A monologue from the play by Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Prometheus Unbound; A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts with Other Poems. Percy Bysshe Shelley. London: C and J Ollier, 1820.
  • MERCURY: Crouch then in silence. Awful Sufferer!
    To thee unwilling, most unwillingly
    I come, by the great Father's will driven down,
    To execute a doom of new revenge.
    Alas! I pity thee, and hate myself
    That I can do no more: aye from thy sight
    Returning, for a season, Heaven seems Hell,
    So thy worn form pursues me night and day,
    Smiling reproach. Wise art thou, firm and good,
    But vainly wouldst stand forth alone in strife
    Against the Omnipotent; as yon clear lamps
    That measure and divide the weary years
    From which there is no refuge, long have taught
    And long must teach. Even now thy Torturer arms
    With the strange might of unimagined pains
    The powers who scheme slow agonies in Hell,
    And my commission is to lead them here,
    Or what more subtle, foul, or savage fiends
    People the abyss, and leave them to their task.
    Be it not so! there is a secret known
    To thee, and to none else of living things,
    Which may transfer the sceptre of wide Heaven,
    The fear of which perplexes the Supreme:
    Clothe it in words, and bid it clasp his throne
    In intercession; bend thy soul in prayer,
    And like a suppliant in some gorgeous fane,
    Let the will kneel within thy haughty heart:
    For benefits and meek submission tame
    The fiercest and the mightiest.