Shelley – Nineteenth-Century Poetry continues – (27)

Allen Ginsberg on Shelley’s “Hellas” continues from here 

AG: Then “The world’s great age..”  – (and this is one of the most heroic passages in English poetry):

“The world’s great age begins anew,/The golden years return,/The earth doth like a snake renew/Her winter weeds outworn:/Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,/ Like wrecks of a dissolving dream” – (The American empire, or the British empire already) – “A brighter Hellas rears its mountains/From waves serener far..” – (“Hellas” is ancient Greece, for those of you who don’t know, ancient classical Greece) –  “A new Peneus rolls his fountains/Against the morning star./Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep/ Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep./  A loftier Argo cleaves the main,/Fraught with a later prize;/Another Orpheus sings again,/And loves, and weeps, and dies./A new Ulysses leaves once more/Calypso for his native shore./   Oh, write no more the tale of Troy,/If earth Death’s scroll must be!/Nor mix with Laian rage the joy/Which dawns upon the free:/Although a subtler Sphinx renew/Riddles of death Thebes never knew./ Another Athens shall arise,/And to remoter time/ Bequeath, like sunset to the skies,/The splendor of its prime;/And leave, if nought so bright may live,/All earth can take or Heaven can give./   Saturn and Love their long repose/ Shall burst, more bright and good/Than all who fell, than One who rose,/Than many unsubdued:/Not gold, not blood, their altar dowers,/ But votive tears and symbol flowers./  Oh cease! must hate and death return?/ Cease! must men kill and die?/Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn/ Of bitter prophecy./The world is weary of the past,/ Oh, might it die or rest at last!”

Well, I guess there’s footnotes for all the (references)-  for Jason and Pelias and “Laian rage.”  You can look those up yourself, actually.  Just references to heroic moments in Greek mythology or Gods or the Argo, which I guess was the search for the Golden Fleece or something – a Grail A great treasure – a great spiritual treasure or physical treasure.

But he sure is sick of the revolutions at this point, and sick of existence –  sick of the return of existence.  Except he thinks that there’ll be a kind of cyclical history.

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-two-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in

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