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Ode to Heaven


***

[Published with "Prometheus Unbound", 1820. Dated 'Florence, December,
1819' in Harvard manuscript (Woodberry). A transcript exists amongst
the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock's
"Examination", etc., page 39.]

CHORUS OF SPIRITS:

FIRST SPIRIT:
Palace-roof of cloudless nights!
Paradise of golden lights!
Deep, immeasurable, vast,
Which art now, and which wert then
Of the Present and the Past, _5
Of the eternal Where and When,
Presence-chamber, temple, home,
Ever-canopying dome,
Of acts and ages yet to come!

Glorious shapes have life in thee, _10
Earth, and all earth's company;
Living globes which ever throng
Thy deep chasms and wildernesses;
And green worlds that glide along;
And swift stars with flashing tresses; _15
And icy moons most cold and bright,
And mighty suns beyond the night,
Atoms of intensest light.

Even thy name is as a god,
Heaven! for thou art the abode _20
Of that Power which is the glass
Wherein man his nature sees.
Generations as they pass
Worship thee with bended knees.
Their unremaining gods and they _25
Like a river roll away:
Thou remainest such--alway!--

SECOND SPIRIT:
Thou art but the mind's first chamber,
Round which its young fancies clamber,
Like weak insects in a cave, _30
Lighted up by stalactites;
But the portal of the grave,
Where a world of new delights
Will make thy best glories seem
But a dim and noonday gleam _35
From the shadow of a dream!

THIRD SPIRIT:
Peace! the abyss is wreathed with scorn
At your presumption, atom-born!
What is Heaven? and what are ye
Who its brief expanse inherit? _40
What are suns and spheres which flee
With the instinct of that Spirit
Of which ye are but a part?
Drops which Nature's mighty heart
Drives through thinnest veins! Depart! _45

What is Heaven? a globe of dew,
Filling in the morning new
Some eyed flower whose young leaves waken
On an unimagined world:
Constellated suns unshaken, _50
Orbits measureless, are furled
In that frail and fading sphere,
With ten millions gathered there,
To tremble, gleam, and disappear.

***

CANCELLED FRAGMENTS OF THE ODE TO HEAVEN.

[Published by Mr. C.D. Locock, "Examination", etc., 1903.]

The [living frame which sustains my soul]
Is [sinking beneath the fierce control]
Down through the lampless deep of song
I am drawn and driven along--

When a Nation screams aloud _5
Like an eagle from the cloud
When a...

...

When the night...

...

Watch the look askance and old--
See neglect, and falsehood fold... _10

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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