The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (ed. Hutchinson, 1914)/To Edward Williams

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[Published in Ascham's edition of the Poems, 1834. There is a copy amongst the Trelawny MSS.]

The serpent is shut out from Paradise.
The wounded deer must seek the herb no more
In which its heart-cure lies:
The widowed dove must cease to haunt a bower
Like that from which its mate with feigned sighs 5
Fled in the April horn.
I too must seldom seek again
Near happy friends a mitigated pain.

Of hatred I am proud,—with scorn content;
Indifference, that once hurt me, now is grown[1] 10
Itself indifferent;
But, not to speak of love, pity alone
Can break a spirit already more than bent.
The miserable one
Turns the mind's poison into food,— 15
Its medicine is tears,—its evil good.

Therefore, if now I see you seldomer.
Dear friends, dear friend![2] know that I only fly
Your looks, because they stir
Griefs that should sleep, and hopes that cannot die: 20
The very comfort that they minister
I scarce can bear, yet I,
So deeply is the arrow gone,
Should quickly perish if it were withdrawn.

When I return to my cold home, you ask 25
Why I am not as I have ever[3] been.
You spoil me for the task
Of acting a forced part in[4] life's dull scene,—
Of wearing on my brow the idle mask
Of author, great or mean, 30
In the world's carnival. I sought
Peace thus, and but in you I found it not.

Full half an hour, to-day, I tried my lot
With various flowers, and every one still said,
'She loves me—loves me not.' 35
And if this meant a vision long since fled—
If it meant fortune, fame, or peace of thought—
If it meant,—but I dread
To speak what you may know too well:
Still there was truth in the sad oracle. 40

The crane o'er seas and forests seeks her home;
No bird so wild but has its quiet nest,
When[5] it no more would roam;
The sleepless billows on the ocean's breast
Break like a bursting heart, and die in foam, 45
And thus at length find rest:
Doubtless there is a place of peace
Where my weak heart and all its throbs will[6] cease.

I asked her, yesterday, if she believed
That I had resolution. One who had 50
Would ne'er have thus relieved
His heart with words,—but what his judgement bade
Would do, and leave the scorner unrelieved[7] .
These verses are[8] too sad
To send to you, but that I know, 55
Happy yourself, you feel another's woe.

  1. To Edward Williams—10 Indifference, which once hurt me, is now grown Trelawny MS.
  2. 18 Dear friends, dear friend Trelawny MS., 1839, 2nd ed.; Dear gentle friend 1834, 1839, 1st ed.
  3. 26 ever] lately Trelawny MS.
  4. 28 in Trelawny MS.; on 1834, edd. 1839.
  5. 43 When 1839, 2nd ed.; Whence 1834, 1839, 1st ed.
  6. 48 will 1839, 2nd ed.; shall 1834, 1839, 1st ed.
  7. 53 unrelieved Trelawny MS., 1839, 2nd ed. unreprieved 1834, 1839, 1st ed.
  8. 54 are] were Trelawny MS.