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Best Famous Percy Bysshe Shelley Poems

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by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Ozymandias of Egypt

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.
"


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

To a Skylark

HAIL to thee, blithe spirit! 
Bird thou never wert, 
That from heaven, or near it, 
Pourest thy full heart 
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
5 Higher still and higher From the earth thou springest, Like a cloud of fire The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
10 In the golden lightning Of the sunken sun, O'er which clouds are bright'ning, Thou dost float and run, Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
15 The pale purple even Melts around thy flight; Like a star of heaven In the broad daylight, Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight¡ª 20 Keen as are the arrows Of that silver sphere, Whose intense lamp narrows In the white dawn clear Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
25 All the earth and air With thy voice is loud¡ª As, when night is bare, From one lonely cloud The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflow'd.
30 What thou art we know not; What is most like thee?¡ª From rainbow clouds there flow not Drops so bright to see As from thy presence showers a rain of melody: 35 Like a poet hidden In the light of thought, Singing hymns unbidden, Till the world is wrought To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not: 40 Like a high-born maiden In a palace tower, Soothing her love-laden Soul in secret hour With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower: 45 Like a glow-worm golden In a dell of dew, Scattering unbeholden Its aerial hue Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view: 50 Like a rose embower'd In its own green leaves, By warm winds deflower'd, Till the scent it gives Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-wing¨¨d thieves.
55 Sound of vernal showers On the twinkling grass, Rain-awaken'd flowers¡ª All that ever was Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.
60 Teach us, sprite or bird, What sweet thoughts are thine: I have never heard Praise of love or wine That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
65 Chorus hymeneal, Or triumphal chaunt, Match'd with thine, would be all But an empty vaunt¡ª A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
70 What objects are the fountains Of thy happy strain? What fields, or waves, or mountains? What shapes of sky or plain? What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain? 75 With thy clear keen joyance Languor cannot be; Shadow of annoyance Never came near thee: Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
80 Waking or asleep, Thou of death must deem Things more true and deep Than we mortals dream, Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream? 85 We look before and after, And pine for what is not: Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
90 Yet if we could scorn Hate, and pride, and fear; If we were things born Not to shed a tear, I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
95 Better than all measures Of delightful sound, Better than all treasures That in books are found, Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground! 100 Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know¡ª Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow, The world should listen then, as I am listening now! 105


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

A Dream of the Unknown

I DREAM'D that as I wander'd by the way 
Bare winter suddenly was changed to spring, 
And gentle odours led my steps astray, 
Mix'd with a sound of waters murmuring 
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay 5 
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling 
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream, 
But kiss'd it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.
There grew pied wind-flowers and violets, Daisies, those pearl'd Arcturi of the earth, 10 The constellated flower that never sets; Faint oxlips; tender bluebells, at whose birth The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets¡ª Like a child, half in tenderness and mirth¡ª Its mother's face with heaven-collected tears, 15 When the low wind, its playmate's voice, it hears.
And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine, Green cow-bind and the moonlight-colour'd may, And cherry-blossoms, and white cups, whose wine Was the bright dew yet drain'd not by the day; 20 And wild roses, and ivy serpentine With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray; And flowers azure, black, and streak'd with gold, Fairer than any waken'd eyes behold.
And nearer to the river's trembling edge 25 There grew broad flag-flowers, purple prank'd with white, And starry river-buds among the sedge, And floating water-lilies, broad and bright, Which lit the oak that overhung the hedge With moonlight beams of their own watery light; 30 And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.
Methought that of these visionary flowers I made a nosegay, bound in such a way That the same hues, which in their natural bowers 35 Were mingled or opposed, the like array Kept these imprison'd children of the Hours Within my hand,¡ªand then, elate and gay, I hasten'd to the spot whence I had come That I might there present it¡ªoh! to Whom? 40


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Music when soft voices die

MUSIC when soft voices die  
Vibrates in the memory; 
Odours when sweet violets sicken  
Live within the sense they quicken; 

Rose leaves when the rose is dead 5 
Are heap'd for the belov¨¨d's bed: 
And so thy thoughts when thou art gone  
Love itself shall slumber on.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

A widow bird sate mourning for her Love

A WIDOW bird sate mourning for her Love 
Upon a wintry bough; 
The frozen wind crept on above  
The freezing stream below.
There was no leaf upon the forest bare.
5 No flower upon the ground And little motion in the air Except the mill-wheel's sound.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Loves Philosophy

THE fountains mingle with the river 
And the rivers with the ocean  
The winds of heaven mix for ever 
With a sweet emotion; 
Nothing in the world is single 5 
All things by a law divine 
In one another's being mingle¡ª 
Why not I with thine? 

See the mountains kiss high heaven  
And the waves clasp one another; 10 
No sister-flower would be forgiven 
If it disdain'd its brother; 
And the sunlight clasps the earth  
And the moonbeams kiss the sea¡ª 
What are all these kissings worth 15 
If thou kiss not me?


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Flight of Love

WHEN the lamp is shatter'd 
The light in the dust lies dead¡ª 
When the cloud is scatter'd  
The rainbow's glory is shed.
When the lute is broken 5 Sweet tones are remember'd not; When the lips have spoken Lov'd accents are soon forgot.
As music and splendour Survive not the lamp and the lute 10 The heart's echoes render No song when the spirit is mute¡ª No song but sad dirges Like the wind through a ruin'd cell Or the mournful surges 15 That ring the dead seaman's knell.
When hearts have once mingl'd Love first leaves the well-built nest; The weak one is singl'd To endure what it once possesst.
20 O Love! who bewailest The frailty of all things here Why choose you the frailest For your cradle your home and your bier? Its passions will rock thee 25 As the storms rock the ravens on high; Bright reason will mock thee Like the sun from a wintry sky.
From thy nest every rafter Will rot and thine eagle home 30 Leave thee naked to laughter When leaves fall and cold winds come.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Written among the Euganean Hills North Italy

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, 5 
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, 10 
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, 15 
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 20 
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, 25 
To the haven of the grave.
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.
30 ¡ª'Mid the mountains Euganean I stood listening to the p?an With which the legion'd rooks did hail The Sun's uprise majestical: Gathering round with wings all hoar, 35 Through the dewy mist they soar Like gray shades, till the eastern heaven Bursts; and then¡ªas clouds of even Fleck'd with fire and azure, lie In the unfathomable sky¡ª 40 So their plumes of purple grain Starr'd with drops of golden rain Gleam above the sunlight woods, As in silent multitudes On the morning's fitful gale 45 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.
50 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, 55 Ocean's nursling, Venice lies,¡ª A peopled labyrinth of walls, Amphitrite's destined halls, Which her hoary sire now paves With his blue and beaming waves.
60 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, 65 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 70 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.
75 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 80 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 85 Wilt thou be¡ªwhen 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 90 With green sea-flowers overgrown, Like a rock of ocean's own, Topples o'er the abandon'd sea As the tides change sullenly.
The fisher on his watery way, 95 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, 100 Lead a rapid masque of death O'er the waters of his path.
Noon descends around me now: 'Tis the noon of autumn's glow, When a soft and purple mist 105 Like a vaporous amethyst, Or an air-dissolv¨¨d star Mingling light and fragrance, far From the curved horizon's bound To the point of heaven's profound, 110 Fills the overflowing sky, And the plains that silent lie Underneath; the leaves unsodden Where the infant Frost has trodden With his morning-wing¨¨d feet 115 Whose bright print is gleaming yet; And the red and golden vines Piercing with their trellised lines The rough, dark-skirted wilderness; The dun and bladed grass no less, 120 Pointing from this hoary tower In the windless air; the flower Glimmering at my feet; the line Of the olive-sandall'd Apennine In the south dimly islanded; 125 And the Alps, whose snows are spread High between the clouds and sun; And of living things each one; And my spirit, which so long Darken'd this swift stream of song,¡ª 130 Interpenetrated lie By the glory of the sky; Be it love, light, harmony, Odour, or the soul of all Which from heaven like dew doth fall, 135 Or the mind which feeds this verse, Peopling the lone universe.
Noon descends, and after noon Autumn's evening meets me soon, Leading the infantine moon 140 And that one star, which to her Almost seems to minister Half the crimson light she brings From the sunset's radiant springs: And the soft dreams of the morn 145 (Which like wing¨¨d winds had borne To that silent isle, which lies 'Mid remember'd agonies, The frail bark of this lone being), Pass, to other sufferers fleeing, 150 And its ancient pilot, Pain, Sits beside the helm again.
Other flowering isles must be In the sea of Life and Agony: Other spirits float and flee 155 O'er that gulf: ev'n now, perhaps, On some rock the wild wave wraps, With folding wings they waiting sit For my bark, to pilot it To some calm and blooming cove, 160 Where for me, and those I love, May a windless bower be built, Far from passion, pain, and guilt, In a dell 'mid lawny hills Which the wild sea-murmur fills, 165 And soft sunshine, and the sound Of old forests echoing round, And the light and smell divine Of all flowers that breathe and shine.
¡ªWe may live so happy there, 170 That the Spirits of the Air Envying us, may ev'n entice To our healing paradise The polluting multitude: But their rage would be subdued 175 By that clime divine and calm, And the winds whose wings rain balm On the uplifted soul, and leaves Under which the bright sea heaves; While each breathless interval 180 In their whisperings musical The inspir¨¨d soul supplies With its own deep melodies; And the Love which heals all strife Circling, like the breath of life, 185 All things in that sweet abode With its own mild brotherhood:¡ª They, not it, would change; and soon Every sprite beneath the moon Would repent its envy vain, 190 And the Earth grow young again!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Recollection

NOW the last day of many days, 
All beautiful and bright as thou, 
The loveliest and the last, is dead: 
Rise, Memory, and write its praise! 
Up¡ªto thy wonted work! come, trace 5 
The epitaph of glory fled, 
For now the earth has changed its face, 
A frown is on the heaven's brow.
We wander'd to the Pine Forest That skirts the ocean's foam.
10 The lightest wind was in its nest, The tempest in its home; The whispering waves were half asleep, The clouds were gone to play, And on the bosom of the deep 15 The smile of heaven lay: It seem'd as if the hour were one Sent from beyond the skies Which scatter'd from above the sun A light of Paradise! 20 We paused amid the pines that stood The giants of the waste, Tortured by storms to shapes as rude As serpents interlaced,¡ª And soothed by every azure breath 25 That under heaven is blown, To harmonies and hues beneath, As tender as its own.
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep Like green waves on the sea, 30 As still as in the silent deep The ocean-woods may be.
How calm it was!¡ªThe silence there By such a chain was bound, That even the busy woodpecker 35 Made stiller by her sound The inviolable quietness; The breath of peace we drew With its soft motion made not less The calm that round us grew.
40 There seem'd, from the remotest seat Of the wide mountain waste To the soft flower beneath our feet, A magic circle traced,¡ª A spirit interfused around 45 A thrilling silent life; To momentary peace it bound Our mortal nature's strife;¡ª And still I felt the centre of The magic circle there 50 Was one fair form that fill'd with love The lifeless atmosphere.
We paused beside the pools that lie Under the forest bough; Each seem'd as 'twere a little sky 55 Gulf'd in a world below¡ª A firmament of purple light Which in the dark earth lay, More boundless than the depth of night And purer than the day¡ª 60 In which the lovely forests grew As in the upper air, More perfect both in shape and hue Than any spreading there.
There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn, 65 And through the dark-green wood The white sun twinkling like the dawn Out of a speckled cloud.
Sweet views which in our world above Can never well be seen 70 Were imaged in the water's love Of that fair forest green; And all was interfused beneath With an Elysian glow, An atmosphere without a breath, 75 A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent To the dark water's breast Its every leaf and lineament With more than truth exprest; 80 Until an envious wind crept by, Like an unwelcome thought Which from the mind's too faithful eye Blots one dear image out.
¡ªThough thou art ever fair and kind, 85 The forests ever green, Less oft is peace in Shelley's mind Than calm in waters seen!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

To a Lady with a Guitar

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