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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 | |

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.


More great poems below...

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 | |

Stanzas Written in Dejection near Naples

THE sun is warm the sky is clear  
The waves are dancing fast and bright  
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear 
The purple noon's transparent might: 
The breath of the moist earth is light 5 
Around its unexpanded buds; 
Like many a voice of one delight¡ª 
The winds' the birds' the ocean-floods'¡ª 
The city's voice itself is soft like solitude's.
I see the deep's untrampled floor 10 With green and purple seaweeds strown; I see the waves upon the shore Like light dissolved in star-showers thrown.
I sit upon the sands alone; The lightning of the noontide ocean 15 Is flashing round me and a tone Arises from its measured motion¡ª How sweet did any heart now share in my emotion! Alas! I have nor hope nor health Nor peace within nor calm around; 20 Nor that content surpassing wealth The sage in meditation found And walk'd with inward glory crown'd; Nor fame nor power nor love nor leisure.
Others I see whom these surround¡ª 25 Smiling they live and call life pleasure: To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.
Yet now despair itself is mild Even as the winds and waters are; I could lie down like a tired child 30 And weep away the life of care Which I have borne and yet must bear ¡ª Till death like sleep might steal on me And I might feel in the warm air My cheek grow cold and hear the sea 35 Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Poets Dream

ON a Poet's lips I slept  
Dreaming like a love-adept 
In the sound his breathing kept; 
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses  
But feeds on the aerial kisses 5 
Of shapes that haunt Thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sun illume The blue bees in the ivy-bloom Nor heed nor see what things they be¡ª 10 But from these create he can Forms more real than living man Nurslings of Immortality!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

A Lament

O WORLD! O Life! O Time! 
On whose last steps I climb  
Trembling at that where I had stood before; 
When will return the glory of your prime? 
No more¡ªoh never more! 5 

Out of the day and night 
A joy has taken flight: 
Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar 
Move my faint heart with grief but with delight 
No more¡ªoh never more! 10 


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Lines

WHEN the lamp is shatter'd  
The light in the dust lies dead; 
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  
Loved 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 mingled Love first leaves the well-built nest; The weak one is singled To endure what it once possest.
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 | |

I fear thy kisses gentle maiden

I FEAR thy kisses gentle maiden; 
Thou needest not fear mine; 
My spirit is too deeply laden 
Ever to burthen thine.
I fear thy mien thy tones thy motion; 5 Thou needest not fear mine; Innocent is the heart's devotion With which I worship thine.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Hymn to the Spirit of Nature

LIFE of Life! thy lips enkindle 
With their love the breath between them; 
And thy smiles before they dwindle 
Make the cold air fire: then screen them 
In those locks where whoso gazes 5 
Faints entangled in their mazes.
Child of Light! thy limbs are burning Through the veil which seems to hide them As the radiant lines of morning Through thin clouds ere they divide them; 10 And this atmosphere divinest Shrouds thee wheresoe'er thou shinest.
Fair are others: none beholds thee; But thy voice sounds low and tender Like the fairest for it folds thee 15 From the sight that liquid splendour; And all feel yet see thee never As I feel now lost for ever! Lamp of Earth! where'er thou movest Its dim shapes are clad with brightness 20 And the souls of whom thou lovest Walk upon the winds with lightness Till they fail as I am failing Dizzy lost yet unbewailing!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

One word is too often profaned

ONE word is too often profaned 
For me to profane it  
One feeling too falsely disdain'd 
For thee to disdain it.
One hope is too like despair 5 For prudence to smother And pity from thee more dear Than that from another.
I can give not what men call love; But wilt thou accept not 10 The worship the heart lifts above And the Heavens reject not: The desire of the moth for the star Of the night for the morrow The devotion to something afar 15 From the sphere of our sorrow?


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

To the Night

SWIFTLY walk over the western wave  
Spirit of Night! 
Out of the misty eastern cave 
Where all the long and lone daylight  
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear 5 
Which make thee terrible and dear ¡ª 
Swift be thy flight! 

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray  
Star-inwrought; 
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day 10 
Kiss her until she be wearied out: 
Then wander o'er city and sea and land  
Touching all with thine opiate wand¡ª 
Come long-sought! 

When I arose and saw the dawn 15 
I sigh'd for thee; 
When light rode high and the dew was gone  
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree  
And the weary Day turn'd to his rest 
Lingering like an unloved guest 20 
I sigh'd for thee.
Thy brother Death came and cried Wouldst thou me? Thy sweet child Sleep the filmy-eyed Murmur'd like a noontide bee 25 Shall I nestle near thy side? Wouldst thou me? ¡ªAnd I replied No, not thee! Death will come when thou art dead Soon too soon; 30 Sleep will come when thou art fled: Of neither would I ask the boon I ask of thee belov¨¨d Night¡ª Swift be thine approaching flight Come soon soon! 35


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

To the Moon

ART thou pale for weariness 
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth  
Wandering companionless 
Among the stars that have a different birth ¡ª 
And ever-changing like a joyless eye 5 
That finds no object worth its constancy? 


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Remorse

AWAY! the moor is dark beneath the moon  
Rapid clouds have drunk 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!' 5 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; 10 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 15 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.
20 Thou in the grave shalt rest:¡ªyet till the phantoms flee Which that house and heath and garden made dear to thee erewhile Thy remembrance and repentance and deep musings are not free From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smile.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Invitation

BEST and brightest come away ¡ª 
Fairer far than this fair day  
Which like thee to those in sorrow 
Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow 
To the rough year just awake 5 
In its cradle on the brake.
The brightest hour of unborn Spring Through the winter wandering Found it seems the halcyon morn To hoar February born; 10 Bending from heaven in azure mirth It kiss'd the forehead of the earth And smiled upon the silent sea And bade the frozen streams be free And waked to music all their fountains 15 And breathed upon the frozen mountains And like a prophetess of May Strew'd flowers upon the barren way Making the wintry world appear Like one on whom thou smilest dear.
20 Away away from men and towns To the wild woods and the downs¡ª To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music lest it should not find 25 An echo in another's mind While the touch of Nature's art Harmonizes heart to heart.
Radiant Sister of the Day Awake! arise! and come away! 30 To the wild woods and the plains To the pools where winter rains Image all their roof of leaves Where the pine its garland weaves Of sapless green and ivy dun 35 Round stems that never kiss the sun; Where the lawns and pastures be And the sandhills of the sea; Where the melting hoar-frost wets The daisy-star that never sets 40 And wind-flowers and violets Which yet join not scent to hue Crown the pale year weak and new; When the night is left behind In the deep east dim and blind 45 And the blue noon is over us And the multitudinous Billows murmur at our feet Where the earth and ocean meet And all things seem only one 50 In the universal Sun.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Moon

I
AND, like a dying lady lean and pale,

Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a gauzy veil, 
Out of her chamber, led by the insane 
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain, 
The mood arose up in the murky east, 5 
A white and shapeless mass.
II Art thou pale for weariness Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, Wandering companionless Among the stars that have a different birth, 10 And ever changing, like a joyless eye That finds no object worth its constancy?


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Lines to an Indian Air

I ARISE from dreams of thee 
In the first sweet sleep of night, 
When the winds are breathing low 
And the stars are shining bright¡ª 
I arise from dreams of thee, 5 
And a spirit in my feet 
Hath led me¡ªwho knows how? 
To thy chamber-window, Sweet! 

The wandering airs they faint 
On the dark, the silent stream; 10 
The champak odours fail 
Like sweet thoughts in a dream; 
The nightingale's complaint 
It dies upon her heart, 
As I must die on thine, 15 
O belov¨¨d, as thou art! 

O lift me from the grass! 
I die, I faint, I fail! 
Let thy love in kisses rain 
On my lips and eyelids pale.
20 My cheek is cold and white, alas! My heart beats loud and fast; O press it close to thine again Where it will break at last!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Invocation

RARELY rarely comest thou  
Spirit of Delight! 
Wherefore hast thou left me now 
Many a day and night? 
Many a weary night and day 5 
'Tis since thou art fled away.
How shall ever one like me Win thee back again? With the joyous and the free Thou wilt scoff at pain.
10 Spirit false! thou hast forgot All but those who need thee not.
As a lizard with the shade Of a trembling leaf Thou with sorrow art dismay'd; 15 Even the sighs of grief Reproach thee that thou art not near And reproach thou wilt not hear.
Let me set my mournful ditty To a merry measure; 20 Thou wilt never come for pity Thou wilt come for pleasure: Pity then will cut away Those cruel wings and thou wilt stay.
I love all that thou lovest 25 Spirit of Delight! The fresh earth in new leaves drest And the starry night; Autumn evening and the morn When the golden mists are born.
30 I love snow and all the forms Of the radiant frost; I love waves and winds and storms Everything almost Which is Nature's and may be 35 Untainted by man's misery.
I love tranquil solitude And such society As is quiet wise and good; Between thee and me 40 What diff'rence? but thou dost possess The things I seek not love them less.
I love Love¡ªthough he has wings And like light can flee But above all other things 45 Spirit I love thee¡ª Thou art love and life! O come! Make once more my heart thy home!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Hellas

THE world's great age begins anew  
The golden years return  
The earth doth like a snake renew 
Her winter weeds outworn; 
Heaven smiles and faiths and empires gleam 5 
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
A brighter Hellas rears its mountains From waves serener far; A new Peneus rolls his fountains Against the morning star; 10 Where fairer Tempes bloom there sleep Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep.
A loftier Argo cleaves the main Fraught with a later prize; Another Orpheus sings again 15 And loves and weeps and dies; A new Ulysses leaves once more Calypso for his native shore.
O write no more the tale of Troy If earth Death's scroll must be¡ª 20 Nor mix with Laian rage the joy Which dawns upon the free Although a subtler Sphinx renew Riddles of death Thebes never knew.
Another Athens shall arise 25 And to remoter time Bequeath like sunset to the skies The splendour of its prime; And leave if naught so bright may live All earth can take or Heaven can give.
30 Saturn and Love their long repose Shall burst more bright and good Than all who fell than One who rose Than many unsubdued: Not gold not blood their altar dowers 35 But votive tears and symbol flowers.
O cease! must hate and death return? Cease! must men kill and die? Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn Of bitter prophecy! 40 The world is weary of the past¡ª O might it die or rest at last!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

The Indian Serenade

I ARISE from dreams of thee 
In the first sweet sleep of night, 
When the winds are breathing low, 
And the stars are shining bright.
I arise from dreams of thee, 5 And a spirit in my feet Hath led me¡ªwho knows how? To thy chamber window, Sweet! The wandering airs they faint On the dark, the silent stream¡ª 10 And the champak's odours [pine] Like sweet thoughts in a dream; The nightingale's complaint, It dies upon her heart, As I must on thine, 15 O belov¨¨d as thou art! O lift me from the grass! I die! I faint! I fail! Let thy love in kisses rain On my lips and eyelids pale.
20 My cheek is cold and white, alas! My heart beats loud and fast: O press it to thine own again, Where it will break at last!


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

Hymn of Pan

FROM the forests and highlands 
We come we come; 
From the river-girt islands  
Where loud waves are dumb  
Listening to my sweet pipings.
5 The wind in the reeds and the rushes The bees on the bells of thyme The birds on the myrtle bushes The cicale above in the lime And the lizards below in the grass 10 Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was Listening to my sweet pipings.
Liquid Peneus was flowing And all dark Tempe lay In Pelion's shadow outgrowing 15 The light of the dying day Speeded by my sweet pipings.
The Sileni and Sylvans and Fauns And the Nymphs of the woods and waves To the edge of the moist river-lawns 20 And the brink of the dewy caves And all that did then attend and follow Were silent with love as you now Apollo With envy of my sweet pipings.
I sang of the dancing stars 25 I sang of the d?dal earth And of heaven and the giant wars And love and death and birth.
And then I changed my pipings¡ª Singing how down the vale of M?nalus 30 I pursued a maiden and clasp'd a reed: Gods and men we are all deluded thus! It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed.
All wept¡ªas I think both ye now would If envy or age had not frozen your blood¡ª 35 At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.


by Percy Bysshe Shelley | |

From the Arabic: AN IMITATION

MY faint spirit was sitting in the light 
Of thy looks my love; 
It panted for thee like the hind at noon 
For the brooks my love.
Thy barb whose hoofs outspeed the tempest's flight 5 Bore thee far from me; My heart for my weak feet were weary soon Did companion thee.
Ah! fleeter far than fleetest storm or steed Or the death they bear 10 The heart which tender thought clothes like a dove With the wings of care; In the battle in the darkness in the need Shall mine cling to thee Nor claim one smile for all the comfort love 15 It may bring to thee.


by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Percy Bysshe Shelley

 My father who owned the wagon-shop
And grew rich shoeing horses
Sent me to the University of Montreal.
I learned nothing and returned home, Roaming the fields with Bert Kessler, Hunting quail and snipe.
At Thompson's Lake the trigger of my gun Caught in the side of the boat And a great hole was shot through my heart.
Over me a fond father erected this marble shaft, On which stands the figure of a woman Carved by an Italian artist.
They say the ashes of my namesake Were scattered near the pyramid of Caius Cestius Somewhere near Rome.