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An Exhortation

[Published with "Prometheus Unbound", 1820. Dated 'Pisa, April, 1820'
in Harvard manuscript (Woodberry), but assigned by Mrs. Shelley to
1819.]

Chameleons feed on light and air:
Poets' food is love and fame:
If in this wide world of care
Poets could but find the same
With as little toil as they, _5
Would they ever change their hue
As the light chameleons do,
Suiting it to every ray
Twenty times a day?

Poets are on this cold earth, _10
As chameleons might be,
Hidden from their early birth
in a cave beneath the sea;
Where light is, chameleons change:
Where love is not, poets do: _15
Fame is love disguised: if few
Find either, never think it strange
That poets range.

Yet dare not stain with wealth or power
A poet's free and heavenly mind: _20
If bright chameleons should devour
Any food but beams and wind,
They would grow as earthly soon
As their brother lizards are.
Children of a sunnier star, _25
Spirits from beyond the moon,
Oh, refuse the boon!

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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