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POEMS WRITTEN FROM 1814
STANZA, WRITTEN AT BRACKNELL.'
Thy dewy looks sink in my breast;
Thy gentle words stir poison there;
That was the portion of despair !
I could have borne my wayward lot:
Had cankered then—but crushed it not.
TO MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT
MINE eyes were dim with tears unshed;
Yes, I was firm—thus wert not thou ;My baffled looks did fear yet dread
To meet thy looks—I could not know i This stanza was written in March 1814, while Shelley was staying at the house of Mrs. Boinville. See Memoir, in vol. i, pages xxx and xxxi.-ED.
2 This poem belongs to June 1814.-ED.
How anxiously they sought to shine
To sit and curb the soul's mute rage
Which preys upon itself alone; To curse the life which is the cage
Of fettered grief that dares not groan,
The thou alone should be,
As thou, sweet love, requited me When none were near-Oh! I did wake From torture for that moment's sake.
Of peace and pity fell like dew
Mine tremblingly; thy dark eyes threw Their soft persuasion on my brain, Charming away its dream of pain.
We are not happy, sweet ! our state
Is strange and full of doubt and fear; More need of words that ills abate ;
Reserve or censure come not near Our sacred friendship, lest there be No solace left for thee and me.
Gentle and good and mild thou art,
Nor can I live if thou appear
Aught but thyself, or turn thine heart
Away from me, or stoop to wear
YET look on me—take not thine eyes away,
Which feed upon the love within mine own, Which is indeed but the reflected ray
Of thine own beauty from my spirit thrown.
Yet speak to me—thy voice is as the tone Of my heart's echo, and I think I hear
That thou yet lovest me; yet thou alone Like one before a mirror, without care Of aught but thine own features, imaged there; And yet I wear out life in watching thee;
A toil so sweet at times, and thou indeed Art kind when I am sick, and pity me.
Above the cold sky shone;
From caves of ice and fields of snow,
Beneath the sinking moon. i Though usually assigned to November 1815, these lines probably belong to November 1816, the month in which Harriett Shelley drowned herself. If so, “ raven hair" is used as a disguise, Harriett's hair having been light brown.-En.
The wintry hedge was black,
The green grass was not seen, The birds did rest on the bare thorn's breast, Whose roots, beside the pathway track, Had bound their folds o'er many a crack,
Which the frost had made between.
Of the moon's dying light;
That shook in the wind of night.
The wind made thy bosom chill-
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Might visit thee at will.
THERE late was One within whose subtle being,
He walked along the pathway of a field
That night the youth and lady mingled lay In love and sleep—but when the morning came The lady found her lover dead and cold. Let none believe that God in mercy gave That stroke. The lady died not, nor grew
wild, But year by year lived on-in truth I think Her gentleness and patience and sad smiles, 30 And that she did not die, but lived to tend Her agèd father, were a kind of madness, If madness 'tis to be unlike the world. For but to see her were to read the tale Woven by some subtlest bard, to make hard
Dissolve away in wisdom-working grief;
i This line is probably corrupt in two particulars. I believe the true reading to be sun-rise for sun and wake for walk; but I know of no authority for making the changes.-ED.