Wide World of Quotes > Percy Bysshe Shelley Quotes


Percy Bysshe Shelley
English poet and husband of Mary Shelley
(1792-1822)



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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.
-- "Ode to the West Wind" (1819)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.
-- "Ozymandias" (1819)

"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 strech far away.
-- "Ozymandias" (1819)

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.
-- "To a Skylark" (1819)

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.
-- "To a Skylark" (1819)

Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
-- "To a Skylark" (1819)

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.
-- "To a Skylark" (1819)

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.
-- "To a Skylark" (1819)

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!
-- "Prometheus Unbound" (1820)

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.
-- "The Cloud" (1820), stanza 1.

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.
-- "The Cloud" (1820), stanza 7

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.
-- "Hellas" (1821), l. 696-703.

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.
-- "Hellas" (1821), l. 1060.





"The Masque of Anarchy" (1819) - selected quotes

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza
1.

I met Murder on the way —
He had a mask like Castlereagh —
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 2.

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 3.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 7.

Last came Anarchy: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 8.

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!'
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 9.

And with glorious triumph, they
Rode through England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 12.

My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 23.

What is Freedom? — ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well —
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 39.

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 57.

What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 60.

Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou — let deeds, not words, express
Thine exceeding loveliness.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 64.

Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 66.

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 69.

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 74.

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 79.

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!
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 82.

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.
-- "The Masque of Anarchy", stanza 91





"Epipsychidion" (1821) - selected quotes

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.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 9.

I never thought before my death to see
Youth's vision thus made perfect.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 41.

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.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 147.

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.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821)

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.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 174.

Love's very pain is sweet,
But its reward is in the world divine
Which, if not here, it builds beyond the grave.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 595.

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.
-- "Epipsychidion" (1821), l. 602.

"Adonais" (1821) - selected quotes

I weep for Adonais — he is dead!
O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza I.

Till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza I.

Most musical of mourners, weep again!
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza IV.

To that high Capital, where kingly Death
Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay,
He came.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza VI.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza X.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XIII.

Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XVIII.

The intense atom glows
A moment, then is quenched in a most cold repose.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XX.

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?
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXI.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXI.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXX.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXXII.

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?
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXXV.

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep —
He hath awakened from the dream of life.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XXXIX.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XL

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XLI.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XLII.

He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza XLIII.

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.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza LII.

The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.
-- "Adonais" (1821), stanza LV


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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