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Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822)


Hymn of Pan


From the forests and the highlands

We come , We come;

From the river girt islands,

Where loud waves are dumb

Listening to my sweet pipings.

The wind in the reeds and the rushes

The bees on the bells of thyme,

The birds on the myrtle bushes,

The cicale above in the lime,

and lizards below in in the grass,

Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,

Listening to my sweet pipings.


The Seleni, and Sylvans, and Fauns,

And the Nymphs of the woods and the waves,

To the edge of the moist river lawns.

And the brink of the dewy caves,

And all that did then attend and follow,

Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,

With envy of my sweet pipings.

I sang of the dancing stars,

I sang of the Daedal earth,

And of Heaven- and the giant wars,

And Love and Death, and Birth!



Hymn to the Spirit of Nature



LIFE of Life! thy lips enkindle

   With their love the breath between them;

 And thy smiles before they dwindle

   Make the cold air fire: then screen them

 In those locks, where whoso gazes

Faints, entangled in their mazes.


Child of Light! thy limbs are burning

   Through the veil which seems to hide them,

 As the radiant lines of morning

   Through thin clouds, ere they divide them;

And this atmosphere divinest

 Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest.


Fair are others: none beholds thee;

   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!


  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,

 Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing!


Ode to the West Wind


O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being—     

Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,   

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,   

Pestilence-stricken multitudes!—O thou

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed  

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low, 

Each like a corpse within its grave, until     

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow    

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill

(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)

With living hues and odours plain and hill—    

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere—

Destroyer and Preserver—hear, O hear!    


  Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,

Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,  

Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,   

Angels of rain and lightning! they are spread  

On the blue surface of thine airy surge, 

Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Mænad, ev'n from the dim verge


Of the horizon to the zenith's height—   

The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge 

Of the dying year, to which this closing night 

Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,


Vaulted with all thy congregated might   

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere  

Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst:—O hear!   


  Thou who didst waken from his summer-dreams  

The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,       30

Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streams, 

Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,

And saw in sleep old palaces and towers  

Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers

So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou

For whose path the Atlantic's level powers     

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below


The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear   

The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear    

And tremble and despoil themselves:—O hear!    


  If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;    

If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;

A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free    

Than thou, O uncontrollable!—if even     

I were as in my boyhood, and could be    

The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,     

As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed

Scarce seem'd a vision,—I would ne'er have striven   

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.   

O lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!    

I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! 

A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd

One too like thee—tameless, and swift, and proud.    


  Make me thy lyre, ev'n as the forest is:     

What if my leaves are falling like its own!    

The tumult of thy mighty harmonies 

Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,

Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,     

My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one!    

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,

Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;  

And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth

Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!

Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth   

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, 

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?



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