripe in England, and that the pen was the only instrument where with to prepare the way for better things.
"In the scanty journals kept during those years, I find a record of the books that Shelley read during several years. During the years of 1814 and 1815, the list is extensive. It includes, in Greek, Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus, the histories of Thucydides and Herodotus, and Diogenes Laertius ; in Latin, Petronius, Suetonius, some of the works of Cicero, a large proportion of those of Seneca, and Livy; in English, Milton's Poems, Wordsworth's Excursion, Southey's Madoc and Thalaba, Locke on the Human Understanding, Bacon's Novum Organum ; in Italian, Ariosto, Tasso, and Alfieri; in French, the Rêveries d'un Solitaire of Rousseau. To these may be added several modern books of travels. He read few novels."
159 Evening: To Harriet. From the Esdaile MSS. Written at Bracknell, for Harriet's birthday, August 1, on the completion of her eighteenth year.
160 To Ianthe. From the Esdaile MS. Elizabeth Ianthe, Shelley's first child, was born June, 1813.
160 Stanza written at Bracknell. Shelley, from Bracknell, at the house of Mrs. Boinville, to Hogg, March 16,
1814: "I have written nothing but one stanza, which has no meaning, and that I have only written in thought. [Here follows the stanza.] This is the vision of a delirious and distempered dream, which passes away at the cold clear light of morning. Its surpassing excellence and exquisite perfections have no more reality than the color of an autumnal sunset.” Hogg, ii. 516.
"The poem beginning 'Oh, there are spirits in the air' was addressed in idea to Coleridge, whom he never knew; and at whose character he could only guess imperfectly, through his writings and accounts he heard of him from some who knew him well. He regarded his change of opinions as rather an act of will than conviction, and believed that in his inner heart he would be haunted by what Shelley considered the better and holier aspirations of his youth." Mrs. Shelley's Note, 18391, iii. 16 : “I have always questioned .. whether it was not rather addressed in a despondent mood by Shelley to his own spirit." Dowden, i. 472. This suggestion was first advanced by Bertram Dobell, in his reprint of Alastor, and supported by the assent of Rossetti there given; that it is correct is reasonably certain. TEXT: i. 1 of || in 18391,2, Rossetti.
ii. 2 moonlight || mountain 18391,2.
162 To "I insert here [Poems of 1817], also the fragment of a song, though I do not know the date when it was written; but it was early." Mrs. Shelley's Note, 18392, p. 205, “I can throw no new light on the unfinished sonnet, beginning Yet look on me— - take not thine eyes away.' It seems not improbable that it was addressed at this time [June, 1814] to Mary Godwin." Dowden, i. 422. Harriet answers as well, or better, to the situation described.
TEXT: 12 pityest Rossetti.
163 Stanzas. April, 1814. "A fragment of transmuted biography." Dowden, i. 411. The incident which occasioned the verses has not been recorded in print.