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his speculations, and stamps with reality his plead when I consider contemporary productions of the ings for the human race.
same apparent pretensions, I own I was filled with The poem, bold in its opinions and uncompro
confidence. I felt that it was in many respects a mising in their expression, met with many censurers,
genuine picture of my own mind. I felt that the not only among those who allow of no virtue but
sentiments were true, not assumed. And in this such as supports the cause they espouse, but even
have I long believed that my power consists ; in among those whose opinions were similar to his sympathy and that part of the imagination which own. I extract a portion of a letter written in
relates to sentiment and contemplation. I am answer to one of these friends ; it best details the formed, if for anything not in common with the impulses of Shelley's mind and his motives : it was
herd of mankind, to apprehend minute and remote written with entire unreserve ; and is therefore a
distinctions of feeling, whether relative to external precious monument of his own opinion of his nature or the living beings which surround us, powers, of the purity of his designs, and the ardour
and to communicate the conceptions which result with which he clung, in adversity and through the
from considering either the moral or the material
universe as a whole. Of course, I believe these valley of the shadow of death, to views from which he believed the permanent happiness of mankind
faculties, which perhaps comprehend all that is must eventually spring.
sublime in man, to exist very imperfectly in my own mind. But when you advert to my chancery
paper, a cold, forced, unimpassioned, insignificant "Marlow, Dec. 11, 1817.
piece of cramped and cautious argument ; and to "I have read and considered all that you say the little scrap about Mandeville, which expressed about my general powers, and the particular instance my feelings indeed, but cost scarcely two minutes' of the Poem in which I have attempted to develop thought to express, as specimens of my powers, them. Nothing can be more satisfactory to me more favourable than that which grew as it were than the interest which your admonitions express. from the agony and bloody sweat' of intellectual But I think you are mistaken in some points with
travail ; surely I must feel that in some manner, regard to the peculiar nature of my powers, what either I am mistaken in believing that I have ever be their amount. I listened with deference any talent at all, or you in the selection of the and self-suspicion te your censures of the Revolt specimens of it. of Islam; ' but the productions of mine which you “ Yet after all, I cannot but be conscious in cornmend hold a very low place in my own esteem; much of what I write, of an absence of that tranand this reassured me, in some degree at least. | quillity which is the attribute and accompaniment The poem was produced by a series of thoughts of power. This feeling alone would make your which filled my mind with unbounded and sustained most kind and wise admonitions, on the subject of enthusiasm. I felt the precariousness of my life, the economy of intellectual force, valuable to me. and I engnged in this task, resolved to leave some And if I live, or if I see any trust in coming years, record of myself. Much of what the volume con doubt not but that I shall do something, whatever it tains was written with the same feeling, as real, may be, which a serious and earnest estimate of though not so prophetic, as the communications of my powers will suggest to me, and which will be a dying man. I never presumed indeed to con in every respect accommodated to their utmost sider it anything approaching to faultless ; but I limits.”
END OF THE REVOLT OF ISLAM,
A Lyrical Drama.
IN FOUR ACTS.
Audisne hæc Amphiarae, sub terram abdite ?
hy the purest and the truest motives to the best any
noblest ends. The Greek tragic writers, in selecting as their sub This Poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ject any portion of their national history or mythology, ruing of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowery employed in their treatment of it a certain arbitrary glades, and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, discretion. They by no means conceived themselves which are extended in ever-winding labyrinths npon bound to adhere to the common interpretation, or to its immense platforms and dizzy arches suspended in imitate in story, as in title, their rivals and prede- the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect
Such a syatem would have amounted to a of the vigorous awakening of spring in that divinest resignation of those claims to preference over their climate, and the new life with which it drenches the competitors which incited the composition. The spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of Agamemnonian story was exlibited on the Athenian this drama, theatre with as many variations as dramas.
The imagery which I have employed will be found, I have presumed to employ a similar license. The in inany instances, to have been drawn from the opera. “ Prometheus Unbound of Æschylus supposed the tions of the human mind, or from those external actions reconciliation of Jupiter with his victim as the price of by which they are expressed. This is unusual in modern the disclosure of tho danger threatened to his empiro poetry, although Dante and Shakspeare are full of by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis. instances of the same kind : Dante indeed more than Thetis, according to this view of the subject, was given any other poet, and with greater success. But the in marriage to Peleus, and Prometheus, by the permis- Greek poets, as writers to whom no resource of awakension of Japiter, delivered from his captivity by Hercules. ing the sympathy of their contemporaries was unknown, Had I framed my story on this model, I should have were in the habitual use of this power; and it is the done no more than have attempted to restore the lost study of their works (since a higher merit would prodrama of Æschylus; an ambition, which, if my pre. bably be denied me), to which I am willing that my ference to this inode of treating the subject had incited readers should impute this singularity. me to cherish, the recollection of the high comparison One word is duo in candour to the degree in which such an attempt would challenge might well abate.
the study of contemporary writings may have tinged But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble my composition, for such has been a topic of cevsuro as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor with regard to poems far more popular, and, indeed, of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which more deservedly popular, than mine. It is impossible is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endur that any one who inhabits the same age with such ance of Prometheus, would be annibilated if we could writers as those who stand in the foremost ranks of our conceive of him as unsaying his high language and own, can conscientiously assure himself that his language quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary. and tone of thought may not have been modified by The only imaginary being resembling in any degree the study of the productions of those extraordinary Prometheus, is Satan: and Prometheus is, in my judg- / intellects. It is true, that, not the spirit of their ment, a more poetical character than Satan, because, genius, but the forms in which it has manifested itself
, in addition to courage, and majosty, and firm and are due less to the peculiarities of their own winds patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible than to the peculiarity of the moral and intellectual of being described as exempt from the taints of ambi condition of the minds among which they have been tion, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggran- produced. Thus a number of writers possess the disement, which, in the Hero of Paradiso Lost, interfere form, whilst they want the spirit of those whom, it is with the interest. The character of Satan engenders alleged, they initate; because the former is the endowin the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to ment of the age in which they live, and the latter weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the must be the uncommunicated lightning of their own former because the latter exceed all measure. In the mind. minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction The peculiar style of intense and comprehensive with a religious feeling, it engenders something worse. imagery which distinguishes the modern literature of But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest England, has not been, as a general power, the product perfection of moral and intellectual bature, impelled of the imitation of any particular writer. The mass of
capabilities remains at every period materially the same; | another, the creations, of their age. From this sub-
rence ; nothing can be equally well expressed in prose
PROMETHEL'S is discovered bound to the Precipice. PAN As then ere misery made me wise. The curse
Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye During the Scene, Morning slowly breaks.
Whose many-voiced Echoes, through the mist MONARCH of Gods and Dæmons, and all Spirits Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell ! But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost, Which Thou and I alone of living things
Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth Shuddering through India ! Thou serenest Air, Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou Through which the Sun walks burning without Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,
beams! And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,
And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poised wings With fear and self-contempt and barren hope. Hung mute and moveless o'er yon bushed abyss, Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate, As thunder, louder than your own, made rock Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn,
The orbed world ! If then my words had power, O’er mine own misery and thy vain revenge. Though I am changed so that aught evil wish Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours, Is dead within ; although no memory be And moments aye divided by keen pangs
Of what is hate, let them not lose it now! Till they seemed years, torture and solitude, What was that cursel for ye all heard me speak. Scorn and despair,—these are mine empire. More glorious far than that which thou surveyest FIRST VOICE: (from the mountains.) From thine unenvied throne, O, Mighty God!
Thrice three hundred thousand years Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
O'er the Earthquake's couch we stood: Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
Oft, as men convulsed with fears,
We trembled in our multitude.
SECOND voice: (from the springs.)
Thunderbolts had parched our water,
We had been stained with bitter blood, No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure. I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
And had run mute, 'mid shrieks of slaughter, I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Through a city and a solitude.
THIRD VOICE: (from the air.)
I had clothed, since Earth uprose, Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!
Its wastes in colours not their own;
And oft had my serene repose The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
Been cloven by many a rending groan. Of their moon-freezing crystals; the bright chains Eat with their burning cold into my bones.
FOURTH VOICE: (from the whirlwinds.) Heaven's winged hound, polluting from thy lips We had soared beneath these mountains His beak in poison not his own, tears up
Unresting ages ; nor had thunder,
Nor any power above or under
But never bowed our snowy crest
As at the voice of thine unrest.
Never such a sound before
To the Indian waves we bore. The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom A pilot asleep on the howling sea -As some dark Priest hales the reluctant viccin
Leaped up from the deck in agony,
And died as mad as the wild waves be.
My still realm was never riven:
Darkness o'er the day like blood.
PROMETHELS. And we shrank back: for dreams of ruin
And what art thou,
O melancholy Voice!
I am the Earth,
Thy mother; she within whose stony reins,
Of glory, arise, a spirit of keen joy!
And at thy voice her pining sons uplifted
Their prostrate brows from the polluting dust,
And our almighty Tyrant with fierce dread Which I gave forth. Mother, thy sons and thou
Grew pale, until his thunder chained thee here. Scorn him, without whose all-enduring will
Then, see those million worlds which burn and roll Beneath the fierce omnipotence of Jove,
Around us: their inhabitants beheld
My sphered light wane in wide Heaven; the sea
From earthquake-rifted mountains of bright snow
As one who checks a fiend-drawn charioteer, And in the corn, and vines, and meadow-grass,
With grief; and the thin air, my breath, was stained
With the contagion of a mother's hate
Thy curse, the which, if thou rememberest not,
Yet my innumerable seas and streams,
Mountains, and caves, and winds, and yon wide air,
Preserve, a treasured spell. We meditate
Some comfort; flowers, and fruits,and happy sounds,
And love, though fleeting; these may not be mine
THE EARTH. Thou art a living spirit ; speak as they.
They shall be told. Ere Babylon was dust,
The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child, I dare not speak like life, lest Heaven's fell King
Met his own image walking in the garden. Should hear, and link me to some wheel of pain
That apparitior, sole of men, he saw. More torturing than the one whereon I roll.
For know there are two worlds of life and death; Subtle thou art and good; and though the Gods
One that which thou beholdest; but the other Hear not this voice, yet thou art more than God
Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit
The shadows of all forms that think and live
Dreams and the light imaginings of men,
There thou art, and dost hang, a writhing sbade,
Are there, and all the powers of nameless worlds,
Vast, sceptred phantoms; heroes, men, and beasts;
And Demogorgon, a tremendous gloom ;
And he, the supreme Tyrant, on his throne
Yet 'tis not pleasure.