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Shelley on the spirit of poetry

Percy Bysshe Shelley's lyric poetry has sung through the ages beyond his brief years (1792-1822) and the British romantic period he emblematized. No"el Coward used a play on words from the first line of ``To a Skylark'' (whose opening and closing stanzas appear below) for his supernatural comedy ``Blithe Spirit.'' To Shelley the phrase evidently meant the spirit of poetry itself.

1 Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert, That from Heaven, or near it, Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

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2 Higher still and higher From the earth thou springest Like a cloud of fire; The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

3 In the golden lightning Of the sunken Sun, O'er which clouds are bright'ning, Thou dost float and run; Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

19 Yet if we could scorn Hate, and pride, and fear; If we were things born Not to shed a tear, I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

20 Better than all measures Of delightful sound, Better than all treasures That in books are found, Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

21 Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

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