Shelley Sunday: ‘The Fugitives’

The Fugitives

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The waters are flashing,
The white hail is dashing,
The lightnings are glancing,
The hoar-spray is dancing—
Away!

The whirlwind is rolling,
The thunder is tolling,
The forest is swinging,
The minster bells ringing–
Come away!

The Earth is like Ocean,
Wreck-strewn and in motion:
Bird, beast, man and worm
Have crept out of the storm–
Come away!

II.
‘Our boat has one sail
And the helmsman is pale;–
A bold pilot I trow,
Who should follow us now,’–
Shouted he–

And she cried: ‘Ply the oar!
Put off gaily from shore!’–
As she spoke, bolts of death
Mixed with hail, specked their path
O’er the sea.

And from isle, tower and rock,
The blue beacon-cloud broke,
And though dumb in the blast,
The red cannon flashed fast
From the lee.

III.
And ‘Fear’st thou?’ and ‘Fear’st thou?’
And Seest thou?’ and ‘Hear’st thou?’
And ‘Drive we not free
O’er the terrible sea,
I and thou?’

One boat-cloak did cover
The loved and the lover–
Their blood beats one measure,
They murmur proud pleasure
Soft and low;–

While around the lashed Ocean,
Like mountains in motion,
Is withdrawn and uplifted,
Sunk, shattered and shifted
To and fro.

IV.
In the court of the fortress
Beside the pale portress,
Like a bloodhound well beaten
The bridegroom stands, eaten
By shame;

On the topmost watch-turret,
As a death-boding spirit
Stands the gray tyrant father,
To his voice the mad weather
Seems tame;

And with curses as wild
As e’er clung to child,
He devotes to the blast,
The best, loveliest and last
Of his name!
————————

Image Credit: Shelley’s sketch, Shelley Journal, Bodleian Library, Oxford University

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