Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Indian Serenade

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The Indian Serenade

Published, with the title, "Song written for an Indian Air", in "The Liberal", 2, 1822. Reprinted ("Lines to an Indian Air") by Mrs. Shelley, "Posthumous Poems", 1824. The poem is included in the Harvard manuscript book, and there is a description by Robert Browning of an autograph copy presenting some variations from the text of 1824. See Leigh Hunt's "Correspondence", 2, pages 264-8.

I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright:
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Hath led me—who knows how?
To thy chamber window, Sweet!
The wandering airs they faint
On the dark, the silent stream—
The Champak odours fail
Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
The nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart;—
As I must on thine,
Oh, beloved as thou art!
Oh lift me from the grass!
I die! I faint! I fail!
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My heart beats loud and fast;—
Oh! press it to thine own again,
Where it will break at last.
_3 Harvard manuscript omits When.
_4 shining]burning Harvard manuscript, 1822.
_7 Hath led Browning manuscript, 1822;
Has borne Harvard manuscript; Has led 1824.
_11 The Champak Harvard manuscript, 1822, 1824;
And the Champak's Browning manuscript.
_15 As I must on 1822, 1824;
As I must die on Harvard manuscript, 1839, 1st edition.
_16 Oh, beloved Browning manuscript, Harvard manuscript, 1839, 1st edition;
Beloved 1822, 1824.
_23 press it to thine own Browning manuscript;
press it close to thine Harvard manuscript, 1824, 1839, 1st edition;
press me to thine own, 1822.

Cancelled Passage

Published by W.M. Rossetti, "Complete Poetical Works", 1870.

O pillow cold and wet with tears!
Thou breathest sleep no more!