Fragment: Questions

- 1792-1822

Is it that in some brighter sphere

We part from friends we meet with here?

Or do we see the Future pass

Over the Present’s dusky glass?

Or what is that that makes us seem

To patch up fragments of a dream,

Part of which comes true, and part

Beats and trembles in the heart?

More by Percy Bysshe Shelley

To the Moon [fragment]

   Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
   Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,--
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

Adonais, 49-52, [Go thou to Rome]

                  49

    Go thou to Rome,—at once the Paradise,
    The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
    And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise,
    And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
    The bones of Desolation's nakedness
    Pass, till the spirit of the spot shall lead
    Thy footsteps to a slope of green access
    Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread;

                  50
				  
    And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time
    Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand;
    And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime,
    Pavilioning the dust of him who planned
    This refuge for his memory, doth stand
    Like flame transformed to marble; and beneath,
    A field is spread, on which a newer band
    Have pitched in Heaven's smile their camp of death,
Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguished breath.

                  51
				  
    Here pause: these graves are all too young as yet
    To have outgrown the sorrow which consigned
    Its charge to each; and if the seal is set,
    Here, on one fountain of a mourning mind,
    Break it not thou! too surely shalt thou find
    Thine own well full, if thou returnest home,
    Of tears and gall. From the world's bitter wind
    Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.
What Adonais is, why fear we to become?

                  52
				  
    The One remains, the many change and pass;
    Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
    Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
    Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
    Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die,
    If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
    Follow where all is fled!—Rome's azure sky,
    Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.

On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery

It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky, 
  Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;  
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly; 
  Its horror and its beauty are divine. 
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie 
  Loveliness like a shadow, from which shrine,  
Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,  
The agonies of anguish and of death. 
 
Yet it is less the horror than the grace  
  Which turns the gazer's spirit into stone;
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face  
  Are graven, till the characters be grown  
Into itself, and thought no more can trace; 
  'Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown  
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain,
Which humanize and harmonize the strain. 
 
And from its head as from one body grow, 
  As [   ] grass out of a watery rock, 
Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow  
  And their long tangles in each other lock,
And with unending involutions shew  
  Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock  
The torture and the death within, and saw  
The solid air with many a ragged jaw. 
 
And from a stone beside, a poisonous eft
  Peeps idly into those Gorgonian eyes; 
Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft  
  Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise  
Out of the cave this hideous light had cleft, 
  And he comes hastening like a moth that hies
After a taper; and the midnight sky  
Flares, a light more dread than obscurity. 
 
'Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror;  
  For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare  
Kindled by that inextricable error,
  Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air  
Become a [ ] and ever-shifting mirror  
  Of all the beauty and the terror there— 
A woman's countenance, with serpent locks, 
Gazing in death on heaven from those wet rocks. 

Related Poems

Song: Sweetest love, I do not go

Sweetest love, I do not go,
        For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
        A fitter love for me;
              But since that I
Must die at last, 'tis best
To use myself in jest
        Thus by feign'd deaths to die.

Yesternight the sun went hence,
        And yet is here today;
He hath no desire nor sense,
        Nor half so short a way:
              Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
        More wings and spurs than he.

O how feeble is man's power,
        That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,
        Nor a lost hour recall!
              But come bad chance,
And we join to'it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
        Itself o'er us to'advance.

When thou sigh'st, thou sigh'st not wind,
        But sigh'st my soul away;
When thou weep'st, unkindly kind,
        My life's blood doth decay.
              It cannot be
That thou lov'st me, as thou say'st,
If in thine my life thou waste,
        That art the best of me.

Let not thy divining heart
        Forethink me any ill;
Destiny may take thy part,
        And may thy fears fulfil;
              But think that we
Are but turn'd aside to sleep;
They who one another keep
        Alive, ne'er parted be.

Beyond the Years

                        I

Beyond the years the answer lies,
Beyond where brood the grieving skies
        And Night drops tears.
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise
        And doff its fears,
And carping Sorrow pines and dies—
        Beyond the years.

                        II

Beyond the years the prayer for rest
Shall beat no more within the breast;
        The darkness clears,
And Morn perched on the mountain's crest
        Her form uprears—
The day that is to come is best,
        Beyond the years.

                        III

Beyond the years the soul shall find
That endless peace for which it pined,
        For light appears,
And to the eyes that still were blind
        With blood and tears,
Their sight shall come all unconfined
        Beyond the years.

To Keep the Memory of Charlotte Forten Grimké

Still are there wonders of the dark and day:
   The muted shrilling of shy things at night,
      So small beneath the stars and moon;
   The peace, dream-frail, but perfect while the light
      Lies softly on the leaves at noon.
         These are, and these will be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

Each dawn, while yet the east is veiléd grey,
   The birds about her window wake and sing;
      And far away, each day, some lark
   I know is singing where the grasses swing;
      Some robin calls and calls at dark.
         These are, and these will be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

The wild flowers that she loved down green ways stray;
   Her roses lift their wistful buds at dawn,
      But not for eyes that loved them best;
   Only her little pansies are all gone,
      Some lying softly on her breast.
         And flowers will bud and be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

Where has she gone? And who is there to say?
   But this we know: her gentle spirit moves
      And is where beauty never wanes,
   Perchance by other streams, mid other groves;
      And to us there, ah! she remains
         A lovely memory
             Until eternity;
She came, she loved, and then she went away.