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Ode to the West Wind and Other Poems

Ode to the West Wind and Other Poems

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by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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In the pantheon of English poets, Shelley has long occupied a lofty place, his poems as admired for their profound thought and subtle perceptions as for the music and fervor of their language. His life as well as his poetry embraced the passions, ideals, and causes of Romanticism, whose emergence and early influences coincided with the dates of his own brief life


In the pantheon of English poets, Shelley has long occupied a lofty place, his poems as admired for their profound thought and subtle perceptions as for the music and fervor of their language. His life as well as his poetry embraced the passions, ideals, and causes of Romanticism, whose emergence and early influences coincided with the dates of his own brief life (1792-1822).
This selection of many of Shelley’s best-known and most representative poems will give readers an exciting encounter with one of the most original and stimulating figures in English poetry. Thirty-seven poems of varying lengths are included, among them such well-known verses as "Adonais," "Ode to the West Wind," "Ozymandias," "The Cloud," "To a Skylark" "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," and "Arethusa."

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Dover Publications
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Dover Thrift Editions Series
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5.19(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.33(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

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Ode to the West Wind and Other Poems

By Percy Bysshe Shelley, STANLEY APPELBAUM

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1993 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11414-9



    APRIL, 1814

    Away! the moor is dark beneath the moon,
    Rapid clouds have drank the last pale beam of even:
    Away! the gathering winds will call the darkness soon,
    And profoundest midnight shroud the serene lights of heaven.

    Pause not! The time is past! Every voice cries, Away!
    Tempt not with one last tear thy friend's ungentle mood:
    Thy lover's eye, so glazed and cold, dares not entreat thy stay:
    Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude.

    Away, away! to thy sad and silent home;
    Pour bitter tears on its desolated hearth;
    Watch the dim shades as like ghosts they go and come,
    And complicate strange webs of melancholy mirth.

    The leaves of wasted autumn woods shall float around thine head:
    The blooms of dewy spring shall gleam beneath thy feet:
    But thy soul or this world must fade in the frost that binds the dead,
    Ere midnight's frown and morning's smile, ere thou and peace
    may meet.

    The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose,
    For the weary winds are silent, or the moon is in the deep:
    Some respite to its turbulence unresting ocean knows;
    Whatever moves, or toils, or grieves, hath its appointed sleep.

    Thou in the grave shalt rest—yet till the phantoms flee
    Which that house and heath and garden made dear to thee
    Thy remembrance, and repentance, and deep musings are not free
    From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smile.


    We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
    How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
    Streaking the darkness radiantly!——yet soon
    Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:

    Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
    Give various response to each varying blast,
    To whose frail frame no second motion brings
    One mood or modulation like the last.

    We rest.—A dream has power to poison sleep;
    We rise.—One wandering thought pollutes the day;
    We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
    Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

    It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
    The path of its departure still is free:
    Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
    Nought may endure but Mutability.

    Hymn to Intellectual Beauty


    The awful shadow of some unseen Power
    Floats though unseen among us,—visiting
    This various world with as inconstant wing
    As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,—
    Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
    It visits with inconstant glance
    Each human heart and countenance;
    Like hues and harmonies of evening,—
    Like clouds in starlight widely spread,—
    Like memory of music fled,—
    Like aught that for its grace may be
    Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.


    Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate
    With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
    Of human thought or form,—where art thou gone?
    Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
    This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
    Ask why the sunlight not for ever
    Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river,
    Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
    Why fear and dream and death and birth
    Cast on the daylight of this earth
    Such gloom,—why man has such a scope
    For love and hate, despondency and hope?


    No voice from some sublimer world hath ever
    To sage or poet these responses given—
    Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven,
    Remain the records of their vain endeavour,
    Frail spells—whose uttered charm might not avail to sever,
    From all we hear and all we see,
    Doubt, chance, and mutability.
    Thy light alone—like mist o'er mountains driven,
    Or music by the night-wind sent
    Through strings of some still instrument,
    Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
    Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.


    Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart
    And come, for some uncertain moments lent.
    Man were immortal, and omnipotent,
    Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
    Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart.
    Thou messenger of sympathies,
    That wax and wane in lovers' eyes—
    Thou—that to human thought art nourishment,
    Like darkness to a dying flame!
    Depart not as thy shadow came,
    Depart not—lest the grave should be,
    Like life and fear, a dark reality.


    While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
    Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
    And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
    Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
    I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
    I was not heard—I saw them not—
    When musing deeply on the lot
    Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
    All vital things that wake to bring
    News of birds and blossoming,—
    Sudden, thy shadow fell on me;
    I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy!


    I vowed that I would dedicate my powers
    To thee and thine—have I not kept the vow?
    With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now
    I call the phantoms of a thousand hours
    Each from his voiceless grave: they have in visioned bowers
    Of studious zeal or love's delight
    Outwatched with me the envious night—
    They know that never joy illumed my brow
    Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free
    This world from its dark slavery,
    That thou—O awful LOVELINESS,
    Wouldst give whate'er these words cannot express.


    The day becomes more solemn and serene
    When noon is past—there is a harmony
    In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
    Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
    As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
    Thus let thy power, which like the truth
    Of nature on my passive youth
    Descended, to my onward life supply
    Its calm—to one who worships thee,
    And every form containing thee,
    Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bind
    To fear himself, and love all human kind.


    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert ... Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty,.and despair!'
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Lines Written among the Euganean Hills

    OCTOBER, 1818.

    Many a green isle needs must be
    In the deep wide sea of Misery,
    Or the mariner, worn and wan,
    Never thus could voyage on—
    Day and night, and night and day,
    Drifting on his dreary way,
    With the solid darkness black
    Closing round his vessel's track;
    Whilst above the sunless sky,
    Big with clouds, hangs heavily,
    And behind the tempest fleet
    Hurries on with lightning feet,
    Riving sail, and cord, and plank,
    Till the ship has almost drank
    Death from the o'er-brimming deep;
    And sinks down, down, like that sleep
    When the dreamer seems to be
    Weltering through eternity;
    And the dim low line before
    Of a dark and distant shore
    Still recedes, as ever still
    Longing with divided will,
    But no power to seek or shun,
    He is ever drifted on
    O'er the unreposing wave
    To the haven of the grave.
    What, if there no friends will greet;
    What, if there no heart will meet
    His with love's impatient beat;
    Wander wheresoe'er he may,
    Can he dream before that day
    To find refuge from distress
    In friendship's smile, in love's caress?
    Then 'twill wreak him little woe
    Whether such there be or no:
    Senseless is the breast, and cold,
    Which relenting love would fold;
    Bloodless are the veins and chill
    Which the pulse of pain did fill;
    Every little living nerve
    That from bitter words did swerve
    Round the tortured lips and brow,
    Are like sapless leaflets now
    Frozen upon December's bough.

    On the beach of a northern sea
    Which tempests shake eternally,
    As once the wretch there lay to sleep,
    Lies a solitary heap,
    One white skull and seven dry bones,
    On the margin of the stones,
    Where a few gray rushes stand,
    Boundaries of the sea and land:
    Nor is heard one voice of wail
    But the sea-mews, as they sail
    O'er the billows of the gale;
    Or the whirlwind up and down
    Howling, like a slaughtered town,
    When a king in glory rides
    Through the pomp of fratricides:
    Those unburied bones around
    There is many a mournful sound;
    There is no lament for him,
    Like a sunless vapour, dim,
    Who once clothed with life and thought
    What now moves nor murmurs not.

    Ay, many flowering islands lie
    In the waters of wide Agony:
    To such a one this morn was led,
    My bark by soft winds piloted:
    'Mid the mountains Euganean
    I stood listening to the paean
    With which the legioned rooks did hail
    The sun's uprise majestical;
    Gathering round with wings all hoar,
    Through the dewy mist they soar
    Like gray shades, till the eastern heaven
    Bursts, and then, as clouds of even,
    Flecked with fire and azure, lie
    In the unfathomable sky,
    So their plumes of purple grain,
    Starred with drops of golden rain,
    Gleam above the sunlight woods,
    As in silent multitudes
    On the morning's fitful gale
    Through the broken mist they sail,
    And the vapours cloven and gleaming
    Follow, down the dark steep streaming,
    Till all is bright, and clear, and still,
    Round the solitary hill.

    Beneath is spread like a green sea
    The waveless plain of Lombardy,
    Bounded by the vaporous air,
    Islanded by cities fair;
    Underneath Day's azure eyes
    Ocean's nursling, Venice lies,
    A peopled labyrinth of walls,
    Amphitrite's destined halls,
    Which her hoary sire now paves
    With his blue and beaming waves.
    Lo! the sun upsprings behind,
    Broad, red, radiant, half-reclined
    On the level quivering line
    Of the waters crystalline;
    And before that chasm of light,
    As within a furnace bright,
    Column, tower, and dome, and spire,
    Shine like obelisks of fire,
    Pointing with inconstant motion
    From the altar of dark ocean
    To the sapphire-tinted skies;
    As the flames of sacrifice
    From the marble shrines did rise,
    As to pierce the dome of gold
    Where Apollo spoke of old.

    Sun-girt City, thou hast been
    Ocean's child, and then his queen;
    Now is come a darker day,
    And thou soon must be his prey,
    If the power that raised thee here
    Hallow so thy watery bier.
    A less drear ruin then than now,
    With thy conquest-branded brow
    Stooping to the slave of slaves
    From thy throne, among the waves
    Wilt thou be, when the sea-mew
    Flies, as once before it flew,
    O'er thine isles depopulate,
    And all is in its ancient state,
    Save where many a palace gate
    With green sea-flowers overgrown
    Like a rock of Ocean's own,
    Topples o'er the abandoned sea
    As the tides change sullenly.
    The fisher on his watery way,
    Wandering at the close of day,
    Will spread his sail and seize his oar
    Till he pass the gloomy shore,
    Lest thy dead should, from their sleep
    Bursting o'er the starlight deep,
    Lead a rapid masque of death
    O'er the waters of his path.

    Those who alone thy towers behold
    Quivering through aëreal gold,
    As I now behold them here,
    Would imagine not they were
    Sepulchres, where human forms,
    Like pollution-nourished worms,
    To the corpse of greatness cling,
    Murdered, and now mouldering:
    But if Freedom should awake
    In her omnipotence, and shake
    From the Celtic Anarch's hold
    All the keys of dungeons cold,
    Where a hundred cities lie
    Chained like thee, ingloriously,
    Thou and all thy sister band
    Might adorn this sunny land,
    Twining memories of old time
    With new virtues more sublime;
    If not, perish thou and they!—
    Clouds which stain truth's rising day
    By her sun consumed away—
    Earth can spare ye: while like flowers,
    In the waste of years and hours,
    From your dust new nations spring
    With more kindly blossoming.

    Perish—let there only be
    Floating o'er thy hearthless sea
    As the garment of thy sky
    Clothes the world immortally,
    One remembrance, more sublime
    Than the tattered pall of time,
    Which scarce hides thy visage wan;—
    That a tempest-cleaving Swan
    Of the songs of Albion,
    Driven from his ancestral streams
    By the might of evil dreams,
    Found a nest in thee; and Ocean
    Welcomed him with such emotion
    That its joy grew his, and sprung
    From his lips like music flung
    O'er a mighty thunder-fit,
    Chastening terror:—what though yet
    Poesy's unfailing River,
    Which through Albion winds forever
    Lashing with melodious wave
    Many a sacred Poet's grave,
    Mourn its latest nursling fled?
    What though thou with all thy dead
    Scarce can for this fame repay
    Aught thine own? oh, rather say
    Though thy sins and slaveries foul
    Overcloud a sunlike soul?
    As the ghost of Homer clings
    Round Scamander's wasting springs;
    As divinest Shakespeare's might
    Fills Avon and the world with light
    Like omniscient power which he
    Imaged 'mid mortality;
    As the love from Petrarch's urn,
    Yet amid yon hills doth burn,
    A quenchless lamp by which the heart
    Sees things unearthly;—so thou art,
    Mighty spirit—so shall be
    The City that did refuge thee.

    Lo, the sun floats up the sky
    Like thought-wingèd Liberty,
    Till the universal light
    Seems to level plain and height;
    From the sea a mist has spread,
    And the beams of morn lie dead
    On the towers of Venice now,
    Like its glory long ago.
    By the skirts of that gray cloud
    Many-domed Padua proud
    Stands, a peopled solitude,
    'Mid the harvest-shining plain,
    Where the peasant heaps his grain
    In the garner of his foe,
    And the milk-white oxen slow
    With the purple vintage strain,
    Heaped upon the creaking wain,
    That the brutal Celt may swill
    Drunken sleep with savage will;
    And the sickle to the sword
    Lies unchanged, though many a lord,
    Like a weed whose shade is poison,
    Overgrows this regions foison,
    Sheaves of whom are ripe to come
    To destruction's harvest-home:
    Men must reap the things they sow,
    Force from force must ever flow,
    Or worse; but 'tis a bitter woe
    That love or reason cannot change
    The despot's rage, the slave's revenge.

    Padua, thou within whose walls
    Those mute guests at festivals,
    Son and Mother, Death and Sin,
    Played at dice for Ezzelin,
    Till Death cried, 'I win, I win!'
    And Sin cursed to lose the wager,
    But Death promised, to assuage her,
    That he would petition for
    Her to be made Vice-Emperor,
    When the destined years were o'er,
    Over all between the Po
    And the eastern Alpine snow,
    Under the mighty Austrian.
    Sin smiled so as Sin only can,
    And since that time, ay, long before,
    Both have ruled from shore to shore,—
    That incestuous pair, who follow
    Tyrants as the sun the swallow,
    As Repentance follows Crime,
    And as changes follow Time.

    In thine halls the lamp of learning,
    Padua, now no more is burning;
    Like a meteor, whose wild way
    Is lost over the grave of day,
    It gleams betrayed and to betray:
    Once remotest nations came
    To adore that sacred flame,
    When it lit not many a hearth
    On this cold and gloomy earth:
    Now new fires from antique light
    Spring beneath the wide world's might;
    But their spark lies dead in thee,
    Trampled out by Tyranny.
    As the Norway woodman quells,
    In the depth of piny dells,
    One light flame among the brakes,
    While the boundless forest shakes,
    And its mighty trunks are torn
    By the fire thus lowly born:
    The spark beneath his feet is dead,
    He starts to see the flames it fed
    Howling through the darkened sky
    With a myriad tongues victoriously,
    And sinks down in fear: so thou,
    O Tyranny, beholdest now
    Light around thee, and thou hearest
    The loud flames ascend, and fearest:
    Grovel on the earth; ay, hide
    In the dust thy purple pride!


Excerpted from Ode to the West Wind and Other Poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley, STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 1993 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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