To Edward Williams.

A poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley

1.
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
Fled in the April hour.
I too must seldom seek again
Near happy friends a mitigated pain.

2.
Of hatred I am proud, - with scorn content;
Indifference, that once hurt me, now is grown
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, -
Its medicine is tears, - its evil good.

3.
Therefore, if now I see you seldomer,
Dear friends, dear FRIEND! know that I only fly
Your looks, because they stir
Griefs that should sleep, and hopes that cannot die:
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Should quickly perish if it were withdrawn.

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

5.
Full half an hour, to-day, I tried my lot
With various flowers, and every one still said,
'She loves me - loves me not.'
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.

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

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

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