Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
P. B. Shelley
CCLXXIV. Written among the Euganean Hills, North Italy
MANY a green isle needs must be 
In the deep wide sea of Misery, 
Or the mariner, worn and wan, 
Never thus could voyage on 
Day and night, and night and day,         5
Drifting on his dreary way, 
With the solid darkness black 
Closing round his vessel's track; 
Whilst above, the sunless sky 
Big with clouds, hangs heavily,  10
And behind the tempest fleet 
Hurries on with lightning feet, 
Riving sail, and cord, and plank, 
Till the ship has almost drank 
Death from the o'er-brimming deep,  15
And sinks down, down, like that sleep 
When the dreamer seems to be 
Weltering through eternity; 
And the dim low line before 
Of a dark and distant shore  20
Still recedes, as ever still 
Longing with divided will, 
But no power to seek or shun, 
He is ever drifted on 
O'er the unreposing wave,  25
To the haven of the grave. 
  Ay, many flowering islands lie 
In the waters of wide Agony: 
To such a one this morn was led 
My bark, by soft winds piloted.  30
—'Mid the mountains Euganean 
I stood listening to the pæan 
With which the legion'd rooks did hail 
The Sun's uprise majestical: 
Gathering round with wings all hoar,  35
Through the dewy mist they soar 
Like gray shades, till the eastern heaven 
Bursts; and then—as clouds of even 
Fleck'd with fire and azure, lie 
In the unfathomable sky—  40
So their plumes of purple grain 
Starr'd with drops of golden rain 
Gleam above the sunlight woods, 
As in silent multitudes 
On the morning's fitful gale  45
Through the broken mist they sail; 
And the vapours cloven and gleaming 
Follow down the dark steep streaming, 
Till all is bright, and clear, and still 
Round the solitary hill.  50
  Beneath is spread like a green sea 
The waveless plain of Lombardy, 
Bounded by the vaporous air, 
Islanded by cities fair; 
Underneath day's azure eyes,  55
Ocean's nursling, Venice lies,— 
A peopled labyrinth of walls, 
Amphitrite's destined halls, 
Which her hoary sire now paves 
With his blue and beaming waves.  60
Lo! the sun upsprings behind, 
Broad, red, radiant, half-reclined 
On the level quivering line 
Of the waters crystalline; 
And before that chasm of light,  65
As within a furnace bright, 
Column, tower, and dome, and spire, 
Shine like obelisks of fire, 
Pointing with inconstant motion 
From the altar of dark ocean  70
To the sapphire-tinted skies; 
As the flames of sacrifice 
From the marble shrines did rise 
As to pierce the dome of gold 
Where Apollo spoke of old.  75
  Sun-girt City! thou hast been 
Ocean's child, and then his queen; 
Now is come a darker day, 
And thou soon must be his prey, 
If the power that raised thee here  80
Hallow so thy watery bier. 
A less drear ruin then than now, 
With thy conquest-branded brow 
Stooping to the slave of slaves 
From thy throne among the waves  85
Wilt thou be—when the sea-mew 
Flies, as once before it flew, 
O'er thine isles depopulate, 
And all is in its ancient state, 
Save where many a palace-gate  90
With green sea-flowers overgrown, 
Like a rock of ocean's own, 
Topples o'er the abandon'd sea 
As the tides change sullenly. 
The fisher on his watery way,  95
Wandering at the close of day, 
Will spread his sail and seize his oar 
Till he pass the gloomy shore, 
Lest thy dead should, from their sleep, 
Bursting o'er the starlight deep, 100
Lead a rapid masque of death 
O'er the waters of his path. 
  Noon descends around me now: 
'Tis the noon of autumn's glow, 
When a soft and purple mist 105
Like a vaporous amethyst, 
Or an air-dissolvèd star 
Mingling light and fragrance, far 
From the curved horizon's bound 
To the point of heaven's profound, 110
Fills the overflowing sky, 
And the plains that silent lie 
Underneath; the leaves unsodden 
Where the infant Frost has trodden 
With his morning-wingèd feet 115
Whose bright print is gleaming yet; 
And the red and golden vines 
Piercing with their trellised lines 
The rough, dark-skirted wilderness; 
The dun and bladed grass no less, 120
Pointing from this hoary tower 
In the windless air; the flower 
Glimmering at my feet; the line 
Of the olive-sandall'd Apennine 
In the south dimly islanded; 125
And the Alps, whose snows are spread 
High between the clouds and sun; 
And of living things each one; 
And my spirit, which so long 
Darken'd this swift stream of song,— 130
Interpenetrated lie 
By the glory of the sky; 
Be it love, light, harmony, 
Odour, or the soul of all 
Which from heaven like dew doth fall, 135
Or the mind which feeds this verse, 
Peopling the lone universe. 
  Noon descends, and after noon 
Autumn's evening meets me soon, 
Leading the infantine moon 140
And that one star, which to her 
Almost seems to minister 
Half the crimson light she brings 
From the sunset's radiant springs: 
And the soft dreams of the morn 145
(Which like wingèd winds had borne 
To that silent isle, which lies 
'Mid remember'd agonies, 
The frail bark of this lone being), 
Pass, to other sufferers fleeing, 150
And its ancient pilot, Pain, 
Sits beside the helm again. 
  Other flowering isles must be 
In the sea of Life and Agony: 
Other spirits float and flee 155
O'er that gulf: ev'n now, perhaps, 
On some rock the wild wave wraps, 
With folding wings they waiting sit 
For my bark, to pilot it 
To some calm and blooming cove, 160
Where for me, and those I love, 
May a windless bower be built, 
Far from passion, pain, and guilt, 
In a dell 'mid lawny hills 
Which the wild sea-murmur fills, 165
And soft sunshine, and the sound 
Of old forests echoing round, 
And the light and smell divine 
Of all flowers that breathe and shine. 
—We may live so happy there, 170
That the Spirits of the Air 
Envying us, may ev'n entice 
To our healing paradise 
The polluting multitude: 
But their rage would be subdued 175
By that clime divine and calm, 
And the winds whose wings rain balm 
On the uplifted soul, and leaves 
Under which the bright sea heaves; 
While each breathless interval 180
In their whisperings musical 
The inspirèd soul supplies 
With its own deep melodies; 
And the Love which heals all strife 
Circling, like the breath of life, 185
All things in that sweet abode 
With its own mild brotherhood:— 
They, not it, would change; and soon 
Every sprite beneath the moon 
Would repent its envy vain, 190
And the Earth grow young again! 

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