Prometheus Unbound

Original Text: 
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1820).
SCENE.--A Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian Caucasus. Prometheus is discovered bound to the Precipice. Panthea and Ione are seated at his feet. Time, night. During the Scene, morning slowly breaks.
1  Monarch of Gods and Dæmons, and all Spirits
2But One, who throng those bright and rolling worlds
3Which Thou and I alone of living things
4Behold with sleepless eyes! regard this Earth
5Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou
6Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,
7And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,
8With fear and self-contempt and barren hope.
9Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate,
10Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn,
11O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge.
12Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,
13And moments aye divided by keen pangs
14Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
15Scorn and despair,--these are mine empire:--
16More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
17From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!
18Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
19Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
20Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
21Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
22Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
23Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!
24  No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
25I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
26I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
27Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
28Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
29Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
30Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever!
31  The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
32Of their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chains
33Eat with their burning cold into my bones.
34Heaven's wingèd hound, polluting from thy lips
35His beak in poison not his own, tears up
36My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by,
37The ghastly people of the realm of dream,
38Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are charged
39To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds
40When the rocks split and close again behind:
41While from their loud abysses howling throng
42The genii of the storm, urging the rage
43Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail.
44And yet to me welcome is day and night,
45Whether one breaks the hoar frost of the morn,
46Or starry, dim, and slow, the other climbs
47The leaden-coloured east; for then they lead
48The wingless, crawling hours, one among whom
49--As some dark Priest hales the reluctant victim--
50Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the blood
51From these pale feet, which then might trample thee
52If they disdained not such a prostrate slave.
53Disdain! Ah no! I pity thee. What ruin
54Will hunt thee undefended through wide Heaven!
55How will thy soul, cloven to its depth with terror,
56Gape like a hell within! I speak in grief,
57Not exultation, for I hate no more,
58As then ere misery made me wise. The curse
59Once breathed on thee I would recall. Ye Mountains,
60Whose many-voicèd Echoes, through the mist
61Of cataracts, flung the thunder of that spell!
62Ye icy Springs, stagnant with wrinkling frost,
63Which vibrated to hear me, and then crept
64Shuddering through India! Thou serenest Air,
65Through which the Sun walks burning without beams!
66And ye swift Whirlwinds, who on poisèd wings
67Hung mute and moveless o'er yon hushed abyss,
68As thunder, louder than your own, made rock
69The orbèd world! If then my words had power,
70Though I am changed so that aught evil wish
71Is dead within; although no memory be
72Of what is hate, let them not lose it now!
73What was that curse? for ye all heard me speak.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.251.