To Jane

Lyrics: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Music and guitar accompaniment: Garry O'Briain
Fiddle and Viola: Patricia Kelly


This poem was written to Jane Williams for whom Shelley became increasingly infatuated. He was unable to borrow enough money to buy her a harp from Paris and presented her with a guitar instead.  Shelley wrote to a friend three weeks before his death: "I listen the whole evening on our terrace to the simple melodies with excessive delight. I have a boat here and we drive along this delightful bay in the evening wind, under the summer moon, until earth appears another world. Jane brings her guitar and, if the past and future could be obliterated, the present would content me so well that I could say with Faust to the passing moment, "Remain, thou, thou art so beautiful." Shelley left this particular poem in Jane's room with a note: "I commend it to your secrecy and your mercy and will try to do better another time."

The keen stars were twinkling,
And the fair moon was rising among them,
Dear Jane!
The guitar was tinkling,
But the notes were not sweet till you'd sung them

As the moon's soft splendour
O'er the faint cold starlight of heaven
Is thrown,
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
Its own

The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later,
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter

Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
A tone
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.