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All things that move and breathe with toil and
Are born and die; revolve, subside, and swell. Power dwells apart in its tranquillity
Remote, serene, and inaccessible:
And this, the naked countenance of earth,
On which I gaze, even these primeval moun
Teach the adverting mind. The glaciers creep Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains,
Slow rolling on; there, many a precipice,
Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky Rolls its perpetual stream; vast pines are strewing
Its destined path, or in the mangled soil
Branchless and shattered stand; the rocks,
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown
Vanish, like smoke before the tempest's stream, And their place is not known. Below, vast caves Shine in the rushing torrents' restless gleam, Which from those secret chasms in tumult welling
Meet in the vale, and one majestic River,
The breath and blood of distant lands, for ever Rolls its loud waters to the ocean waves, Breathes its swift vapours to the circling air.
Mont Blanc yet gleams on high:
The still and solemn power of many sights, And many sounds, and much of life and death.
In the calm darkness of the moonless nights, In the lone glare of day, the snows descend Upon that Mountain; none beholds them there,
Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun, Or the star-beams dart through them:Winds contend
Silently there, and heap the snow with breath Rapid and strong, but silently! Its home The voiceless lightning in these solitudes Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods Over the snow.
The secret strength of things thought, and to the infinite
Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee!
And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and
If to the human mind's imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?
HELLEY wrote little during this year. The poem entitled "The Sunset" was written in the spring of the year, while still residing at Bishopgate. He spent the summer on the shores of the Lake of Geneva. "The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" was conceived during his voyage round the lake with Lord Byron. He occupied himself during this voyage by reading the "Nouvelle Héloïse" for the first time. The reading it on the very spot where the scenes are laid added to the interest; and he was at once surprised and charmed by the passionate eloquence and earnest enthralling interest that pervade this work. There was
something in the character of Saint-Preux, in his abnegation of self, and in the worship he paid to Love, that coincided with Shelley's own disposition; and, though differing in many of the views and shocked by others, yet the effect of the whole was fascinating and delightful.
"Mont Blanc" was inspired by a view of that mountain and its surrounding peaks and valleys, as he lingered on the Bridge of Arve on his way through the Valley of Chamouni. Shelley makes the following mention of this poem in his publication of the "History of Six Weeks' Tour, and Letters from Switzerland:" "The poem entitled 'Mont Blanc' is written by the author of the two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. It was composed under the immediate impression of the deep and powerful feelings excited by the objects which it attempts to describe; and, as an undisciplined overflowing of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt to imitate the untamable wildness and inaccessible solemnity from which those feelings sprang."
This was an eventful year, and less time was given to study than usual. In the list of his