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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

To Jane: The Recollection

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

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 to thy wonted work! come, trace

The epitaph of glory fled,—

For now the Earth has changed its face,

A frown is on the Heaven’s brow.

We wandered to the pine-forest

That skirts the ocean’s foam;

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

The smile of heaven lay;

It seemed as if the hour were one

Sent from beyond the skies,

Which scattered from above the sun

A light of Paradise.

We paused amid the pines that stood

The giants of the waste,

Tortured by storms to shapes as rude

As serpents interlaced;

And soothed by every azure breath

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,

As still as in the silent deep

The ocean woods may be.

How calm it was!—The silence there

By such a chain was bound,

That even the busy woodpecker

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.

There seemed from the remotest seat

Of the white mountain waste,

To the soft flower beneath our feet,

A magic circle traced,—

A spirit interfused around,

A thrilling silent life:

To momentary peace it bound

Our mortal nature’s strife.

And still I felt the centre of

The magic circle there

Was one fair form that filled with love

The lifeless atmosphere.

We paused beside the pools that lie

Under the forest bough.

Each seemed as ’twere a little sky

Gulf’d in a world below:

A firmament of purple light

Which in the dark earth lay,

More boundless than the depth of night,

And purer than the day—

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, the neighbouring lawn,

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,

Were imaged by the water’s love

Of that fair forest green;

And all was interfused beneath

With an elysian glow,

An atmosphere without a breath,

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 expressed;

Until an envious wind crept by,—

Like an unwelcome thought,

Which from the mind’s too faithful eye

Blots one dear image out.

Though thou art ever fair and kind,

And forests ever green,

Less oft is peace in Shelley’s mind

Than calm in waters seen.