Shelley Sunday: ‘The Two Spirits: An Allegory’

THE TWO SPIRITS: AN ALLEGORY

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

FIRST SPIRIT:
O thou, who plumed with strong desire
Wouldst float above the earth, beware!
A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire--
Night is coming!
Bright are the regions of the air,                                   _5
And among the winds and beams
It were delight to wander there--
Night is coming!

SECOND SPIRIT:
The deathless stars are bright above;
If I would cross the shade of night,                                 _10
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day!
And the moon will smile with gentle light
On my golden plumes where'er they move;
The meteors will linger round my flight,                             _15
And make night day.

FIRST SPIRIT:
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain;
See, the bounds of the air are shaken--
Night is coming!                                                     _20
The red swift clouds of the hurricane
Yon declining sun have overtaken,
The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain--
Night is coming!

SECOND SPIRIT:
I see the light, and I hear the sound;                               _25
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark
With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day:
And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound,                             _30
My moon-like flight thou then mayst mark
On high, far away.

...

Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice                                 _35
Mid Alpine mountains;
And that the languid storm pursuing
That winged shape, for ever flies
Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
Its aery fountains.                                                  _40

Some say when nights are dry and clear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
Which make night day:
And a silver shape like his early love doth pass                     _45
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
And when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
He finds night day.

NOTES:
_2 Wouldst 1839; Would 1824.
_31 moon-like 1824; moonlight 1839.
_44 make]makes 1824, 1839.

***

Image Credit: Filchner Ice Shelf, Antarctica. USGS.gov.
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