The Question

By Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822 Percy Bysshe Shelley
   I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
         Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
         Mixed 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 kissed it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.

   There grew pied wind-flowers and violets,
         Daisies, those pearled 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's 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-coloured may,
And cherry-blossoms, and white cups, whose wine
         Was the bright dew, yet drained not by the day;
And wild roses, and ivy serpentine,
         With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray;
And flowers azure, black, and streaked with gold,
Fairer than any wakened eyes behold.

   And nearer to the river's trembling edge
         There grew broad flag-flowers, purple pranked 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 bulrushes, 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 imprisoned children of the Hours
         Within my hand,—and then, elate and gay,
I hastened to the spot whence I had come,
That I might there present it!—Oh! to whom?

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Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Spring, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Nature, Winter, Trees & Flowers

Occasions Engagement

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 Spring, Landscapes & Pastorals, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Nature, Winter, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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