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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.]
POEMS PUBLISHED WITH PROMETHEUS UNBOUND, 1820. 267
THE SENSITIVE PLANT.1
A SENSITIVE Plant in a garden grew,
And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
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
Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest,
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,
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.
And on the stream whose inconstant bosom
Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom,
With golden and green light, slanting through
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,
Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells
And from this undefiled Paradise
The flowers (as an infant's awakening eyes
When Heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them,
For each one was interpenetrated
With the light and the odour its neighbour shed,
But the Sensitive Plant which could give small fruit 70
For the Sensitive Plant has no bright flower;
It loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full,
The light winds which from unsustaining wings
The plumèd insects swift and free,
The unseen clouds of the dew, which lie
The quivering vapours of dim noontide,
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;"
and as the explanation given by that