The Poetry of Shelley - 1 - Samuel West

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Swift as a spirit hastening to his task
Of glory & of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, & the mask

Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth.
The smokeless altars of the mountain snows
Flamed above crimson clouds, & at the birth

Of light, the Ocean's orison arose
To which the birds tempered their matin lay,
All flowers in field or forest which unclose

Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day,
Swinging their censers in the element,
With orient incense lit by the new ray

Burned slow & inconsumably, & sent
Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air,
And in succession due, did Continent,

Isle, Ocean, & all things that in them wear
The form & character of mortal mould
Rise as the Sun their father rose, to bear

Their portion of the toil which he of old
Took as his own & then imposed on them;
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold

Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep,
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem

Which an old chestnut flung athwart the steep
Of a green Apennine: before me fled
The night; behind me rose the day; the Deep

Was at my feet, & Heaven above my head
When a strange trance over my fancy grew...


Shelley is one of the supreme lyric poets of any age and in any language. The verse is remarkably fluent, gathers power as it goes, and with an almost breathless rapidity and accumulation of images, ascends with a rush that can touch the sublime.

The present selection (EMI Classics ΓÇô 'Listen for Pleasure') is read, very finely, by Samuel West. The excerpts are well chosen and include extended readings of The Triumph of Life, The Sensitive Plant and Adonais.

The Triumph of Life is really a dance of death - humankind caught up in a swirling pageant of immense futility. Only the Imagination can redeem life. In a Dantesque survey of great souls Rousseau is metamorphosed into a shell of a man with burnt out eyes, and Voltaire, Kant and Napoleon ('child of a fierce hour') similarly reduced.

Adonais depicts the plight of the visionary in a society controlled by tyrannical forces. The poem is passionately pantheistic and the rapture at the end seems to become identical with engulfment into nothingness.		
The Poetry of Shelley - 1 - Samuel West/09 SensitivePlant.flac 78.136 MB
The Poetry of Shelley - 1 - Samuel West/12 Adonais.flac 64.957 MB
The Poetry of Shelley - 1 - Samuel West/15 EuganeanHills.flac 49.228 MB
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