Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
To Jane—The Recollection
By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
 
I.
WE wandered to the pine-forest
      That skirts the ocean’s foam;
The lightest wind was in its nest,
      The tempest in its home.
The whispering waves were half asleep,        5
      The clouds were gone to play,
And on the bosom of the deep
      The smile of heaven lay;
It seemed as if the hour were one
      Sent from beyond the skies,        10
Which scattered from above the sun
      A light of paradise.
 
II.
We paused amid the pines that stood
      The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude        15
      As serpents interlaced;
And soothed, by every azure breath
      That under heaven is blown,
To harmonies and hues beneath,
      As tender as its own;        20
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep
      Like green waves on the sea,
As still as in the silent deep
      The ocean-woods may be.
 
III.
How calm it was!—The silence there
        25
      By such a chain was bound,
That even the busy woodpecker
      Made stiller with her sound
The inviolable quietness;
      The breath of peace we drew        30
With its soft motion made not less
      The calm that round us grew.
There seemed, from the remotest seat
      Of the white mountain-waste,
To the soft flower beneath our feet,        35
      A magic circle traced,—
A spirit interfused around,
      A thrilling silent life:
To momentary peace it bound
      Our mortal nature’s strife.        40
And still, I felt, the centre of
      The magic circle there
Was one fair form that filled with love
      The lifeless atmosphere.
 
IV.
We paused beside the pools that lie
        45
      Under the forest-bough.
Each seemed as ’t were a little sky
      Gulfed in a world below:
A firmament of purple light
      Which in the dark earth lay,        50
More boundless than the depth of night,
      And purer than the day—
In which the lovely forests grew
      As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue        55
      Than any spreading there.
There lay the glade, the neighbouring lawn,
      And through the dark-green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
      Out of a speckled cloud.        60
Sweet views which in our world above
      Can never well be seen,
Were imaged by the water’s love
      Of that fair forest green;
And all was interfused beneath        65
      With an elysian glow,
An atmosphere without a breath,
      A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent
      To the dark water’s breast        70
Its every leaf and lineament
      With more than truth expressed;
Until an envious wind crept by,—
      Like an unwelcome thought,
Which from the mind’s too faithful eye        75
      Blots one dear image out.
Though thou art ever fair and kind,
      And forests ever green,
Less oft is peace in Shelley’s mind
      Than calm in water seen.
(February 2, 1822.)    
        80
 
 
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