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Damn. Nice catch by Bromwich:

In a brief note, Bishop traces the title to a newspaper misprint for "mammoth," but the reason for its appeal to her is plain when one remembers the man-moth of Shelley's Epipsychidion:

Then, from the caverns of my dreamy youth
I sprang, as one sandalled with plumes of fire,
And towards the loadstar of my one desire,
I flitted, like a dizzy moth, whose flight
Is as a dead leaf's in the owlet light,
When it would seek in Hesper's setting sphere
A radiant death, a fiery sepulchre
,

[leaves out the last line for some reason:]

As if it were a lamp of earthly flame.

Surely I noticed that at some point? But wouldn't I have remembered? Perception and memory, sieves both.

Owlet light...so twilight? If an owl's light is night, a baby owl's is baby night? Didn't remember and/or notice that either.

She spoke in deep past tense of her Shelley/socialist period, apparently mid to late teens as was customary at the time, so this may have been involuntary. Though she was just c. 24 when she wrote the poem, and a couple years later published two Kafkan prose fables that pretty frankly face near-complete poetic indebtedness, In Prison and The Sea and Its Shore. And she tends to give the other Romantics a shout out where it's relevant. But of course with them she didn't have a period.

Her lower keyed urbanity and Chekhovian mosaicizing make her work look much quieter than Shelley's, but she's basically about totalizing hopes and total disappointments just like he is. Shelley you don't transcend with age, you bury. And Bishop never actually repudiated him, unlike Eliot and some others have. He became part of her bedrock. As probably did socialism.
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26. Tartuffe, tr. Wilbur
27. Symposium, tr. Shelley

In the latter Socrates puts his own vision of love in the mouth of the foreign prophetess Diotima, but in quoting her has her allude to Aristophanes' presumably extemporized myth of twenty pages past, something Aristophanes himself notices. Since the dialogue is itself told by someone who heard it from someone else, this works as a defense of what Plato himself is doing: putting his own words into the mouth of a teacher who didn't publish (the two layers of someone-elses have previously clarified that way-too-young Plato does not purport to know exactly what happened at that apparently famous party, despite directly representing Socrates in so many others). Of course, since it's Plato's Socrates who's doing it, that's a hearsay, hence valueless, corroboration - but it does work as a kind of explanation of what Plato's doing with Socrates. And if Socrates' reliance on Diotima (and his daemon) is well enough known, maybe Plato's readers will accept the convention of a fictive authority as actually stemming from Socrates, or at any rate see how both author and character use it to serve an educative purpose. The Socratic dialogue isn't about reaching truth so much as dispelling error, but once Socrates has shut everyone who's wrong up he turns back to his other trick, mythmaking within the confines of the non-disproven. Which maybe all of us do.

Bloom, whose earliest work was on Shelley, always fought the notion of his being especially Platonic, I think because it discounts the personal element in Shelley's quest: Intellectual Beauty, the soul out of his soul, the Witch, the smiling light, is usually a 'thee,' often a she, and Shelley's of two minds about whether his wavering access to her has to do with his own limitations or whether she might not quite exist. Shelley's putting some of his own phrases in Plato's mouth here, though allegedly without bruising the limits of translation overmuch - but maybe he's constructing a Shelley's Plato as much as he's admitting to being Plato's Shelley. Which is quite Platonic of him.
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Interesting - the translation of Faust, Part 1 recently attributed to Coleridge, I don't know on how good authority, leaves out the only parts Shelley translates: the Prologue in Heaven and Walpurgisnacht. Presumably for the same reason they attracted Shelley, their paganism. Which means you can combine the two into one full Faust.

Well, almost full. Coleridge, or whoever, also leaves out the theater prologue on the grounds that it's silly and irrelevant. And he summarizes a number of scenes in prose - the version was just commissioned to provide the texts for a popular series of engravings and enough info to connect them.

Coleridge's was published in 1821. Shelley's version of "Walpurgisnacht" was in the first issue of The Liberal, I think, which was published right after Shelley's death in 1822. Conceivably a connection there, if only that Hunt & co. assumed including a sequence other translations were censoring out would fit the spirit of the journal.

Still, Byron was in contact with Coleridge pretty often before he left England in 1816 - he'd helped Coleridge get a play staged a couple years previous - and Coleridge had allegedly been contemplating a Faust translation c. 1813. Maybe Byron saw some of it and told Shelley about the omissions, exciting Shelley into translating those particular parts. Shelley basically spot-translated Faust aloud for Byron right before the latter wrote Manfred - I think Byron later commissioned Claire to make a written version for him? Though Byron did later say he'd never read Faust, despite its obviously being a huge influence on Manfred, Cain and The Deformed Transformed, citing that he'd just had bits read to him, which may preclude his having read anything by Coleridge. Though of course he wasn't above lying about that kind of thing.

The alleged Coleridge, in an 1824 reprint:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=r0s-AAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=faustus+goethe&hl=en&ei=aJBETbOdKous8AbVnICzAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false
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from Epipsychidion, Shelley

But the chief marvel of the wilderness
Is a lone dwelling, built by whom or how
None of the rustic island-people know:
'Tis not a tower of strength, though with its height
It overtops the woods; but, for delight,
Some wise and tender Ocean-King, ere crime
Had been invented, in the world's young prime,
Reared it, a wonder of that simple time,
An envy of the isles, a pleasure-house
Made sacred to his sister and his spouse.
It scarce seems now a wreck of human art,
But, as it were Titanic; in the heart
Of Earth having assumed its form, then grown
Out of the mountains, from the living stone,
Lifting itself in caverns light and high:
For all the antique and learned imagery
Has been erased, and in the place of it
The ivy and the wild-vine interknit
The volumes of their many-twining stems;
Parasite flowers illume with dewy gems
The lampless halls, and when they fade, the sky
Peeps through their winter-woof of tracery
With moonlight patches, or star atoms keen,
Or fragments of the day's intense serene;--
Working mosaic on their Parian floors.
And, day and night, aloof, from the high towers
And terraces, the Earth and Ocean seem
To sleep in one another's arms, and dream
Of waves, flowers, clouds, woods, rocks, and all that we
Read in their smiles, and call reality.


Just belatedly remembered this while trying to think of anticipations of Thoreau's nature house, in turn anticipating Crowley's Little Bel Aire, Edgewood and to some extent Blackberry Jams. But of course Crowley wrote a play about Shelley and Byron around the time Engine Summer was germinating - someday need to go break into wherever one can read that.

Shelley wrote a few of these - the one in his prose fragment "The Assassins" may vie with this one as his best. Though the backwards boat in Prometheus Bound, one of his absolute moments, isn't so different.

An outdoors that is itself your home, Thoreau's most wistful dream. A non-stepmother nature. A place where matter and consciousness (Earth, Ocean?) don't even know they're two.
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This is a cemetery poem but I haven't really known what to make of it, knowing little of Masters:


Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edgar Lee Masters

My father who owned the wagon-shop
And grew rich shoeing horses
Sent me to the University of Montreal.
I learned nothing and returned home,
Roaming the fields with Bert Kessler,
Hunting quail and snipe.
At Thompson’s Lake the trigger of my gun
Caught in the side of the boat
And a great hole was shot through my heart.
Over me a fond father erected this marble shaft,
On which stands the figure of a woman
Carved by an Italian artist.
They say the ashes of my namesake
Were scattered near the pyramid of Caius Cestius
Somewhere near Rome.


The idea's that it's touching a horseshoe guy would love Shelley? And/or the notion that we're all Shelley to some extent? What's common to people seems to be a theme of Spoon River.

Anyway, surely a tribute, among whatever other things it is.
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I've reached the second of Don Juan's two Prefaces, the one for cantos 6-8, and suspect he's talking about Shelley under cover of defending Voltaire, somewhat like Shelley veils Wordsworth as Rousseau in "Triumph of Life"--it's a tribute, of the sort I collected here a while back, though with no mention of the cemetery, since for Byron and a few others Shelley's monument was a pyre on a beach:

With regard to the objections which have been made on another score to the already published cantos of this poem, I shall content myself with two quotations from Voltaire: La pudeur s'est enfuite des coeurs, et s'est refugiée sur les lèvres. Plus les moeurs sont dépravés, plus les expressions deviennent mesurées; on croit regagner en langage ce qu'on a perdu en vertu.

This is the real fact, as applicable to the degraded and hypocritical mass which leavens the present English generation, and is the only answer they deserve. The hackneyed and lavished title of Blasphemer - which, with Radical, Liberal, Jacobin, Reformer, etc., are the changes which the hirelings are daily ringing in the ears of those who will listen - should be welcome to all who recollect on whom it was
originally bestowed. Socrates and Jesus Christ were put to death publicly as blasphemers, and so have been and may be many who dare to oppose the most notorious abuses of the name of God and the mind of man. But persecution is not refutation, nor even triumph: the "wretched infidel," as he is called, is probably happier in his prison than the proudest of his assailants. With his opinions I have nothing to do - they may be right or wrong - but he has suffered for them, and that very suffering for conscience' sake will make more proselytes to Deism than the example of heterodox prelates to Christianity, suicide statesmen to oppression, or overpensioned homicides to the impious alliance which insults the world with the name of "Holy!" I have no wish to trample on the dishonoured or the dead; but it would be well if the adherents to the classes from whence those persons sprung should abate a little of the cant which is the crying sin of this double-dealing and false-speaking time of selfish spoilers, and - but enough for the present.


There's a tonally similar defense of Shelley's character--also paired to a shunning of his religious stance--in a letter to Thomas Moore a few months before the drowning:

As to poor Shelley, who is another bugbear to you and the world, he is, to my knowledge, the least selfish and the mildest of men - a man who has made more sacrifices of his fortune and feelings for others than any I ever heard of. With his speculative opinions I have nothing in common, nor desire to have.

"With his opinions I have nothing to do" vs. "With his speculative opinions I have nothing in common"...

Also fascinating is the Jesus and Socrates reference. I wonder if Byron read "Triumph of Life", where they're essentially the only two people who beat Life, basically by actively valuing their conceptions over their earthly existence, and assimilated Shelley to them (he finished the last canto in the group shortly after Shelley's death, so he would have been on his mind). Trelawney's book about the two poets is a sort of gospel or Platonic dialogue starring Shelley--where Byron himself is usually the foil, the Sophist or Pharisee. But that might be unfair, since this seems to be a buried tribute of a very moving kind. Byron tended to bury his tributes to Shelley--Bloom points out that he never brought himself to mention his closest poetic associate's name in print--but he did make them.
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Funny how little Borges cares about Shelley, "Defense of Poetry" excepted. I guess he was one of his father's gods, as he was of Yeats' father - but of course of Yeats as well. And Borges took over all his father's other idols - Whitman, Keats (luke-warmly), Fitzgerald.

When I told my father I thought the Rubaiyat must be the best poem in the world - having read few others yet - he directed me to Herbert.

I guess the reliable Byron-Shelley-Keats, Swinburne-Rossetti-Whitman reading phases of young modernists had as much to do with atheism, or anyway un-Christianism, as literature. And the disavowal, always hitting Swinburne hardest (all the cheap, ubiquitous talk of him meaning nothing), next Shelley, next Whitman - is that religion coming back? Even Keats recedes politely into some polished odes, some chaste blank verse. But Keats was as headlong as the others in most of his writings, as addicted to a poetry making him and you forget to breathe - maybe he wasn't as good at that as some were but it's what I like best in him, and it's the heart of him even where he's canaling himself into respectability. The waters stay turbulent.

What was I talking about: religion coming back? No, some of it is the fall into age. There's an immediacy of response you need to handle Swinburne and Shelley and Whitman, a pretty much physical broad, sensitive threshold of response age decays in most pretty quickly. It's not that they give you more than any others (though more than almost any), just more all at once. Whitman's different poem and line lengths allow some warming up, so maybe he stays acceptable the longest, but even American poets speak of him like some memorable dive or climb back in their youth. Swinburne's verse invariably assumes you're already agitated, apprehensive, outraged - most of his poems are a kind of rest while running, a maniac's zen. Shelley's...Shelley you're not reading right unless your throat's freezing from the upsuck of oxygen into your brain.

What had I intended to think about. An atheist poet tradition in the 19th C., the ones Thomson and after him Levy honored, the ones you'd go to to feel like you weren't alone in it. Goethe, Shelley, Leopardi, Keats, Emerson, Fitzgerald, early Swinburne (Melville and Dickinson being unknown yet), for reasons slightly less clear Browning, Heine, Novalis, Rossetti, Blake, Wordsworth. Browning is ultimately all about heresy, rather like Borges and Yeats, about where religion and unbelief tangle or fight or trade places, but unlike them usually from the Christian side of it. Wordsworth kept his fingers crossed while flying out past tiny Jehovahland. Might be why he crashed, you need your fingers free when flying. And your brain clear while typing, so I'll stop.
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Had a dream that seemed extremely significant and wrote these things down before losing it:

chewing on things, paper

attacks (but [something] solid books in areas [something] or chewed through shells)

authors in dreams - those she dreams will be healthier, will live



box format
seasonal


I think it involved following a female up and down a mountainside, one simultaneously reminiscent of Mary Poppins, Auntie Mame, and the Witch of Atlas. I was either in tow or enamored.

What she was like depended on what side of a generally box-like circuit she was at. I'm not sure whether it was the top or going down the slope from the top (the 'downward side' - yes, I think perhaps that) where she went mad. There were, among others signs of madness and damage and blight, bookshelves along the vaguely stairlike way (so on the left as we went down, as the route was counterclockwise) in which were books, hollow white fragments of shells of books she'd gnawed on [day content: our neighbors are leaving for the weekend, we're caring for their big crazy dog that runs in circles but is fun, she has a basket of half-chewed up shells of chew toys]. But sometimes there were real books there, colorful, intact ones, and these corresponded to her spells of sudden exaltation in among her cruelty (because here she was cruel to me, and herself and everyone). In one she said she authored them in dream, and those she dreams will be healthy, be healthier, will live - and by this she meant me and us, not the books, and behind her hope you could sense many failures, whether hers or failures that somehow were other females, as though she were the human race or the maker of it and it chiefly or somehow its progress. And surely this was the winter side, though I don't remember what else was there because of waking up, and the other sides other seasons. I'm not sure how well the scheme held up, or what autumn would be like as high ground. The area sometimes seemed to be a park or resort, perhaps a ski resort, and I had the sense of fields around, though these may have been lingering bits of whatever dream has led me to this one, not entirely destroyed by the lathe of dreams.

She was crucial but frequently mad. Maybe aspects of god role, mother role, breathless guide to the new role, couldn't tell but perhaps erotic object role. But now I'm definitely out of it and interpreting. (Stumbling to write it down, felt the presence of influences there, so maybe not interpreted in after but aspects of the feeling that the dream was: Borges' story "The Circular Ruins" definitely, "The Library of Babel" because the colored books felt like truths, maybe some Stevens/Little, Big scheme for the seasons; the box progress something like that bizarre Fred Astaire poem I put up here a few months back, also I see now like the circles of Laney the dog - as well as her leaving the path, as well as her being overpowering since that dog is crazy and fun and huge). Yes, now all gone. Way too much of it fell into sands as I grasped it. And of course it all seems insignificant now.
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I'd unaccountably never read Socrates' second oration in Phaedrus till now. Past gratitude and amazement and love and disturbance and quickened pulse and the conviction I'll be going back to this within days, I have these observations:

1. I am tickled pinker than pink that Christianity owes more than half of itself to a dialogue about the proper conduct and uses of pederastic cruising. Seriously, I'm going to be howling over this on my deathbed. What fact could be more fun? Not even the Clement letter suggesting Jesus may have himself been leader of a homosexual mystical cult--very, very distant runner-up.

2. It's astonishing how many paragraphs in a row I could agree with completely as an atheist. A Shelleyan atheist, anyway--Shelley's reading of Plato was ingenious but possibly not very inaccurate, and it comes from exactly here much more than even the Symposium. So much else comes from this: the Garden of Adonis, via Virgil, Wordsworth's children by the shore. Obviously all of Dante and Danteism, Petrarch and Petrarchism. Much in Little, Big (the synthesis of this with A Midsummer Night's Dream in which = also ingenious, beautiful, crucial) and Aegypt. Shakespeare satirized it, every aspect, with the greatest sympathy, didn't he? We escape the trap into a worse one.

3. This is also the source, or a major one, of McCarthy's view of the world: specifically, what he exactly reverses for his take on the war between earth and sky (in one of his modes: in another, all you can do to live is evade this war, by whatever evasive means present themselves). It additionally strikes me as the generic source of his Cities epilogue, and perhaps various other Border Trilogy recitations ("The Grand Inquisitor" and "Before the Law" chapters in D. and K. were their more direct models): the absolute explosion of some literary work in progress by another voice speaking a story deeper than and prior to both the work interrupted and the mind of the reader reading, which the literary work, when resuming, can only discuss.

4. The quest tradition itself is a sort of a parody. The progression seen as episodes and extent, all through ambiguous, in place of a possible inward and upward enhancement.
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Another cemetery poem I hadn't known about:

At Lulworth Cove a Century Back, Hardy

Had I but lived a hundred years ago
I might have gone, as I have gone this year,
By Warmwell Cross on to a Cove I know,
And Time have placed his finger on me there:

"You see that man?" — I might have looked, and said,
"O yes: I see him. One that boat has brought
Which dropped down Channel round Saint Alban's Head.
So commonplace a youth calls not my thought."

"You see that man?" — "Why yes; I told you; yes:
Of an idling town-sort; thin; hair brown in hue;
And as the evening light scants less and less
He looks up at a star, as many do."

"You see that man?" — "Nay, leave me!" then I plead,
"I have fifteen miles to vamp across the lea,
And it grows dark, and I am weary-kneed:
I have said the third time; yes, that man I see!"

"Good. That man goes to Rome — to death, despair;
And no one notes him now but you and I:
A hundred years, and the world will follow him there,
And bend with reverence where his ashes lie."


The star was this one:


Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
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In my many musings on literary folks' argument over Shelley I totally forgot this response to him:

The Lost Follower, Robert Frost

As I have known them passionate and fine
The gold for which they leave the golden line
Of lyric is a golden light divine,
Never the gold of darkness from a mine.

The spirit plays us strange religious pranks
To whatsoever god we owe the thanks.
No one has ever failed the poet ranks
To link a chain of money-metal banks.

The loss to song, the danger of defection
Is always in the opposite direction.
Some turn in sheer, in Shelleyan dejection
To try if one more popular election

Will give us by short cut the final stage
That poetry with all its golden rage
For beauty on the illuminated page
Has failed to bring I mean the Golden Age.

And if this may not be (and nothing's sure),
At least to live ungolden with the poor,
Enduring what the ungolden must endure.
This has been poetry's great anti-lure.

The muse mourns one who went to his retreat
Long since in some abysmal city street,
The bride who shared the crust he broke to eat
As grave as he about the world's defeat.

With such it has proved dangerous as friend
Even in a playful moment to contend
That the millennium to which you bend
In longing is not at a progress-end

By grace of state-manipulated pelf,
Or politics of Ghibelline or Guelph,
But right beside you book-like on a shelf,
Or even better god-like in yourself.

He trusts my love too well to deign reply.
But there is in the sadness of his eye,
Something about a kingdom in the sky
(As yet unbrought to earth) he means to try.



Rather, a response to Browning's "The Lost Leader"--itself an anxious moderation of Shelley's "To Wordsworth"--but clearly starring Shelley, at least as example. Interesting how Stevens, who writes against utopianism even more unfortunately, because less sympathetically, than the amused Frost, defends Shelley from this kind of charge in the long poem (and frequently anti-Marxist rant) "Owl's Clover"--and this passage from a letter explaining it:

The astral and Shelleyan lights are not going to alter the structure of nature. Apples will always be apples, and whoever is a ploughman hereafter will be what the ploughman has always been. For all that, the astral and Shelleyan will have transformed the world.
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From Moore's Life of Lord Byron:

Another proof of the ductility with which he fell into his new friend's tastes and predilections, appears in the tinge, if not something deeper, of the manner and cast of thinking of Mr. Wordsworth, which is traceable through so many of his most beautiful stanzas. Being naturally, from his love of the abstract and imaginative, an admirer of the great poet of the Lakes, Mr. Shelley omitted no opportunity of bringing the beauties of his favourite writer under the notice of Lord Byron; and it is not surprising that, once persuaded into a fair perusal, the mind of the noble poet should — in spite of some personal and political prejudices which unluckily survived this short access of admiration — not only feel the influence but, in some degree, even reflect the hues of one of the very few real and original poets that this age (fertile as it is in rhymers quales ego et Cluvienus) has had the glory of producing.

This was the period of Byron's Childe Harold 3 and Manfred, "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" and "Mont Blanc" for Shelley, and of course the not very Wordsworthian horror story night. "Cluvienus" is a poet Juvenal lumps together with himself in a moment of self-deprecation. Poor Moore. Who's the favorite writer of your favorite writer? (I should read The Excursion.)
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And in Adonais Shelley's funeral oration addresses fellow mourners, the Muse, Keats' killers, and finally one who dares to mourn in the face of Keats' transfiguration, a one turning out to be his own heart (imagine that!), to which he issues commands:

Who mourns for Adonais? Oh, come forth,
Fond wretch! and know thyself and him aright.
Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous Earth;
As from a centre, dart thy spirit's light
Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might
Satiate the void circumference: then shrink
Even to a point within our day and night;
And keep thy heart light lest it make thee sink
When hope has kindled hope, and lur'd thee to the brink.

[Dickinson! Dickinson! Dickinson!]

 

Or go to Rome, which is the sepulchre,
Oh, not of him, but of our joy: 'tis nought
That ages, empires and religions there
Lie buried in the ravage they have wrought;
For such as he can lend--they borrow not
Glory from those who made the world their prey;
And he is gather'd to the kings of thought
Who wag'd contention with their time's decay,
And of the past are all that cannot pass away.

 

Go thou to Rome--at once the Paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shatter'd 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;

 

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 plann'd
This refuge for his memory, doth stand
Like flame transform'd to marble; and beneath,
A field is spread, on which a newer band
Have pitch'd in Heaven's smile their camp of death,
Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguish'd breath.

 

Here pause: these graves are all too young as yet
To have outgrown the sorrow which consign'd
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?

 

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colour'd 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.

 

Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?
Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here
They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!
A light is pass'd from the revolving year,
And man, and woman; and what still is dear
Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.
The soft sky smiles, the low wind whispers near:
'Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.

He commands his own quest, collapses into the us of his heart, and turns to first person singular present tense description as he commences/culminates his enterprise. Is there a more astounding verbal gear shift possible? He gives himself up to a wind within himself, and that wind has been the speaker of the poem up to here, or at any rate the speaker became the wind while speaking. The generic form of the poem falls away, even self-address falls away. A decision has been made and hence a revelation granted, the new world of the new perspective never quite attained until now. (Maybe most disturbingly, Shelley's telling his heart to do something he's already done. He has been to Rome, he has seen these things, he knows them--for him to go back is to remember. All of this is happening in an instant--what has already been proven is sufficient, gathered together, to make the final, rational leap. And it is the wind that whispers it. 1. The wind whispers; 2. the blessing beams, 3. the breath descends, 4. The bark is driven.) In the next-to-last stanza Shelley enters the poem as a person, as an indirect object; and in the last he is a passive subject (though borne by the force that seems to have arisen out of himself). The first word of the poem, I, returns, and not just as representative orator. I don't think it exists in any stanzas but the first and last.


That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,
That Beauty in which all things work and move,
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love
Which through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst; now beams on me,
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality.

 

             The breath whose might I have invok'd in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven,
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the tempest given;
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

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Ponte a Mare, Pisa, Percy Bysshe Shelley

The sun is set; the swallows are asleep;
The bats are flitting fast in the grey air; 
The slow soft toads out of damp corners creep, 
And evening’s breath, wandering here and there 
Over the quivering surface of the stream, 
Wakes not one ripple from its silent dream.

There is no dew on the dry grass to-night, 
Nor damp within the shadow of the trees; 
The wind is intermitting, dry, and light; 
And in the inconstant motion of the breeze 
The dust and straws are driven up and down, 
And whirled about the pavement of the town.

Within the surface of the fleeting river 
The wrinkled image of the city lay, 
Immoveably unquiet, and for ever 
It trembles, but it never fades away; 
Go to the [                                               ]
You, being changed, will find it then as now.

The chasm in which the sun has sunk is shut 
By darkest barriers of enormous cloud, 
Like mountain over mountain huddled—but 
Growing and moving upwards in a crowd, 
And over it a space of watery blue, 
Which the keen evening star is shining through.
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A couple descriptions (capturing it perfectly, and its suddenness) of the pyramid in his notebooks--Hawthorne defers seeing the graves. Defers deliberately, and apparently twice--why? "Earth's Holocaust" pays a lovely tribute to Shelley and, which was it, "P's Correspondence" (?) expresses a Browningesque desire to claim him into religion. Something in them feels similar to me so often, though Melville, Emerson, Dickinson, Whitman and Thoreau (and Stevens and Crane and) are all much closer to his thought, much better candidates for the American Shelley, might we be so lucky. Still..."Young Goodman Brown" parallels "Triumph of Life" down to its length, hell, down to its ambiguous breakoff. Hawthorne's Miriam/Beatrice obviously owes much to Shelley's. Hawthorne cordoned off so much of himself, had that strange, conservative's gift of opening gates only as needed. I suppose Shelley was behind one.

I walked quite round the hill, and saw, at no great distance from it, the enclosure of the Protestant burial-ground, which lies so close to the pyramid of Caius Cestius that the latter may serve as a general monument to the dead. Deferring, for the present, a visit to the cemetery, or to the interior of the pyramid, I returned to the gateway of San Paolo, and, passing through it, took a view of it from the outside of the city wall. It is itself a portion of the wall, having been built into it by the Emperor Aurelian, so that about half of it lies within and half without. The brick or red stone material of the wall being so unlike the marble of the pyramid, the latter is as distinct, and seems as insulated, as if it stood alone in the centre of a plain; and really I do not think there is a more striking architectural object in Rome. It is in perfect condition, just as little ruined or decayed as on the day when the builder put the last peak on the summit; and it ascends steeply from its base, with a point so sharp that it looks as if it would hardly afford foothold to a bird. The marble was once white, but is now covered with a gray coating like that which has gathered upon the statues of Castor and Pollux on Monte Cavallo. Not one of the great blocks is displaced, nor seems likely to be through all time to come. They rest one upon another, in straight and even lines, and present a vast smooth triangle, ascending from a base of a hundred feet, and narrowing to an apex at the height of a hundred and twenty-five, the junctures of the marble slabs being so close that, in all these twenty centuries, only a few little tufts of grass, and a trailing plant or two, have succeeded in rooting themselves into the interstices. It is good and satisfactory to see anything which, being built for an enduring monument, has endured so faithfully, and has a prospect of such an interminable futurity before it. Once, indeed, it seemed likely to be buried; for three hundred years ago it had become covered to the depth of sixteen feet, but the soil has since been dug away from its base, which is now lower than that of the road which passes through the neighboring gate of San Paolo. Midway up the pyramid, cut in the marble, is an inscription in large Roman letters, still almost as legible as when first wrought.

Maybe he's a little too surprised at the pyramid, needs it to be a general monument, wanders off in a hurry. Maybe not? Look on my works ye mighty and defer. Even the pyramid, strikingest architectural object in Rome, doesn't make it into his novel--admittedly, not at first glance of much importance to his theme.

In the state of mind in which I now stand towards Rome, there is very little advantage to be gained by staying here longer. And yet I had a pleasant stroll enough yesterday afternoon, all by myself, from the Corso down past the Church of St. Andrea della Valle,—the site where Caesar was murdered,—and thence to the Farnese Palace, the noble court of which I entered; hence to the Piazza Cenci, where I looked at one or two ugly old palaces, and fixed on one of them as the residence of Beatrice's father; then past the Temple of Vesta, and skirting along the Tiber, and beneath the Aventine, till I somewhat unexpectedly came in sight of the gray pyramid of Caius Cestius. I went out of the city gate, and leaned on the parapet that encloses the pyramid, advancing its high, unbroken slope and peak, where the great blocks of marble still fit almost as closely to one another as when they were first laid; though, indeed, there are crevices just large enough for plants to root themselves, and flaunt and trail over the face of this great tomb; only a little verdure, however, over a vast space of marble, still white in spots, but pervadingly turned gray, by two thousand years' action of the atmosphere.

Stopping, what, thirty yards from Shelley's grave? And Keats' too, but I don't remember Hawthorne ever mentioning him.

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I'm not quite sure what I make of Frankenstein, ten minutes after finishing it. It would make more sense for her to have written it in 1830--what had even happened by '17, a miscarriage, Shelley's assumption that he was dying and his laudanum use, cruel words from Godwin? How horribly had all of that played out, emotionally? Or is this foreboding, prophecy?

Shelley's in Victor, especially the Victor Walton sees, but he's just as much in Clerval--and so often in the narrative voice. And the novel isn't exactly a reading of Paradise Lost. In no viable sense is God Victor, even if Victor is in some ways God.

God + win might explain something of the connection she finds, maybe the choice of Victor as a name, too (Victor Cazire and Fitzvictor? Please.). It's a real stretch to see much of Shelley in Victor's negative qualities, though not the kind of stretch Mary couldn't have made. Her situation wasn't ideal. But what bleeds into what, here? There's Mary in the monster, some Harriet too, the madwoman in Shelley's attic. But the cases against mother and father and husband and self and God are all mixed so much together as to not be exactly any of those anymore.

Fragments of this are intact in Blood Meridian, though with all the High Romantic sentiment stomped flat. All through Moby-Dick or directly? This would make Alastor the ancestor of Meridian too--but of course, of course it is.

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The first Shelley poem I read must have been Ozymandias, in the first or second year of high school. My attitude toward poetry then was complete hostility: the best way to say something was directly, obviously. Rhyme, meter, allusion, symbolism were all useless curlicues or teases, narcotizing, the typical features of a culture of lies. I recall respecting Ozymandias as being less offensive than several others we went over, e.g. Donne's poem on death, because I could at least agree with its sentiment. But everything worth saying you could, should say straight (and pretty quick, napkinquick--I'm still not fully over this one, re. nonfiction: who has three hundred pages of expertise on anything?). Ode to the West Wind may have been assigned, but I didn't read it.

The next must have been Mutability, the opening poem in the Norton (6th ed v. 2):

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! - yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest. - A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. - One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same! - For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

This I found congenial (to understate, symbolize, allude) at once, and every Shelley poem that followed it. This would have been the weakest in that selection, in fact--especially that opening stanza. By 1996 I'd fallen in love with rhyme, so the conventionally acceptable near-rhymes would have induced winces. I do remember the shock of response' being pronounced RES-pns, and the abiding shock of "The path of its departure still is free," and the antecedence of "its" by the earlier it of "It is the same"--any it, all of it, the it to be beyond all its that have been, the it itself unanteceded because things had already changed enough to orphan it. I fumble; better the way he found, the straightest way of saying something escaping the crookedness of normal speech. Of saying something about why nothing stays straight.

How Shelley that third stanza is. How did he do what he did? Why can no one else do it? Why are his words the only words for whatever his words are the words for?

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A thing I just noticed about R. Browning's "Memorabilia":

Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
   And did he stop and speak to you?
And did you speak to him again?
   How strange it seems, and new!

But you were living before that,
   And you are living after,
And the memory I started at--
   My starting moves your laughter!

I crossed a moor, with a name of its own
   And a certain use in the world no doubt,
Yet a hand's-breadth of it shines alone
   'Mid the blank miles round about:

For there I picked up on the heather
   And there I put inside my breast
A moulted feather, an eagle-feather--
   Well, I forget the rest.

--is that "How strange it seems, and new!" is so verbally close to "Strange point and new!" in Paradise Lost Book V. Satan is mocking the fact that God's Son, a newcomer, is being retroactively credited by God's party (including Abdiel, who Satan's addressing) with creating Heaven and the angels. This he rejects, along with the whole notion that the angels were created--after all, none of them remember the process:

That we were formed then say'st thou? and the work
Of secondary hands, by task transferred
From Father to his Son? Strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learnt: who saw
When this creation was? Remember'st thou
Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?

Might easily be a coincidental choice of adjectives. I can't really think of another case where they're paired in verse, though--strange strongly implies new, new weakly implies strange, so you usually just use one. The significance of the link, if link it be, is Bloomian, as this Satanic speech goes on:

We know no time when we were not as now;
Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised
By our own quick'ning power, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native heav'n, ethereal sons.

For Bloom, this passage, and the first line most acutely, is the motto of any ambitious modern poet, since the need to have originated the crucial elements in one's own art is apparently absolutely necessary if one is to devote one's life to that art. This purposeful forgetting of Satan's, in order to deny an excessive debt, may have struck Browning as rather like his own need to "forget the rest" of what Shelley had meant to him and done for him, past the symbolic reduction of the feather, relic of an awesome but irrelevant-because-other order. 

(The "but you were living before that" stuff resonates weirdly with the Milton passage, too, from this perspective.)

I'm led further (after thinking of that hawk-shooting poem by Warren) to wonder about Milton's strange-and-new, and his earlier fresh-and-new pairing in the last line of "Lycidas." Could the famous dirge from The Tempest (quoted by Hunt on Shelley's tombstone) have fed that diction?

Full fathom five thy father lies
Of his bones are corals made
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Ding-dong
Ding-dong
Hark now I hear them
Ding-dong bell

"Rich and strange." This seems like less of a stretch when you remember that "Lycidas" is also a song of lament for a drowned man--one who undergoes a change himself, into the "genius of the shore". 

In Milton the lamentation of the nymphs is futile, whereas the saints of heaven wipe away Lycidas' tears forever: a swipe at the disquietingly pagan Shakespeare? No, that's certainly taking it too far, if the rest didn't.

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Hardy:

Rome: At The Pyramid Of Cestius
Near The Graves Of Shelley And Keats (1887)

Who, then, was Cestius,
And what is he to me?--
Amid thick thoughts and memories multitudinous
One thought alone brings he.

I can recall no word
Of anything he did;
For me he is a man who died and was interred
To leave a pyramid

Whose purpose was exprest
Not with its first design,
Nor till, far down in Time, beside it found their rest
Two countrymen of mine.

Cestius in life, maybe,
Slew, breathed out threatening;
I know not. This I know: in death all silently
He does a kindlier thing,

In beckoning pilgrim feet
With marble finger high
To where, by shadowy wall and history-haunted street,
Those matchless singers lie...

--Say, then, he lived and died
That stones which bear his name
Should mark, through Time, where two immortal Shades abide;
It is an ample fame.
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Joyce:

His notes to Exiles (under Nora's initials):

13 Nov. 1913

Moon: Shelley's grave in Rome. He is rising from it: blond she weeps for him. He has fought in vain for an ideal and died killed by the world. Yet he rises. Graveyard at Rahoon by moonlight where Bodkin's grave is. He lies in the grave. She sees his tomb (family vault) and weeps. The name is homely. Shelley's is strange and wild. He is dark, unrisen, killed by love and life, young. The earth holds him.
Bodkin died. Kearns died. In the convent they called her the man-killer: (woman-killer was one of her names for me). I live in soul and body.
She is the earth, dark, formless, mother, made beautiful by the moonlit night, darkly conscious of her instincts. Shelley whom she has held in her womb or grave rises: the part of Richard which neither love nor life can do away with; the part for which she loves him: the part she must try to kill, never be able to kill and rejoice at her impotence.


From somebody on the web:

'The Dead' was written in Rome, a city in which the presence of the dead and of the past is uniquely overpowering. Joyce visited Shelley's tomb there with Nora, who 'responded with a string of morbid romantic associations that moved him deeply' (Maddox, 75). These concerned her dead sweetheart, the model for Michael Furey in 'The Dead'.

There aren't enough exclamation points. Right there that moment happened. And then the play too. Ibsen's horns and now this.

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