Three memories of Shelley.


Hail to thee, blithe spirit!

Bird thou never wert,

that flashed past so near it

that you gave my heart

a palpitation with the unpremeditated start!


Higher still and higher

from the earth thou springest

like your chair's on fire;

very swift thou wingest.

-No, that's not a skylark. Wonder what the thing is?


The pale purple feathers

with red wings and chest

have flown through many weathers.

They look just like a vest.

I suppose you're speeding back to find your nest.


Keen as is an arrow

you flash through the sky.

You seem abnormally narrow.

If you weren't so high

I'd like to have a look, the better to identify.


What thou art I know not,

I'll see though, if I can.

An aeroplane, jets burning hot?

I'll more closely scan.

I see you better now - good gracious me! It's Superman!



* * * * * * * * * *


I met the traveler from an antique shop

who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs, a bust

of Pompey, and a vase of lead, in dust

and debris lie in my cellar, near a mop.

Few modern scholars are there who could top

their beauty, even though they are half rust."

He raved on, and aroused my simple trust,

till I at length prevailed on him to stop.

Seized with delight I bought them all. On one

deciphered I these words, "Made in Hong Kong."

Little more remained. Decay had come

from having rotted in the cellar long.

Of that colossal bust, begrimed and grey,

all but the plastic base had flaked away.

* * * * * * *

"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

I wrote that line, or put the thought

into Perce Shelley's head. I taught

the rain to fall,the rabbit and the hare,

the birds, all living things, to pair.

The world is filled with all that I have wrought;

all that exists, all for which man has fought,

for I have spread my power everywhere.

I want good, and what I want is good.

I could uproot that tree, if so I willed.

I do not, for the world runs well by plan.

But fear me! I am the face behind Death's hood.

You doubt! Then I will your place unfilled.

I cannot hear a nonexistent man.