Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
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Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
 
P. B. Shelley
 
CCLII. To a Lady, with a Guitar
 
ARIEL to Miranda:—Take 
This slave of music, for the sake 
Of him, who is the slave of thee; 
And teach it all the harmony 
In which thou canst, and only thou,         5
Make the delighted spirit glow, 
Till joy denies itself again 
And, too intense, is turn'd to pain. 
For by permission and command 
Of thine own Prince Ferdinand,  10
Poor Ariel sends this silent token 
Of more than ever can be spoken; 
Your guardian spirit, Ariel, who 
From life to life must still pursue 
Your happiness, for thus alone  15
Can Ariel ever find his own. 
From Prospero's enchanted cell, 
As the mighty verses tell, 
To the throne of Naples he 
Lit you o'er the trackless sea,  20
Flitting on, your prow before, 
Like a living meteor. 
When you die, the silent Moon 
In her interlunar swoon 
Is not sadder in her cell  25
Than deserted Ariel:— 
When you live again on earth, 
Like an unseen Star of birth 
Ariel guides you o'er the sea 
Of life from your nativity:—  30
Many changes have been run 
Since Ferdinand and you begun 
Your course of love, and Ariel still 
Has track'd your steps and served your will. 
Now in humbler, happier lot,  35
This is all remember'd not; 
And now, alas, the poor Sprite is 
Imprison'd for some fault of his 
In a body like a grave— 
From you he only dares to crave,  40
For his service and his sorrow 
A smile to-day, a song to-morrow. 
  
The artist who this viol wrought 
To echo all harmonious thought, 
Fell'd a tree, while on the steep  45
The woods were in their winter sleep, 
Rock'd in that repose divine 
On the wind-swept Apennine; 
And dreaming, some of autumn past, 
And some of spring approaching fast,  50
And some of April buds and showers, 
And some of songs in July bowers, 
And all of love; and so this tree,— 
Oh that such our death may be!— 
Died in sleep, and felt no pain,  55
To live in happier form again: 
From which, beneath heaven's fairest star, 
The artist wrought this loved guitar; 
And taught it justly to reply 
To all who question skilfully  60
In language gentle as thine own; 
Whispering in enamour'd tone 
Sweet oracles of woods and dells, 
And summer winds in sylvan cells. 
For it had learnt all harmonies  65
Of the plains and of the skies, 
Of the forests and the mountains, 
And the many-voicèd fountains; 
The clearest echoes of the hills, 
The softest notes of falling rills,  70
The melodies of birds and bees, 
The murmuring of summer seas, 
And pattering rain, and breathing dew, 
And airs of evening; and it knew 
That seldom-heard mysterious sound  75
Which, driven on its diurnal round, 
As it floats through boundless day, 
Our world enkindles on its way:— 
All this it knows, but will not tell 
To those who cannot question well  80
The spirit that inhabits it: 
It talks according to the wit 
Of its companions; and no more 
Is heard than has been felt before 
By those who tempt it to betray  85
These secrets of an elder day. 
But, sweetly as its answers will 
Flatter hands of perfect skill, 
It keeps its highest holiest tone 
For one beloved Friend alone.  90
 
 
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