A monologue from the play by Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Prometheus Unbound; A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts with Other Poems. Percy Bysshe Shelley. London: C and J Ollier, 1820.
  • PANTHEA: With our sea-sister at his feet I slept.
    The mountain mists, condensing at our voice
    Under the moon, had spread their snowy flakes,
    From the keen ice shielding our linked sleep.
    Then two dreams came. One, I remember not.
    But in the other his pale wound-worn limbs
    Fell from Prometheus, and the azure night
    Grew radiant with the glory of that form
    Which lives unchanged within, and his voice fell
    Like music which makes giddy the dim brain,
    Faint with intoxication of keen joy:
    'Sister of her whose footsteps pave the world
    With loveliness—more fair than aught but her,
    Whose shadow thou art—lift thine eyes on me.
    I lifted them: the overpowering light
    Of that immortal shape was shadowed o'er
    By love; which, from his soft and flowing limbs,
    And passion-parted lips, and keen, faint eyes,
    Steamed forth like vaporous fire; an atmosphere
    Which wrapped me in its all-dissolving power,
    As the warm ether of the morning sun
    Wraps ere it drinks some cloud of wandering dew.
    I saw not, heard not, moved not, only felt
    His presence flow and mingle through my blood
    Till it became his life, and his grew mine,
    And I was thus absorbed, until it passed,
    And like the vapours when the sun sinks down,
    Gathering again in drops upon the pines,
    And tremulous as they, in the deep night
    My being was condensed; and as the rays
    Of thought were slowly gathered, I could hear
    His voice, whose accents lingered ere they died
    Like footsteps of weak melody: thy name
    Among the many sounds alone I heard
    Of what might be articulate; though still
    I listened through the night when sound was none.
    Ione wakened then, and said to me:
    'Canst thou divine what troubles me to-night?
    I always knew, what I desired before,
    Nor ever found delight to wish in vain.
    But now I cannot tell thee what I seek;
    I know not; something sweet, since it is sweet
    Even to desire; it is thy sport, false sister;
    Thou hast discovered some enchantment old,
    Whose spells have stolen my spirit as I slept
    And mingled it with thine: for when just now
    We kissed, I felt within thy parted lips
    The sweet air that sustained me, and the warmth
    Of the life-blood, for loss of which I faint,
    Quivered between our intertwining arms.'
    I answered not, for the Eastern star grew pale,
    But fled to thee.