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To muse on my own separate fantasy,
My own, my human mind, which passively
Now renders and receives fast influencings,
Holding an unremitting interchange
With the clear universe of things around;

One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,
In the still cave of the witch Poesy,-
Seeking among the shadows that pass by,
Ghosts of all things that are-some shade of thee,
Some phantom, some faint image. Till the breast
From which they fled recalls them, thou art there!


Some say that gleams of a remoter world

Visit the soul in sleep,-that death is slumber,
And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber
Of those who wake and live. I look on high;
Has some unknown omnipotence unfurled

The veil of life and death? Or do I lie
In dream, and does the mightier world of sleep
Spread far around and inaccessibly

Its circles? for the very spirit fails,

Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep
That vanishes among the viewless gales!
Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears-still, snowy, and serene.
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,

Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;
A desert peopled by the storms alone,

Save when the eagle brings some hunter's bone,
And the wolf tracks her there. How hideously
Its shapes are heaped around-rude, bare, and high,
Ghastly and scarred and riven !-Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-dæmon taught her young
Ruin? were these their toys? or did a sea
Of fire envelop once this silent snow?
None can reply-all seems eternal now.

The wilderness has a mysterious tongue

Which teaches awful doubt,- -or faith so mild, So solemn, so serene, that Man may be,

But for such faith, with Nature reconciled. Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood By all, but which the wise and great and good Interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel.


The fields, the lakes, the forests, and the streams,
Ocean, and all the living things that dwell

Within the dædal earth, lightning and rain,
Earthquake and fiery flood and hurricane,
The torpor of the year when feeble dreams
Visit the hidden buds, or dreamless sleep

Holds every future leaf and flower, the bound

With which from that detested trance they leap,

The works and ways of man, their death and birth,
And that of him, and all that his may be,

All things that move and breathe, with toil and sound Are born and die, revolve, subside, and swell.

Power dwells apart in its tranquillity,

Remote, serene, and inaccessible:

And this the naked countenance of earth

On which I gaze, even these primæval mountains, Teach the adverting mind. The glaciers creep,

Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains,

Slow rolling on; there, many a precipice

Frost and the sun in scorn of mortal power

Have piled-dome, pyramid, and pinnacle,
A city of death, distinct with many a tower
And wall impregnable of beaming ice.

Yet not a city, but a flood of ruin,

Is there, that from the boundary of the skies

Rolls its perpetual stream; vast pines are strewing

Its destined path, or in the mangled soil

Branchless and shattered stand; the rocks, drawn down
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown

The limits of the dead and living world,
Never to be reclaimed. The dwelling-place

Of insects, beasts, and birds, becomes its spoil;

Their food and their retreat for ever gone,

So much of life and joy is lost. The race
Of man flies far in dread; his work and dwelling
Vanish like smoke before the tempest's stream,

And their place is not known. Below, vast caves
Shine in the rushing torrents' restless gleam,
Which, from those secret chasms in tumult welling,
Meet in the Vale; and one majestic River,

The breath and blood of distant lands, for ever
Rolls its loud waters to the ocean waves,
Breathes its swift vapours to the circling air.


Mont Blanc yet gleams on high: the power is there,
The still and solemn power, of many sights

And many sounds, and much of life and death.
In the calm darkness of the moonless nights,
In the lone glare of day, the snows descend
Upon that Mountain; none beholds them there,
Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun,

Or the star-beams dart through them. Winds contend
Silently there, and heap the snow, with breath
Rapid and strong, but silently. Its home
The voiceless lightning in these solitudes
Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods
Over the snow. The secret Strength of Things,
Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome
Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee.

And what were thou and earth and stars and sea,
If to the human mind's imaginings

Silence and solitude were vacancy?

23 June 1816.


SHELLEY wrote little during this year. The poem entitled The Sunset was written in the Spring of the year, while still residing at Bishopgate. He spent the summer on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty was conceived during his voyage round the lake with Lord Byron. He occupied himself during this voyage by reading the Nouvelle Héloïse for the first time. The reading it on the very spot where the scenes are laid added to the

interest; and he was at once surprised and charmed by the passionate eloquence and earnest enthralling interest that pervade this work. There was something in the character of Saint-Preux, in his abnegation of self, and in the worship he paid to Love, that coincided with Shelley's own disposition; and, though differing in many of the views, and shocked by others, yet the effect of the whole was fascinating and delightful.

Mont Blanc was inspired by a view of that mountain and its surrounding peaks and valleys, as he lingered on the Bridge of Arve on his way through the Valley of Chamouni. Shelley makes the following mention of this poem in his publication of the History of Six Weeks' Tour, and Letters from Switzerland:-"The Poem entitled Mont Blanc is written by the author of the two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. It was composed under the immediate impression of the deep and powerful feelings excited by the objects which it attempts to describe; and, as an undisciplined overflowing of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt to imitate the untameable wildness and inaccessible solemnity from which those feelings sprang."

This was an eventful year, and less time was given to study than usual. In the list of his reading I find, in Greek, Theocritus, the Prometheus of Eschylus, several of Plutarch's Lives, and the works of Lucian. In Latin, Lucretius, Pliny's Letters, the Annals and Germany of Tacitus. In French, the History of the French Revolu tion by Lacretelle. He read for the first time, this year, Montaigne's Essays, and regarded them ever after as one of the most delightful and instructive books in the world. The list is scanty in English works: Locke's Essay, Political Justice, and Coleridge's Lay Sermon, form nearly the whole. It was his frequent habit to read aloud to me in the evening; in this way we read, this year, the New Testament, Paradise Lost, Spenser's Faery Queen, and Don Quixote.




A PALE Dream came to a Lady fair,
And said, "A boon, a boon, I pray!

I know the secrets of the air;

And things are lost in the glare of day,
Which I can make the sleeping see
If they will put their trust in me.


"And thou shalt know of things unknown,
If thou wilt let me rest between

The veiny lids whose fringe is thrown
Over thine eyes so dark and sheen."
And half in hope and half in fright
The Lady closed her eyes so bright.


At first all deadly shapes were driven
Tumultuously across her sleep,

And o'er the vast cope of bending heaven
All ghastly-visaged clouds did sweep;
And the Lady ever looked to spy

If the golden sun shone forth on high.


And, as towards the east she turned,
She saw, aloft in the morning air
Which now with hues of sunrise burned,
A great black anchor rising there;
And wherever the Lady turned her eyes
It hung before her in the skies.


The sky was blue as the summer sea;
The depths were cloudless overhead;

The air was calm as it could be;

There was no sight or sound of dread,
But that black anchor floating still
Over the piny eastern hill.


The Lady grew sick with a weight of fear
To see that anchor ever hanging,
And veiled her eyes. She then did hear
The sound as of a dim low clanging;

And looked abroad if she might know
Was it aught else, or but the flow

Of the blood in her own veins to and fro.


There was a mist in the sunless air,

Which shook as it were with an earthquake shock;

But the very weeds that blossomed there

Were moveless, and each mighty rock

Stood on its basis steadfastly;

The anchor was seen no more on high.


But piled around, with summits hid

In lines of cloud at intervals,

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