“Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples, “Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem is about solitude, alienation, and the great, eternal beauty of the natural world. The poem recounts a gorgeous day on the Italian seashore that the speaker, who is sad and alone, cannot appreciate. Nature’s beauty appears to underscore the depth of a persona’s lonely sorrow, which he sees as an insult to nature’s magnificence. However, the speaker eventually appears to be consoled and comforted by his surroundings, emphasizing nature’s ability to put human problems into perspective. After a succession of personal misfortunes, along with the death of his daughter Clara, Shelley penned this poem in December 1818. It was finally published in 1824.
Below, you’ll find the full poem ‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
The purple noon’s transparent might,
The breath of the moist earth is light,
Around its unexpanded buds;
Like many a voice of one delight,
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
The City’s voice itself, is soft like Solitude’s.
I see the Deep’s untrampled floor
With green and purple seaweeds strown;
I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown:
I sit upon the sands alone,—
The lightning of the noontide ocean
Is flashing round me, and a tone
Arises from its measured motion,
How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.
Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
Nor peace within nor calm around,
Nor that content surpassing wealth
The sage in meditation found,
And walked with inward glory crowned—
Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
Others I see whom these surround—
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure;
To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.
Yet now despair itself is mild,
Even as the winds and waters are;
I could lie down like a tired child,
And weep away the life of care
Which I have borne and yet must bear,
Till death like sleep might steal on me,
And I might feel in the warm air
My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
Breathe o’er my dying brain its last monotony.
Some might lament that I were cold,
As I, when this sweet day is gone,
Which my lost heart, too soon grown old,
Insults with this untimely moan;
They might lament—for I am one
Whom men love not,—and yet regret,
Unlike this day, which, when the sun
Shall on its stainless glory set,
Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
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