by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

Now the last day of many days
Language: English 
Now the last day of many days,
All beautiful and bright as thou,
The loveliest and the last, is dead:
Rise, Memory, and write its praise!
Up -- to thy wonted work! come, trace
The epitaph of glory fled,
For now the earth has changed its face,
A frown is on the heaven's brow.
We wander'd to the Pine Forest
  That skirts the ocean's foam.
The lightest wind was in its nest,
  The tempest in its home;
The whispering waves were half asleep,
  The clouds were gone to play,
And on the bosom of the deep
  The smile of heaven lay:
It seem'd as if the hour were one
  Sent from beyond the skies
Which scatter'd from above the sun
  A light of Paradise!
We paused amid the pines that stood
  The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude
  As serpents interlaced, -- 
And soothed by every azure breath
  That under heaven is blown,
To harmonies and hues beneath,
  As tender as its own.
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep
  Like green waves on the sea,
As still as in the silent deep
  The ocean-woods may be.

How calm it was! -- The silence there
  By such a chain was bound,
That even the busy woodpecker
  Made stiller by her sound
The inviolable quietness;
  The breath of peace we drew
With its soft motion made not less
  The calm that round us grew.
There seem'd, from the remotest seat
  Of the wide mountain waste
To the soft flower beneath our feet,
  A magic circle traced, -- 
A spirit interfused around
  A thrilling silent life;
To momentary peace it bound
  Our mortal nature's strife; -- 
And still I felt the centre of
  The magic circle there
Was one fair form that fill'd with love
  The lifeless atmosphere.

We paused beside the pools that lie
  Under the forest bough;
Each seem'd as 'twere a little sky
  Gulf'd in a world below -- 
A firmament of purple light
  Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night
  And purer than the day --
In which the lovely forests grew
  As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue
  Than any spreading there.
There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn,
  And through the dark-green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
  Out of a speckled cloud.
Sweet views which in our world above
  Can never well be seen
Were imaged in the water's love
  Of that fair forest green;
And all was interfused beneath
  With an Elysian glow,
An atmosphere without a breath,
  A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent
  To the dark water's breast
Its every leaf and lineament
  With more than truth exprest;
Until an envious wind crept by,
  Like an unwelcome thought
Which from the mind's too faithful eye
  Blots one dear image out.
 -- Though thou art ever fair and kind,
  The forests ever green,
Less oft is peace in Shelley's mind
  Than calm in waters seen!

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in Italian (Italiano), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist [an adaptation] ; composed by Giorgio Federico Ghedini.
  • Also set in Russian (Русский), a translation by Konstantin Dmitrevich Bal'mont (1867 - 1942) , "Воспоминание", written 1822 ; composed by Anton Stepanovich Arensky.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Vrchlický) , "Vzpomínka", subtitle: "Janě", Prague, J. Otto, first published 1901

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-11-24
Line count: 93
Word count: 500