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We wandered to the pine-forest
That skirts the ocean's foam. 10
The lightest wind was in its nest,
The tempest in its home;
The whispering waves were half asleep,
The clouds were gone to play,
And on the bosom of the deep 15
The smile of Heaven lay.
It seemed as if the hour were one
Sent from beyond the skies,
Which scattered from above the sun
A light of Paradise. 20
We paused amid the pines that stood
The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude
As serpents interlaced, –
And soothed, by every azure breath 25
That under heaven is blown,
To harmonies and hues beneath,
As tender as its own.
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep
Like green waves on the sea, 30
As still as in the silent deep
The ocean-woods may be.
How calm it was! — The silence there
By such a chain was bound
That even the busy woodpecker 35
Made stiller with her sound
The inviolable quietness;
The breath of peace we drew
With its soft motion made not less
The calm that round us grew. 40
There seemed, from the remotest seat
Of the white mountain-waste
To the soft flower beneath our feet,
A magic circle traced, –
A spirit interfused around, 45
A thrilling silent life:
o momentary peace it bound
Our mortal nature's strife.
And still, I felt, the centre of
The magic circle there 50
Was one fair form that filled with
The lifeless atmosphere.
We paused beside the pools that lie
Under the forest-bough.
Each seemed as 'twere a little sky 55
Gulfed in a world below:
A firmament of purple light
Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night,
And purer than the day, - 60
In which the lovely forests grew
As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue
Than any spreading there:
There lay the glade and neighboring
And through the dark green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
Out of a speckled cloud.
Sweet views which in our world above
Can never well be seen, 70
Were imaged by the water's love
Of that fair forest green:
And all was interfused beneath
With an Elysian glow, -
An atmosphere without a breath, 75
A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent
To the dark water's breast
Its every leaf and lineament
With more than truth expressed: 80
Until an envious wind crept by, —
Like an unwelcome thought,
Which from the mind's too faithful eye
Blots one dear image out.
Though thou art ever fair and kind, 85
And forests ever green,
Less oft its peace in Shelley's mind
Than calm in water seen.
The keen stars were twinkling, And the fair moon was rising among them, Dear Jane. The guitar was tinkling, But the notes were not sweet till you sang them 5 Again.
As the moon's soft splendor O'er the faint cold starlight of heaven
Is thrown, So your voice most tender 10 To the strings without soul had then given Its own.
The stars will awaken, Though the moon sleep a full hour later Tonight; 15 No leaf will be shaken Whilst the dews of your melody scatter Delight.
Though the sound overpowers, Sing again, with your dear voice revealing 20 A tone Of some world far from ours, Where music and moonlight and feeling Are one.
WITH A GUITAR: TO JANE (1822)
Ariel to Miranda: — Take
This slave of Music, for the sake
Of him who is the slave of thee;
And teach it all the harmony
In which thou canst, and only thou, 5
Make the delighted spirit glow, -
Till joy denies itself again,
And, too intense, is turned to pain.
For by permission and command
Of thine own Prince Ferdinand, 10
Poor Ariel sends this silent token
Of more than ever can be spoken. —
Your guardian spirit, Ariel, who,
From life to life, must still pursue
Your happiness: for thus alone 15
Can Ariel ever find his own.
From Prospero's enchanted cell,
As the mighty verses tell,
To the throne of Naples, he
Lit you o'er the trackless sea, 20
Flitting on, your prow before,
Like a living meteor.
When you die, the silent Moon,
In her interlunar swoon,
Is not sadder in her cell 25
Than deserted Ariel.
When you live again on earth,
Like an unseen star of birth
Ariel guides you o'er the sea
Of life from your nativity. 30
Many changes have been run,
Since Ferdinand and you begun
Your course of love, and Ariel still
Has tracked your steps, and served your
Now, in humbler, happier lot, 35
This is all remembered not;
And now, alas! the poor sprite is
Imprisoned, for some fault of his,
In a body like a grave —
From you, he only dares to crave, 40
For his service and his sorrow,
A smile today, a song tomorrow.
The artist who this idol wrought
To echo all harmonious thought,
Felled a tree, while on the steep 45
The woods were in their winter sleep,
Rocked in that repose divine
On the wind-swept Apennine;
And dreaming, some of Autumn past,
And some of Spring approaching fast, 50
And some of April buds and showers,
And some of songs in July bowers,
And all of love. And so this tree —
Oh that such our death may be! —
Died in sleep, and felt no pain, 55
To live in happier form again;
From which, beneath Heaven's fairest
The artist wrought this loved guitar,
And taught it justly to reply,
To all who question skilfully, 60
In language gentle as thine own, –
Whispering in enamored tone
Sweet oracles of woods and dells,
And summer winds in sylvan cells.
For it had learnt all harmonies 65
Of the plains and of the skies,
Of the forests and the mountains,
And the many-voiced fountains: