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Poems from St. Irvyne

POEMS FROM ST. IRVYNE, OR, THE ROSICRUCIAN.

["St. Irvyne; or The Rosicrucian", appeared early in 1811 (see
"Bibliographical List"). Rossetti (1870) relying on a passage in
Medwin's "Life of Shelley" (1 page 74), assigns 1, 4, 5, and 6 to 1808,
and 2 and 4 to 1809. The titles of 1, 3, 4, and 5 are Rossetti's; those
of 2 and 6 are Dowden's.]

***


1.--VICTORIA.

[Another version of "The Triumph of Conscience" immediately preceding.]

1.
'Twas dead of the night, when I sat in my dwelling;
One glimmering lamp was expiring and low;
Around, the dark tide of the tempest was swelling,
Along the wild mountains night-ravens were yelling,--
They bodingly presaged destruction and woe. _5

2.
'Twas then that I started!--the wild storm was howling,
Nought was seen, save the lightning, which danced in the sky;
Above me, the crash of the thunder was rolling,
And low, chilling murmurs, the blast wafted by.

3.
My heart sank within me--unheeded the war _10
Of the battling clouds, on the mountain-tops, broke;--
Unheeded the thunder-peal crashed in mine ear--
This heart, hard as iron, is stranger to fear;
But conscience in low, noiseless whispering spoke.

4.
'Twas then that her form on the whirlwind upholding, _15
The ghost of the murdered Victoria strode;
In her right hand, a shadowy shroud she was holding,
She swiftly advanced to my lonesome abode.

5.
I wildly then called on the tempest to bear me--'

...

NOTE:
1.--Victoria: without title, 1811.


2.--ON THE DARK HEIGHT OF JURA.

1.
Ghosts of the dead! have I not heard your yelling
Rise on the night-rolling breath of the blast,
When o'er the dark aether the tempest is swelling,
And on eddying whirlwind the thunder-peal passed?

2.
For oft have I stood on the dark height of Jura, _5
Which frowns on the valley that opens beneath;
Oft have I braved the chill night-tempest's fury,
Whilst around me, I thought, echoed murmurs of death.

3.
And now, whilst the winds of the mountain are howling,
O father! thy voice seems to strike on mine ear; _10
In air whilst the tide of the night-storm is rolling,
It breaks on the pause of the elements' jar.

4.
On the wing of the whirlwind which roars o'er the mountain
Perhaps rides the ghost of my sire who is dead:
On the mist of the tempest which hangs o'er the fountain,
Whilst a wreath of dark vapour encircles his head.

NOTE:
2.--On the Dark, etc.: without title, 1811;
The Father's Spectre, Rossetti, 1870.


3.--SISTER ROSA: A BALLAD.

1.
The death-bell beats!--
The mountain repeats
The echoing sound of the knell;
And the dark Monk now
Wraps the cowl round his brow, _5
As he sits in his lonely cell.

2.
And the cold hand of death
Chills his shuddering breath,
As he lists to the fearful lay
Which the ghosts of the sky, _10
As they sweep wildly by,
Sing to departed day.
And they sing of the hour
When the stern fates had power
To resolve Rosa's form to its clay. _15

3.
But that hour is past;
And that hour was the last
Of peace to the dark Monk's brain.
Bitter tears, from his eyes, gushed silent and fast;
And he strove to suppress them in vain. _20

4.
Then his fair cross of gold he dashed on the floor,
When the death-knell struck on his ear.--
'Delight is in store
For her evermore;
But for me is fate, horror, and fear.' _25

5.
Then his eyes wildly rolled,
When the death-bell tolled,
And he raged in terrific woe.
And he stamped on the ground,--
But when ceased the sound, _30
Tears again began to flow.

6.
And the ice of despair
Chilled the wild throb of care,
And he sate in mute agony still;
Till the night-stars shone through the cloudless air, _35
And the pale moonbeam slept on the hill.

7.
Then he knelt in his cell:--
And the horrors of hell
Were delights to his agonized pain,
And he prayed to God to dissolve the spell, _40
Which else must for ever remain.

8.
And in fervent pray'r he knelt on the ground,
Till the abbey bell struck One:
His feverish blood ran chill at the sound:
A voice hollow and horrible murmured around-- _45
'The term of thy penance is done!'

9.
Grew dark the night;
The moonbeam bright
Waxed faint on the mountain high;
And, from the black hill, _50
Went a voice cold and still,--
'Monk! thou art free to die.'

10.
Then he rose on his feet,
And his heart loud did beat,
And his limbs they were palsied with dread; _55
Whilst the grave's clammy dew
O'er his pale forehead grew;
And he shuddered to sleep with the dead.

11.
And the wild midnight storm
Raved around his tall form, _60
As he sought the chapel's gloom:
And the sunk grass did sigh
To the wind, bleak and high,
As he searched for the new-made tomb.

12.
And forms, dark and high, _65
Seemed around him to fly,
And mingle their yells with the blast:
And on the dark wall
Half-seen shadows did fall,
As enhorrored he onward passed. _70

13.
And the storm-fiends wild rave
O'er the new-made grave,
And dread shadows linger around.
The Monk called on God his soul to save,
And, in horror, sank on the ground. _75

14.
Then despair nerved his arm
To dispel the charm,
And he burst Rosa's coffin asunder.
And the fierce storm did swell
More terrific and fell, _80
And louder pealed the thunder.

15.
And laughed, in joy, the fiendish throng,
Mixed with ghosts of the mouldering dead:
And their grisly wings, as they floated along,
Whistled in murmurs dread. _85

16.
And her skeleton form the dead Nun reared
Which dripped with the chill dew of hell.
In her half-eaten eyeballs two pale flames appeared,
And triumphant their gleam on the dark Monk glared,
As he stood within the cell. _90

17.
And her lank hand lay on his shuddering brain;
But each power was nerved by fear.--
'I never, henceforth, may breathe again;
Death now ends mine anguished pain.--
The grave yawns,--we meet there.' _95

18.
And her skeleton lungs did utter the sound,
So deadly, so lone, and so fell,
That in long vibrations shuddered the ground;
And as the stern notes floated around,
A deep groan was answered from hell.

NOTE:
3.--Sister Rosa: Ballad, 1811.


4.--ST. IRVYNE'S TOWER.

1.
How swiftly through Heaven's wide expanse
Bright day's resplendent colours fade!
How sweetly does the moonbeam's glance
With silver tint St. Irvyne's glade!

2.
No cloud along the spangled air, _5
Is borne upon the evening breeze;
How solemn is the scene! how fair
The moonbeams rest upon the trees!

3.
Yon dark gray turret glimmers white,
Upon it sits the mournful owl; _10
Along the stillness of the night,
Her melancholy shriekings roll.

4.
But not alone on Irvyne's tower,
The silver moonbeam pours her ray;
It gleams upon the ivied bower, _15
It dances in the cascade's spray.

5.
'Ah! why do dark'ning shades conceal
The hour, when man must cease to be?
Why may not human minds unveil
The dim mists of futurity?-- _20

6.
'The keenness of the world hath torn
The heart which opens to its blast;
Despised, neglected, and forlorn,
Sinks the wretch in death at last.'

NOTE:
4.--St. Irvyne's Tower: Song, 1810.


5.--BEREAVEMENT.

1.
How stern are the woes of the desolate mourner,
As he bends in still grief o'er the hallowed bier,
As enanguished he turns from the laugh of the scorner,
And drops, to Perfection's remembrance, a tear;
When floods of despair down his pale cheek are streaming, _5
When no blissful hope on his bosom is beaming,
Or, if lulled for awhile, soon he starts from his dreaming,
And finds torn the soft ties to affection so dear.

2.
Ah! when shall day dawn on the night of the grave,
Or summer succeed to the winter of death? _10
Rest awhile, hapless victim, and Heaven will save
The spirit, that faded away with the breath.
Eternity points in its amaranth bower,
Where no clouds of fate o'er the sweet prospect lower,
Unspeakable pleasure, of goodness the dower, _15
When woe fades away like the mist of the heath.

NOTE:
5.--Bereavement: Song, 1811.


6.--THE DROWNED LOVER.

1.
Ah! faint are her limbs, and her footstep is weary,
Yet far must the desolate wanderer roam;
Though the tempest is stern, and the mountain is dreary,
She must quit at deep midnight her pitiless home.
I see her swift foot dash the dew from the whortle, _5
As she rapidly hastes to the green grove of myrtle;
And I hear, as she wraps round her figure the kirtle,
'Stay thy boat on the lake,--dearest Henry, I come.'

2.
High swelled in her bosom the throb of affection,
As lightly her form bounded over the lea, _10
And arose in her mind every dear recollection;
'I come, dearest Henry, and wait but for thee.'
How sad, when dear hope every sorrow is soothing,
When sympathy's swell the soft bosom is moving,
And the mind the mild joys of affection is proving, _15
Is the stern voice of fate that bids happiness flee!

3.
Oh! dark lowered the clouds on that horrible eve,
And the moon dimly gleamed through the tempested air;
Oh! how could fond visions such softness deceive?
Oh! how could false hope rend, a bosom so fair? _20
Thy love's pallid corse the wild surges are laving,
O'er his form the fierce swell of the tempest is raving;
But, fear not, parting spirit; thy goodness is saving,
In eternity's bowers, a seat for thee there.

6.--The Drowned Lover: Song. 1811; The Lake-Storm, Rossetti, 1870.


Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Volume 1

    Volume 2 - Early Poems 1814-1815

    Poems Written in 1816

    Poems Written in 1817

    Poems Written in 1818

    Poems Written in 1819

    Poems Written in 1820

    Poems Written in 1821

    Poems Written in 1822

    Volume 3

    Volume 3 - Juvenilia

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