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The path to power is steep and rough,
And tempests reign above.
I would not climb the imperial throne;
Thaws in the height of noon.
Care would not come so soon,
O thou immortal deity
I do adjure thy power and thee
By all that he has been and yet must be !
Through the dim wildernesses of the mind; Through desert woods and tracts, which seem
Like ocean, homeless, boundless, unconfined.
WHO DESIRED THAT ON HIS TOMB SHOULD BE INSCRIBED
“ HERE lieth One whose name was writ on water!" But ere the breath that could erase it blew,
Death, in remorse for that fell slaughter,
The rude wind is singing
The dirge of the music dead,
Where kisses were lately fed.
What art thou, Presumptuous, who profanest
The wreath to mighty poets only due, Even whilst like a forgotten moon thou wanest ?
Touch not those leaves which for the eternal few, Who wander o'er the paradise of fame,
In sacred dedication ever grew,-
Bright though it seem, it is not the same
Its dew is poison and the hopes that quicken Under its chilling shade, though seeming fair,
Are flowers which die almost before they sicken.
WHEN soft winds and sunny skies
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1822.
BY THE EDITOR.
This morn thy gallant bark
Sailed on a sunny sea,
Ah woe! ah woe!
Thou sleep'st upon the shore
Beside the knelling surge,
They come! they come,
From far across the sea
I hear a loud lament,
O list! O list,
While I for ever weep.
With this last year of the life of Shelley these Notes end. They are not what I intended them to be. I began with energy and a burning desire to impart to the world, in worthy language, the sense I have of the virtues and genius of the Beloved and the Lost; my strength has failed under the task. Recurrence to the past-full of its own deep and unforgotten joys and sorrows, contrasted with succeeding years of painful and solitary struggle, has shaken my health. Days of great suffering have followed my attempts to write, and these again produced a weakness and languor that spread their sinister influence over these notes. I dislike speaking of myself, but cannot help apologizing to the dead, and to the public, for not having executed in the manner I desired the history I engaged to give of Shelley's writings.*
The winter of 1822 was passed in Pisa, if we might call that season winter in which autumn merged into spring, after the interval of but few days of bleaker weather. Spring sprang up early, and with extreme beauty. Shelley had conceived the idea of writing a tragedy on the subject of Charles I. It was one that he believed adapted for a drama; full of intense interest, contrasted character, and busy passion. He had recommended it long before, when he encouraged me to attempt a play. Whether the subject proved more difficult than he anticipated, or whether in fact he could not bend his mind away from the broodings and wanderings
* I at one time feared that the correction of the press might be less exact through my illness; but, I believe that it is nearly free from error. Some asterisks occur in a few pages, as they did in the volume of Posthumous Poems, either because they refer to private concerns, or because the original manuscript was left imperfect. Did any one see the papers from which I drew that volume, the wonder would be how any eyes or patience were capable of extracting it from so confused a mass, interlined and broken into fragments, so that the sense could only be deciphered and joined by guesses, which might seem rather intuitive than founded on reasaning. Yet I believe no mistake was made.