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When the winds are breathing low,
Hath led me who knows how?
The wandering airs they faint
As I must die on thine,
Beloved as thou art!
Oh lift me from the grass!
I die, I faint, I fail!
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas !
Oh! press it close to thine again,
LINES WRITTEN FOR MISS SOPHIA STACEY.
THOU art fair, and few are fairer,
Of the nymphs of earth or ocean.
Those soft limbs of thine, whose motion
Ever falls and shifts and glances,
As the life within them dances.
Thy deep eyes, a double planet,
Gaze the wisest into madness
With soft clear fire. The winds that fan it
Are those thoughts of gentle gladness
If whatever face thou paintest
In those eyes grows pale with pleasure,
If the fainting soul is faintest
When it hears thy harp's wild measure,
As dew beneath the wind of morning,
As aught mute but deeply shaken,
Via Val Fonda, Florence.
SHELLEY'S NOTE ON THE ODE TO THE WEST WIND.
THIS poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset, with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions.
The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathizes with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influ enced by the winds which announce it.
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1819, BY MRS. SHELLEY.
THOUGH Shelley's first eager desire to excite his countrymen to resist openly the oppressions existent during "the good old times" had faded with early youth, still his warmest sympathies were for the people. He was a republican, and loved a democracy. He looked on all human beings as inheriting an equal right to possess the dearest privileges of our nature; the necessaries of life when fairly earned by labour, and intellectual instruction. His hatred of any despotism that looked upon the people as not to be consulted, or protected from want and ignorance, was intense. He was residing near Leghorn, at Villa Valsovano, writing The Cenci, when the news of the Manchester Massacre reached us; it roused in him violent emotions of indignation and compassion. The great truth that the many, if accordant and resolute, could control the few, as was shown some years after, made him long to teach his injured countrymen how to resist. Inspired by these feelings, he wrote the Masque of Anarchy, which he sent to his friend Leigh Hunt, to be inserted in the Examiner, of which he was then the Editor.
"I did not insert it," Leigh Hunt writes in his valuable and interesting preface to this poem, when he printed it in 1832, "because I thought that the public at large had not become sufficiently discerning to do justice to the sincerity and kind-heartedness of the spirit that walked in this flaming robe of verse." Days of outrage have passed away, and with them the exasperation that would cause such an appeal to the many to be injurious. Without being aware of them, they at one time acted on
his suggestions, and gained the day. But they rose when human life was respected by the minister in power; such was not the case during the administration which excited Shelley's abhorrence.
The poem was written for the people, and is therefore in a more popular tone than usual; portions strike as abrupt and unpolished, but many stanzas are all his own. I heard him repeat, and admired, those beginning
"My Father Time is old and grey,"
before I knew to what poem they were to belong. But the most touching passage is that which describes the blessed effects of liberty; they might make a patriot of any man whose heart was not wholly closed against his humbler follow-creatures.
Shelley loved the people; and respected them as often more virtuous, as always more suffering, and therefore more deserving of sympathy, than the great. He believed that a clash between the two classes of society was inevitable, and he eagerly ranged himself on the people's side. He had an idea of publishing a series of poems adapted expressly to commemorate their circumstances and wrongs. He wrote a few; but, in those days of prosecution for libel, they could not be printed. They are not among the best of his productions, a writer being always shackled when he endeavours to write down to the comprehension of those who could not understand or feel a highly imaginative style; but they show his earnestness, and with what heartfelt compassion he went home to the direct point of injury-that oppression is detestable as being the parent of starvation, nakedness, and ignorance. Besides these outpourings of compassion and indignation, he had meant to adorn the cause he loved with loftier poetry of glory and triumph : such is the scope of the Ode to the Asserters of Liberty. He sketched also a new version of our national anthem, as addressed to Liberty.
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1820.
THE fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix for ever
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
ODE TO LIBERTY.
Yet, Freedom, yet, thy banner, torn but flying,
Streams like a thunder-storm against the wind.-BYRON.
A GLORIOUS people vibrated again
The lightning of the nations: Liberty,
From heart to heart, from tower to tower, o'er Spain,
Gleamed. My soul spurned the chains of its dismay,
(As a young eagle soars the morning clouds among)
As foam from a ship's swiftness, when there came
"The sun and the serenest moon sprang forth;
Was yet a chaos and a curse,
For Thou wert not: but, power from worst producing worse, The spirit of the beasts was kindled there,
And of the birds, and of the watery forms,And there was war among them, and despair Within them, raging without truce or terms.
The bosom of their violated nurse
Groaned, for beasts warred on beasts, and worms on worms, And men on men; each heart was as a hell of storms.
"Man, the imperial shape, then multiplied
His generations under the pavilion
Of the sun's throne: palace and pyramid,
Temple and prison, to many a swarming million
Were as to mountain-wolves their ragged caves.
Was savage, cunning, blind, and rude,
For Thou wert not; but o'er the populous solitude,
Into the shadow of her pinions wide.
"The nodding promontories and blue isles
And cloud-like mountains and dividuous waves Of Greece basked glorious in the open smiles Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves Prophetic echoes flung dim melody
On the unapprehensive wild.
The vine, the corn, the olive mild,
Grew, savage yet, to human use unreconciled ;
Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain, Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,
Art's deathless dreams lay veiled by many a vein Of Parian stone: and, yet a speechless child,
Verse murmured, and Philosophy did strain Her lidless eyes for Thee ;-when o'er the Ægean main
"Athens arose: a city such as vision
Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean floors
Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it;
By thunder-zonèd winds, each head
Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will
Of man as on a mount of diamond set;
For Thou wert, and thine all-creative skill Peopled, with forms that mock the eternal dead