1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Percy Bysshe Shelley

B., "On the Death of Mr. Shelley" The Examiner (25 August 1822) 538.



'Twas but of late that all the glorious flowers,
Garden'd within thy matchless heart and mind,
Were wreathed into a garland to adorn
Thy brother-poet's grave. In thy full verse
Poesy wept above the young bard's urn,
In sadness — sweetness — strength: — her sigh's soft breath
Swept o'er the chords of thy deep passionate lyre,
And spoke in them the soul of mournfulness!
And, mingled with those gentler sounds, there came
The swell of thine indignant scorn of those
Who had, with bite of reptile-venom, stung
His sensitive soul to death; — and, like the blast
Of the destroying whirlwind in its wrath,
It held them, for a moment, up to scorn,
Then dashed them into atoms in the dust.
Alas! that thou thyself so soon shoud'st ask
The tribute that thou gav'st! — 'twould need a harp
More thickly-gemm'd with gifts than even thine,—
If such there be, — fitly to hymn thy fate.
Death's always dreadful — but, on the fierce wave,
Which swallows up the straining, bursting bark,
And all the shrinking, shuddering souls within,—
Oh God! 'tis fearful then indeed! — And yet 'twas thus
That SHELLEY was cut off, in all the prime
And lustihood of genius and of heart.
If to behold the promising sapling die
Be cause to grieve, then how much more to see
The full-grown oak uprooted by the storm
In all its pride and luxury of strength!

Oh! who shall speak the grief of those who clung
In ivy-fondness round him? — of that small realm
Of love, which owned him as its only king—
That world of heart of which he was the axis?—
Alas! such sorrow shrinks from every eye,
E'en that of sympathy; — the friendly hand
Should hasten, like the patriarch's son, to throw
The veiling garment o'er its nakedness!

But Genius never dies — it lives beyond
Its owner in his monuments of thought,
More lasting than the broad-based pyramid.
And wilt not thou be heard in after time,
Who pour'st the strength of mighty intellect
In the full tide of sweet and solemn sound?
Yes, SHELLEY, yes — while Genius is admired
And Feeling loved — while Freedom still retains
Amid the waters of Corruption's flood,
An Ararat whereon to rest her foot,—
Thy spirit still will be revered on earth,
And commune with the minds of unborn men.

Farewell! — thy sun is set at noon—
But, like the vestal fire, its light will live
Unquenched — unquenchable: — 'twill shed
Its glory on our land — our tongue — our time.
Farewell, thou gifted one! — thy name will rank
Among the giants of our country's thought.
The wave has closed upon thy human weakness,—
But, in the hearts of all who think and feel,
Thy Genius will be ever casketed!