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When the Lamp is Shattered
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

English Romantic poet and essayist. Shelley's best-known works include his Prometheus Unbound (1819), a lyrical drama in which Shelley expounds the cause of an imaginative revolution, his atheistic poem Queen Mab (1821), his prose essay A Defence of Poetry (1840) and The Triumph of Life, left unfinished at Shelley's death. Many of Shelley's other works were written around 1820: these include The Mask of Anarchy (1820), the poem 'Ode to the West Wind' (1819), Peter Bell the Third (1819) and the political odes 'To Liberty' and 'To Naples' (both 1820). Other works include the unfinished novella The Assassins (1814), the essay A Philosophical View of Reform (1820), and a number of pamphlets on vegetarianism and political subjects - including his An Address to the Irish People (1812) and A Letter to Lord Ellenorough (1812) - as well as an early novel Zastrozzi: A Romance (1810).


When the Lamp is Shattered
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

When the lamp is shattered
The light in the dust lies dead -
When the cloud is scattered,
The rainbow's glory is shed.
When the lute is broken,
Sweet tones are remembered not;
When the lips have spoken,
Loved accents are soon forgot.

As music and splendour
Survive not the lamp and the lute,
The heart's echoes render
No song when the spirit is mute -
No song but sad dirges,
Like the wind through a ruined cell,
Or the mournful surges
That ring the dead seaman's knell.

When hearts have once mingled,
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
The weak one is singled
To endure what it once possessed.
O Love! who bewailest
The frailty of all things here,
Why choose you the frailest
For your cradle, your home, and your bier?

Its passions will rock thee,
As the storms rock the ravens on high;
Bright reason will mock thee,
Like the sun from a wintry sky.
From thy nest every rafter
Will rot, and thine eagle home
Leave thee naked to laughter,
When leaves fall and cold winds come.


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