Ode to Heaven
Published with "Prometheus Unbound", 1820. Dated 'Florence, December, 1819' in Harvard manuscript (Woodberry). A transcript exists amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock's "Examination", etc., page 39.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS:
FIRST SPIRIT: Palace-roof of cloudless nights! Paradise of golden lights! Deep, immeasurable, vast, Which art now, and which wert then Of the Present and the Past, Of the eternal Where and When, Presence-chamber, temple, home, Ever-canopying dome, Of acts and ages yet to come!
Glorious shapes have life in thee, Earth, and all earth's company; Living globes which ever throng Thy deep chasms and wildernesses; And green worlds that glide along; And swift stars with flashing tresses; And icy moons most cold and bright, And mighty suns beyond the night, Atoms of intensest light.
Even thy name is as a god, Heaven! for thou art the abode Of that Power which is the glass Wherein man his nature sees. Generations as they pass Worship thee with bended knees. Their unremaining gods and they Like a river roll away: Thou remainest such—alway!—
SECOND SPIRIT: Thou art but the mind's first chamber, Round which its young fancies clamber, Like weak insects in a cave, Lighted up by stalactites; But the portal of the grave, Where a world of new delights Will make thy best glories seem But a dim and noonday gleam From the shadow of a dream!
THIRD SPIRIT: Peace! the abyss is wreathed with scorn At your presumption, atom-born! What is Heaven? and what are ye Who its brief expanse inherit? What are suns and spheres which flee With the instinct of that Spirit Of which ye are but a part? Drops which Nature's mighty heart Drives through thinnest veins! Depart!
What is Heaven? a globe of dew, Filling in the morning new Some eyed flower whose young leaves waken On an unimagined world: Constellated suns unshaken, Orbits measureless, are furled In that frail and fading sphere, With ten millions gathered there, To tremble, gleam, and disappear.
Cancelled Fragments of the Ode to Heaven
Published by Mr. C.D. Locock, "Examination", etc., 1903.
The [living frame which sustains my soul] Is [sinking beneath the fierce control] Down through the lampless deep of song I am drawn and driven along—
When a Nation screams aloud Like an eagle from the cloud When a...
When the night...
Watch the look askance and old— See neglect, and falsehood fold...