To Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
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
How anxiously they sought to shine
With soothing pity upon mine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written June, 1814
Published 1824. The text is that of 1839.
Source:The Lyrics and Shorter Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Copyright 1907, reprinted 1913
London: J.M. Dent and Sons, Ltd.
New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.