Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Prometheus

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
The path of spiritual desire described, thro’ divine glooms. 1

THE PATH thro’ which that lovely twain
Have past, by cedar, pine, and yew,
And each dark tree that ever grew,
Is curtained out from Heaven’s wide blue;
Nor sun, nor moon, nor wind, nor rain,        5
Can pierce its interwoven bowers,
Nor aught, save where some cloud of dew,
Drifted along the earth-creeping breeze,
Between the trunks of the hoar trees,
Hangs each a pearl in the pale flowers        10
Of the green laurel, blown anew;…
Or when some star of many a one
That climbs and wanders thro’ steep night,
Has found the cleft thro’ which alone
Beams fall from high those depths upon        15
Ere it is borne away, away,
By the swift Heavens that cannot stay,
It scatters drops of golden light,
Like lines of rain that ne’er unite:
And the gloom divine is all around,        20
And underneath is the mossy ground …
  There those enchanted eddies play
Of echoes, music-tongued, which draw,
By Demogorgon’s mighty law,
With melting rapture, or sweet awe,        25
All spirits on that secret way;
As inland boats are driven to Ocean
Down streams made strong with mountain-thaw:
And first there comes a gentle sound
To those in talk or slumber bound,        30
And wakes the destined. Soft emotion
Attracts, impels them: those who saw
Say from the breathing earth behind
There steams a plume-uplifting wind
Which drives them on their path, while they        35
Believe their own swift wings and feet
The sweet desires within obey:
And so they float upon their way,
Until, still sweet, but loud and strong,
The storm of sound is driven along,        40
Sucked up and hurrying: as they fleet
Behind, its gathering billows meet
And to the fatal mountain bear
Like clouds amid the yielding air.
  First Faun.
  Canst thou imagine where those spirits live
Which make such delicate music in the woods?
We haunt within the least frequented caves
And closest coverts, and we know these wilds,
Yet never meet them, tho’ we hear them oft:
Where may they hide themselves?        50
  Second Faun.      ’Tis hard to tell:
I have heard those more skilled in spirits say,
The bubbles, which the enchantment of the sun
Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave
The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools,        55
Are the pavilions where such dwell and float
Under the green and golden atmosphere
Which noontide kindles thro’ the woven leaves;
And when these burst, and the thin fiery air,
The which they breathed within those lucent domes,        60
Ascends to flow like meteors thro’ the night,
They ride on them, and rein their headlong speed,
And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire
Under the waters of the earth again.
  1st F.  If such live thus, have others other lives,        65
Under pink blossoms or within the bells
Of meadow flowers, or folded violets deep,
Or on their dying odours, when they die,
Or in the sunlight of the spherèd dew?
  2nd F.  Ay, many more which we may well divine.        70
But, should we stay to speak, noontide would come,
And thwart Silenus find his goats undrawn,
And grudge to sing those wise and lovely songs
Of Fate, and Chance, and God, and Chaos old,
And Love, and the chained Titan’s woeful doom,        75
And how he shall be loosed, and make the earth
One brotherhood: delightful strains which cheer
Our solitary twilights, and which charm
To silence the unenvying nightingales.
Note 1. Shelley. From ‘Prometheus’, ii. 2. The second part, the scene with the Fauns, was apparently an afterthought, and a cancelled stage direction shows that the Fauns were imagined as young females. See ‘An Exam. of the Shelley MSS. in the Bodleian Library. C. D. Locock. 1903’. This may explain the slight surprise which their entry occasions. [back]

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