Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5428] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on July 18, 2002] [Date last updated: August 28, 2005]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, A defence of poetry and other essays ***
Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
on life in A future state
on the punishment of death speculations
on metaphysics speculations
on morals on the literature, the arts and the manners of the Athenians
on the symposium, or preface to the banquet of Plato
A defence of poetry
What is love? Ask him who lives, what is life? ask him who adores, what is God?
I know not the internal constitution of other men, nor even thine, whom I now address. I see that in some external attributes they resemble me, but when, misled by that appearance, I have thought to appeal to something in common, and unburthen my inmost soul to them, I have found my language misunderstood, like one in a distant and savage land. The more opportunities they have afforded me for experience, the wider has appeared the interval between us, and to a greater distance have the points of sympathy been withdrawn. With a spirit ill fitted to sustain such proof, trembling and feeble through its tenderness, I have everywhere sought sympathy and have found only repulse and disappointment.
Thou demandest what is love? It is that powerful attraction towards all that we conceive, or fear, or hope beyond ourselves, when we find within our own thoughts the chasm of an insufficient void, and seek to awaken in all things that are, a community with what we experience within ourselves. If we reason, we would be understood; if we imagine, we would that the airy children of our brain were born anew within another’s; if we feel, we would that another’s nerves should vibrate to our own, that the beams of their eyes should kindle at once and mix and melt into our own, that lips of motionless ice should not reply to lips quivering and burning with the heart’s best blood. This is Love. This is the bond and the sanction which connects not