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pervade it, one of the first faces I humbly hope to see there, is that of the kind and impassioned man, whose intercourse conferred on me the title of the Friend of Shelley.

The finest poetry of Shelley is so mixed up with moral and political speculation, that I found it impossible to give more than the following extracts, in accordance with the purely poetical design of the present volume. Of the poetry of reflection and tragic pathos, he has abundance; but even such fanciful productions as the Sensitive Plant and the Witch of Atlas are full of metaphysics, and would require a commentary of explanation. The short pieces and passages, however, before us, are so beautiful, that they may well stand as the representatives of the whole powers of his mind in the region of pure poetry. In sweetness (and not even there in passages) the Ode to the Skylark is inferior only to Coleridge,—in rapturous passion to no man. It is like the bird it sings,-enthusiastic, enchanting, profuse, continuous, and alone,-small, but filling the heavens. One of the triumphs of poetry is to associate its remembrance with the beauties of nature. There are probably no lovers of Homer and Shakspeare, who, when looking at the moon, do not often call to mind the descriptions in the eighth book of the Iliad and the fifth act of the Merchant of Venice. The nightingale (in England) may be said to have belonged exclusively to Milton (see page 178), till a dying young poet of our own day partook of the honor by the production of his exquisite Ode: and notwithstanding Shakspeare's lark singing "at heaven's gate," the longer effusion of Shelley will be identified with thoughts of the bird hereafter, in the minds of all who are susceptible of its beauty. What a pity he did not live to produce a hundred such; or to mingle briefer lyrics, as beautiful as Shakspeare's, with tragedies which Shakspeare himself might have welcomed! for assuredly, had he lived, he would have been the greatest dramatic writer since the days of Elizabeth, if indeed he has not abundantly proved himself such in his tragedy of the Cenci. Unfortunately, in his indignation against every conceivable form of oppression, he took a subject for that play too much resembling one which Shakspeare had taken in his youth, and still more unsuitable to the stage; otherwise, besides grandeur and terror

there are things in it lovely as heart can worship; and the author showed himself able to draw both men and women, whose names would have been "familiar in our mouths as household words." The utmost might of gentleness, and of the sweet habitudes of domestic affection, was never more balmily impressed through the tears of the reader, than in the unique and divine close of that dreadful tragedy. Its loveliness, being that of the highest reason, is superior to the madness of all the crime that has preceded it, and leaves nature in a state of reconcilement with her ordinary course. The daughter, who is going forth with her mother to execution, utters these final words :

Give yourself no unnecessary pain,

My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, mother, tie
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair

In any simple knot. Ay, that does well;
And yours, I see is coming down. How often
Have we done this for one another! now
We shall not do it any more. My Lord,
We are quite ready, Well, 't is very well.

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The force of simplicity and moral sweetness cannot go further than this. But in general, if Coleridge is the sweetest of our poets, Shelley is at once the most ethereal and most gorgeous; the one who has clothed his thoughts in draperies of the most evanescent and most magnificent words and imagery. Not Milton himself is more learned in Grecisms, or nicer in etymological propriety; and nobody, throughout, has a style so Orphic and primæval. His poetry is as full of mountains, seas, and skies, of light, and darkness, and the seasons, and all the elements of our being, as if Nature herself had written it, with the creation and its hopes newly cast around her; not, it must be confessed, without too indiscriminate a mixture of great and small, and a want of sufficient shade,—a certain chaotic brilliancy, “dark with excess of light." Shelley (in the verses to a Lady with a Guitar) might well call himself Ariel. All the more enjoying part of his poetry is Ariel,—the "delicate" yet powerful "spirit," jealous of restraint, yet able to serve; living in the elements and the flowers; treading the "ooze of the salt deep," and running "on the sharp wind of the north;" feeling for creatures

unlike himself; "flaming amazement" on them too, and singing exquisitest songs. Alas! and he suffered for years, as Ariel did in the cloven pine: but now he is out of it, and serving the purposes of Beneficence with a calmness befitting his knowledge and his love.



Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,

That from heaven, or near it,

Pourest thy full heart,

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.1


Higher still and higher

From the earth thou springest,

Like a cloud of fire!

The blue deep thou wingest,

And singing, still dost soar: and soaring, ever singest.


In the golden lightning

Of the sunken sun,

O'er which clouds are brightening,

Thou dost float and run;

Like an embodied joy, whose race has just begun


The pale purple even

Melts round thy flight;
Like a star of heaven

In the broad day-light
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.


Keen as are the arrows

Of that silver sphere

Whose intense lamp narrows

In the white dawn clear,

Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.


All the earth and air

With thy voice is loud
As, when night is bare,

From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.


What thou art we know not.

What is most like thee?

From rainbow clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see,

As from thy presence showers a rain of melody


Like a poet hidden

In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,

Till the world is wrought

To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not.


Like a high-born maiden2
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour

With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower.


Like a glow-worm golden

In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden

Its aerial hue

Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view


Like a rose embowered

In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered

Till the scent it gives

Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves


Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,

Rain-awakened flowers,

All that ever was

Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass

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But an empty vaunt

A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.


What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?

What fields, or waves, or mountains?

What shapes of sky or plain?

What love of thine own kind? What ignorance of pain?


With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be :

Shadow of annoyance

Never came near thee:

Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.


Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem

Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream,

Or how could thy note flow in such a crystal stream?


We look before and after,

And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught:

Our sweetest songs are those which tell of saddest thought.

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