Percy Shelley: Poems

Prince Athanase

(The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal

modelled on "Alastor". In the first sketch of the poem, he named it

"Pandemos and Urania". Athanase seeks through the world the One whom

he may love. He meets, in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady who

appears to him to embody his ideal of love and beauty. But she proves

to be Pandemos, or the earthly and unworthy Venus; who, after

disappointing his cherished dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase,

crushed by sorrow, pines and dies. 'On his deathbed, the lady who can

really reply to his soul comes and kisses his lips' ("The Deathbed of

Athanase"). The poet describes her [in the words of the final

fragment, page 164]. This slender note is all we have to aid our

imagination in shaping out the form of the poem, such as its author

imagined. [Mrs. Shelley's Note.])

[Written at Marlow in 1817, towards the close of the year; first]

published in "Posthumous Poems", 1824. Part 1 is dated by Mrs.

Shelley, 'December, 1817,' the remainder, 'Marlow, 1817.' The verses

were probably rehandled in Italy during the following year. Sources of

the text are (1) "Posthumous Poems", 1824; (2) "Poetical Works" 1839,

editions 1st and 2nd; (3) a much-tortured draft amongst the Bodleian

manuscripts, collated by Mr. C.D. Locock. For (1) and (2) Mrs. Shelley

is responsible. Our text (enlarged by about thirty lines fro the

Bodleian manuscript) follows for the most part the "Poetical Works",

1839; verbal exceptions are pointed out in the footnotes. See also the

Editor's Notes at the end of this volume, and Mr. Locock's

"Examination of Shelley Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library", Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1903.