The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 695 pages of information about The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1.

Wordsworth informs us he was nineteen years 25
Considering and retouching Peter Bell;
Watering his laurels with the killing tears
Of slow, dull care, so that their roots to Hell
Might pierce, and their wide branches blot the spheres
Of Heaven, with dewy leaves and flowers; this well
May be, for Heaven and Earth conspire to foil
The over-busy gardener’s blundering toil.

My Witch indeed is not so sweet a creature
As Ruth or Lucy, whom his graceful praise
Clothes for our grandsons—­but she matches Peter, 35
Though he took nineteen years, and she three days
In dressing.  Light the vest of flowing metre
She wears; he, proud as dandy with his stays,
Has hung upon his wiry limbs a dress
Like King Lear’s ‘looped and windowed raggedness.’

If you strip Peter, you will see a fellow
Scorched by Hell’s hyperequatorial climate
Into a kind of a sulphureous yellow: 
A lean mark, hardly fit to fling a rhyme at;
In shape a Scaramouch, in hue Othello. 45
If you unveil my Witch, no priest nor primate
Can shrive you of that sin,—­if sin there be
In love, when it becomes idolatry.


Before those cruel Twins, whom at one birth
Incestuous Change bore to her father Time, 50
Error and Truth, had hunted from the Earth
All those bright natures which adorned its prime,
And left us nothing to believe in, worth
The pains of putting into learned rhyme,
A lady-witch there lived on Atlas’ mountain
Within a cavern, by a secret fountain.

Her mother was one of the Atlantides: 
The all-beholding Sun had ne’er beholden
In his wide voyage o’er continents and seas
So fair a creature, as she lay enfolden 60
In the warm shadow of her loveliness;—­
He kissed her with his beams, and made all golden
The chamber of gray rock in which she lay—­
She, in that dream of joy, dissolved away.

’Tis said, she first was changed into a vapour, 65
And then into a cloud, such clouds as flit,
Like splendour-winged moths about a taper,
Round the red west when the sun dies in it: 
And then into a meteor, such as caper
On hill-tops when the moon is in a fit: 
Then, into one of those mysterious stars
Which hide themselves between the Earth and Mars.

Ten times the Mother of the Months had bent
Her bow beside the folding-star, and bidden
With that bright sign the billows to indent 75
The sea-deserted sand—­like children chidden,
At her command they ever came and went—­
Since in that cave a dewy splendour hidden
Took shape and motion:  with the living form
Of this embodied Power, the cave grew warm.

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The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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