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Signed in The Literary Pocket-Book, 1822. MSS. Harvard, Stacey. This is one of the three poems written by Shelley in The Literary PocketBook given to Miss Stacey, December 29, 1820. Rossetti follows that MS. The Stacey version is poetically inferior to that of Hunt, Mrs. Shelley, and the Harvard MS., and even if it be a later copy it may not represent the poet's final choice. Shelley may have sent the lines to Hunt, when first written, and they may have remained in his hands until 1822; or he may have sent them after December 29, 1820, a supposition which corresponds better with Hunt's letters, — and in this case the copy represents his decision, preferring one to the other version; at all events, he left Hunt's copy uncorrected. The Harvard MS. cancellation in iii. 1, noted in the footnote, is a slight indication that this is really the later form, since a line beginning the same as that of the Stacey MS. was in the writer's mind, and was rejected. Where the matter is so uncertain, it seems best to print the better poem, especially as it is the one that has been accepted for fifty years.
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1821
Mrs. Shelley's Note, 18391, iv. 149-154: "My task becomes inexpressibly painful as the year draws near that which sealed our earthly fate; and each poem and each event it records, has a real or mysterious connection with the fatal catastrophe. I feel that I am incapable of putting on paper the history of those times. The heart of the man, abhorred of the poet,
"Who could peep and botanize upon his mother's grave,'
does not appear to me less inexplicably framed than that of one who can dissect and probe past woes, and repeat to the public ear the groans drawn from them in the throes of their agony.
"The year 1821 was spent in Pisa, or at the baths of San Giuliano. We were not, as our wont had been, alone
friends had gathered round us. Nearly all are dead; and when memory recurs to the past, she wanders among tombs: the genius with all his blighting errors and mighty powers; the companion of Shelley's ocean-wanderings, and the sharer of his fate, than whom no man ever existed more gentle, generous, and fearless; and others, who found in Shelley's society, and in his great knowledge and warm sympathy, delight, instruction and solace, have joined him beyond the grave. A few survive who have felt life a desert since he left it. What misfortune can equal death? Change can convert every other into a blessing, or heal its sting—death alone has no cure; it shakes the foundations of the earth on which we tread, it destroys its beauty, it casts down our shelter, it exposes us bare to desolation; when those we love have passed into eternity, 'life is the desert and the solitude,' in which we are forced to linger — but never find comfort
"Shelley's favorite taste was boating; when living near the Thames, or by the lake of Geneva, much of his life was spent on the water. On the shore of every lake, or stream, or sea, near which he dwelt, he had a boat moored. He had latterly enjoyed this pleasure again. There are no pleasureboats on the Arno, and the shallowness of its waters, except in winter time, when the stream is too turbid and impetuous for boating, rendered it difficult to get any skiff light enough to float. Shelley, however, overcame the difficulty; he, together with a friend, contrived a boat such as the huntsmen carry about with them in the Maremma, to cross the sluggish but deep streams that intersect the forests, a boat of laths and pitched canvas; it held three persons, and he was often seen on the Arno in it, to the horror of the Italians, who remonstrated on the danger, and could not understand how any one could take pleasure in an exercise that risked life. Ma va per la vita !' they exclaimed. I little thought how true their words would prove. He once ventured with a friend [Williams], on the glassy sea of a calm day, down the Arno and round the coast, to Leghorn, which by keeping close in shore was very practicable. They returned to Pisa by the canal, when, missing the direct cut, they got entan
gled among weeds, and the boat upset; a wetting was all the harm done except that the intense cold of his drenched clothes made Shelley faint. Once I went down with him to the mouth of the Arno, where the stream, then high and swift, met the tideless sea and disturbed its sluggish waters ; it was a waste and dreary scene; the desert sand stretched into a point surrounded by waves that broke idly though perpetually around; it was a scene very similar to Lido, of which he had said,·
"I love all waste
And solitary places, where we taste
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be;
And such was this wide ocean, and this shore
"Our little boat was of greater use, unaccompanied by any danger, when we removed to the baths. Some friends [the Williamses] lived at the village of Pugnano, four miles off, and we went to and fro to see them, in our boat, by the canal, which, fed by the Serchio, was, though an artificial, a full and picturesque stream, making its way under verdant banks, sheltered by trees that dipped their boughs into the murmuring waters. By day, multitudes of ephemera darted to and fro on the surface; at night, the fireflies came out among the shrubs on the banks; the cicale at noonday kept up their hum; the aziola cooed in the quiet evening. It was a pleasant summer, bright in all but Shelley's health and inconstant spirits; yet he enjoyed himself greatly, and became more and more attached to the part of the country where chance appeared to cast us. Sometimes he projected taking a farm, situated on the height of one of the near hills, surrounded by chestnut and pine woods, and overlooking a wide extent of country; or of settling still further in the maritime Apennines, at Massa. Several of his slighter and unfinished poems were inspired by these scenes, and by the companions around us. It is the nature of that poetry, however, which overflows from the soul, oftener to express sorrow and regret than joy; for it is when oppressed by the
weight of life, and away from those he loves, that the poet has recourse to the solace of expression in verse.
"Still Shelley's passion was the ocean; and he wished that our summers, instead of being passed among the hills near Pisa, should be spent on the shores of the sea. It was very difficult to find a spot. We shrank from Naples from a fear that the heats would disagree with Percy; Leghorn had lost its only attraction, since our friends who had resided there were returned to England; and Monte Nero being the resort of many English, we did not wish to find ourselves in the midst of a colony of chance travellers. No one then thought it possible to reside at Viareggio, which latterly has become a summer resort. The low lands and bad air of Maremma stretch the whole length of the western shores of the Mediterranean, till broken by the rocks and hills of Spezia. It was a vague idea; but Shelley suggested an excursion to Spezia, to see whether it would be feasible to spend a summer there. The beauty of the bay enchanted him -we saw no house to suit us - but the notion took root, and many circumstances, enchained as by fatality, occurred to urge him to execute it.
"He looked forward this autumn with great pleasure to the prospect of a visit from Leigh Hunt. When Shelley visited Lord Byron at Ravenna, the latter had suggested his coming out, together with the plan of a periodical work, in which they should all join. Shelley saw a prospect of good for the fortunes of his friend, and pleasure in his society, and instantly exerted himself to have the plan executed. He did not intend himself joining in the work; partly from pride, not wishing to have the air of acquiring readers for his poetry by associating it with the compositions of more popular writers; and, also, because he might feel shackled in the free expression of his opinions, if any friends were to be compromised; by those opinions, carried even to their utmost extent, he wished to live and die, as being in his conviction not only true, but such as alone would conduce to the moral improvement and happiness of mankind. The sale of the work might, meanwhile, either really or supposedly, be injured by the free expression of his thoughts, and this evil he resolved to avoid."
326 Dirge for the Year. TEXT: ii. 4 dead-cold 18392. Rossetti, under the impression that "this lyric must be conceived as spoken by two voices, one of them condoling the death of the year, the other predicting her return to life," distributes the lines into successive responses by means of inverted commas. 328 From the Arabic. Medwin, Life, ii. 178: "We seldom read new works of fiction, but made an exception in favor of Antar [By Terick Hamilton, 1819-20] which we borrowed from Byron, and found greatly interesting. His Lines from the Arabic were almost a translation from a translation in that Oriental fiction."
328 Song. MS. Harvard.
331 To Night. TEXT: i. 1 over all editions.
333 To TEXT: iii. 5 for 1824, 18391,2. 334 Mutability. TEXT: ii. 2 too 18391,2. MS. Boscombe.
335 The Fugitives.
TEXT: ii. 13 and omit 18391,2.
iii. 1-5 Rossetti distributes these lines into five speeches divided by the "and."
iv. 12 cling 18392.
338 Lines written on Hearing the News of the Death of Napoleon. TEXT: i. 8 more 18391,2.
339 Sonnet: Political Greatness. MS. Harvard.
341 Epithalamium, Medwin, Life, ii. 116: "During the spring he [Williams] had written a play, taken from the interweaving of two stories in Boccaccio, and Shelley had assisted him in the work, and supplied him with an epithalamium for music, since incorrectly printed and which I give in its original form.” TEXT: 17 Lest | Let, 1847.
342 Another Version. From the Trelawny MS. of Williams's play, The Promise, or a Year, a Month, and a Day.
Williams Journal (no date): "Went in the summer to Pugnano-passed the first three months [of 1821] in writing a play entitled The Promise, or a Year, a