Ai!," like Shelley's "Of," mirrors, as the action of language positing its power, this dissolution of words into their originating and unknowable source figured by Shelley (as his figure of disfiguration) as, among others, the "dark abyss," "abysm," "shoreless sea," "bottomless void," "Oblivion," "void circumference," "intense inane." "Words," Shelley remarks in his De, rice of Poetry, figure as a "temporary dress" or "accidental vesture" or "the alloy of costume, habit, etc." (487), what he calls (perhaps with Wordsworth's "vanishings" ["Immortality Ode" 144] in mind) "the vanishing apparitions that haunt the interlunations
of life," "interlunations
" being the blank darkness between the old and new moon when there appears to be no moon at all.
Such writers are, in Shelley's view, "spirits of the most refined organization," whose poetry "thus makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world; it arrests the vanishing apparitions which haunt the interlunations
of life, and veiling them, or in language or in form, sends them forth among mankind, bearing sweet news of kindred joy to those with whom their sisters abide" (505).