A Dialogue

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 (Horsham) – 1822 (Lerici)



DEATH:
For my dagger is bathed in the blood of the brave,
I come, care-worn tenant of life, from the grave,
Where Innocence sleeps 'neath the peace-giving sod,
And the good cease to tremble at Tyranny's nod;
I offer a calm habitation to thee,--
Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?
My mansion is damp, cold silence is there,
But it lulls in oblivion the fiends of despair;
Not a groan of regret, not a sigh, not a breath,
Dares dispute with grim Silence the empire of Death.
I offer a calm habitation to thee,--
Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?

MORTAL:
Mine eyelids are heavy; my soul seeks repose,
It longs in thy cells to embosom its woes,
It longs in thy cells to deposit its load,
Where no longer the scorpions of Perfidy goad,--
Where the phantoms of Prejudice vanish away,
And Bigotry's bloodhounds lose scent of their prey.
Yet tell me, dark Death, when thine empire is o'er,
What awaits on Futurity's mist-covered shore?

DEATH:
Cease, cease, wayward Mortal! I dare not unveil
The shadows that float o'er Eternity's vale;
Nought waits for the good but a spirit of Love,
That will hail their blest advent to regions above.
For Love, Mortal, gleams through the gloom of my sway,
And the shades which surround me fly fast at its ray.
Hast thou loved?--Then depart from these regions of hate,
And in slumber with me blunt the arrows of fate.
I offer a calm habitation to thee.--
Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?

MORTAL:
Oh! sweet is thy slumber! oh! sweet is the ray
Which after thy night introduces the day;
How concealed, how persuasive, self-interest’s breath,
Though it floats to mine ear from the bosom of Death!
I hoped that I quite was forgotten by all,
Yet a lingering friend might be grieved at my fall,
And duty forbids, though I languish to die,
When departure might heave Virtue’s breast with a sigh.
O Death! O my friend! snatch this form to thy shrine,
And I fear, dear destroyer, I shall not repine.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 04, 2023

1:50 min read
132

Quick analysis:

Scheme AbbccDDeeaaDD Fgghhiixx AjjkkiillDD Fiiaammnnoo
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,934
Words 361
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 13, 9, 11, 11

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is regarded by critics as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. more…

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