"Hymn to Intellectual Beauty"
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


1   The awful shadow of some unseen Power 
2      Floats though unseen among us,---visiting 
3      This various world with as inconstant wing 
4   As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,--- 
5   Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower, 
6         It visits with inconstant glance 
7         Each human heart and countenance; 
8   Like hues and harmonies of evening,--- 
9         Like clouds in starlight widely spread,--- 
10         Like memory of music fled,--- 
11         Like aught that for its grace may be 
12   Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery. 


13   Spirit of Beauty , that dost consecrate 
14      With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon 
15      Of human thought or form,---where art thou gone? 
16   Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, 
17   This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate? 
18         Ask why the sunlight not for ever 
19         Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river, 
20   Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown, 
21         Why fear and dream and death and birth 
22         Cast on the daylight of this earth 
23         Such gloom,---why man has such a scope 
24   For love and hate, despondency and hope? 


25   No voice from some sublimer world hath ever 
26      To sage or poet these responses given--- 
27      Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven, 
28   Remain the records of their vain endeavour, 
29   Frail spells---whose uttered charm might not avail to sever, 
30         From all we hear and all we see, 
31         Doubt, chance, and mutability. 
32   Thy light alone---like mist o'er mountains driven, 
33         Or music by the night-wind sent 
34         Through strings of some still instrument, 
35         Or moonlight on a midnight stream, 
36   Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream. 


37   Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart 
38      And come, for some uncertain moments lent. 
39      Man were immortal, and omnipotent, 
40   Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art, 
41   Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart. 
42         Thou messenger of sympathies, 
43         That wax and wane in lovers' eyes--- 
44   Thou---that to human thought art nourishment, 
45         Like darkness to a dying flame! 
46         Depart not as thy shadow came, 
47         Depart not---lest the grave should be, 
48   Like life and fear, a dark reality. 


49   While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped 
50      Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin, 
51      And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing 
52   Hopes of high talk with the departed dead. 
53   I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed; 
54         I was not heard---I saw them not--- 
55         When musing deeply on the lot 
56   Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing 
57         All vital things that wake to bring 
58         News of birds and blossoming,--- 
59         Sudden, thy shadow fell on me; 
60   I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy! 


61   I vowed that I would dedicate my powers 
62      To thee and thine---have I not kept the vow? 
63      With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now 
64   I call the phantoms of a thousand hours 
65   Each from his voiceless grave: they have in visioned bowers 
66         Of studious zeal or love's delight 
67         Outwatched with me the envious night--- 
68   They know that never joy illumed my brow 
69         Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free 
70         This world from its dark slavery, 
71         That thou---O awful Loveliness , 
72   Wouldst give whate'er these words cannot express. 


73   The day becomes more solemn and serene 
74      When noon is past---there is a harmony 
75      In autumn, and a lustre in its sky, 
76   Which through the summer is not heard or seen, 
77   As if it could not be, as if it had not been! 
78         Thus let thy power, which like the truth 
79         Of nature on my passive youth 
80   Descended, to my onward life supply 
81         Its calm---to one who worships thee, 
82         And every form containing thee, 
83         Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind 
84   To fear himself, and love all human kind.