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.
  • PROMETHEUS: Evil minds
    Change good to their own nature. I gave all
    He has; and in return he chains me here
    Years, ages, night and day: whether the Sun
    Split my parched skin, or in the moony night
    The crystal-winged snow cling round my hair:
    Whilst my beloved race is trampled down
    By his thought-executing ministers.
    Such is the tyrant's recompense: 'tis just:
    He who is evil can receive no good;
    And for a world bestowed, or a friend lost,
    He can feel hate, fear, shame; not gratitude:
    He but requites me for his own misdeed.
    Kindness to such is keen reproach, which breaks
    With bitter stings the light sleep of Revenge.
    Submission, thou dost know I cannot try:
    For what submission but that fatal word,
    The death-seal of mankind's captivity,
    Like the Sicilian's hair-suspended sword,
    Which trembles o'er his crown, would he accept,
    Or could I yield? Which yet I will not yield.
    Let others flatter Crime, where it sits throned
    In brief Omnipotence: secure are they:
    For Justice, when triumphant, will weep down
    Pity, not punishment, on her own wrongs,
    Too much avenged by those who err. I wait,
    Enduring thus, the retributive hour
    Which since we spake is even nearer now.