The Two Spirits: An Allegory

Original Text: 
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Poems, ed. Mary Shelley (1824). Cf. Posthumous Poems of Shelley. Mary Shelley's Fair Copy Book, Bodleian MS. Shelley Adds. d. 9, Collated with the Holographs and the Printed Texts, ed. Irving Massey (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1969). PR 5403 M27 ROBA.
2      Wouldst float above the earth, beware!
3A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire--
4           Night is coming!
5Bright are the regions of the air,
6      And among the winds and beams
7It were delight to wander there--
8           Night is coming!
SECOND SPIRIT
9The deathless stars are bright above;
10      If I would cross the shade of night,
11Within my heart is the lamp of love,
12           And that is day!
13And the moon will smile with gentle light
14      On my golden plumes where'er they move;
15The meteors will linger round my flight,
16           And make night day.
FIRST SPIRIT
17But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
18      Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain;
19See, the bounds of the air are shaken--
20           Night is coming!
21The red swift clouds of the hurricane
22      Yon declining sun have overtaken,
23The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain--
24           Night is coming!
26      I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark,
27With the calm within and the light around
28           Which makes night day:
29And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
30      Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound,
31My moon-like flight thou then mayst mark
32           On high, far away.
----
33Some say there is a precipice
34      Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
35O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
36           Mid Alpine mountains;
37And that the languid storm pursuing
38      That winged shape, for ever flies
39Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
40           Its aëry fountains.
42      And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
43Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
44           Which make night day:
45And a silver shape like his early love doth pass
46      Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
47And when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
48           He finds night day.

Notes

1] Assigned to 1820 by Mary Shelley, the poet's wife. A notebook draft, whose many variants are of doubtful authority for establishing Shelley's final intention, survives. Two important variants are listed (from the Julian edition) in the notes below. Back to Line
25] Light. MS. reads "glare." Back to Line
41] Nights are. MS. starts to change this to the singular, correcting "are" to "is," but not going on to correct the subject. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1824
RPO poem Editors: 
M. T. Wilson
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.580.
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