Shelley Sunday: ‘To Harriet’

To Harriet (Thy look of love …)

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thy look of love has power to calm
The stormiest passion of my soul;
Thy gentle words are drops of balm
In life’s too bitter bowl;
No grief is mine, but that alone
These choicest blessings I have known.

Harriet! if all who long to live
In the warm sunshine of thine eye,
That price beyond all pain must give, —
Beneath thy scorn to die;
Then hear thy chosen own too late
His heart most worthy of thy hate.

Be thou, then, one among mankind
Whose heart is harder not for state,
Thou only virtuous, gentle, kind
Amid a world of hate;
And by a slight endurance seal
A fellow-being’s lasting weal.

For pale with anguish is his cheek,
His breath comes fast, his eyes are dim,
Thy name is struggling ere he speak,
Weak is each trembling limb;
In mercy let him not endure
The misery of a fatal cure.

Oh, trust for once no erring guide!
Bid the remorseless feeling flee;
‘Tis malice, ’tis revenge, ’tis pride,
‘Tis anything but thee;
Oh, deign a nobler pride to prove,
And pity if thou canst not love.

Written May,1814

Image Source: Harriet Shelley’s engagement ring from P. Shelley. Shelley’s Ghost Exhibition.

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