The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 571 pages of information about The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley Volume 1.

CANTO 2.

1. 
The starlight smile of children, the sweet looks
Of women, the fair breast from which I fed,
The murmur of the unreposing brooks,
And the green light which, shifting overhead, 670
Some tangled bower of vines around me shed,
The shells on the sea-sand, and the wild flowers,
The lamp-light through the rafters cheerly spread,
And on the twining flax—­in life’s young hours
These sights and sounds did nurse my spirit’s folded powers.
675

2. 
In Argolis, beside the echoing sea,
Such impulses within my mortal frame
Arose, and they were dear to memory,
Like tokens of the dead:—­but others came
Soon, in another shape:  the wondrous fame 680
Of the past world, the vital words and deeds
Of minds whom neither time nor change can tame,
Traditions dark and old, whence evil creeds
Start forth, and whose dim shade a stream of poison feeds.

3. 
I heard, as all have heard, the various story 685
Of human life, and wept unwilling tears. 
Feeble historians of its shame and glory,
False disputants on all its hopes and fears,
Victims who worshipped ruin, chroniclers
Of daily scorn, and slaves who loathed their state
690
Yet, flattering power, had given its ministers
A throne of judgement in the grave:—­’twas fate,
That among such as these my youth should seek its mate.

4. 
The land in which I lived, by a fell bane
Was withered up.  Tyrants dwelt side by side, 695
And stabled in our homes,—­until the chain
Stifled the captive’s cry, and to abide
That blasting curse men had no shame—­all vied
In evil, slave and despot; fear with lust
Strange fellowship through mutual hate had tied,
700
Like two dark serpents tangled in the dust,
Which on the paths of men their mingling poison thrust.

5. 
Earth, our bright home, its mountains and its waters,
And the ethereal shapes which are suspended
Over its green expanse, and those fair daughters, 705
The clouds, of Sun and Ocean, who have blended
The colours of the air since first extended
It cradled the young world, none wandered forth
To see or feel; a darkness had descended
On every heart; the light which shows its worth,
710
Must among gentle thoughts and fearless take its birth.

6. 
This vital world, this home of happy spirits,
Was as a dungeon to my blasted kind;
All that despair from murdered hope inherits
They sought, and in their helpless misery blind, 715
A deeper prison and heavier chains did find,
And stronger tyrants:—­a dark gulf before,
The realm of a stern Ruler, yawned; behind,
Terror and Time conflicting drove, and bore
On their tempestuous flood the shrieking wretch from shore.
720

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