Percy Shelley: Poems

Prometheus Unbound: Act 2

SCENE 2.1:





From all the blasts of heaven thou hast descended:

Yes, like a spirit, like a thought, which makes

Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes,

And beatings haunt the desolated heart,

Which should have learnt repose: thou hast descended _5

Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O Spring!

O child of many winds! As suddenly

Thou comest as the memory of a dream,

Which now is sad because it hath been sweet;

Like genius, or like joy which riseth up _10

As from the earth, clothing with golden clouds

The desert of our life.

This is the season, this the day, the hour;

At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister mine,

Too long desired, too long delaying, come! _15

How like death-worms the wingless moments crawl!

The point of one white star is quivering still

Deep in the orange light of widening morn

Beyond the purple mountains: through a chasm

Of wind-divided mist the darker lake _20

Reflects it: now it wanes: it gleams again

As the waves fade, and as the burning threads

Of woven cloud unravel in pale air:

'Tis lost! and through yon peaks of cloud-like snow

The roseate sunlight quivers: hear I not _25

The Aeolian music of her sea-green plumes

Winnowing the crimson dawn?


I feel, I see

Those eyes which burn through smiles that fade in tears,

Like stars half quenched in mists of silver dew.

Beloved and most beautiful, who wearest _30

The shadow of that soul by which I live,

How late thou art! the sphered sun had climbed

The sea; my heart was sick with hope, before

The printless air felt thy belated plumes.


Pardon, great Sister! but my wings were faint _35

With the delight of a remembered dream,

As are the noontide plumes of summer winds

Satiate with sweet flowers. I was wont to sleep

Peacefully, and awake refreshed and calm

Before the sacred Titan's fall, and thy _40

Unhappy love, had made, through use and pity,

Both love and woe familiar to my heart

As they had grown to thine: erewhile I slept

Under the glaucous caverns of old Ocean

Within dim bowers of green and purple moss, _45

Our young Ione's soft and milky arms

Locked then, as now, behind my dark, moist hair,

While my shut eyes and cheek were pressed within

The folded depth of her life-breathing bosom:

But not as now, since I am made the wind _50

Which fails beneath the music that I bear

Of thy most wordless converse; since dissolved

Into the sense with which love talks, my rest

Was troubled and yet sweet; my waking hours

Too full of care and pain.


Lift up thine eyes, _55

And let me read thy dream.


As I have said

With our sea-sister at his feet I slept.

The mountain mists, condensing at our voice

Under the moon, had spread their snowy flakes,

From the keen ice shielding our linked sleep. _60

Then two dreams came. One, I remember not.

But in the other his pale wound-worn limbs

Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night

Grew radiant with the glory of that form

Which lives unchanged within, and his voice fell _65

Like music which makes giddy the dim brain,

Faint with intoxication of keen joy:

'Sister of her whose footsteps pave the world

With loveliness--more fair than aught but her,

Whose shadow thou art--lift thine eyes on me.' _70

I lifted them: the overpowering light

Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er

By love; which, from his soft and flowing limbs,

And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint eyes,

Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an atmosphere _75

Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving power,

As the warm ether of the morning sun

Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wandering dew.

I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt

His presence flow and mingle through my blood _80

Till it became his life, and his grew mine,

And I was thus absorbed, until it passed,

And like the vapours when the sun sinks down,

Gathering again in drops upon the pines,

And tremulous as they, in the deep night _85

My being was condensed; and as the rays

Of thought were slowly gathered, I could hear

His voice, whose accents lingered ere they died

Like footsteps of weak melody: thy name

Among the many sounds alone I heard _90

Of what might be articulate; though still

I listened through the night when sound was none.

Ione wakened then, and said to me:

'Canst thou divine what troubles me to-night?

I always knew, what I desired before, _95

Nor ever found delight to wish in vain.

But now I cannot tell thee what I seek;

I know not; something sweet, since it is sweet

Even to desire; it is thy sport, false sister;

Thou hast discovered some enchantment old, _100

Whose spells have stolen my spirit as I slept

And mingled it with thine: for when just now

We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips

The sweet air that sustained me, and the warmth

Of the life-blood, for loss of which I faint, _105

Quivered between our intertwining arms.'

I answered not, for the Eastern star grew pale,

But fled to thee.


Thou speakest, but thy words

Are as the air: I feel them not: Oh, lift

Thine eyes, that I may read his written soul! _110


I lift them though they droop beneath the load

Of that they would express: what canst thou see

But thine own fairest shadow imaged there?


Thine eyes are like the deep, blue, boundless heaven

Contracted to two circles underneath _115

Their long, fine lashes; dark, far, measureless,

Orb within orb, and line through line inwoven.


Why lookest thou as if a spirit passed?


There is a change: beyond their inmost depth

I see a shade, a shape: 'tis He, arrayed _120

In the soft light of his own smiles, which spread

Like radiance from the cloud-surrounded moon.

Prometheus, it is thine! depart not yet!

Say not those smiles that we shall meet again

Within that bright pavilion which their beams _125

Shall build o'er the waste world? The dream is told.

What shape is that between us? Its rude hair

Roughens the wind that lifts it, its regard

Is wild and quick, yet 'tis a thing of air,

For through its gray robe gleams the golden dew _130

Whose stars the noon has quenched not.


_122 moon B; morn 1820.

_126 o'er B; on 1820.


Follow! Follow!


It is mine other dream.


It disappears.


It passes now into my mind. Methought

As we sate here, the flower-infolding buds

Burst on yon lightning-blasted almond tree, _135

When swift from the white Scythian wilderness

A wind swept forth wrinkling the Earth with frost:

I looked, and all the blossoms were blown down;

But on each leaf was stamped, as the blue bells

Of Hyacinth tell Apollo's written grief, _140



As you speak, your words

Fill, pause by pause, my own forgotten sleep

With shapes. Methought among these lawns together

We wandered, underneath the young gray dawn,

And multitudes of dense white fleecy clouds _145

Were wandering in thick flocks along the mountains

Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind;

And the white dew on the new-bladed grass,

Just piercing the dark earth, hung silently;

And there was more which I remember not: _150

But on the shadows of the morning clouds,

Athwart the purple mountain slope, was written

FOLLOW, O, FOLLOW! as they vanished by;

And on each herb, from which Heaven's dew had fallen,

The like was stamped, as with a withering fire; _155

A wind arose among the pines; it shook

The clinging music from their boughs, and then

Low, sweet, faint sounds, like the farewell of ghosts,


And then I said, 'Panthea, look on me.' _160

But in the depth of those beloved eyes

Still I saw, FOLLOW, FOLLOW!


_143 these B; the 1820.


Follow, follow!


The crags, this clear spring morning, mock our voices

As they were spirit-tongued.


It is some being

Around the crags. What fine clear sounds! O, list! _165


Echoes we: listen!

We cannot stay:

As dew-stars glisten

Then fade away--

Child of Ocean! _170


Hark! Spirits speak. The liquid responses

Of their aereal tongues yet sound.


I hear.


Oh, follow, follow,

As our voice recedeth

Through the caverns hollow, _175

Where the forest spreadeth;


Oh, follow, follow!

Through the caverns hollow,

As the song floats thou pursue,

Where the wild bee never flew, _180

Through the noontide darkness deep,

By the odour-breathing sleep

Of faint night-flowers, and the waves

At the fountain-lighted caves,

While our music, wild and sweet, _185

Mocks thy gently falling feet,

Child of Ocean!


Shall we pursue the sound? It grows more faint

And distant.


List! the strain floats nearer now.


In the world unknown _190

Sleeps a voice unspoken;

By thy step alone

Can its rest be broken;

Child of Ocean!


How the notes sink upon the ebbing wind! _195


Oh, follow, follow!

Through the caverns hollow,

As the song floats thou pursue,

By the woodland noontide dew;

By the forests, lakes, and fountains, _200

Through the many-folded mountains;

To the rents, and gulfs, and chasms,

Where the Earth reposed from spasms,

On the day when He and thou

Parted, to commingle now; _205

Child of Ocean!


Come, sweet Panthea, link thy hand in mine,

And follow, ere the voices fade away.

SCENE 2.2:





The path through which that lovely twain

Have passed, by cedar, pine, and yew,

And each dark tree that ever grew,

Is curtained out from Heaven's wide blue;

Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain, _5

Can pierce its interwoven bowers,

Nor aught, save where some cloud of dew,

Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze,

Between the trunks of the hoar trees,

Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers _10

Of the green laurel, blown anew,

And bends, and then fades silently,

One frail and fair anemone:

Or when some star of many a one

That climbs and wanders through steep night, _15

Has found the cleft through which alone

Beams fall from high those depths upon

Ere it is borne away, away,

By the swift Heavens that cannot stay,

It scatters drops of golden light, _20

Like lines of rain that ne'er unite:

And the gloom divine is all around,

And underneath is the mossy ground.


There the voluptuous nightingales,

Are awake through all the broad noonday. _25

When one with bliss or sadness fails,

And through the windless ivy-boughs,

Sick with sweet love, droops dying away

On its mate's music-panting bosom;

Another from the swinging blossom, _30

Watching to catch the languid close

Of the last strain, then lifts on high

The wings of the weak melody,

Till some new strain of feeling bear

The song, and all the woods are mute; _35

When there is heard through the dim air

The rush of wings, and rising there

Like many a lake-surrounded flute,

Sounds overflow the listener's brain

So sweet, that joy is almost pain. _40


_38 surrounded B, edition 1839; surrounding 1820.


There those enchanted eddies play

Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw,

By Demogorgon's mighty law,

With melting rapture, or sweet awe,

All spirits on that secret way; _45

As inland boats are driven to Ocean

Down streams made strong with mountain-thaw:

And first there comes a gentle sound

To those in talk or slumber bound,

And wakes the destined soft emotion,-- _50

Attracts, impels them; those who saw

Say from the breathing earth behind

There steams a plume-uplifting wind

Which drives them on their path, while they

Believe their own swift wings and feet _55

The sweet desires within obey:

And so they float upon their way,

Until, still sweet, but loud and strong,

The storm of sound is driven along,

Sucked up and hurrying: as they fleet _60

Behind, its gathering billows meet

And to the fatal mountain bear

Like clouds amid the yielding air.


_50 destined]destinied 1820.


Canst thou imagine where those spirits live

Which make such delicate music in the woods? _65

We haunt within the least frequented caves

And closest coverts, and we know these wilds,

Yet never meet them, though we hear them oft:

Where may they hide themselves?


'Tis hard to tell;

I have heard those more skilled in spirits say, _70

The bubbles, which the enchantment of the sun

Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave

The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools,

Are the pavilions where such dwell and float

Under the green and golden atmosphere _75

Which noontide kindles through the woven leaves;

And when these burst, and the thin fiery air,

The which they breathed within those lucent domes,

Ascends to flow like meteors through the night,

They ride on them, and rein their headlong speed, _80

And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire

Under the waters of the earth again.


If such live thus, have others other lives,

Under pink blossoms or within the bells

Of meadow flowers, or folded violets deep, _85

Or on their dying odours, when they die,

Or in the sunlight of the sphered dew?


_86 on 1820; in B.


Ay, many more which we may well divine.

But should we stay to speak, noontide would come,

And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn, _90

And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs

Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos old,

And Love, and the chained Titan's woful doom,

And how he shall be loosed, and make the earth

One brotherhood: delightful strains which cheer _95

Our solitary twilights, and which charm

To silence the unenvying nightingales.


_93 doom B, edition 1839; dooms 1820.

SCENE 2.3:




Hither the sound has borne us--to the realm

Of Demogorgon, and the mighty portal,

Like a volcano's meteor-breathing chasm,

Whence the oracular vapour is hurled up

Which lonely men drink wandering in their youth, _5

And call truth, virtue, love, genius, or joy,

That maddening wine of life, whose dregs they drain

To deep intoxication; and uplift,

Like Maenads who cry loud, Evoe! Evoe!

The voice which is contagion to the world. _10


Fit throne for such a Power! Magnificent!

How glorious art thou, Earth! And if thou be

The shadow of some spirit lovelier still,

Though evil stain its work, and it should be

Like its creation, weak yet beautiful, _15

I could fall down and worship that and thee.

Even now my heart adoreth: Wonderful!

Look, sister, ere the vapour dim thy brain:

Beneath is a wide plain of billowy mist,

As a lake, paving in the morning sky, _20

With azure waves which burst in silver light,

Some Indian vale. Behold it, rolling on

Under the curdling winds, and islanding

The peak whereon we stand, midway, around,

Encinctured by the dark and blooming forests, _25

Dim twilight-lawns, and stream-illumined caves,

And wind-enchanted shapes of wandering mist;

And far on high the keen sky-cleaving mountains

From icy spires of sun-like radiance fling

The dawn, as lifted Ocean's dazzling spray, _30

From some Atlantic islet scattered up,

Spangles the wind with lamp-like water-drops.

The vale is girdled with their walls, a howl

Of cataracts from their thaw-cloven ravines,

Satiates the listening wind, continuous, vast, _35

Awful as silence. Hark! the rushing snow!

The sun-awakened avalanche! whose mass,

Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there

Flake after flake, in heaven-defying minds

As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth _40

Is loosened, and the nations echo round,

Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now.


_26 illumed B; illumined 1820.


Look how the gusty sea of mist is breaking

In crimson foam, even at our feet! it rises

As Ocean at the enchantment of the moon _45

Round foodless men wrecked on some oozy isle.


The fragments of the cloud are scattered up;

The wind that lifts them disentwines my hair;

Its billows now sweep o'er mine eyes; my brain

Grows dizzy; see'st thou shapes within the mist? _50


see'st thou B; I see thin 1820; I see 1839.


A countenance with beckoning smiles: there burns

An azure fire within its golden locks!

Another and another: hark! they speak!


To the deep, to the deep,

Down, down! _55

Through the shade of sleep,

Through the cloudy strife

Of Death and of Life;

Through the veil and the bar

Of things which seem and are _60

Even to the steps of the remotest throne,

Down, down!

While the sound whirls around,

Down, down!

As the fawn draws the hound, _65

As the lightning the vapour,

As a weak moth the taper;

Death, despair; love, sorrow;

Time both; to-day, to-morrow;

As steel obeys the spirit of the stone, _70

Down, down!

Through the gray, void abysm,

Down, down!

Where the air is no prism,

And the moon and stars are not, _75

And the cavern-crags wear not

The radiance of Heaven,

Nor the gloom to Earth given,

Where there is One pervading, One alone,

Down, down! _80

In the depth of the deep,

Down, down!

Like veiled lightning asleep,

Like the spark nursed in embers,

The last look Love remembers, _85

Like a diamond, which shines

On the dark wealth of mines,

A spell is treasured but for thee alone.

Down, down!

We have bound thee, we guide thee; _90

Down, down!

With the bright form beside thee;

Resist not the weakness,

Such strength is in meekness

That the Eternal, the Immortal, _95

Must unloose through life's portal

The snake-like Doom coiled underneath his throne

By that alone.

SCENE 2.4:




What veiled form sits on that ebon throne?


The veil has fallen.


I see a mighty darkness

Filling the seat of power, and rays of gloom

Dart round, as light from the meridian sun.

--Ungazed upon and shapeless; neither limb, _5

Nor form, nor outline; yet we feel it is

A living Spirit.


Ask what thou wouldst know.


What canst thou tell?


All things thou dar'st demand.


Who made the living world?




Who made all

That it contains? thought, passion, reason, will, _10



God: Almighty God.


Who made that sense which, when the winds of Spring

In rarest visitation, or the voice

Of one beloved heard in youth alone,

Fills the faint eyes with falling tears which dim _15

The radiant looks of unbewailing flowers,

And leaves this peopled earth a solitude

When it returns no more?


Merciful God.


And who made terror, madness, crime, remorse,

Which from the links of the great chain of things, _20

To every thought within the mind of man

Sway and drag heavily, and each one reels

Under the load towards the pit of death;

Abandoned hope, and love that turns to hate;

And self-contempt, bitterer to drink than blood; _25

Pain, whose unheeded and familiar speech

Is howling, and keen shrieks, day after day;

And Hell, or the sharp fear of Hell?


He reigns.


Utter his name: a world pining in pain

Asks but his name: curses shall drag him down. _30


He reigns.


I feel, I know it: who?


He reigns.


Who reigns? There was the Heaven and Earth at first,

And Light and Love; then Saturn, from whose throne

Time fell, an envious shadow: such the state

Of the earth's primal spirits beneath his sway, _35

As the calm joy of flowers and living leaves

Before the wind or sun has withered them

And semivital worms; but he refused

The birthright of their being, knowledge, power,

The skill which wields the elements, the thought _40

Which pierces this dim universe like light,

Self-empire, and the majesty of love;

For thirst of which they fainted. Then Prometheus

Gave wisdom, which is strength, to Jupiter,

And with this law alone, 'Let man be free,' _45

Clothed him with the dominion of wide Heaven.

To know nor faith, nor love, nor law; to be

Omnipotent but friendless is to reign;

And Jove now reigned; for on the race of man

First famine, and then toil, and then disease, _50

Strife, wounds, and ghastly death unseen before,

Fell; and the unseasonable seasons drove

With alternating shafts of frost and fire,

Their shelterless, pale tribes to mountain caves:

And in their desert hearts fierce wants he sent, _55

And mad disquietudes, and shadows idle

Of unreal good, which levied mutual war,

So ruining the lair wherein they raged.

Prometheus saw, and waked the legioned hopes

Which sleep within folded Elysian flowers, _60

Nepenthe, Moly, Amaranth, fadeless blooms,

That they might hide with thin and rainbow wings

The shape of Death; and Love he sent to bind

The disunited tendrils of that vine

Which bears the wine of life, the human heart; _65

And he tamed fire which, like some beast of prey,

Most terrible, but lovely, played beneath

The frown of man; and tortured to his will

Iron and gold, the slaves and signs of power,

And gems and poisons, and all subtlest forms _70

Hidden beneath the mountains and the waves.

He gave man speech, and speech created thought,

Which is the measure of the universe;

And Science struck the thrones of earth and heaven,

Which shook, but fell not; and the harmonious mind _75

Poured itself forth in all-prophetic song;

And music lifted up the listening spirit

Until it walked, exempt from mortal care,

Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet sound;

And human hands first mimicked and then mocked, _80

With moulded limbs more lovely than its own,

The human form, till marble grew divine;

And mothers, gazing, drank the love men see

Reflected in their race, behold, and perish.

He told the hidden power of herbs and springs, _85

And Disease drank and slept. Death grew like sleep.

He taught the implicated orbits woven

Of the wide-wandering stars; and how the sun

Changes his lair, and by what secret spell

The pale moon is transformed, when her broad eye _90

Gazes not on the interlunar sea:

He taught to rule, as life directs the limbs,

The tempest-winged chariots of the Ocean,

And the Celt knew the Indian. Cities then

Were built, and through their snow-like columns flowed _95

The warm winds, and the azure ether shone,

And the blue sea and shadowy hills were seen.

Such, the alleviations of his state,

Prometheus gave to man, for which he hangs

Withering in destined pain: but who rains down _100

Evil, the immedicable plague, which, while

Man looks on his creation like a God

And sees that it is glorious, drives him on,

The wreck of his own will, the scorn of earth,

The outcast, the abandoned, the alone? _105

Not Jove: while yet his frown shook Heaven ay, when

His adversary from adamantine chains

Cursed him, he trembled like a slave. Declare

Who is his master? Is he too a slave?


_100 rains B, edition 1839; reigns 1820.


All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil: _110

Thou knowest if Jupiter be such or no.


Whom calledst thou God?


I spoke but as ye speak,

For Jove is the supreme of living things.


Who is the master of the slave?


If the abysm

Could vomit forth its secrets...But a voice _115

Is wanting, the deep truth is imageless;

For what would it avail to bid thee gaze

On the revolving world? What to bid speak

Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change? To these

All things are subject but eternal Love. _120


So much I asked before, and my heart gave

The response thou hast given; and of such truths

Each to itself must be the oracle.

One more demand; and do thou answer me

As my own soul would answer, did it know _125

That which I ask. Prometheus shall arise

Henceforth the sun of this rejoicing world:

When shall the destined hour arrive?




The rocks are cloven, and through the purple night

I see cars drawn by rainbow-winged steeds _130

Which trample the dim winds: in each there stands

A wild-eyed charioteer urging their flight.

Some look behind, as fiends pursued them there,

And yet I see no shapes but the keen stars:

Others, with burning eyes, lean forth, and drink _135

With eager lips the wind of their own speed,

As if the thing they loved fled on before,

And now, even now, they clasped it. Their bright locks

Stream like a comet's flashing hair; they all

Sweep onward.


These are the immortal Hours, _140

Of whom thou didst demand. One waits for thee.


A Spirit with a dreadful countenance

Checks its dark chariot by the craggy gulf.

Unlike thy brethren, ghastly charioteer,

Who art thou? Whither wouldst thou bear me? Speak! _145


I am the shadow of a destiny

More dread than is my aspect: ere yon planet

Has set, the darkness which ascends with me

Shall wrap in lasting night heaven's kingless throne.


What meanest thou?


That terrible shadow floats _150

Up from its throne, as may the lurid smoke

Of earthquake-ruined cities o'er the sea.

Lo! it ascends the car; the coursers fly

Terrified: watch its path among the stars

Blackening the night!


Thus I am answered: strange! _155


See, near the verge, another chariot stays;

An ivory shell inlaid with crimson fire,

Which comes and goes within its sculptured rim

Of delicate strange tracery; the young spirit

That guides it has the dove-like eyes of hope; _160

How its soft smiles attract the soul! as light

Lures winged insects through the lampless air.


My coursers are fed with the lightning,

They drink of the whirlwind's stream,

And when the red morning is bright'ning _165

They bathe in the fresh sunbeam;

They have strength for their swiftness I deem;

Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean.

I desire: and their speed makes night kindle;

I fear: they outstrip the Typhoon; _170

Ere the cloud piled on Atlas can dwindle

We encircle the earth and the moon:

We shall rest from long labours at noon:

Then ascend with me, daughter of Ocean.

SCENE 2.5:




On the brink of the night and the morning

My coursers are wont to respire;

But the Earth has just whispered a warning

That their flight must be swifter than fire:

They shall drink the hot speed of desire! _5


Thou breathest on their nostrils, but my breath

Would give them swifter speed.


Alas! it could not.


Oh Spirit! pause, and tell whence is the light

Which fills this cloud? the sun is yet unrisen.


_9 this B; the 1820.


The sun will rise not until noon. Apollo _10

Is held in heaven by wonder; and the light

Which fills this vapour, as the aereal hue

Of fountain-gazing roses fills the water,

Flows from thy mighty sister.


Yes, I feel--


What is it with thee, sister? Thou art pale. _15


How thou art changed! I dare not look on thee;

I feel but see thee not. I scarce endure

The radiance of thy beauty. Some good change

Is working in the elements, which suffer

Thy presence thus unveiled. The Nereids tell _20

That on the day when the clear hyaline

Was cloven at thine uprise, and thou didst stand

Within a veined shell, which floated on

Over the calm floor of the crystal sea,

Among the Aegean isles, and by the shores _25

Which bear thy name; love, like the atmosphere

Of the sun's fire filling the living world,

Burst from thee, and illumined earth and heaven

And the deep ocean and the sunless caves

And all that dwells within them; till grief cast _30

Eclipse upon the soul from which it came:

Such art thou now; nor is it I alone,

Thy sister, thy companion, thine own chosen one,

But the whole world which seeks thy sympathy.

Hearest thou not sounds i' the air which speak the love _35

Of all articulate beings? Feelest thou not

The inanimate winds enamoured of thee? List!


_22 thine B; thy 1820.



Thy words are sweeter than aught else but his

Whose echoes they are; yet all love is sweet,

Given or returned. Common as light is love, _40

And its familiar voice wearies not ever.

Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air,

It makes the reptile equal to the God:

They who inspire it most are fortunate,

As I am now; but those who feel it most _45

Are happier still, after long sufferings,

As I shall soon become.


List! Spirits speak.


Life of Life! thy lips enkindle

With their love the breath between them;

And thy smiles before they dwindle _50

Make the cold air fire; then screen them

In those looks, where whoso gazes

Faints, entangled in their mazes.

Child of Light! thy limbs are burning

Through the vest which seems to hide them; _55

As the radiant lines of morning

Through the clouds ere they divide them;

And this atmosphere divinest

Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest.

Fair are others; none beholds thee, _60

But thy voice sounds low and tender

Like the fairest, for it folds thee

From the sight, that liquid splendour,

And all feel, yet see thee never,

As I feel now, lost for ever! _65

Lamp of Earth! where'er thou movest

Its dim shapes are clad with brightness,

And the souls of whom thou lovest

Walk upon the winds with lightness,

Till they fail, as I am failing, _70

Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing!


_54 limbs B, edition 1839; lips 1820.


My soul is an enchanted boat,

Which, like a sleeping swan, doth float

Upon the silver waves of thy sweet singing;

And thine doth like an angel sit _75

Beside a helm conducting it,

Whilst all the winds with melody are ringing.

It seems to float ever, for ever,

Upon that many-winding river,

Between mountains, woods, abysses, _80

A paradise of wildernesses!

Till, like one in slumber bound,

Borne to the ocean, I float down, around,

Into a sea profound, of ever-spreading sound:

Meanwhile thy spirit lifts its pinions _85

In music's most serene dominions;

Catching the winds that fan that happy heaven.

And we sail on, away, afar,

Without a course, without a star,

But, by the instinct of sweet music driven; _90

Till through Elysian garden islets

By thee most beautiful of pilots,

Where never mortal pinnace glided,

The boat of my desire is guided:

Realms where the air we breathe is love, _95

Which in the winds on the waves doth move,

Harmonizing this earth with what we feel above.

We have passed Age's icy caves,

And Manhood's dark and tossing waves,

And Youth's smooth ocean, smiling to betray: _100

Beyond the glassy gulfs we flee

Of shadow-peopled Infancy,

Through Death and Birth, to a diviner day;

A paradise of vaulted bowers,

Lit by downward-gazing flowers, _105

And watery paths that wind between

Wildernesses calm and green,

Peopled by shapes too bright to see,

And rest, having beheld; somewhat like thee;

Which walk upon the sea, and chant melodiously! _110


_96 winds and on B; winds on 1820.