Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXIV. Bitter Sorrow
From ‘Adonais’
By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
 
[See full text.]

  I WEEP for Adonais—he is dead!
  O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
  Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
  And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
  To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,        5
  And teach them thine own sorrow, say: ‘With me
  Died Adonais; till the Future dares
  Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!’…
 
  Oh, weep for Adonais—he is dead!        10
  Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep!
  Yet wherefore? Quench within their burning bed
  Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep
  Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep;
  For he is gone, where all things wise and fair        15
  Descend; oh, dream not that the amorous Deep
  Will yet restore him to the vital air;
Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair….
 
  He will awake no more, oh, never more!—
  Within the twilight chamber spreads apace        20
  The shadow of white Death, and at the door
  Invisible Corruption waits to trace
  His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place;
  The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe
  Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface        25
  So fair a prey, till darkness, and the law
Of change, shall o’er his sleep the mortal curtain draw….
 
  Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
  But grief returns with the revolving year;
  The airs and streams renew their joyous tone;        30
  The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear;
  Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons’ bier;
  The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
  And build their mossy homes in field and brere;
  And the green lizard, and the golden snake,        35
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake….
 
  He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
  Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
  And that unrest which men miscall delight,
  Can touch him not and torture not again;        40
  From the contagion of the world’s slow stain
  He is secure, and now can never mourn
  A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain;
  Nor, when the spirit’s self has ceased to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn….        45
 
  He is made one with Nature: there is heard
  His voice in all her music, from the moan
  Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird;
  He is a presence to be felt and known
  In darkness and in light, from herb and stone,        50
  Spreading itself where’er that Power may move
  Which has withdrawn his being to its own;
  Which wields the world with never-wearied love,
Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above….
 
  Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?        55
  Thy hopes are gone before: from all things here
  They have departed; thou shouldst now depart!
  A light is passed from the revolving year,
  And man, and woman; and what still is dear
  Attracts to crush, repels to make thee wither.        60
  The soft sky smiles,—the low wind whispers near:
  ’Tis Adonais calls! oh, hasten thither,
No more let Life divide what Death can join together.
 
 
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