Percy Bysshe Shelley Quotes

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About Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822) was one of the major English romantic poets, widely considered to be among the finest lyric poets in the English language; husband of Mary Shelley.

Born: August 4th, 1792

Died: July 8th, 1822

Categories: English poets, Romantic poets, 1820s deaths, Vegetarians

Quotes: 204 sourced quotes total (includes 1 misattributed, 9 about)

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Words (count)384 - 170
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I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: — Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. Near them on the sand,Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frownAnd wrinkled lip and sneer of cold commandTell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.And on the pedestal these words appear:"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"Nothing beside remains: round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,The lone and level sands stretch far away.
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Soul meets soul on lovers' lips.
Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number — Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you — Ye are many — they are few.
Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
Thou dirge Of the dying year, to which this closing night Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, Vaulted with all thy congregated might.
We look before and after, And pine for what is not: Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth.
Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
I arise from dreams of thee In the first sweet sleep of night, When the winds are breathing low, And the stars are shining bright.
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert, That from Heaven, or near it, Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher From the earth thou springest, Like a cloud of fire; The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar and soaring ever singest.
Man has no right to kill his brother, it is no excuse that he does so in uniform. He only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water, And the nursling of the Sky; I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; I change, but I cannot die.
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep — He hath awakened from the dream of life.
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!
Revenge is the naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age.
Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.
Till the Future dares Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be An echo and a light unto eternity!
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers, From the seas and the streams; I bear light shade for the leaves when laid In their noonday dreams. From my wings are shaken the dews that waken The sweet buds every one, When rocked to rest on their mother's breast, As she dances about the sun. I wield the flail of the lashing hail, And whiten the green plains under, And then again I dissolve it in rain, And laugh as I pass in thunder.
How wonderful is Death, Death and his brother Sleep!
Men of England, wherefore plough For the lords who lay ye low?
That orbed maiden with white fire laden, Whom mortals call the moon.
When the lamp is shattered The light in the dust lies dead — When the cloud is scattered, The rainbow's glory is shed.
I weep for Adonais — he is dead! O, weep for Adonais! though our tears Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow The world should listen then — as I am listening now.
Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory — Odours, when sweet violets sicken, Live within the sense they quicken. Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, Are heaped for the beloved's bed; And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, Love itself shall slumber on.
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king, — Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow Through public scorn, — mud from a muddy spring, — Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know, But leech-like to their fainting country cling, Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow.
Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
He is a portion of the loveliness Which once he made more lovely.
War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade.
The soul of Adonais, like a star, Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.
Death is the veil which those who live call life; They sleep, and it is lifted.
Stand ye calm and resolute, Like a forest close and mute, With folded arms and looks which are Weapons of unvanquished war.
A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. His auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician.
Familiar acts are beautiful through love.
Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone, But grief returns with the revolving year.
He is made one with Nature: there is heard His voice in all her music, from the moan Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird.
The One remains, the many change and pass; Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly; Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity, Until Death tramples it to fragments.
It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion, and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust.
It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation, that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion; and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust.
Best and brightest, come away!
Most musical of mourners, weep again!
To that high Capital, where kingly Death Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay, He came.
First our pleasures die — and then Our hopes, and then our fears — and when These are dead, the debt is due, Dust claims dust — and we die too.
He lives, he wakes — 'tis Death is dead, not he; Mourn not for Adonais. — Thou young Dawn, Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee The spirit thou lamentest is not gone.
Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.
The lone couch of his everlasting sleep.
The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.
And many more Destructions played In this ghastly masquerade, All disguised, even to the eyes, Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.
Last came Anarchy: he rode On a white horse, splashed with blood; He was pale even to the lips, Like Death in the Apocalypse.
Lost Angel of a ruined Paradise! She knew not 'twas her own; as with no stain She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its rain.
As long as skies are blue, and fields are green, Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow, Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow.
The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame Over his living head like Heaven is bent, An early but enduring monument, Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song In sorrow.
Swiftly walk over the western wave, Spirit of Night! Out of the misty eastern cave Where, all the long and lone daylight, Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear, Which make thee terrible and dear, — Swift be thy flight!
Death will come when thou art dead, Soon, too soon — Sleep will come when thou art fled; Of neither would I ask the boon I ask of thee, beloved Night — Swift be thine approaching flight, Come soon, soon!
Reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things.
Hell is a city much like London — A populous and smoky city.
Tragedy delights by affording a shadow of the pleasure which exists in pain.
I have drunken deep of joy, And I will taste no other wine tonight.
The intense atom glows A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose.
Most wretched men Are cradled into poetry by wrong; They learn in suffering what they teach in song.
Spirit, Patience, Gentleness, All that can adorn and bless Art thou — let deeds, not words, express Thine exceeding loveliness.
Let the blue sky overhead, The green earth on which ye tread, All that must eternal be Witness the solemnity.
I met Murder on the way — He had a mask like Castlereagh — Very smooth he looked, yet grim; Seven blood-hounds followed him.
The desire of the moth for the star, Of the night for the morrow, The devotion to something afar From the sphere of our sorrow.
All were fat; and well they might Be in admirable plight, For one by one, and two by two, He tossed them human hearts to chew.
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew, And the young winds fed it with silver dew, And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light. And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.
Alas! that all we loved of him should be, But for our grief, as if it had not been, And grief itself be mortal! Woe is me! Whence are we, and why are we? of what scene The actors or spectators?
And others came... Desires and Adorations, Winged Persuasions and veiled Destinies, Splendours, and GloOms, and glimmering Incarnations Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies; And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs, And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam Of her own dying smile instead of eyes, Came in slow pomp; — the moving pomp might seem Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream.
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.
Fear not the future, weep not for the past.
A lovely lady, garmented in light From her own beauty.
Chameleons feed on light and air: Poets' food is love and fame.
And with glorious triumph, they Rode through England proud and gay, Drunk as with intoxication Of the wine of desolation.
My father Time is weak and gray With waiting for a better day; See how idiot-like he stands, Fumbling with his palsied hands!
What if English toil and blood Was poured forth, even as a flood? It availed, Oh, Liberty, To dim, but not extinguish thee.
What is Freedom? — ye can tell That which slavery is, too well — For its very name has grown To an echo of your own.
Twilight, ascending slowly from the east, Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of day, Night followed, clad with stars.
There is no God! This negation must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit co-eternal with the universe remains unshaken.
And he wore a kingly crown; And in his grasp a sceptre shone; On his brow this mark I saw — 'I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!'
As I lay asleep in Italy There came a voice from over the Sea, And with great power it forth led me To walk in the visions of Poesy.
Some say that gleams of a remoter world Visit the soul in sleep, — that death is slumber, And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber Of those who wake and live.
What softer voice is hushed over the dead? Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown? What form leans sadly o'er the white death — bed, In mockery of monumental stone, The heavy heart heaving without a moan?
O lift me from the grass! I die! I faint! I fail! Let thy love in kisses rain On my lips and eyelids pale. My cheek is cold and white, alas! My heart beats loud and fast: O press it to thine own again, Where it will break at last!
He has outsoared the shadow of our night; Envy and calumny and hate and pain, And that unrest which men miscall delight, Can touch him not and torture not again; From the contagion of the world's slow stain He is secure, and now can never mourn A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain.
A pardlike Spirit beautiful and swift — A Love in desolation masked; — a Power Girt round with weakness; — it can scarce uplift The weight of the superincumbent hour; It is a dying lamp, a falling shower, A breaking billow; — even whilst we speak Is it not broken? On the withering flower The killing sun smiles brightly: on a cheek The life can burn in blood, even while the heart may break.
The awful shadow of some unseen Power Floats though unseen among us; visiting This various world with as inconstant wing As summer winds that creep from flower to flower; Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower, It visits with inconstant glance Each human heart and countenance; Like hues and harmonies of evening, Like clouds in starlight widely spread, Like memory of music fled, Like aught that for its grace may be Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.
I regard Shelley's early 'atheism' and later Pantheism, as simply the negative and the affirmative side of the same progressive but harmonious life-creed. In his earlier years his disposition was towards a vehement denial of a theology which he never ceased to detest; in his maturer years he made more frequent reference to the great World Spirit in whom he had from the first believed. He grew wiser in the exercise of his religious faith, but the faith was the same throughout; there, was progression, but no essential change.
The world is weary of the past, Oh, might it die or rest at last!
To know nor faith, nor love, nor law, to be Omnipotent but friendless, is to reign.
Thy words are like a cloud of winged snakes; And yet I pity those they torture not.
We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece.
With hue like that when some great painter dips His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse.
Love's very pain is sweet, But its reward is in the world divine Which, if not here, it builds beyond the grave.
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing A tone Of some world far from ours, Where music and moonlight and feeling Are one.
And like a prophetess of May Strewed flowers upon the barren way, Making the wintry world appear Like one on whom thou smilest, dear.
Ere Babylon was dust, The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child, Met his own image walking in the garden. That apparition, sole of men, he saw.
From the haunts of daily life Where is waged the daily strife With common wants and common cares Which sows the human heart with tares.
Be your strong and simple words Keen to wound as sharpened swords, And wide as targes let them be, With their shade to cover ye.
You lie—under a mistake, For this is the most civil sort of lie That can be given to a man's face. I now Say what I think.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Translation of Calderon's Magico Prodigioso, Scene i; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Percy Bysshe Shelley" (Quotes)
Heaven's ebon vault, Studded with stars unutterably bright, Through which the moon's unclouded grandeur rolls, Seems like a canopy which love has spread To curtain her sleeping world.
A wild dissolving bliss Over my frame he breathed, approaching near, And bent his eyes of kindling tenderness Near mine, and on my lips impressed a lingering kiss.
Life may change, but it may fly not; Hope may vanish, but can die not; Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; Love repulsed, — but it returneth!
The old laws of England — they Whose reverend heads with age are gray, Children of a wiser day; And whose solemn voice must be Thine own echo — Liberty!
Are ye, two vultures sick for battle, Two scorpions under one wet stone, Two bloodless wolves whose dry throats rattle, Two crows perched on the murrained cattle, Two vipers tangled into one.
The world's great age begins anew, The golden years return, The earth doth like a snake renew Her winter weeds outworn; Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam, Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
Away, away, from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs — To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music lest it should not find An echo in another’s mind.
He will watch from dawn to gloom The lake-reflected sun illume The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, Nor heed nor see, what things they be; But from these create he can Forms more real than living man, Nurslings of immortality!
Let us bring the question to the test of experience and fact; and ask ourselves, considering our nature in its entire extent, what light we derive from a sustained and comprehensive view of its component parts, which may enable us to assert with certainty that we do or do not live after death.
Cease, cease, wayward Mortal! I dare not unveil The shadows that float o’er Eternity’s vale; Nought waits for the good but a spirit of Love, That will hail their blest advent to regions above. For Love, Mortal, gleams through the gloom of my sway, And the shades which surround me fly fast at its ray.
The good want power, but to weep barren tears. The powerful goodness want: worse need for them. The wise want love; and those who love want wisdom; And all best things are thus confused to ill. Many are strong and rich, and would be just, But live among their suffering fellow-men As if none felt: they know not what they do.
Yet now despair itself is mild, Even as the winds and waters are; I could lie down like a tired child, And weep away the life of care Which I have borne and yet must bear, Till death like sleep might steal on me, And I might feel in the warm air My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.
To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; To forgive wrongs darker than Death or Night; To defy Power, which seems Omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change nor falter nor repent; This, like thy glory, Titan! is to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Life; Joy, Empire, and Victory!
Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon Of human thought or form, where art thou gone? Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate? Ask why the sunlight not for ever Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river, Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown, Why fear and dream and death and birth Cast on the daylight of this earth Such gloom, why man has such a scope For love and hate, despondency and hope?
All spirits are enslaved which serve things evil.
The more we study, we the more discover Our ignorance.
Gold is a living god and rules in scorn, All earthly things but virtue.
Then black despair, The shadow of a starless night, was thrown Over the world in which I moved alone.
Kings are like stars — they rise and set, they have The worship of the world, but no repose.
The moon of Mahomet Arose, and it shall set; While, blazoned as on heaven's immortal noon, The cross leads generations on.
Belief is involuntary; nothing involuntary is meritorious or reprehensible. A man ought not to be considered worse or better for his belief.
The breath Of accusation kills an innocent name, And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life, Which is a mask without it.
Those who inflict must suffer, for they see The work of their own hearts, and this must be Our chastisement or recompense.
I love all waste And solitary places; where we taste The pleasure of believing what we see Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be.
Thou art Justice — ne'er for gold May thy righteous laws be sold As laws are in England — thou Shield'st alike the high and low.
If it be proved that the world is ruled by a Divine Power, no inference necessarily can be drawn from that circumstance in favour of a future state.
And bid them love each other and be blest: And leave the troop which errs, and which reproves, And come and be my guest, — for I am Love's.
Man, who wert once a despot and a slave, A dupe and a deceiver! a decay, A traveller from the cradle to the grave Through the dim night of this immortal day.
Let me set my mournful ditty To a merry measure; Thou wilt never come for pity, Thou wilt come for pleasure; Pity then will cut away Those cruel wings, and thou wilt stay.
Thy light alone like mist o'er mountains driven, Or music by the night-wind sent Through strings of some still instrument, Or moonlight on a midnight stream, Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.
Love is free: to promise for ever to love the same woman, is not less absurd than to promise to believe the same creed: such a vow in both cases, excludes us from all enquiry.
Age cannot Love destroy, But perfidy can blast the flower, Even when in most unwary hour It blooms in Fancy’s bower. Age cannot Love destroy, But perfidy can rend the shrine In which its vermeil splendours shine.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
• Untitled (1810); titled "Love's Rose" by William Michael Rossetti in Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1870).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Percy Bysshe Shelley" (Quotes)
I love Love — though he has wings, And like light can flee, But above all other things, Spirit, I love thee — Thou art love and life! Oh come, Make once more my heart thy home.
No man has a right to disturb the public peace, by personally resisting the execution of a law however bad. He ought to acquiesce, using at the same time the utmost powers of his reason, to promote its repeal.
'''GOVERNMENT has no rights; it is a delegation from several individuals for the purpose of securing their own. It is therefore just, only so far as it exists by their consent, useful only so far as it operates to their well-being.
A husband and wife ought to continue so long united as they love each other. Any law which should bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their affection, would be a most intolerable tyranny, and the most unworthy of toleration.
Not the swart Pariah in some Indian grove, Lone, lean, and hunted by his brother’s hate, Hath drunk so deep the cup of bitter fate As that poor wretch who cannot, cannot love: He bears a load which nothing can remove, A killing, withering weight.
There grew pied wind-flowers and violets, Daisies, those pearl’d Arcturi of the earth, The constellated flower that never sets; Faint oxlips; tender bluebells at whose birth The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets Its mother’s face with heaven-collected tears, When the low wind, its playmate’s voice, it hears.
It is our will That thus enchains us to permitted ill. We might be otherwise, we might be all We dream of happy, high, majestical. Where is the love, beauty and truth we seek, But in our mind? and if we were not weak, Should we be less in deed than in desire?
Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance, These are the seals of that most firm assurance Which bars the pit over Destruction’s strength; And if, with infirm hand, Eternity, Mother of many acts and hours, should free The serpent that would clasp her with his length; These are the spells by which to reassume An empire o’er the disentangled doom.
This is the day, which down the void abysm At the Earth-born’s spell yawns for Heaven’s despotism And Conquest is dragged captive through the deep: Love, from its awful throne of patient power In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep, And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs And folds over the world its healing wings.
True Love in this differs from gold and clay, That to divide is not to take away. Love is like understanding, that grows bright, Gazing on many truths; 'tis like thy light, Imagination! which from earth and sky, And from the depths of human phantasy, As from a thousand prisms and mirrors, fills The Universe with glorious beams, and kills Error, the worm, with many a sun-like arrow Of its reverberated lightning.
The day becomes more solemn and serene When noon is past; there is a harmony In autumn, and a lustre in its sky, Which through the summer is not heard or seen, As if it could not be, as if it had not been! Thus let thy power, which like the truth Of nature on my passive youth Descended, to my onward life supply Its calm, to one who worships thee, And every form containing thee, Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bind To fear himself, and love all human kind.
Shelley resembled Blake in the contrast of feeling with which he regarded the Christian religion and its founder. For the human character of Christ he could feel the deepest veneration, as may be seen not only from the "Essay on Christianity," but from the "Letter to Lord Ellenborough" (1812), and also from the notes to "Hellas" and passages in that poem and in "Prometheus Unbound"; but he held that the spirit of established Christianity was wholly out of harmony with that of Christ, and that a similarity to Christ was one of the qualities most detested by the modern Christian. The dogmas of the Christian faith were always repudiated by him, and there is no warrant whatever in his writings for the strange pretension that, had he lived longer, his objections to Christianity might in some way have been overcome.
Fame is love disguised.
Teas, Where small talk dies in agonies.
What! alive, and so bold, O earth?
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Written on hearing the News of the Death of Napoleon; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Percy Bysshe Shelley" (Quotes)
… why God made irreconcilable Good and the means of good.
Dar’st thou amid the varied multitude To live alone, an isolated thing?
Lucretius and his tradition taught Shelley that freedom came from understanding causation.
I never thought before my death to see Youth's vision thus made perfect.
There is no sport in hate where all the rage Is on one side.
A Christian, a Deist, a Turk, and a Jew, have equal rights: they are men and brethren.
Once, early in the morning, Beelzebub arose, With care his sweet person adorning, He put on his Sunday clothes.
One word is too often profaned For me to profane it; One feeling too falsely disdained For thee to disdain it.
Sweet the rose which lives in Heaven, Although on earth ’tis planted, Where its honours blow, While by earth’s slaves the leaves are riven Which die the while they glow.
If a person's religious ideas correspond not with your own, love him nevertheless. How different would yours have been, had the chance of birth placed you in Tartary or India!
Peter was dull; he was at first Dull,—oh so dull, so very dull! Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed, Still with this dulness was he cursed! Dull,—beyond all conception, dull.
Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight! Wherefore hast thou left me now Many a day and night? Many a weary night and day 'Tis since thou are fled away.
Poor captive bird! Who, from thy narrow cage, Pourest such music, that it might assuage The rugged hearts of those who prisoned thee, Were they not deaf to all sweet melody.
I love tranquil solitude, And such society As is quiet, wise, and good; Between thee and me What difference? but thou dost possess The things I seek, not love them less.
'''You would not easily guess All the modes of distress Which torture the tenants of earth; And the various evils, Which like so many devils, Attend the poor souls from their birth.
I think that the leaf of a tree, the meanest insect on wh. we trample are in themselves arguments more conclusive than any which can be adduced that some vast intellect animates Infinity.
Nor yet exempt, though ruling them like slaves, From chance, and death, and mutability, The clogs of that which else might oversoar The loftiest star of unascended heaven, Pinnacled dim in the intense inane.
Shelley I saw once. His voice was the most obnoxious squeak I ever was tormented with, ten thousand times worse than the Laureat's, who voice is the worst part about him, except his Laureatship.
About Percy Bysshe Shelley
• Charles Lamb, Letter to Bernard Barton, 9 October 1822, in The Life, Letters and Writings of Charles Lamb (1897).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Percy Bysshe Shelley" (Quotes about Shelley)
Though we eat little flesh and drink no wine, Yet let's be merry: we'll have tea and toast; Custards for supper, and an endless host Of syllabubs and jellies and mince-pies, And other such ladylike luxuries.
Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality; it strikes at the root of all domestic happiness, and consigns more than half the human race to misery.
… they who wore Mitres and helms and crowns, or wreaths of light, Signs of thought's empire over thought —their lore Taught them not this, to know themselves; their might Could not repress the mystery within.
At last, at the age of 17 I came across Shelley, whom no one had ever told me about. He remained for many years the man I loved most among the great men of the past.
Peace is in the grave. The grave hides all things beautiful and good. I am a God and cannot find it there, Nor would I seek it; for, though dread revenge, This is defeat, fierce king, not victory.
The pale stars are gone! For the sun, their swift shepherd, To their folds them compelling, In the depths of the dawn, Hastes, in meteor-eclipsing array, and the flee Beyond his blue dwelling, As fawns flee the leopard.
Shelley appealed to me from his hatred of tyranny. And also from his very vivid sense of beauty, natural beauty, and every kind of beauty. And I thought he sort of portrayed a lovely world of the imagination.
Shelley, who in Prometheus Unbound had observed that the wise lack love and those who have love lack wisdom, went to his end in The Triumph of Life asking why good and the means of good were irreconcilable.
Thus suicidal selfishness, that blights The fairest feelings of the opening heart, Is destined to decay, whilst from the soil Shall spring all virtue, all delight, all love, And judgment cease to wage unnatural war With passion's unsubduable array.
Rough wind, the moanest loud Grief too sad for song; Wild wind, when sullen cloud Knells all the night long; Sad storm, whose tears are vain, Bare woods, whose branches strain, Deep caves and dreary main, — Wail, for the world's wrong!
But Greece and her foundations are Built below the tide of war, Based on the crystalline sea Of thought and its eternity; Her citizens, imperial spirits, Rule the present from the past, On all this world of men inherits Their seal is set.
Me — who am as a nerve o'er which do creep The else unfelt oppressions of this earth, And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth, When all beside was cold: — that thou on me Shouldst rain these plagues of blistering agony!
I am gone into the fields To take what this sweet hour yields; — Reflection, you may come to-morrow, Sit by the fireside with Sorrow. — You with the unpaid bill, Despair, — You, tiresome verse-reciter, Care, — I will pay you in the grave, — Death will listen to your stave.
It is probable that what we call thought is not an actual being, but no more than the relation between certain parts of that infinitely varied mass, of which the rest of the universe is composed, and which ceases to exist as soon as those parts change their position with regard to each other.
All love is sweet, Given or returned. Common as light is love, And its familiar voice wearies not ever. Like the wide heaven, the all-sustaining air, It makes the reptile equal to the God; They who inspire it most are fortunate, As I am now; but those who feel it most Are happier still.
In each human heart terror survives The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear All that they would disdain to think were true: Hypocrisy and custom make their minds The fanes of many a worship, now outworn. They dare not devise good for man’s estate, And yet they know not that they do not dare.
For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.
Some philosophers—and those to whom we are indebted for the most stupendous discoveries in physical science, suppose... that intelligence is the mere result of certain combinations among the particles of its objects; and those among them who believe that we live after death, recur to the interposition of a supernatural power, which shall overcome the tendency inherent in all material combinations, to dissipate and be absorbed into other forms.
My Song, I fear that thou wilt find but few Who fitly shalt conceive thy reasoning, Of such hard matter dost thou entertain; Whence, if by misadventure, chance should bring Thee to base company (as chance may do), Quite unaware of what thou dost contain, I prithee, comfort thy sweet self again, My last delight! tell them that they are dull, And bid them own that thou art beautiful.
Nature rejects the monarch, not the man; The subject, not the citizen; for kings And subjects, mutual foes, forever play A losing game into each other's hands, Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys. Power, like a desolating pestilence, Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience, Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame A mechanized automaton.
Here I swear, and as I break my oath may Infinity Eternity blast me, here I swear that never will I forgive Christianity! It is the only point on which I allow myself to encourage revenge... Oh, how I wish I were the Antichrist, that it were mine to crush the Demon, to hurl him to his native Hell never to rise again — I expect to gratify some of this insatiable feeling in Poetry.
Should it be proved... that the mysterious principle which regulates the proceedings of the universe, is neither intelligent nor sensitive, yet it is not an inconsistency to suppose at the same time, that the animating power survives the body which it has animated, by laws as independent of any supernatural agent as those through which it first became united with it. Nor, if a future state be clearly proved, does it follow that it will be a state of punishment or reward.
Shelley, whose talents would otherwise have made him eligible, was an outcast from the first … They always knew where to draw the line and they drew it, emphatically, at Shelley. I was informed that Byron could be forgiven because, though he had sinned, he had been led into sin by the unfortunate circumstances of his youth, and had always been haunted by remorse, but that for Shelley's moral character there was nothing to be said since he acted on principle and therefore he could not be worth reading.
Poor soul, he has always seemed to me an extremely weak creature, and lamentable much more than admirable. Weak in genius, weak in character (for these two always go together); a poor thin, spasmodic, hectic, shrill and pallid being; -- one of those unfortunates, of whom I often speak, to whom the 'talent of silence', first of all, has been denied. The speech of such is never good for much. Poor Shelley, there is something void and Hades-like in the whole inner-world of him; his universe is all vacant azure, hung with a few frosty mournful if beautiful stars; the very voice of him (his style &c), shrill, shrieky, to my ear has too much of the ghost!
About Percy Bysshe Shelley
• Thomas Carlyle, Letter to Robert Browning, 8 March 1852, in The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, ed. C. de L. Ryals and K.J. Fielding (1999).
• Source: Wikiquote: "Percy Bysshe Shelley" (Quotes about Shelley)
We must prove design before we can infer a designer. http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/shly310.txt
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreamsThe blue Mediterranean, where he lay,Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streamsBeside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,And saw in sleep old palaces and towersQuivering within the wave's intenser day,All overgrown with azure moss and flowersSo sweet, the sense faints picturing them.
Twin-sister of Religion, Selfishness! Rival in crime and falsehood, aping all The wanton horrors of her bloody play; Yet frozen, unimpassioned, spiritless, Shunning the light, and owning not its name, Compelled by its deformity to screen With flimsy veil of justice and of right Its unattractive lineaments that scare All save the brood of ignorance; at once The cause and the effect of tyranny; Unblushing, hardened, sensual and vile; Dead to all love but of its abjectness; With heart impassive by more noble powers Than unshared pleasure, sordid gain, or fame; Despising its own miserable being, Which still it longs, yet fears, to disenthrall.
Thy wisdom speaks in me, and bids me dare Beacon the rocks on which high hearts are wreckt. I never was attached to that great sect, Whose doctrine is, that each one should select Out of the crowd a mistress or a friend, And all the rest, though fair and wise, commend To cold oblivion, though it is in the code Of modern morals, and the beaten road Which those poor slaves with weary footsteps tread, Who travel to their home among the dead By the broad highway of the world, and so With one chained friend, — perhaps a jealous foe, The dreariest and the longest journey go.
The body is placed under the earth, and after a certain period there remains no vestige even of its form. This is that contemplation of inexhaustible melancholy, whose shadow eclipses the brightness of the world. The common observer is struck with dejection of the spectacle. He contends in vain against the persuasion of the grave, that the dead indeed cease to be. The corpse at his feet is prophetic of his own destiny. Those who have preceded him, and whose voice was delightful to his ear; whose touch met his like sweet and subtle fire: whose aspect spread a visionary light upon his path — these he cannot meet again.
The butchering of harmless animals cannot fail to produce much of that spirit of insane and hideous exultation in which news of a victory is related altho' purchased by the massacre of a hundred thousand men. If the use of animal food be, in consequence, subversive to the peace of human society, how unwarrantable is the injustice and barbarity which is exercised toward these miserable victims. They are called into existence by human artifice that they may drag out a short and miserable existence of slavery and disease, that their bodies may be mutilated, their social feelings outraged. It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery.
Mind from its object differs most in this: Evil from good; misery from happiness; The baser from the nobler; the impure And frail, from what is clear and must endure. If you divide suffering and dross, you may Diminish till it is consumed away; If you divide pleasure and love and thought, Each part exceeds the whole; and we know not How much, while any yet remains unshared, Of pleasure may be gained, of sorrow spared: This truth is that deep well, whence sages draw The unenvied light of hope; the eternal law By which those live, to whom this world of life Is as a garden ravaged, and whose strife Tills for the promise of a later birth The wilderness of this Elysian earth.
The life of Camillus, the death of Regulus; the expectation of the senators, in their godlike state, of the victorious Gauls; the refusal of the republic to make peace with Hannibal, after the battle of Cannae, were not the consequences of a refined calculation of the probable personal advantage to result from such a rhythm and order in the shows of life, to those who were at once the poets and the actors of these immortal dramas. The imagination beholding the beauty of this order, created it out of itself according to its own idea; the consequence was empire, and the reward everlasting fame. These things are not the less poetry, quia carent vate sacro [because they lack a sacred bard]. They are the episodes of that cyclic poem written by Time upon the memories of men.
It has been the persuasion of an immense majority of human beings in all ages and nations that we continue to live after death,—that apparent termination of all the functions of sensitive and intellectual existence. Nor has mankind been contented with supposing that species of existence which some philosophers have asserted; namely, the resolution of the component parts of the mechanism of a living being into its elements, and the impossibility of the minutest particle of these sustaining the smallest diminution. They have clung to the idea that sensibility and thought, which they have distinguished from the objects of it, under the several names of spirit and matter, is, in its own nature, less susceptible of division and decay, and that, when the body is resolved into its elements, the principle which animated it will remain perpetual and unchanged.
The natural philosopher, in addition to the sensations common to all men inspired by the event of death, believes that he sees with more certainty that it is attended with the annihilation of sentiment and thought. He observes the mental powers increase and fade with those of the body, and even accommodate themselves to the most transitory changes of our physical nature. Sleep suspends many of the faculties of the vital and intellectual principle; drunkenness and disease will either temporarily or permanently derange them. Madness or idiotcy may utterly extinguish the most excellent and delicate of those powers. In old age the mind gradually withers; and as it grew and was strengthened with the body, so does it together with the body sink into decrepitude. Assuredly these are convincing evidences that so soon as the organs of the body are subjected to the laws of inanimate matter, sensation, and perception, and apprehension are at an end.
If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? If he has spoken, why is the universe not convinced? If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?

End Percy Bysshe Shelley Quotes