Ode to Naples
(The Author has connected many recollections of his visit to Pompeii and Baiae with the enthusiasm excited by the intelligence of the proclamation of a Constitutional Government at Naples. This has given a tinge of picturesque and descriptive imagery to the introductory Epodes which depicture these scenes, and some of the majestic feelings permanently connected with the scene of this animating event.—[SHELLEY'S NOTE.])
Composed at San Juliano di Pisa, August 17-25, 1820; published in "Posthumous Poems", 1824. There is a copy, 'for the most part neat and legible,' amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock's "Examination", etc., 1903, pages 14-18.
I stood within the City disinterred; And heard the autumnal leaves like light footfalls Of spirits passing through the streets; and heard The Mountain's slumberous voice at intervals Thrill through those roofless halls; The oracular thunder penetrating shook The listening soul in my suspended blood; I felt that Earth out of her deep heart spoke— I felt, but heard not:—through white columns glowed The isle-sustaining ocean-flood, A plane of light between two heavens of azure! Around me gleamed many a bright sepulchre Of whose pure beauty, Time, as if his pleasure Were to spare Death, had never made erasure; But every living lineament was clear As in the sculptor's thought; and there The wreaths of stony myrtle, ivy, and pine, Like winter leaves o'ergrown by moulded snow, Seemed only not to move and grow Because the crystal silence of the air Weighed on their life; even as the Power divine Which then lulled all things, brooded upon mine.
NOTE: _1 Pompeii.—[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]
Then gentle winds arose With many a mingled close Of wild Aeolian sound, and mountain-odours keen; And where the Baian ocean Welters with airlike motion, Within, above, around its bowers of starry green, Moving the sea-flowers in those purple caves, Even as the ever stormless atmosphere Floats o'er the Elysian realm, It bore me, like an Angel, o'er the waves Of sunlight, whose swift pinnace of dewy air No storm can overwhelm. I sailed, where ever flows Under the calm Serene A spirit of deep emotion From the unknown graves Of the dead Kings of Melody. Shadowy Aornos darkened o'er the helm The horizontal aether; Heaven stripped bare Its depth over Elysium, where the prow Made the invisible water white as snow; From that Typhaean mount, Inarime, There streamed a sunbright vapour, like the standard Of some aethereal host; Whilst from all the coast, Louder and louder, gathering round, there wandered Over the oracular woods and divine sea Prophesyings which grew articulate— They seize me—I must speak them!—be they fate!
NOTES: _25 odours B.; odour 1824. _42 depth B.; depths 1824. _45 sun-bright B.; sunlit 1824. _39 Homer and Virgil.—[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]
Naples! thou Heart of men which ever pantest Naked, beneath the lidless eye of Heaven! Elysian City, which to calm enchantest The mutinous air and sea! they round thee, even As sleep round Love, are driven! Metropolis of a ruined Paradise Long lost, late won, and yet but half regained! Bright Altar of the bloodless sacrifice Which armed Victory offers up unstained To Love, the flower-enchained! Thou which wert once, and then didst cease to be, Now art, and henceforth ever shalt be, free, If Hope, and Truth, and Justice can avail,— Hail, hail, all hail!
Thou youngest giant birth Which from the groaning earth Leap'st, clothed in armour of impenetrable scale! Last of the Intercessors! Who 'gainst the Crowned Transgressors Pleadest before God's love! Arrayed in Wisdom's mail, Wave thy lightning lance in mirth Nor let thy high heart fail, Though from their hundred gates the leagued Oppressors With hurried legions move! Hail, hail, all hail!
What though Cimmerian Anarchs dare blaspheme Freedom and thee? thy shield is as a mirror To make their blind slaves see, and with fierce gleam To turn his hungry sword upon the wearer; A new Actaeon's error Shall theirs have been—devoured by their own hounds! Be thou like the imperial Basilisk Killing thy foe with unapparent wounds! Gaze on Oppression, till at that dread risk Aghast she pass from the Earth's disk: Fear not, but gaze—for freemen mightier grow, And slaves more feeble, gazing on their foe:— If Hope, and Truth, and Justice may avail, Thou shalt be great—All hail!
From Freedom's form divine, From Nature's inmost shrine, Strip every impious gawd, rend Error veil by veil; O'er Ruin desolate, O'er Falsehood's fallen state, Sit thou sublime, unawed; be the Destroyer pale! And equal laws be thine, And winged words let sail, Freighted with truth even from the throne of God: That wealth, surviving fate, Be thine.—All hail!
NOTE: _100 wealth-surviving cj. A.C. Bradley.
Didst thou not start to hear Spain's thrilling paean From land to land re-echoed solemnly, Till silence became music? From the Aeaean To the cold Alps, eternal Italy Starts to hear thine! The Sea Which paves the desert streets of Venice laughs In light, and music; widowed Genoa wan By moonlight spells ancestral epitaphs, Murmuring, 'Where is Doria?' fair Milan, Within whose veins long ran The viper's palsying venom, lifts her heel To bruise his head. The signal and the seal (If Hope and Truth and Justice can avail) Art thou of all these hopes.—O hail!
NOTES: _104 Aeaea, the island of Circe.—[SHELLEY'S NOTE.] _112 The viper was the armorial device of the Visconti, tyrants of Milan.—[SHELLEY'S NOTE.]
Florence! beneath the sun, Of cities fairest one, Blushes within her bower for Freedom's expectation: From eyes of quenchless hope Rome tears the priestly cope, As ruling once by power, so now by admiration,— An athlete stripped to run From a remoter station For the high prize lost on Philippi's shore:— As then Hope, Truth, and Justice did avail, So now may Fraud and Wrong! O hail!
Hear ye the march as of the Earth-born Forms Arrayed against the ever-living Gods? The crash and darkness of a thousand storms Bursting their inaccessible abodes Of crags and thunder-clouds? See ye the banners blazoned to the day, Inwrought with emblems of barbaric pride? Dissonant threats kill Silence far away, The serene Heaven which wraps our Eden wide With iron light is dyed; The Anarchs of the North lead forth their legions Like Chaos o'er creation, uncreating; An hundred tribes nourished on strange religions And lawless slaveries,—down the aereal regions Of the white Alps, desolating, Famished wolves that bide no waiting, Blotting the glowing footsteps of old glory, Trampling our columned cities into dust, Their dull and savage lust On Beauty's corse to sickness satiating— They come! The fields they tread look black and hoary With fire—from their red feet the streams run gory!
Great Spirit, deepest Love! Which rulest and dost move All things which live and are, within the Italian shore; Who spreadest Heaven around it, Whose woods, rocks, waves, surround it; Who sittest in thy star, o'er Ocean's western floor; Spirit of beauty! at whose soft command The sunbeams and the showers distil its foison From the Earth's bosom chill; Oh, bid those beams be each a blinding brand Of lightning! bid those showers be dews of poison! Bid the Earth's plenty kill! Bid thy bright Heaven above, Whilst light and darkness bound it, Be their tomb who planned To make it ours and thine! Or, with thine harmonizing ardours fill And raise thy sons, as o'er the prone horizon Thy lamp feeds every twilight wave with fire— Be man's high hope and unextinct desire The instrument to work thy will divine! Then clouds from sunbeams, antelopes from leopards, And frowns and fears from thee, Would not more swiftly flee Than Celtic wolves from the Ausonian shepherds.— Whatever, Spirit, from thy starry shrine Thou yieldest or withholdest, oh, let be This city of thy worship ever free!
NOTES: _143 old 1824; lost B. _147 black 1824; blue B.