Ariel to Miranda:
Take This slave of music,
for the sake Of him who is the slave of thee;
And teach it all the harmony
In which thou canst, and only thou, Make the delighted spirit glow,
Till joy denies itself again
And, too intense, is turned to pain.
For by permission and command Of thine own Prince Ferdinand,
Poor Ariel sends this silent token Of more than ever can be spoken;
Your guardian spirit, Ariel, who From life to life must still pursue Your happiness,
for thus alone
Can Ariel ever find his own.
From Prospero’s enchanted cell, As the mighty verses tell,
To the throne of Naples he Lit you o’er the trackless sea,
Flitting on, your prow before,
Like a living meteor.
When you die, the silent Moon
In her interlunar swoon
Is not sadder in her cell Than deserted Ariel.
When you live again on earth,
Like an unseen star of birth Ariel guides you o’er the sea Of life from your nativity.
Many changes have been run Since Ferdinand and you began Your course of love, and Ariel still
Has tracked your steps and served your will.
Now in the humbler, happier lot,
This is all remembered not;
And now, alas! the poor sprite is Imprisoned for some fault of his
In a body like a grave
From you, he only dares to crave, For his service and his sorrow,
A smile today, a song tomorrow.
The artist who this idol wrought To echo all harmonious thought,
Felled a tree, while on the steep The woods were in their winter sleep,
Rocked in that repose divine On the wind-swept Apennine;
And dreaming, some of Autumn past, And some of Spring approaching fast, And some of April buds and showers, And some of the songs in July bowers,
And all of love; and so this tree,
O that such our death maybe!
Died in sleep, and felt no pain,
To live in happier form again:
From which, beneath Heaven’s fairest star, The artist wrought this loved Guitar;
And taught it justly to reply To all who question skilfully In language gentle as thine own;
Whispering in enamoured tone Sweet oracles of woods and dells, And summer winds in sylvan cells;
For it had learnt all harmonies
Of the plains and of the skies,
Of the forests and the mountains,
And the many-voiced fountains;
The clearest echoes of the hills,
The softest notes of falling rills,
The melodies of birds and bees,
The murmuring of summer seas, And pattering rain, and breathing dew,
And airs of evening; and it knew
That seldom-heard mysterious sound Which, driven on its diurnal round,
As it floats through boundless day, Our world enkindles on its way:
All this it knows, but will not tell
To those who cannot question well The Spirit that inhabits it;
It talks according to the wit Of its companions; and no more
Is heard than has been felt before
By those who tempt it to betray
These secrets of an elder day.
But, sweetly as its answers will Flatter hands of perfect skill,
It keeps its highest holiest tone For one beloved Friend alone.
~ To A Lady, With A Guitar – Percy Bysshe Shelley