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To a Lady with a Guitar

Written by: Percy Bysshe Shelley | Biography
 | Quotes (77) |
ARIEL to Miranda:¡ªTake 
This slave of music for the sake 
Of him who is the slave of thee; 
And teach it all the harmony 
In which thou canst and only thou 5 
Make the delighted spirit glow  
Till joy denies itself again 
And too intense is turn'd to pain. 
For by permission and command 
Of thine own Prince Ferdinand 10 
Poor Ariel sends this silent token 
Of more than ever can be spoken; 
Your guardian spirit Ariel who 
From life to life must still pursue 
Your happiness for thus alone 15 
Can Ariel ever find his own. 
From Prospero's enchanted cell  
As the mighty verses tell  
To the throne of Naples he 
Lit you o'er the trackless sea 20 
Flitting on your prow before  
Like a living meteor. 
When you die the silent Moon 
In her interlunar swoon 
Is not sadder in her cell 25 
Than deserted Ariel:¡ª 
When you live again on earth  
Like an unseen Star of birth 
Ariel guides you o'er the sea 
Of life from your nativity:¡ª 30 
Many changes have been run 
Since Ferdinand and you begun 
Your course of love and Ariel still 
Has track'd your steps and served your will. 
Now in humbler happier lot 35 
This is all remember'd not; 
And now alas the poor Sprite is 
Imprison'd for some fault of his 
In a body like a grave¡ª 
From you he only dares to crave 40 
For his service and his sorrow 
A smile to-day a song to-morrow. 

The artist who this viol wrought 
To echo all harmonious thought  
Fell'd a tree while on the steep 45 
The woods were in their winter sleep  
Rock'd in that repose divine 
On the wind-swept Apennine; 
And dreaming some of autumn past  
And some of spring approaching fast 50 
And some of April buds and showers  
And some of songs in July bowers  
And all of love; and so this tree ¡ª 
Oh that such our death may be!¡ª 
Died in sleep and felt no pain 55 
To live in happier form again: 
From which beneath heaven's fairest star  
The artist wrought this loved guitar; 
And taught it justly to reply 
To all who question skilfully 60 
In language gentle as thine own; 
Whispering in enamour'd tone 
Sweet oracles of woods and dells  
And summer winds in sylvan cells. 
For it had learnt all harmonies 65 
Of the plains and of the skies  
Of the forests and the mountains  
And the many-voic¨¨d fountains; 
The clearest echoes of the hills  
The softest notes of falling rills 70 
The melodies of birds and bees  
The murmuring of summer seas  
And pattering rain and breathing dew  
And airs of evening; and it knew 
That seldom-heard mysterious sound 75 
Which driven on its diurnal round  
As it floats through boundless day  
Our world enkindles on its way:¡ª 
All this it knows but will not tell 
To those who cannot question well 80 
The spirit that inhabits it: 
It talks according to the wit 
Of its companions; and no more 
Is heard than has been felt before 
By those who tempt it to betray 85 
These secrets of an elder day. 
But sweetly as its answers will 
Flatter hands of perfect skill  
It keeps its highest holiest tone 
For one beloved Friend alone. 90 



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