Tag Archives: Percy Bysshe Shelley

To the Moon

The Edge of a Heath by Moonlight. John Constable. 1810.


To the Moon

Percy Bysshe Shelley


Art thou pale for weariness

Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,

Wandering companionless

Among the stars that have a different birth,—

And ever changing, like a joyless eye

That finds no object worth its constancy?

The Cloud

About the Picturesque Storm in the Mountains. Thomas Locker.


The Cloud

Percy Bysshe Shelley


I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the mountains and the sea;

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 around 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.


I sift the snow on the mountains below,

And their great pines grown agast;

And all the night ’tis my pillow white,

While I sleep in the arms of the blast.

Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,

Lightning my pilot sits,

In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,

It struggles and howls at fits;

Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,

This pilot is guiding me,

Lured by the love of the genii that move

In the depths of the purple sea;

Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,

Over the lakes and the plains,

Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream

The Spirit he loves remains;

And I all the while bask in heaven’s blue smile,

Whilst he is dissolving in rains.


The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,

And his burning plume outspread,

Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,

When the morning star shines dead.

As on the jag of a mountain crag

Which an earthquake rocks and swings

An eagle alit one mountain may breathe from the lit sea beneath

Its ardours of rest and of love,

And the crimson pall of eve may fall

From the depth of heaven above,

With wings folded I rest, on mine aery nest,

As still as a brooding dove.


That orbéd maiden with white fire laden,

Whom mortals call the moon,

Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor,

By the midnight breezes strewn;

And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,

Which only the angels hear,

May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof,

The stars peep behind her and peer;

And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,

Like a swarm of golden bees,

When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,

Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,

Like strips of sky fallen through me on high,

Are each paved with the moon and these.


I bind the sun’s throne with a burning zone,

And the moon’s with a girdle of pearl;

The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,

When the whirlwinds my banners unfurl.

From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,

Over a torrent sea,

Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,

The mountains its columns be.

The triumphal arch through which I march

With hurricane, fire, and snow,

When the powers of the air are chained to my chair,

Is the million-coloured bow;

The sphere-fire above its soft-colours wove,

While the moist earth was laughing below.


I am the daughter of earth and water,

And the nursling of the sky;

I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;

I change, but I cannot die.

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.


A Little Poetry—The opening lines from Shelley’s poem “The Cloud” caused me to write it down on my memorization list before I even finished reading it. I loved the first-person narration, the beautiful imagery, the internal rhyme, and the gentle rhythm.

Weeks later, on a whim (because I thought the title was interesting), I borrowed from the library a book called The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies. It tells the story of how a modest, little-known Quaker exploded into scientific fame with his lecture on “The Modifications of Clouds.” It was Luke Howard who captured those fanciful vapors with the names we still use today; and I was fascinated when I discovered that Shelley’s poem, though Romantic, was also clearly informed by Howard’s scientific observations. (This little coincidence reminded me of Laura Wood’s suspicion that “angels have specific intellectual interests and like to interfere with our reading.”)

A Fine Picture—Locker is an artist of the second-generation Hudson River School, and his natural landscapes are exceptionally beautiful. He is masterful in his depictions of clouds, which made me immediately think of him when deciding on today’s artwork.

Love’s Philosophy

Quarreling. James Tissot. 1876.


Love’s Philosophy

Percy Bysshe Shelley


The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion.

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by the law divine

In one another’s being mingle:—

Why not I with thine?


See! the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea:—

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?