“Hellas” was among the last of his compositions, and is among the most beautiful. The choruses are singularly imaginative, and melodious in their versification. There are some stanzas that beautifully exemplify Shelley’s peculiar style; as, for instance, the assertion of the intellectual empire which must be for ever the inheritance of the country of Homer, Sophocles, and Plato:—
’But Greece and her foundations are
Built below the tide of war,
Based on the crystalline sea
Of thought and its eternity.’
And again, that philosophical truth felicitously imaged forth—
’Revenge and Wrong bring forth their kind,
The foul cubs like their parents are,
Their den is in the guilty mind,
And Conscience feeds them with despair.’
The conclusion of the last chorus is among the most beautiful of his lyrics. The imagery is distinct and majestic; the prophecy, such as poets love to dwell upon, the Regeneration of Mankind—and that regeneration reflecting back splendour on the foregone time, from which it inherits so much of intellectual wealth, and memory of past virtuous deeds, as must render the possession of happiness and peace of tenfold value.
[Published in part (lines 1-69, 100-120) by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824; and again, with the notes, in “Poetical Works”, 1839. Lines 127-238 were printed by Dr. Garnett under the title of “The Magic Plant” in his “Relics of Shelley”, 1862. The whole was edited in its present form from the Boscombe manuscript by Mr. W.M. Rossetti in 1870 ("Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, Moxon, 2 volumes.). ‘Written at Pisa during the late winter or early spring of 1822’ (Garnett).]
The following fragments are part of a Drama undertaken for the amusement of the individuals who composed our intimate society, but left unfinished. I have preserved a sketch of the story as far as it had been shadowed in the poet’s mind.
An Enchantress, living in one of the islands of the Indian Archipelago, saves the life of a Pirate, a man of savage but noble nature. She becomes enamoured of him; and he, inconstant to his mortal love, for a while returns her passion; but at length, recalling the memory of her whom he left, and who laments his loss, he escapes from the Enchanted Island, and returns to his lady. His mode of life makes him again go to sea, and the Enchantress seizes the opportunity to bring him, by a spirit-brewed tempest, back to her Island. —[MRS. SHELLEY’S NOTE, 1839.]