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Leigh Hunt first attracted notice by his contributions to The Examiner, a
newspaper started by his brother, and of which he afterwards became joint editor and proprietor. His chief poems are The Feast of the Poets, The Story of Rimini, a tale of early Italian life, A Legend of Florence, and The Palfrey. Hunt also wrote various essays in prose, containing fine sketches both of town and country life.
The sun is up, and 'tis a morn of May
Round old Ravenna's clear-shewn towers and bay.
A morn, the loveliest which the
Last of the spring, yet fresh with all its green ;
For a warm eve, and gentle rains at night,
Have left a sparkling welcome for the light,
And there's a crystal clearness all about ;
The leaves are sharp, the distant hills look out;
A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze ;
The smoke goes dancing from the cottage trees ;
And when you listen, you may hear a coil
Of bubbling springs about the grassy soil ;
And all the scene, in short-sky, earth, and sea,
Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out openly.
'Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing :
The birds to the delicious time are singing,
Darting with freaks and snatches
Where the light woods go seaward from the town ;
While happy faces, striking through the green
Of leafy roads, at every turn are seen ;
And the far ships, lifting their sails of white
Like joyful hands, come up with scattery light,
Come gleaming up, true to the wished-for day,
And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay.
The days were then at close of autumn still,
A little rainy, and, towards nightfall, chill ;
There was a fitful moaning air abroad ;
And ever and anon, over the road,
The last few leaves came fluttering from the trees,
Whose trunks now thronged to sight, in dark varieties.
The people, who from reverence kept at home,
Listened till afternoon to hear them come ;
And hour on hour went by, and nought was heard
But some chance horseman or the wind that stirred,
Till towards the vesper-hour; and then 'twas said
Some heard a voice, which seemed as if it read;
And others said that they could hear a sound
Of many horses trampling the moist ground.
Still, nothing came- -till on a sudden, just
As the wind opened in a rising gust,
A voice of chanting rose, and as it spread,
They plainly heard the anthem for the dead.
It was the choristers who went to meet
The train, and now were entering the first street.
Then turned aside that city, young and old,
And in their lifted hands the gushing sorrow rolled.
But of the older people, few could bear
To keep the window, when the train drew near ;
And all felt double tenderness to see
The bier approaching slow and steadily,
On which those two in senseless coldness lay,
Who but a few short months—it seemed a day-
Had left their walls, lovely in form and mind,
manhood he-she first of womankind.
They say that when Duke Guido saw them come,
He clasped his hands, and looking round the room,
Lost his old wits for ever. From the morrow
None saw him after. But no more of sorrow.
On that same night those lovers silently
Were buried in one grave under a tree;
There, side by side, and hand in hand, they lay
In the green ground : and on fine nights in May
Young hearts betrothed used to go there to pray.
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY: 1792-18 22.
Shelley, the eldest son of a baronet in Sussex, studied at Eton School and at.
Oxford University, but was expelled from the latter on account of his atheistical opinions. In 1811 he contracted an imprudent marriage; and, three years afterwards, he deserted his wife and went abroad. Shortly after his return, his wife committed suicide, and Shelley married again a few weeks afterwards. A Chancery decree having deprived him of the guardianship of his children on the ground of his immorality and atheism, Shelley found himself miserable in England, and in 1818 retired to Italy. In 1822 he was drowned in the Bay of Spezzia. Shelley's principal poems. are Queen Mab, written at the age of sixteen; Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude; The Revolt of Islam ; Prometheus Unbound, a classic drama; and The Cenci, a tragedy. The greater part of his poetry is invested with a mystical grandeur, which recommends it to the more enthusiastic lovers of verse, but disqualifies it from giving general pleasure.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams ;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet birds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under ;
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast ;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skyey bowers
Lightning, my pilot, sits ;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves, remains ;
And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread, Leaps on the back of my sailing rack
When the morning-star shines dead. As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings, An eagle alit, one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings ;
And when sunset may breathe from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer ;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm river, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the moon's with a girdle of pearl ;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march,
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above, its soft colours wove,
While the moist earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of the earth and water,
And the nursling of the sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores ;
I change but I cannot die.
For after the rain, when, with never a stain,
The pavilion of heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I rise and upbuild it again.
FROM ALASTOR, OR THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE.
The noonday sun
Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
A narrow vale embosoms.
There huge caves,
Scooped in the dark base of those airy rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the poet's path, as, led