To a Poet That Died Young


To a Poet That Died Young was published in Millay's collection, Second April (1921). She pays tribute to the premature death of poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley at the age of 29, when he drown in the Gulf of Spezia.
To a Poet That Died Young
Joseph Severn, Posthumous portrait of Shelley writing Prometheus Unbound, 1845

     Minstrel, what have you to do
     With this man that, after you,
     Sharing not your happy fate,
     Sat as England's Laureate?
     Vainly, in these iron days,
     Strives the poet in your praise,
     Minstrel, by whose singing side
     Beauty walked, until you died.

     Still, though none should hark again,
     Drones the blue-fly in the pane,
     Thickly crusts the blackest moss,
     Blows the rose its musk across,
     Floats the boat that is forgot
     None the less to Camelot.

     Many a bard's untimely death
     Lends unto his verses breath;
     Here's a song was never sung:
     Growing old is dying young.
     Minstrel, what is this to you:
     That a man you never knew,
     When your grave was far and green,
     Sat and gossiped with a queen?

     Thalia knows how rare a thing
     Is it, to grow old and sing;
     When a brown and tepid tide
     Closes in on every side.
     Who shall say if Shelley's gold
     Had withstood it to grow old?

To a Poet That Died Young was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Sat, Jul 08, 2023

Find out more about Percy Bysshe Shelley and his canon of work.


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