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HELLAS

A LYRICAL DBAMA



BY



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY




By THOMAS J WISE



Hontion

PUBLISHED FOE THE SHELLEY SOCIETY

{JP(yr tTie First Pe,Tformance of the Drama)

BY REEVES AND TURNER 196 STRAND WC

1886



PRICE THREE i^HILLINGS.




Az vv



v^



HELLAS

A LYEIOAL DEAMA



This hook

Is one of a hundred copies

printed on fine payer




PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY,

FROM THE ORIGINAL PICTURE BY CLINT



HELLAS

A LYRICAL DRAMA



BY

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY



RErRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL EDITION OF 1822



By THOMAS J V/ISE



^^lA^SO^:^^^



PUBLISHED FOR THE SHELLEY SOCIETY
BY REEVES AND TURNER 196 STRAND

1886



PREFATORY NOTE.

The drama of Hellas was the last of Shelley's works
published during his lifetime. Whilst engaged upon
its composition the poet was residing at Pisa, where,
early in 1821, he was introduced by his cousin Medwin
to Lieutenant Edward Williams — then late of the
8th Dragoons — whose wife, Jane, soon became the object
of one of the most earnest of his series of platonic
attachments. For the husband also Shelley entertained
strong feelings of friendship, and it would appear that it
is to his inventive faculty that the "Lyrical Drama" is
indebted for its name : —

" He [Shelley] asked me yesterday " — wrote Williams
in his diary — "what name he should fix to the drama
he is engaged with. I proposed Ilellas, which he will
adopt."

The earliest mention of Ilellas to be found in its
author's published correspondence occurs in a letter
addressed to Mr. John Gisborne, and dated Pisa, October
22nd, 1821.^ In it the writer says : —

"... I am just finishing a dramatic poem, called
Ilellas, upon the contest now raging in Greece — a sort of

^ Essays, Letters from Abroad, d-c, 1840, vol. ii, p. 334.



viii PREFATORY NOTE.

imitation of the Persm of iEschylus, full of lyrical poetry.
I try to be what I might have been, but am not successful.
I find that (I dare say I shall quote wrong) : —

* Den herrlichsten, den sich der Geist empfangt,
Driingt immer fremd und fremder Stoff sich an.* "

On the 10th of April following, Shelley again wrote to
Mr. Gisborne : — ^

*' I have received Hellas, which is prettily printed, and
with fewer mistakes than any poem I ever published.
Am I to thank you for the revision of the press ? or who
acted as midwife to this last of my orphans, introduciug it
to oblivion, and me to my accustomed failure ? May the
cause it celebrates be more fortunate than either ! Tell
me how you like Hellas, and give me your opinion freely.
It was written without much care, and in one of those
few moments of enthusiasm which now seldom visit me,
and which make me pay dear for their visits," &c.

The first edition of Hellas, the receipt of a copy of
which Shelley acknowledged in the preceding letter, was
published by C. and J. Oilier, in the spring of 1822. It
is an octavo pamphlet of xi + 60 pages, and was issued
in plain wrappers, with a white paper label.

Of this 1822 edition the present is as exact a repro-
duction as it has been found possible — with types — to
obtain. The book has been reprinted word for word and
line for line, the text being closely and minutely followed
in every particular, each ' printer's error,' ' dropped
letter,' or other peculiarity of the original being carefully
retained.

Thomas J. Wise.

^ Essays, Letters from Abrocui, (fee, 1840, vol. ii, p. 336.



HELLAS



FEINTED r,Y S. AND R. BENTLLY-
DORSET STIIEET, LONDON.



HELLAS



A LYRICAL DRAMA



BY

PERCY B. SHELLEY



MANTIS EIM' E20AnN 'AmNHN

CEdip. Colon.



LONDON

CHARLES AND JAMES OLLIER VERE STREET

BOND STREET
MDCCCXXII



TO
HIS EXCELLENCY

PRINCE ALEXANDER MAVROCORDATO

LATE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

TO THE HOSPODAK OF WALLACHIA,

THE DRAMA OF HELLAS

IS INSCRIBED



AS AN IMPERFECT TOKEN



OF THE ADMIRATION, SYMPATHY, AND FRIENDSHIP



OF



THE AUTHOR.



TlSA,

November 1st, 1821.



PREFACE.



The poem of Hellas, written at the suggestion of tlie
events of the moment, is a mere improvise, and derives
its interest (should it be found to possess any) solely from
the intense sympathy which the Author feels with the
cause he would celebrate.

The subject, m its present state, is insusceptible of
being treated otherwise than lyrically, and if I have called
this poem a drama from the circumstance of its being
composed in dialogue, the licence is not greater than that
which has been assumed by other poets who have called
their productions epics, only because they have been di-
vided into twelve or twenty-four books.

The Persse of ^schylus afforded me the first model of
my conception, although the decision of the glorious
contest now waging in Greece being yet suspended for-
bids a catastrophe parallel to the return of Xerxes and the
desolation of the Persians. I have, therefore, contented
myself with exhibiting a series of lyric pictures, and with
having wrought upon the curtain of futurity, which falls
upon the unfinished scene, such figures of indistinct and



Vlll PREFACE.

visionary delineation as suggest the final triumph of the
Greek cause as a portion of the cause of civilization and
social improvement.

The drama (if drama it must be called) is, however, so
inartificial that 1 doubt whether, if recited on the Thespian
waggon to an Athenian village at the Dionysiaca, it
would have obtained the prize of the goat. I shall bear
with equanimity any punishment greater than the loss of
such a reward which the Aristarchi of the hour may thinlr
fit to inflict.

The only goat-song which I have yet attempted has, I
confess, in spite of the unfavourable nature of the sub-
ject, received a greater and a more valuable portion of
applause than I expected or than it deserved.

Common fame is the only authority which I can allege
for the details which form the basis of the poem, and I
must trespass upon the forgiveness of my readers for the
display of newspaper erudition to which I have been re-
duced. Undoubtedly, until the conclusion of the war, it
will be impossible to obtain an account of it sufficiently
authentic for historical materials ; but poets have their
privilege, and it is unquestionable that actions of the most
exalted courage have been performed by the Greeks — that
they have gained more than one naval victory, and that
their defeat in Wallachia was signalized by circumstances
of heroism more glorious even than victory.

The apathy of the rulers of the civilized world to the
astonishing circumstance of the descendants of that nation
to which they owe their civilization — rising as it were from
the ashes of their ruin, is something perfectly inexplicable
to a mere spectator of the shews of this mortal scene.
We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion.



PREFACE. IX

our arts, have their root in Greece. But for Greece —
Rome, the instructor, the conqueror, or the metropolis of
our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her
arms, and we might still have been savages and idolaters ;
or, what is worse, might have arrived at such a stagnant
and miserable state of social institution as China and
Japan possess.

The human form and the human mind attained to a per-
fection in Greece which has impressed its image on those
faultless productions, whose very fragments are the despair
of modem art, and has propagated impulses which cannot
cease, through a thousand channels of manifest or imper-
ceptible operation, to ennoble and delight mankind until
the extinction of the race.

The modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious
beings whom the imagination almost refuses to figure to
itself as belonging to our kind, and he inherits much of
their sensibility, their rapidity of conception, their en-
thusiasm, and their courage. If in many instances he is
degraded, by moral and political slavery to the practice of
the basest vices it engenders, and that below the level of
ordinary degradation ; let us reflect that the corruption of
the best produces the worst, and that habits which sub-
sist only in relation to a peculiar state of social institution
may be expected to cease so soon as that relation is dis-
solved. In fact, the Greeks, since the admirable novel of
" Anastatius " could have been a faithful picture of their
manners, have undergone most important changes; the
flower of their youth returning to their country from the
universities of Italy, Germany, and France, have com-
municated to their fellow-citizens the latest results of that
social perfection of which their ancestors were the origi-



X PREFACE.

nal source. The university of Chios contained before the
breaking out of the revolution eight hundred students^
and among them several Germans and Americans. The
munificence and energy of many of the Greek princes and
merchants, 'directed to the renovation of their country with
a spirit and a wisdom which has few examples, is above
all praise.

The Enghsh permit their own oppressors to act accord-
ing to their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and
to brand upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance
with the enemies of domestic happiness, of Christianity
and civilization.

Kussia desires to possess, not to liberate Greece ; and
is contented to see the Turks, its natural enemies, and the
Greeks, its intended slaves, enfeeble each other until one
or both fall into its net. The wise and generous policy of
England would have consisted in establishing the inde-
pendence of Greece, and in maintaining it both against
Russia and the Turk ; — but when was the oppressor gene-
rous or just ?

The Spanish Peninsula is already free. France is tran-
quil in the enjoyment of a partial exemption from the
abuses which its unnatural and feeble government are
vainly attempting to revive. The seed of blood and misery
has been sown in Italy, and a more vigorous race is arising
to go forth to the harvest. The world waits only the news
of a revolution of Germany to see the tyrants who have
pinnacled themselves on its supineness precipitated into
the ruin from which they shall never arise. Well do these
destroyers of mankind know their enemy, when they im-
pute the insurrection in Greece to the same spirit before
which they tremble throughout the rest of Europe, and



PREFACE. XI



that enemy well knows the power and the cunning of its
opponents, and watches the moment of their approaching
weakness and inevitable division to wrest the bloody scep-
tres from their grasp.



HELLAS



DRAMATIS PERSONS.

M AH MUD.

Hassan

Daood.

Ahasuerus, a Jew,

Chorus of Greek Captive Women.

Messengers, Slaves and Attendants,



Scene, Constantinople.
Time, Sunset.



HELLAS

A LYEICAL DIIAMA.

Scene, a Terrace on the Seraglio.

Mahmud {sleeping) y an Indian Slave sitting beside his

Cotich,

CHORUS OF GREEK CAPTIVE WOMEN.

We strew these opiate flowers

On thy restless pillow, —
They were stript from Orient bowers,
By the Indian billow.
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep,
Like theirs who fell — not ours who weep !

INDIAN.

Away, unlovely dreams !

Away, false shapes of sleep I

Be his, as Heaven seems.

Clear, and bright, and deep !
b2



4 HELLAS.

Soft as love, and calm as death,

Sweet as a summer night without a breath.

CHORUS.

Sleep, sleep ! our song is laden

With the soul of slumber ;
It was sung by a.Samian maiden,
Whose lover was of the number
Who now keep
That calm sleep
Whence none may wake, where none shall weep.

INDIAN.

I touch thy temples pale !

I breathe my soul on thee I
And could my prayers avail,
All my joj should be
Dead, and I would live to weep,
So thou might'st win one hour of quiet sleep.

CHORUS.

Breathe low, low
The spell of the mighty mistress now !
When Conscience lulls her sated snake,
And Tyrants sleep, let Freedom wake.
Breathe low — low
The words which, hke secret fire, shall flow
Through the veins of the frozen earth — low, Ioav !



HELLAS.
SEMICHORUS 1st.

Life may change, but it may fly not ;
Hope may vanish, but can die not ;
Truth be veil'd, but still it burneth ;
Love repulsed, — but it returneth .

SEMICHORUS 2d.
Yet were life a charnel where

Hope lay coffin'd with Despair ;

Yet were truth a sacred lie,

Love were lust —

SEMICHORUS 1st.

If Libert}'

Lent not life its soul of light,
Hope its iris of delight.
Truth its prophet's robe to wear,
Love its power to give and bear.

CHORUS.

In the great morning of the world,
The spirit of God with might unfurl'd
The flag of Freedom over Chaos,

And all its banded anarchs fled.
Like vultures frighted from Imaus,

Before an earthquake's tread. —
So from Time's tempestuous dawn
Freedom's splendour burst and shone : —
Thermopylae and Marathon



HELLAS.

Caught, like mountains beacon-lighted,

The springing Fire. — The winged glory
On Philippi half-alighted.

Like an eagle on a promontory.
Its unwearied wings could fan
The quenchless ashes of Milan. Q)
From age to age, from man to man.

It Uved ; and Ht from land to land,
Florence, Albion, Switzerland.
Then night fell ; and, as from night,
Re-assuming fiery flight,
From the West swift Freedom came.

Against the course of Heaven and doom,
A second sun array'd in flame.

To bum, to kindle, to illume.
From far Atlantis its young beams
Chased the shadows and the dreams
France, with all her sanguine steams,
Hid, but quench'd it not ; again
Through clouds its shafts of glory rain
From utmost Germany to Spain.
As an eagle fed with morninof
Scorns the embattled tempests warning,
When she seeks her aiery hanging
In the mountain-cedar's hair,
And her brood expect the clanging

Of her winofs throusfh the wild air.



HELLAS.

Sick with famine : — Freedom, so
To what of Greece remaineth now
Returns ; her hoary ruins glow
Like Orient mountains lost in day ;

Beneath the safety of her wings
Her renovated nurselings prey,

And in the naked liorhtnin^xs
Of truth they purge their dazzled eyes.
Let Freedom leave — where'er she flies,
A Desart, or a Paradise :

Let the beautiful and the brave

Share her glory, or a grave.

SEMICHORUS 1st.

With the gifts of gladness
Greece did thy cradle strew ;

SEMICHORUS 2d.
With the tears of sadness

Greece did thy shroud bedew \

SEMICHORUS 1st.

With an orphan's affection

She foUow'd thy bier through Time ;

SEMICHORUS 2d.
And at thy resurrection

Re-appeareth, like thou, sublime !

SEMICHORUS 1st.
If Heaven should resume thee,

To Heaven shall her spirit ascend ;



8 HELLAS.

SEMICHORUS 2d.
If Hell should entomb thee,

To Hell shall her high hearts bend.

SEMICHORUS 1st.

. If Annihilation

SEMICHORUS 2d.

Dust let her glories be !

And a name and a nation

Be forgotten, Freedom, with thee !

INDIAN.
His brow grows darker — breathe not — move not I

He starts — he shudders — ye that love not.

With your panting loud and fast,

Have awaken'd him at last.

Mahmud (darting from his sleep)
Man the Seraglio-guard ! make fast the gate.

What ! from a cannonade of three short hours ?

'Tis false ! that breach towards the Bosphorus

Cannot be practicable yet — who stirs ?

Stand to the match ; that when the foe prevails

One spark may mix in reconciling ruin

The conqueror and the conquered ! Heave the tower

Into the gap — wrench off the roof.

(ZiWer Hassan.)

Ha ! what I
The truth of day lightens upon my dream
And I am Mahmud still.



HELLAS.

Hassan.

Your Sublime Highness
Is strangely moved.

Mahmud.
. The times do cast strange shadows
On those who watch and who must rule their course.
Lest they, being first in peril as in glory,
Be whelmed in the fierce ebb : — and these are of them.
Thrice has a gloomy vision hunted me
As thus from sleep into the troubled day ;
It shakes me as the tempest shakes the sea,
Leaving no figure upon memory's glass.
Would that — no matter. Thou didst say thou k newest
A Jew, whose spirit is a chronicle
Of strange and secret and forgotten things.
I bade thee summon him : — 'tis said his tribe
Dream, and are wise interpreters of dreams.

Hassan.
The Jew of whom I spake is old,— so old
He seems to have outlived a world's decay ;
The hoary mountains and the wrinkled ocean
Seem younger still than he ; — his hair and beard
Are whiter than the tempest-sifted snow ;
His cold pale limbs and pulseless arteries
Are like the fibres of a cloud instinct



10 HELLAS.

With liglit, and to the soul that quickens them
Are as the atoms of the mountain-drift
To the winter wind : — but from his eye looks forth
A life of unconsumed thought which pierces
The present, and the past, and the to-come.
Some say that this is he whom the great prophet
Jesus, the son of Joseph, for his mockery
Mocked with the curse of immortality.
Some feign that he is Enoch : others dream
He was pre-adamite and has survived
Cycles of generation and of ruin.
The sage, in truth, by dreadful abstinence
And conquering penance of the mutinous flesh.
Deep contemplation, and unwearied study,
In years outstretch'd beyond the date of man,
May have attained to sovereignty and science
Over those strong and secret things and thoughts
Which others fear and know not.
Mahmud.

I would talk
With this old Jew.

Hassan.
Thy will is even now
Made known to him, where he dwells in a sea-cavern
'Mid the Demonesi, less accessible
Than thou or God I He who would question him



HELLAS. 11

Must sail alone at sunset, where the stream
Of Ocean sleeps around those foamless isles,
When the young moon is westering as now,
And evening airs wander upon the wave ;
And when the pines of that bee-pasturing isle,
Green Erebinthus, quench the fiery shadow
Of his gilt prow within the sapphire water,
Then must the lonely helmsman cry aloud
Ahasuerus ! and the caverns round
Will answer Ahasuerus ! If his prayer
Be granted, a faint meteor will arise
Lighting him over Marmora, and a wind
Will rush out of the sighing pine-forest,
And with the wind a storm of harmony
Unutterably sweet, and pilot him
Through the soft twilight to the Bosphorus :
Thence at the hour and place and circumstance
Fit for the matter of their conference
The Jew appears. Few dare, and few who dare
Win the desired communion — but that shout

Bodes {a shout witliin)

Maiimud.
Evil, doubtless ; Uke all human sounds.
Let me converse with spirits.

Hassan.

That shout again.



12 HELLAS.

Mahmud.
This Jew whom thou hast summon'd —

Hassan.



Will be here —



Mahmud.
When the omnipotent hour to which are yoked
He, I, and all things shall compel — enough.
Silence those mutineers — that drunken crew,
That crowd about the pilot in the storm.
Ay ! strike the foremost shorter by a head !
They weary me, and I have need of rest.
Kings are like stars — they rise and set, they have
The worship of the world, but no repose.

(Exeunt severally.
Chorus. (^)
Worlds on worlds are rolling ever

From creation to decay.
Like the bubbles on a river

Sparkling, bursting, borne away.
But they are still immortal
Who, through birth's orient portal
And death's dark chasm hurrying to and fro,
Clothe their unceasing flight
In the brief dust and light
Gather'd around their chariots as they go ;



HELLAS. 13

New shapes they still may weave,
New gods, new laws receive,
Bright or dim are they as the robes they last
On Death's bare ribs had cast.

A power from the unknown God,

A Promethean conqueror came ;
Like a triumphal path he trod
The thorns of death and shame.
A mortal shape to him
Was Hke the vapour dim
Which the orient planet animates with light ;
Hell, Sin and Slavery came,
Like blood-hounds mild and tame.
Nor prey'd, until their Lord had taken flight ;
The moon of Mahomet
Arose, and it shall set :
While blazon' d as on heaven's immortal noon
The cross leads generations on.

Swift as the radiant shapes of sleep

From one whose dreams are Paradise
Fly, when the fond wretch wakes to weep,
And day peers forth with her blank eyes ;
So fleet, so faint, so fair.
The powers of earth and air
Fled from the folding star of Bethlehem :



14 HELLAS.

Apollo, Pan, and Love,
And even Olympian Jove
Grew weak, for killing Truth had glared on them ;
Our hills and seas and streams
Dispeopled of their dreams,
Their waters turned to blood, their dew to tears,
Wailed for the golden years.

Enter Mahmud, Hassan, Daood, and others.

Mahmud.
More gold ? our ancestors bought gold with victory,
And shall I sell it for defeat ?

Daood.

The Janizars
Clamour for pay.

Mahmud.
Go ! bid them pay themselves
With Christian blood ! Are there no Grecian virgins
Whose shrieks and spasms and tears they may enjoy ?
No infidel children to impale on spears ?
No hoary priests after that Patriarch (^)
Who bent the curse against his country's heart,
Which clove his own at last ? Go ! bid them kill,



Blood is the seed of gold.



Daood.
It has been sown,



HELLAS. 15

And yet the harvest to the sicklemen
Is as a grain to each.

Mahmud.
Then, take this signet.
Unlock the seventh chamber in which lie
The treasures of victorious Solyman.
An empire's spoil stored for a day of ruin.
spirit of my sires ! is it not come ?
The prey-birds and the wolves are gorged and sleep ;
But these, who spread their feast on the red earth,
Hunger for gold, which fills not. — See them fed ;
Then, lead them to the rivers of fresh death.

{Exit Daood.
! miserable dawn, after a night
More glorious than the day which it usurped 1
O, faith in God ! 0, power on earth ! 0, word
Of the great prophet, whose o'ershadowing wings
Darkened the thrones and idols of the West,
Now bright ! — For thy sake cursed be the hour,
Even as a father by an evil child,
When the Orient moon of Islam roll'd in triumph
From Caucasus to White Ceraunia I
Ruin above, and anarchy below ;
Terror without, and treachery within ;
The Chalice of destruction full, and all
Thirsting to drink ; and who among us dares
To dash it from his lips ? and where is Hope ?



16 HELLAS.

Hassan.

The lamp of our dominion still rides high ;
One God is God — Mahomet is his prophet.
Four hundred thousand Moslems from the limits
Of utmost Asia, irresistibly
Throng, Hke full clouds at the Sairocco's cry ;.
But not like them to weep their strength in tears :
They bear destroying lightning, and their step
Wakes earthquake to consume and overwhelm,
And reign in ruin. Phrygian Olympus,
Tmolus, and Latmos, and Mycale, roughen
With horrent arms ; and lofty ships even now,
Like vapours anchor d to a mountain's edge,
Freighted with fire and whirlwind, wait at Scala
The convoy of the ever-veering wind.
Samos is drunk with blood ; — the Greek has paid
Brief victory with swift loss and long despair.
The false Moldavian serfs fled fast and far.
When the fierce shout of Allah-ilia- Allah !
Rose like the war-cry of the northern wind
Which kills the sluggish clouds, and leaves a flock
Of wild swans struggling with the naked storm.
So were the lost Greeks on the Danube's day 1
If night is mute, yet the returning sun
Kindles the voices of the morning birds ;
Nor at thy bidding less exultingly



HELLAS. 17

Than birds rejoicing in the golden day,

The Anarchies of Africa unleash

Their tempest- winged cities of the sea,

To speak in thunder to the rebel world.

Like sulphurous clouds, half-shattered by the storm,

They sweep the pale ^Egean, while the Queen

Of Ocean, bound upon her island-throne.

Far in the West sits mourning that her sons

Who frown on Freedom spare a smile for thee :

Russia still hovers, as an eagle might

Within a cloud, near which a kite and crane

Hang tangled in inextricable fight,

To stoop upon the victor ; — for she fears

The name of Freedom, even as she hates thine.

But recreant Austria loves thee as the Grave

Loves Pestilence, and her slow dogs of war,

Flesh'd with the chase, come up from Italy,

And howl upon their limits ; for they see

The panther. Freedom, fled to her old cover.

Amid seas and mountains, and a mightier brood

Crouch round. What Anarch wears a crown or mitre,

Or bears the sword, or grasps the key of gold,

Whose friends are not thy friends, whose foes thy foes ?

Our arsenals and our armories are full ;

Our forts defy assault ; ten thousand cannon

Lie ranged upon the beach, and hour by hour



18 HELLAS.

Their earth-convulsing wheels affright the city ;

The galloping of fiery steeds makes pale

The Christian merchant ; and the yellow Jew

Hides his hoard deeper in the faithless earth.

Like clouds, and Hke the shadows of the clouds,

Over the hills of Anatolia,

Swift in wide troops the Tartar chivalry


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