[Published in part (lines 1-69, 100-120) by Mrs. Shelley, “Posthumous Poems”, 1824; and again, with the notes, in “Poetical Works”, 1839. Lines 127-238 were printed by Dr. Garnett under the title of “The Magic Plant” in his “Relics of Shelley”, 1862. The whole was edited in its present form from the Boscombe manuscript by Mr. W.M. Rossetti in 1870 (“Complete Poetical Works of P. B. S.”, Moxon, 2 volumes.). ‘Written at Pisa during the late winter or early spring of 1822’ (Garnett).]
The following fragments are part of a Drama undertaken for the amusement of the individuals who composed our intimate society, but left unfinished. I have preserved a sketch of the story as far as it had been shadowed in the poet’s mind.
An Enchantress, living in one of the islands of the Indian Archipelago, saves the life of a Pirate, a man of savage but noble nature. She becomes enamoured of him; and he, inconstant to his mortal love, for a while returns her passion; but at length, recalling the memory of her whom he left, and who laments his loss, he escapes from the Enchanted Island, and returns to his lady. His mode of life makes him again go to sea, and the Enchantress seizes the opportunity to bring him, by a spirit-brewed tempest, back to her Island. –[MRS. SHELLEY’S NOTE, 1839.]
SCENE.–BEFORE THE CAVERN OF THE INDIAN ENCHANTRESS.
THE ENCHANTRESS COMES FORTH.
He came like a dream in the dawn of life,
He fled like a shadow before its noon;
He is gone, and my peace is turned to strife,
And I wander and wane like the weary moon.
O, sweet Echo, wake, 5
And for my sake
Make answer the while my heart shall break!
But my heart has a music which Echo’s lips,
Though tender and true, yet can answer not,
And the shadow that moves in the soul’s eclipse 10
Can return not the kiss by his now forgot;
Sweet lips! he who hath
On my desolate path
Cast the darkness of absence, worse than death!
8 my omitted 1824.]
[THE ENCHANTRESS MAKES HER SPELL: SHE IS ANSWERED BY A SPIRIT.]
Within the silent centre of the earth 15
My mansion is; where I have lived insphered
From the beginning, and around my sleep
Have woven all the wondrous imagery
Of this dim spot, which mortals call the world;
Infinite depths of unknown elements 20
Massed into one impenetrable mask;
Sheets of immeasurable fire, and veins
Of gold and stone, and adamantine iron.
And as a veil in which I walk through Heaven
I have wrought mountains, seas, and waves, and clouds, 25
And lastly light, whose interfusion dawns
In the dark space of interstellar air.
15-27 Within…air. 1839; omitted 1824.
See these lines in “Posthumous Poems”, 1824,
page 209: “Song of a Spirit”.
16 have 1839; omitted 1824, page 209.
25 seas, and waves 1824, page 209; seas, waves 1839.]
[A good Spirit, who watches over the Pirate’s fate, leads,
in a mysterious manner, the lady of his love to the
Enchanted Isle. She is accompanied by a Youth, who loves
the lady, but whose passion she returns only with a
sisterly affection. The ensuing scene takes place between
them on their arrival at the Isle.
[MRS. SHELLEY’S NOTE, 1839.]]