Monday, February 15, 2010


Lately I've been reading some of Shelley's poems, going back over ground I first covered some 40 years ago. Yesterday I read "Mutability" again, and was again inspired. Many critics find a lot of skepticism and pessimism in the poem, but I don't. This poem, to me, speaks of the humble (and maybe joyful) acceptance of the impermanent nature of the universe. Impermanence can be thought of as a blessing as well as a curse.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! -yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:
Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.
We rest. -A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. -One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:
It is the same! -For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutablilty.

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