Mutability ["The flower that smiles to-day"]

By Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822 Percy Bysshe Shelley
The flower that smiles to-day
          To-morrow dies;
All that we wish to stay
          Tempts and then flies.
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
          Brief even as bright.

   Virtue, how frail it is!
          Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
          For proud despair!
But we, though soon they fall,
Survive their joy, and all
          Which ours we call.

   Whilst skies are blue and bright,
          Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
          Make glad the day;
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou—and from thy sleep
          Then wake to weep.

Source: The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Volume 4 (1839)

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Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Percy  Bysshe Shelley

Biography

The life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley exemplify Romanticism in both its extremes of joyous ecstasy and brooding despair. The major themes are there in Shelley’s dramatic if short life and in his works, enigmatic, inspiring, and lasting: the restlessness and brooding, the rebellion against authority, the interchange with nature, the power of the visionary imagination and of poetry, the pursuit of ideal love, and the untamed . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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