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TO MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT GODWIN
Yes, I was firm — thus wert not thou ;
To meet thy looks — I could not know
To sit and curb the soul's mute rage
Which preys upon itself alone;
Of fettered grief that dares not groan,
The thou alone should be, -
As thou, sweet love, requited me
Of peace and pity fell like dew
On flowers half dead ; thy lips did meet
Mine tremblingly; thy dark eyes threw
We are not happy, sweet! our state
Is strange and full of doubt and fear;
Reserve or censure come not near
Gentle and good and mild thou art,
Nor can I live if thou appear
Away from me, or stoop to wear
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, Streaking the darkness radiantly! — yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever :
Or like forgotten lyres whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast, To whose frail frame no second motion brings One mood or modulation like the last.
Mutability. Published with Alastor, 1816.
We rest — a dream has power to poison sleep; We rise — one wandering thought pollutes the
day; We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:
It is the same !- for, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. — ECCLESIASTES.
The pale, the cold, and the moony smile
Which the meteor beam of a starless night Sheds on a lonely and sea-girt isle,
Ere the dawning of morn's undoubted light, Is the flame of life so fickle and wan That flits round our steps till their strength is gone.
O man ! hold thee on in courage of soul
Through the stormy shades of thy worldly way, And the billows of cloud that around thee roll
Shall sleep in the light of a wondrous day, Where hell and heaven shall leave thee free To the universe of destiny.
This world is the nurse of all we know,
This world is the mother of all we feel; On Death, Mrs. Shelley, 18391 || no title, Shelley, 1816. Published with Alastor, 1816.
And the coming of death is a fearful blow
To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel, When all that we know, or feel, or see, Shall pass like an unreal mystery.
The secret things of the grave are there,
Where all but this frame must surely be, Though the fine-wrought eye and the wondrous
Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death ?
Who lifteth the veil of what is to come ? Who painteth the shadows that are beneath
The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb ? Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be With the fears and the love for that which we see?
A SUMMER EVENING CHURCHYARD
Each vapor that obscured the sunset's ray;
A Summer Evening Churchyard. Published with Alastor, 1816. Composed September, 1815.
They breathe their spells toward the departing day,
Encompassing the earth, air, stars and sea ; Light, sound and motion own the potent sway,
Responding to the charm with its own mystery. The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass Knows not their gentle motions as they pass.
Thou too, aërial Pile, whose pinnacles
Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire, Obeyest in silence their sweet solemn spells, Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant
spire, Around whose lessening and invisible height Gather among the stars the clouds of night.
The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres;
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound, Half sense, half thought, among the darkness
stirs, Breathed from their wormy beds all living things
around; And mingling with the still night and mute sky Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.
Thus solemnized and softened, death is mild
And terrorless as this serenest night; Here could I hope, like some inquiring child Sporting on graves, that death did hide from
human sight Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep.