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And their place is not known. Below, vast caves
Mont Blanc yet gleams on high the power is
there, The still and solemn power of many sights And many sounds, and much of life and death. In the calm darkness of the moonless nights, In the lone glare of day, the snows descend Upon that mountain ; none beholds them there, Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun, Or the star-beams dart through them ;-winds
contend Silently there, and heap the snow, with breath Rapid and strong, but silently! Its home The voiceless lightning in these solitudes Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods Over the snow. The secret strength of things, Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee ! And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea, If to the human mind's imaginings Silence and solitude were vacancy ?
SWITZERLAND, June 23, 1816.
NOTE ON POEMS OF 1816.
BY THE EDITOR.
SHELLEY wrote little during this year. The poem entitled “ The Sunset” was written in the spring of the year, while still residing at Bishopsgate. He spent the summer on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. “The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” was conceived during his voyage round the lake with Lord Byron. He occupied himself during this voyage, by reading the Nouvelle Héloise for the first time. The reading it on the very spot where the scenes are laid, added to the interest; and he was at once surprised and charmed by the passionate eloquence and earnest enthralling interest that pervades this work. There was something in the character of Saint-Preux, in his abnegation of self, and in the worship he paid to Love, that coincided with Shelley's own disposition; and, though differing in many of the views, and shocked by others, yet the effect of the whole was fascinating and delightful.
“Mont Blanc" was inspired by a view of that mountain and its surrounding peaks and valleys, as he lingered on the Bridge of Arve on his way through the Valley of Chamouni. Shelley makes the following mention of this poem in his publication of the History of Six Wceks' Tour, and Letters from Switzerland:-" The Poem entitled Mont Blanc,' is written by the author of the two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. It was composed under the immediate impression of the deep and powerful feelings excited by the objects which it attempts to describe and as an undisciplined overflowing of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt to imitate the untamable wildness and inaccessible solemnity from which those feelings sprang.'
This was an eventful year, and less time was given to study than usual. In the list of his reading I find, in Greek, Theocritus, the Prometheus of Æschylus, several of Plutarch's Lives, and the works of Lucian; in Latin, Lucretius, Pliny's Letters, the Annals and Germany of Tacitus ; in French: the History of the French Revolution, by Lacretelle. He read for the first time, this year, Montaigne's Essays, and regarded them ever after as one of the most delightful and instructive books in the world. The list is scanty in English works-Locke's Essay, Political Justice, and Coleridge's Lay Sermon, form nearly the whole. It was his frequent habit to read aloud to me in the evening; in this way we read, this year, the New Testament, Paradise Lost, Spenser's Fairy Queen, and Don Quixote.
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1817.
THERE was a youth, who, as with toil and travel, Had grown quite weak and gray before his time: Nor any could the restless griefs unravel
Which burned within him, withering up his prime And goading him, like fiends, from land to land. Not his the load of any secret crime,
For nought of ill his heart could understand,
Baffled with blast of hope-consuming shame ;
Had left within his soul the dark unrest:
For pone than he a purer heart could have,
What sorrow, strange, and shadowy, and unknown, Sent him, a hopeless wanderer, through man
kind ?If with a human sadness he did groan,
He had a gentle yet aspiring mind;
In others' joy, when all their own is dead :
That from such toil he never found relief.
His soul had wedded wisdom, and her dower
Pitying the tumult of their dark estate.
Those false opinions which the harsh rich use To blind the world they famish for their pride ; Nor did he hold from any man his dues,