The Question

Percy Bysshe Shelley (English 1792-1822)

Oxford Book of English Verse


Poem

I dream'd that, as I wander'd by the way,
Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring;
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mix'd 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 kiss'd it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.

There grew pied wind-flowers and violets;
Daisies, those pearl'd 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-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-colour'd May,
And cherry-blossoms, and white cups whose wine
Was the bright dew yet drain'd not by the day;
And wild roses, and ivy serpentine,
With its dark buds and leaves wandering astray;
And flowers, azure, black, and streak'd with gold,
Fairer than any waken'd eyes behold.

And nearer to the river's trembling edge
There grew broad flag-flowers, purple prank'd 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 bulrushed, 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 imprison'd children of the Hours
Within my hand;–and then, elate and gay,
I hasten'd to the spot whence I had come,
That I might there present it–O! to whom?

2018-10