The Question

The Question
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,

Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,

And gentle odours led my steps astray,

Mixed with a sound of waters murmuring

Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay

Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling

Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,

But kissed it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.

 

There grew pied wind-flowers and violets,

Daisies, those pearled Arcturi of the earth,

The constellated flower that never sets;

Faint oxlips; tender bluebells, at whose birth

The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets—

Like a child, half in tenderness and mirth—

Its mother’s face with Heaven’s collected tears,

When the low wind, its playmate’s voice, it hears.

 

And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine,

Green cowbind and the moonlight-coloured may,

And cherry-blossoms, and white cups, whose wine

Was the bright dew, yet drained not by the day;

And wild roses, and ivy serpentine,

With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray;

And flowers azure, black, and streaked with gold,

Fairer than any wakened eyes behold.

 

And nearer to the river’s trembling edge

There grew broad flag-flowers, purple pranked with white,

And starry river buds among the sedge,

And floating water-lilies, broad and bright,

Which lit the oak that overhung the hedge

With moonlight beams of their own watery light;

And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green

As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.

 

Methought that of these visionary flowers

I made a nosegay, bound in such a way

That the same hues, which in their natural bowers

Were mingled or opposed, the like array

Kept these imprisoned children of the Hours

Within my hand,—and then, elate and gay,

I hastened to the spot whence I had come,

That I might there present it!—Oh! to whom?

 

About the author

(Excerpted from  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/percy-bysshe-shelley)

The life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)exemplify English Romanticism in both its extremes of joyous ecstasy and brooding despair. Romanticism’s major themes—restlessness and brooding, rebellion against authority, interchange with nature, the power of the visionary imagination and of poetry, the pursuit of ideal love, and the untamed spirit ever in search of freedom—all of these Shelley exemplified in the way he lived his life and live on in the substantial body of work that he left the world after his legendary death by drowning at age 29. From the beginning of his writing career at the age of 17, throughout his life, and even to the present day, the very name of Shelley has evoked either the strongest vehemence or the warmest praise, bordering on worship. More than any other English Romantic writer, with the possible exception of his friend George Gordon, Lord Byron, Shelley’s life and reputation have had a history and life of their own apart from the reputation of his various works, and one that continued to evolve even after his death from drowning at the age of 29. Born on August 4, 1792—the year of the Terror in France—Percy Bysshe Shelley (the “Bysshe” from his grandfather, a peer of the realm) was the son of Timothy and Elizabeth Shelley. As the elder son among one brother, John, and four sisters, Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, and Hellen, Percy stood in line not only to inherit his grandfather’s considerable estate but also to sit in Parliament one day. In his position as oldest male child, young Percy was beloved and admired by his sisters, his parents, and even the servants in his early reign as young lord of Field Place, the family home near Horsham, Sussex. Playful and imaginative, he devised games to play with his sisters and told ghost stories to an enrapt and willing-to-be-thrilled audience.

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