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[Adverting to what was said in my preface (Vol. I) on Shelley's selection and arrangement of smaller poems to accompany his greater ones, it will be well to quote here some passages from his letter to Mr. Ollier (Shelley Memorials, pp. 138-9) dated the 14th of May 1820, bearing on the particular group of poems to accompany his Prometheus Unbound:-"If I had even intended to publish Julian and Maddalo with my name, yet I would not print it with Prometheus. It would not harmonize. It is an attempt in a different style, in which I am not yet sure of myself—a sermo pedestris way of treating human nature, quite opposed to the idealisms of that drama. . . . I ought to say that I send you poems in a few posts, to print at the end of Prometheus, better fitted for that purpose than any in your possession." Of the following poems which were those actually published with Prometheus Unbound, I am not aware of any complete autograph MSS. being extant. I have some reason to suspect the existence of a transcript of The Sensitive Plant in Mrs. Shelley's handwriting, but have not as yet succeeded in reducing this suspicion to a certainty. Of The Sensitive Plant and all the others of this wonderful group there are traces in the form of fragmentary drafts in Shelley's note-books now in the possession of his son; but Mr. Garnett, who knows more about these fragments than anyone else does, assures me they yield no important variations from the printed text, though an important blank in Stanza XV of the Ode to Liberty is happily supplied.-H. B. F.]




A SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt every where;2
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

But none ever trembled and panted with bliss

In the garden, the field, or the wilderness,

Like a doe in the noon-tide with love's sweet want, As the companionless Sensitive Plant.

The snow-drop, and then the violet,

Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,

1 Placed by Mrs. Shelley at the head of the poems written in 1820.

2 In Mrs. Shelley's first edition of 1839 this line is printed

And the Spirit of Love felt every where; and in her second edition fell is substituted for felt, so as to make the line read intelligibly. I should imagine that and was a misprint in her first


edition (a very likely misprint, looking at the number of adjacent lines which begin with and), and that, in revising for the second, she noticed the line was wrong and corrected it conjecturally, in the wrong place. In Shelley's own edition the line reads as I have given it in the text; and Mr. Rossetti adopts that reading.

And their breath was mixed with fresh odour, sent
From the turf, like the voice and the instrument.

Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And narcissi, the fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness;

And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale,
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green;

And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
Of music so delicate, soft, and intense,
It was felt like an odour within the sense;

And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast,
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air

The soul of her beauty and love lay bare:

And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,

As a Mænad, its moonlight-coloured cup,

Till the fiery star, which is its eye,

Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky;

And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
And all rare blossoms from every clime

Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

And on the stream whose inconstant bosom

Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom,

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With golden and green light, slanting through
Their heaven of many a tangled hue,

Broad water lilies lay tremulously,

And starry river-buds glimmered by,

And around them the soft stream did glide and dance With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.

And the sinuous paths of lawn and of moss,
Which led through the garden along and across,
Some open at once to the sun and the breeze,
Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees,

Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells
As fair as the fabulous asphodels,
And flowrets which drooping as day drooped too
Fell into pavilions, white, purple, and blue,
To roof the glow-worm from the evening dew.

And from this undefiled Paradise

The flowers (as an infant's awakening eyes
Smile on its mother, whose singing sweet
Can first lull, and at last must awaken it,)

When Heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them,
As mine-lamps enkindle a hidden gem,
Shone smiling to Heaven, and every one
Shared joy in the light of the gentle sun;

For each one was interpenetrated

With the light and the odour its neighbour shed,
Like young lovers whom youth and love make dear
Wrapped and filled by their mutual atmosphere.


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But the Sensitive Plant which could give small fruit 70
Of the love which it felt from the leaf to the root,
Received more than all, it loved more than ever,
Where none wanted but it, could belong to the giver,1

For the Sensitive Plant has no bright flower;
Radiance and odour are not its dower;

It loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full,
It desires what it has not, the beautiful!

The light winds which from unsustaining wings
Shed the music of many murmurings;
The beams which dart from many a star
Of the flowers whose hues they bear afar;

The plumèd insects swift and free,
Like golden boats on a sunny sea,
Laden with light and odour, which pass
Over the gleam of the living grass;

The unseen clouds of the dew, which lie
Like fire in the flowers till the sun rides high,
Then wander like spirits among the spheres,
Each cloud faint with the fragrance it bears;

The quivering vapours of dim noontide,
Which like a sea o'er the warm earth glide,
In which every sound, and odour, and beam,
Move, as reeds in a single stream;

1 I leave this stanza precisely as in Shelley's edition; and there ought to be no need for a note on it. The repeated discussion of the sense, however, shews that a note is needed to protect the passage from emendation. I agree with Mr. Swinburne that there is here "a line impossible to reduce to rule, but not obscure in its bearing;"

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and as the explanation given by that
keen critic (Essays and Studies, pp.
185-6) is transparently lucid, I can do
no better than quote it: "The plant,
which could not prove by produce of
any blossom the love it felt, received
more of the light and odour mutually
shed upon each other by its neighbour
flowers than did any one among these,


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