Wrecks in a dissolving dream

At one point in Dos Passos’s One Man’s Initiiation-1917, the character Martin remembers the poem Hellas by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Unfortunately he cannot remember the words to recite them. The subsequent chapter of the book is then headed by a short image from that poem

Faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks in a dissolving dream.

I ran back to my volume of Shelley (really, I have all my favorite poets in at least one edition) and it seems reasonable to share the poem



by: Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822)

HE world’s great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her wintry weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.

A brighter Hellas rears its mountains
From waves serener far;
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 claims 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.

O 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 splendour of its prime;
And leave, if naught so bright may live,
All earth can take or Heaven 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.

O cease! must hate and death return?
Cease! must men kill and die?
Cease! drain not its dregs the urn
Of bitter prophecy!
The world is weary of the past–
O might it die or rest at last!

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