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Shelley is at all events cosmopolitan : his fame may in the long run be rather promoted than impeded by its association with literatures and mythologies which have become imperishable constituents of human culture, and with regions of the earth so renowned as to be in a manner familiar to those who have never beheld them. This much may be affirmed, that Shelley's hopes of ultimate enrolment among the select band of the supreme poets of the world rest upon the same foundation as the hopes of the world itself. Enlightenment and the enthusiasm of humanity will always insure him readers: prevalent barbarism or materialism would extinguish him more speedily and effectually than any other writer.
November 12, 1879.
THE SPIRIT OF SOLITUDE.
EARTH, ocean, air, beloved brotherhood!
I consciously have injured, but still loved
No portion of your wonted favour now!
Mother of this unfathomable world!
Of what we are. In lone and silent hours,
When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness, Like an inspired and desperate alchymist
Staking his very life on some dark hope,
Have I mixed awful talk and asking looks
Such magic as compels the charmèd night
To render up thy charge: . . . and, though ne'er yet Thou hast unveiled thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and deep noonday thought,
And moveless, as a long-forgotten lyre
Of some mysterious and deserted fane,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
There was a Poet whose untimely tomb No human hands with pious reverence reared, But the charmed eddies of autumnal winds Built o'er his mouldering bones a pyramid Of mouldering leaves in the waste wilderness :A lovely youth, no mourning maiden decked With weeping flowers, or votive cypress wreath, The lone couch of his everlasting sleep:Gentle, and brave, and generous, no lorn bard Breathed o'er his dark fate one melodious sigh: He lived, he died, he sung, in solitude.
Strangers have wept to hear his passionate notes,
Stupendous columns, and wild images
Of more than man, where marble dæmons watch
Hang their mute thoughts on the mute walls around,
He lingered, poring on memorials
Of the world's youth, through the long burning day
Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food,
To speak her love :—and watched his nightly sleep,
Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath
Of innocent dreams arose: then, when red morn