June 25, 2011

Wake the serpent not

I have no idea what this poetic fragment by Percy Shelley means or where he was going with it. Perhaps the Gentle Reader may have better luck:

Wake the serpent not -- lest he
Should not know the way to go, --
Let him crawl which yet lies sleeping
Through the deep grass of the meadow!
Not a bee shall hear him creeping,
Not a may-fly shall awaken
From its cradling blue-bell shaken,
Not the starlight as he's sliding
Through the grass with silent gliding.

1 comment:

John Wheater said...

I wonder if in fact what we have is an unresolved protasis, and he just never finished it.  

"Let him but....[and then]". 

Or maybe it is nonsense but "ravishing poetry", as Housman said of "Nymphs and Shepherds, dance no more".