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


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)


From her couch of snows

In the Acroceraunian mountains,—

From cloud and from crag,

With many a jag,

Shepherding her bright fountains.

She leapt down the rocks,

With her rainbow locks

Streaming among the streams;—

Her steps paved with green

The downward ravine

Which slopes to the western gleams

And gliding and springing

She went, ever singing,

In murmurs as soft as sleep;

The earth seemed to love her,

And Heaven smiled above her,

As she lingered toward the deep.

Then Alpheus bold,

On his glacier cold,

With his trident the mountains strook

And opened a chasm

In the rocks:—with the spasm

All Erymanthus shook.

And the black south wind

It concealed behind

The urns of the silent snow,

And earthquake and thunder

Did rend in sunder

The bars of the springs below.

The beard and the hair

Of the River-god were

Seen through the torrent’s sweep,

As he followed the light

Of the fleet nymph’s flight

To the brink of the Dorian deep.

‘Oh, save me! Oh, guide me!

And bid the deep hide me,

For he grasps me now by the hair!’

The loud Ocean heard,

To its blue depth stirred,

And divided at her prayer;

And under the water

The Earth’s white daughter

Fled like a sunny beam;

Behind her descended

Her billows, unblended

With the brackish Dorian stream:—

Like a gloomy stain,

On the emerald main

Alpheus rushed behind,—

As an eagle pursuing

A dove to its ruin

Down the streams of the cloudy wind.

Under the bowers

Where the Ocean Powers

Sit on their pearlèd thrones,

Through the coral woods

Of the weltering floods,

Over heaps of unvalued stones;

Through the dim beams

Which amid the streams

Weave a network of coloured light;

And under the caves,

Where the shadowy waves

Are as green as the forest’s night;—

Outspeeding the shark,

And the sword-fish dark,

Under the ocean foam,

And up through the rifts

Of the mountain clifts

They passed to their Dorian home.

And now from their fountains

In Enna’s mountains,

Down one vale where the morning basks,

Like friends once parted

Grown single-hearted,

They ply their watery tasks.

At sunrise they leap

From their cradles steep

In the cave of the shelving hill;

At noontide they flow

Through the woods below

And the meadows of Asphodel;

And at night they sleep

In the rocking deep

Beneath the Ortygian shore;

Like spirits that lie

In the azure sky

When they love but live no more.