Percy Bysshe Shelley

Aug. 4, 1792 - July 8, 1822



V. Despair

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ask not the pallid stranger's woe,
With beating heart and throbbing breast,
Whose step is faltering, weak, and slow,
As though the body needed rest;

Whose 'wildered eye no object meets,
Nor cares to ken a friendly glance,
With silent grief his bosom beats, --
Now fixed, as in a deathlike trance;

Who looks around with fearful eye,
And shuns all converse with mankind,
As though some one his griefs might spy,
And soothe them with a kindred mind.

A friend or foe to him the same,
He looks on each with equal eye;
The difference lies but in the name,
To none for comfort can he fly. --

'Twas deep despair, and sorrow's trace,
To him too keenly given,
Whose memory, time could not efface --
His peace was lodged in Heaven. --

He looks on all this world bestows,
The pride and pomp of power,
As trifles best for pageant shows
Which vanish in an hour.

When torn is dear affection's tie,
Sinks the soft heart full low;
It leaves without a parting sigh,
All that these realms bestow.

June, 1810.


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.
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