English Romantic Lyric Poet
Percy Bysshe Shelley
English Romantic Lyric Poet
This is alone Life; Joy, Empire, and Victory!
Thy light alone like mist o'er mountains driven, or music by the night-wind sent through strings of some still instrument, or moonlight on a midnight stream, gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.
What art thou Freedom? Oh, could slaves answer from their living graves this demand, tyrants would flee like a dim dream's imagery! Thou art Justice--ne'er for gold may thy righteous laws be sold, as laws are in England: thou shield'st alike high and low. Thou art Peace--never by thee would blood and treasure wasted be as tyrants wasted them when all leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul! Thou art love: the rich have kist thy feet given their substance to be free and through the world have followed thee.
Whether that lady's gentle mind, no longer with the form combined which scattered love, as stars do light, found sadness where it left delight, I dare not guess; but in this life of error, ignorance, and strife, where nothing is, but all things seem, and we the shadows of the dream, it is a modest creed, and yet pleasant if one considers it, to own that death itself must be, like all the rest, a mockery. That garden sweet, that lady fair, and all sweet shapes and odors there, in truth have never passed away: 'tis we, 'tis ours, are changed; not they. For love, and beauty, and delight, there is no death or change: their might exceeds our organs, which endure no light, being themselves obscure.
Ye seek for happiness ? alas, the day! Ye find it not in luxury nor in gold, Nor in the fame, nor in the envied sway For which, O willing slaves to Custom old, Severe taskmistress! ye your hearts have sold.
The world is weary of the past, oh, might it die or rest at last.
This is Heaven, when pain and evil cease, and when the Benignant Principle, untrammeled and uncontrolled, visits in the fullness of its power the universal frame of things. Human life, with all its unreal ills and transitory hopes, is as a dream, which departs before the dawn, leaving no trace of its evanescent lines.
Thy words are like a cloud of winged snakes; and yet I pity those they torture not.
What if English toil and blood was poured forth, even as a flood? It availed, Oh, Liberty, to dim, but not extinguish thee.
Which have no form, sufferings which have no tongue.
Yet all love is sweet given or returned. Common as light is love, and its familiar voice wearies not ever? They who inspire it most are fortunate, as I am now: but those who feel it most are happier still after long sufferings as I shall soon become.
The old laws of England ? they whose reverend heads with age are gray, children of a wiser day; and whose solemn voice must be thine own echo ? Liberty!
The world's great age begins anew,
This negation must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit co-eternal with the universe remains unshaken.
Till the Future dares forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be an echo and a light unto eternity!
What is Freedom? ? ye can tell that which slavery is, too well ? for its very name has grown to an echo of your own.
Which, if not here, it builds beyond the grave.
Yet if we could scorn hate, and pride, and fear; if we were things born not to shed a tear, I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
The pale stars are gone! For the sun, their swift shepherd, to their folds them compelling, in the depths of the dawn, hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and the flee beyond his blue dwelling, as fawns flee the leopard.
The young moon has fed Her exhausted horn With the sunset's fire.
This, and no other, is justice: ? to consider, under all the circumstances and consequences of a particular case, how the greatest quantity and purest quality of happiness will ensue from any action ... there is no other justice.
'Tis he, arrayed In the soft light of his own smiles, which spread Like radiance from the cloud-urrounded moon.
What is life? Thoughts and feelings arise, with or without our will, and we employ words to express them. We are born, and our birth is unremembered and our infancy remembered but in fragments. We live on, and in living we lose the apprehension of life. How vain is it to think that words can penetrate the mystery of our being. Rightly used they may make evident our ignorance of ourselves, and this is much.
While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin, and starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
Yet now despair itself is mild, even as the winds and waters are; I could lie down like a tired child, and weep away the life of care which I have borne and yet must bear, till death like sleep might steal on me, and I might feel in the warm air my cheek grow cold, and hear the sea breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.