Percy Bysshe Shelley: To Jane: 'The Keen Stars Were Twinkling'

Updated May 6, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
With a Guitar, to Jane
A Dirge

To Jane: 'The Keen Stars Were Twinkling'

Published in part (lines 7-24) by Medwin (under the title, "An Ariette for Music. To a Lady singing to her Accompaniment on the Guitar"), "The Athenaeum", November 17, 1832; reprinted by Mrs. Shelley, "Poetical Works", 1839, 1st edition. Republished in full (under the title, To -.), "Poetical Works", 1839, 2nd edition. The Trelawny manuscript is headed "To Jane". Mr. C.W. Frederickson of Brooklyn possesses a transcript in an unknown hand.

The keen stars were twinkling,
And the fair moon was rising among them,
Dear Jane!
The guitar was tinkling,
But the notes were not sweet till you sung them
As the moon's soft splendour
O'er the faint cold starlight of Heaven
Is thrown,
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
Its own.
The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later,
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter
Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
A tone
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.
_3 Dear *** 1839, 2nd edition.
_7 soft]pale Fred. manuscript.
_10 your 1839, 2nd edition.;
thy 1832, 1839, 1st edition, Fred. manuscript.
_11 had then 1839, 2nd edition; has 1832, 1839, 1st edition;
hath Fred. manuscript.
_12 Its]Thine Fred. manuscript.
_17 your 1839, 2nd edition;
thy 1832, 1839, 1st edition, Fred. manuscript.
_19 sound]song Fred. manuscript.
_20 your dear 1839, 2nd edition; thy sweet 1832, 1839, 1st edition;
thy soft Fred. manuscript.
Sources +