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POEMS WRITTEN FROM 1814

TO 1816.

STANZA, WRITTEN AT BRACKNELL.'

Thy dewy looks sink in my breast;

Thy gentle words stir poison there;
Thou hast disturbed the only rest

That was the portion of despair !
Subdued to Duty's hard control,

I could have borne my wayward lot:
The chains that bind this ruined soul

Had cankered then—but crushed it not.

TO MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT

GODWIN.

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
With soothing pity upon mine.

II.

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,
Hiding from many a careless eye
The scornèd load of agony.

III.
Whilst thou alone, then not regarded,

The thou alone should be,
To spend years thus, and be rewarded,

As thou, sweet love, requited me When none were near-Oh! I did wake From torture for that moment's sake.

IV.
Upon my heart thy accents sweet

Of peace and pity fell like dew
On flowers half dead ;—thy lips did meet

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.

VI.

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
The mask of scorn, although it be
To hide the love thou feel'st for me.

TO

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.

LINES.

1.
The cold earth slept below,

Above the cold sky shone;
And all around, with a chilling sound,

From caves of ice and fields of snow,
The breath of night like death did flow

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.

II.

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.

III.
Thine eyes glowed in the glare

Of the moon's dying light;
As a fenfire's beam on a sluggish stream
Gleams dimly, so the moon shone there,
And it yellowed the strings of thy raven hair,

That shook in the wind of night.

IV.
The moon made thy lips pale, beloved

The wind made thy bosom chill-
The night did shed on thy dear head

Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky

Might visit thee at will.

THE SUNSET.

THERE late was One within whose subtle being,
As light and wind within some delicate cloud
That fades amid the blue noon's burning sky,
Genius and death contended. None may know
The sweetness of the joy which made his breath
Fail, like the trances of the summer air,
When, with the Lady of his love, who then
First knew the unreserve of mingled being,

He walked along the pathway of a field
Which to the east a hoar wood shadowed o'er,
But to the west was open to the sky... 11
There now the sun had sunk, but lines of gold
Hung on the ashen clouds, and on the points
Of the far level grass and nodding flowers
And the old dandelion's hoary beard,
And, mingled with the shades of twilight, lay
On the brown massy woods—and in the east
The broad and burning moon lingeringly rose
Between the black trunks of the crowded trees,
While the faint stars were gathering overhead.-
“ Is it not strange, Isabel,” said the youth, 21
“I never saw the sun? We will walk here
To-morrow; thou shalt look on it with me.”

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

hearts

Dissolve away in wisdom-working grief;
Her eyes were black and lustreless and wan:
Her eyelashes were worn away with tears;

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.

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