Percy Bysshe Shelley

Soundings Index

Ode to the West Wind

 O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
 Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
 Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
 Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
 Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou
 Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
 The winged seeds, where thy lie cold and low,
 Each like a corpse within its grave, until
 Thine azure sister of the Spring shal blow
 Her clarion o'er the dreamine earth, and fill
 (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
 With living hues and odours plain and hill:
 Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
 Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!

 Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
 Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
 Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
 Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
 On the blue surface of thine aery surge,
 Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
 Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
 Of the horizon to the zenith's height
 The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
 Of the dying year, to which this closing night
 Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
 Valuted with all thy congregated might
 Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
 Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh, hear!

 Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
 The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
 Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,
 Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
 And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
 Quivering within the wave's intenser day,
 All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
 So sweet, sthe sense faints picturing them! Thou
 For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
 Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
 The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
 The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
 Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
 And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!

 If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
 If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
 A wave to pant beneath thy powe, and share
 The impulse of thy strength, only less free
 Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
 i were as in my boyhood, and could be
 The comrade of thy wnaderings over Heaven,
 As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
 Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven
 As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
 Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
 I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
 A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
 One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

 Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
 What if my leaves are falling like its own!
 The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
 Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
 Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
 My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
 Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
 Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
 And, by the incantation of this verse
 Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
 Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
 Be through my lips to unawakened earth
 The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind,
 If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

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,
  Around its unexpanded buds;
   Like many a voice of one delight,
  The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
 The City's voice itself, is soft like Solitude's.

  I see the Deep's untrampled floor
   With green and pruple seaweeds strown;
  I see the waves upon teh shore,
   Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown:
   I sit upon the sands alone,--
  The lightning of the noontide ocean
   Is flashing round me, and a tone
  Arises from its measured motion,
 How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.

  Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
   Nor peace within nor calm around,Nor that content surpassing wealth
    The sage in meditation found,
    And walked with inward glory crowned--
   Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
    Others I see whom these surround--
   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,
   And weep away the life of care
   Which I have borne and yet must bear,
  Till death like sleep might steal on me,
   And I might feel in the warm air
  My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
 Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.

  Some might lament that I were cold,
   As I, when this sweet day is gone,
  Which my lost heart, too soon grown old,
   Insults with this untimely moan;
   They might lament--for I am one
  Whom men love not,--and yet regret,
   Unlike this day, which, when the sun
  Shall on its stainless glory set,
 Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet.


 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 shatttered visage lies, whose frown,
 And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
 Tell that its sculptor wellthose 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.

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