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FRAGMENT: THE SERPENT.
WAKE the serpent not-lest he
FRAGMENT: FITFUL RAIN.
The fitful alternations of the rain,
FRAGMENT: LOVE'S ATMOSPHERE.
THERE is a warm and gentle atmosphere
About the form of one we love, and thus
of that which is to us The health of life's own life.
TO WILLIAM SHELLEY.1
Tuy little footsteps on the sands
Of a remote and lonely shore ;
Where now the worm will feed no more :
| First giren in Mrs. Shelley's first edition of 1839.
TO WILLIAM SHELLEY. 1
(With what truth I may say
Roma! Roma ! Roma !
My lost William, thou in whom
Some bright spirit lived, and did
Which its lustre faintly hid,
But beneath this pyramid
Where art thou, my gentle child ?
Let me think thy spirit feeds,
The love of living leaves and weeds,
Let me think that through low seeds
1 Mrs. Shelley first published this fragment in the Posthumous Poems (1824) with the date “ June, 1819," affixed.
2 Within in Mrs. Shelley's editions of 1824 and 1839; but this mistake was corrected in later editions,— mencing, certainly, as early as 1847.
3 Concerning the English burial ground wherein this child was buried, Shelley wrote as follows : “ This spot
is the repository of a sacred loss, of which the yearnings of a parent's heart are now prophetic ; he is rendered immortal by love, as his memory is by death. My beloved child is buried here. I envy death the body far less than the oppressors the minds of those whom they have torn from me. The one can kill the body, the other crushes the affections."
TWO FRAGMENTS TO MARY. 1
My dearest Mary, wherefore hast thou gone,
And I am weary
A joy was erewhile
In thy voice and thy smile, And 'tis gone, when I should be gone too, Mary.
ON THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI,
IN TILE FLORENTINE GALLERY. 2
Ir 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.
1 These two fragments addressed to herself were first given by Mrs. Shelley in the second edition of 1839, with the date «
July, 1819 ” affixed, but without any heading. Mr. Rossetti, who infers (no doubt rightly) that they were “written in the season of Mrs. Shelley's deep dejection for the loss
of the beloved infant William," suspects that when in the last line of fragment II should be where—“i.e. to the tomb.” This seems likely, but not, to my mind, a certainty.
? First given by Mrs. Shelley in the Posthumous Poems, inscribed“Florence, 1819."
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie
Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine, 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.
grass out of a watery rock,
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
1 In Mrs. Shelley's editions of 1824 and 1839, shrine; but corrected to shine as early as 1847.
In the Posthumous Poems, those : in the editions of 1839 these.
After a taper; and the midnight sky
'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 thereA woman's countenance, with serpent locks, Gazing in death on heaven from those wet rocks.
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
With a sweet emotion ;
All things by a law divine
Why not I with thine ?
1 Mrs. Shelley classes this poein among those of 1820; and in the Posthumous Poems it is dated “Janu. ary, 1820.” Mr. Rossetti follows this arrangement. The poem was, however, published in The Indicator for of the 22nd December, 1819, with the signature “ E.”, and with the following introductory note by Leigh Hunt :—“We intended to introduce the following delightful little lyric, by a friend, in very different company from that of the gentlemen just presented to the reader; [the article making up the rest of the number was that on “ Thieves, Ancient and
Modern "] but as Mercury, who was the god of thieves, was also the inventor of the lyre, and as Love himself, time out of mind, has been called a thief, it is not, in all respects, inappropriately situated. We may fancy Mercury playing, and Love singing : —and the song is indeed worthy of the performers. It is elemental, Platonical ; a meeting of divineness with humanity." It is possible that this poem was the one referred to in Shel. ley's letter to Hunt in which he enquires after The Mask of Anarchy, and refers to another poem as enclosed, to be printed in The Examiner, or to