Meyran Kraus

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Original text in yellow, anagram in pink.

A poem by Wilde, about Shelley's death. After a short search, I discovered a poem by Shelley, dedicated to Wordsworth.
But it didn't stop there - also found were a Wordsworth poem for Milton, and a Milton poem on Shakespeare...

Wilde's poem is anagrammed into 3 very close paraphrases of the other links in the chain.

The Grave Of Shelley

Like burnt-out torches by a sick man's bed
Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun-bleached stone;
Here doth the little night-owl make her throne,
And the slight lizard show his jewelled head.
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red,
In the still chamber of yon pyramid
Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly hid,
Grim warder of this pleasaunce of the dead.
Ah! Sweet indeed to rest within the womb
Of Earth, great mother of eternal sleep,
But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb
In the blue cavern of an echoing deep,
Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom
Against the rocks of some wave-shattered steep.

To Wordsworth

Oh, Bard of Nature! Thou wert jarred to know
The cheers depart and hence can ne'er return:
Child's play and bloom's age, friendship, love's first glow -
All fled like dreams, preparing thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine,
Which thou too feel'st, yet I myself deplore.
Thou shepherded and like the star did shine
Few barks' dark path in wet night's grimmer roar;
Farewell, thy stable shelter - which hath stood
Atop the heedless, warring multitude!
In noble, feeble lack, thy zeal did heap
Exact gems for fresh creeds and liberty -
Deserting these, thou leavest me to weep,
Thus having been, that thou hast ceased to be.

(Scribbled to the expired Milton)

Milton! Thou should'st be breathing at this hour:
England hath need of thee: She's soggy fen
Of stale, bronze waters; Temple, sword, and pen,
The hearth, the well-kept wealth of hall and bower,
Had to be ceded - this old English dower
Of clever merriment! We're selfish men;
Oh! Raise us up, resurface here again;
Accord us better manners, freedom, power.
Thy soul - like the high star - stored, kept apart;
Thy voice - that trembled, rippled like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou walk here, on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness - and yet thy heart
The lowliest charges on itself did lay.

On Shakespeare

Did Shakespeare need, for his well-honor'd head,
An age's labor on his steepl'd bed?
Or for his sacred relics to be hid
Beneath a hefty, rugged pyramid?
To Memory a son, a heir to Fame -
Why pick tall towers for thy blessed name,
When dwelling at our awe and wonderment
Hath set thee the eternal monument?
Heed - while I spell a duller, jaded art,
Thy verses freely flow; So, as the hearts
Hath felt the class of the poetic work,
And gulp'd the wit to see where secrets lurk,
Then the text - our zest for itself bereaving -
Doth render *us* the marble, with conceiving...
Sepulchr'd thus, in richest pomp dost lie -
For such a tomb, the King'll beg to die!

1. It's interesting to spot similar metaphors, namely the star and the struggling ships, but with different usages.
2. I almost titled this 'A Chain of 4 Elegies', until I realized that Shelley died well before Wordsworth did. By describing his 'passing', Shelley is actually criticizing Wordsworth for his later works, which, in Shelley's eyes, betrayed the radical ideas of his earlier days.

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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