Percy Bysshe Shelley: Matilda Gathering Flowers

Matilda Gathering Flowers

From the Purgatorio Of Dante, Canto 28, Lines 1-51.

Published in part (lines 1-8, 22-51) by Medwin, "The Angler in Wales", 1834, "Life of Shelley", 1847; reprinted in full by Garnett, "Relics of Shelley", 1862.

And earnest to explore within—around—
The divine wood, whose thick green living woof
Tempered the young day to the sight—I wound
Up the green slope, beneath the forest's roof,
With slow, soft steps leaving the mountain's steep,
And sought those inmost labyrinths, motion-proof
Against the air, that in that stillness deep
And solemn, struck upon my forehead bare,
The slow, soft stroke of a continuous...
In which the ... leaves tremblingly were
All bent towards that part where earliest
The sacred hill obscures the morning air.
Yet were they not so shaken from the rest,
But that the birds, perched on the utmost spray,
Incessantly renewing their blithe quest,
With perfect joy received the early day,
Singing within the glancing leaves, whose sound
Kept a low burden to their roundelay,
Such as from bough to bough gathers around
The pine forest on bleak Chiassi's shore,
When Aeolus Sirocco has unbound.
My slow steps had already borne me o'er
Such space within the antique wood, that I
Perceived not where I entered any more,—
When, lo! a stream whose little waves went by,
Bending towards the left through grass that grew
Upon its bank, impeded suddenly
My going on. Water of purest hue
On earth, would appear turbid and impure
Compared with this, whose unconcealing dew,
Dark, dark, yet clear, moved under the obscure
Eternal shades, whose interwoven looms
The rays of moon or sunlight ne'er endure.
I moved not with my feet, but mid the glooms
Pierced with my charmed eye, contemplating
The mighty multitude of fresh May blooms
Which starred that night, when, even as a thing
That suddenly, for blank astonishment,
Charms every sense, and makes all thought take wing,—
A solitary woman! and she went
Singing and gathering flower after flower,
With which her way was painted and besprent.
'Bright lady, who, if looks had ever power
To bear true witness of the heart within,
Dost bask under the beams of love, come lower
Towards this bank. I prithee let me win
This much of thee, to come, that I may hear
Thy song: like Proserpine, in Enna's glen,
Thou seemest to my fancy, singing here
And gathering flowers, as that fair maiden when
She lost the Spring, and Ceres her, more dear.
_2 The 1862; That 1834.
_4, _5 So 1862;
Up a green slope, beneath the starry roof,
With slow, slow steps— 1834.
_6 inmost 1862; leafy 1834.
_9 So 1862; The slow, soft stroke of a continuous sleep cj. Rossetti, 1870.
_9-_28 So 1862;
Like the sweet breathing of a child asleep:
Already I had lost myself so far
Amid that tangled wilderness that I
Perceived not where I ventured, but no fear
Of wandering from my way disturbed, when nigh
A little stream appeared; the grass that grew
Thick on its banks impeded suddenly
My going on. 1834.
_13 the 1862; their cj. Rossetti, 1870.
_26 through]the cj. Rossetti.
_28 hue 1862; dew 1834.
_30 dew 1862; hue 1834.
_32 Eternal shades 1862; Of the close boughs 1834.
_33 So 1862; No ray of moon or sunshine would endure 1834.
_34, _35 So 1862;
My feet were motionless, but mid the glooms
Darted my charmed eyes—1834.
_37 Which 1834; That 1862.
_39 So 1834; Dissolves all other thought...1862.
_40 So 1862; Appeared a solitary maid—she went 1834.
_46 Towards 1862; Unto 1834.
_47 thee, to come 1862; thee O come 1834.