Mutability ["We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon"]

By Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792–1822 Percy Bysshe Shelley

                                         I.
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
    How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:—

                                         II.
Or like forgotten lyres whose dissonant strings
    Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
    One mood or modulation like the last.

                                        III.
We rest—a dream  has power to poison sleep;
    We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:—

                                       IV.
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
    The path of its departure still is free;
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
    Nought may endure but Mutability.

Source: The complete poetical works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: The text carefully revised by William Michael Rossetti, Volume 3 (John Slark, 1885)

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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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