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Shook the boughs thus laden and heavy and
stiff, And snapped them off with his rigid griff.
When Winter had gone and Spring came back,
Whether the Sensitive Plant, or that
Whether that lady's gentle mind,
I dare not guess; but in this life
It is a modest creed, and yet
114 Whether || And if, Harvard MS. 118 Whether || Or if, Harvard MS.
That garden sweet, that lady fair,
For love, and beauty, and delight,
A VISION OF THE SEA
'Tis the terror of tempest. The rags of the sail Are flickering in ribbons within the fierce gale ; From the stark night of vapors the dim rain is
driven, And, when lightning is loosed, like a deluge from
heaven, She sees the black trunks of the waterspouts
spin And bend, as if heaven was ruining in, Which they seemed to sustain with their terrible
mass As if ocean had sunk from beneath them; they
pass To their graves in the deep with an earthquake of
sound, And the waves and the thunders, made silent
around, A Vision of the Sea. Published with Prometheus Unbound, 1820. Composed at Pisa, and dated, in the Harvard MS., April, 1820.
6 ruining, Harvard MS. Mrs. Shelley, 18391 || raining, Shelley, 1820.
8 sunk, Harvard MS., Mrs. Shelley, 18391 || sank, Shelley, 1820. Leave the wind to its echo. The vessel, now
tossed Through the low trailing rack of the tempest, is lost In the skirts of the thundercloud ; now down the
sweep Of the wind-cloven wave to the chasm of the deep It sinks, and the walls of the watery vale Whose depths of dread calm are unmoved by the
gale, Dim mirrors of ruin, hang gleaming about; While the surf, like a chaos of stars, like a rout Of death-flames, like whirlpools of fire-flowing iron, With splendor and terror the black ship environ, Or, like sulphur-flakes hurled from a mine of pale
fire, In fountains spout o'er it. In many a spire The pyramid-billows, with white points of brine, In the cope of the lightning inconstantly shine, As piercing the sky from the floor of the sea. The great ship seems splitting ! it cracks as a tree, While an earthquake is splintering its root, ere
the blast Of the whirlwind that stripped it of branches has
passed. The intense thunder-balls which are raining from
heaven Have shattered its mast, and it stands black and
riven. The chinks suck destruction. The heavy dead hulk On the living sea rolls an inanimate bulk, Like a corpse on the clay which is hungering to fold Its corruption around it. Meanwhile, from the
One deck is burst up by the waters below,
other? Is that all the crew that lie burying each other, Like the dead in a breach, round the foremast ?
Are those Twin tigers who burst, when the waters arose, In the agony of terror, their chains in the hold, (What now makes them tame is what then made
them bold) Who crouch, side by side, and have driven, like a
crank, The deep grip of their claws through the vibrating
plank, Are these all? Nine weeks the tall vessel had lain On the windless expanse of the watery plain, Where the death-darting sun cast no shadow at
noon, And there seemed to be fire in the beams of the
moon, Till a lead-colored fog gathered up from the deep, Whose breath was quick pestilence; then, the cold
sleep Crept, like blight through the ears of a thick field
O'er the populous vessel. And even and morn, With their hammocks for coffins, the seamen
aghast Like dead men the dead limbs of their comrades cast Down the deep, which closed on them above and
35 by, Harvard MS. || from, Shelley, 1820. 37 sits, Harvard MS. 38 crew who, Harvard MS.
around, And the sharks and the dogfish their graveclothes
unbound, And were glutted like Jews with this manna
rained down From God on their wilderness. One after one The mariners died ; on the eve of this day, When the tempest was gathering in cloudy array, But seven remained. Six the thunder has smitten, And they lie black as mummies on which Time
has written His scorn of the embalmer; the seventh, from the
deck An oak-splinter pierced through his breast and his
back, And hung out to the tempest, a wreck on the
wreck. No more? At the helm sits a woman more fair Than heaven when, unbinding its star- braided
hair, It sinks with the sun on the earth and the sea. She clasps a bright child on her upgathered knee; It laughs at the lightning, it mocks the mixed
thunder Of the air and the sea; with desire and with
wonder It is beckoning the tigers to rise and come near ; It would play with those eyes where the radiance
of fear Is outshining the meteors ; its bosom beats high, The heart-fire of pleasure has kindled its eye,
61 had, Mrs. Shelley, 18391.