Percy Bysshe Shelley

Aug. 4, 1792 - July 8, 1822


Song. (Stern, stern is the voice of fate's fearful command...)

XIII. Stern is the voice of fate's fearful command

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

To___ [Harriet].

Stern, stern is the voice of fate's fearful command,
When accents of horror it breathes in our ear,
Or compels us for aye bid adieu to the land,
Where exists that loved friend to our bosom so dear,
'Tis sterner than death o'er the shuddering wretch bending,
And in skeleton grasp his fell sceptre extending,
Like the heart-stricken deer to that loved covert wending,
Which never again to his eyes may appear --

And ah! he may envy the heart-stricken quarry,
Who bids to the friend of affection farewell,
He may envy the bosom so bleeding and gory,
He may envy the sound of the drear passing knell,
Not so deep is his grief on his death couch reposing,
When on the last vision his dim eyes are closing!
As the outcast whose love-raptured senses are losing
The last tones of thy voice on the wild breeze that swell!

Those tones were so soft, and so sad, that ah! never,
Can the sound cease to vibrate on Memory's ear,
In the stern wreck of Nature for ever and ever,
The remembrance must live of a friend so sincere.

August, 1810.


The Lyrics and Shorter Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Copyright 1907, reprinted 1913
London: J.M. Dent and Sons, Ltd.
New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.
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