November 4 1814: No Sweet Mary


On November 4, 1814, Percy Shelley, still in hiding from his creditors, writes to Mary Godwin, in answer to her letters of yesterday. 

My beloved boasts that she is more perfect in the practice than I in the theory of love) Is it thus? No, sweet Mary, you only meant that you loved me more than you could express; that reasoning was too cold and slow for the rapid fervor of your conceptions. Perhaps, in truth, Peacock had infected me; my disquisitions were cold, my subtleties unmeaningly refined ; and I am a harp responsive to every wind, — the scented gale of summer can wake it to sweet melody, but the rough, cold blasts draw forth discordances and jarring sounds.

My love, did I not appear happy to-day? For a few moments I was entranced in most delicious pleasure; yet I was absent and dejected. I knew not when we might meet again, when I might hold you in my arms, and gaze on your dear eyes at will I expect to hear from Hooper to-morrow. Thus it is my letters are full of money, whilst my being overflows with unbounded love and elevated thoughts.

How little philosophy and affection consort with this turbid scene, — this dark scheme of things finishing in unfruitful death! There are moments in your absence, my love, when the bitterness with which I regret the unrecoverable time wasted in unprofitable
solitude and worldly cares is a most painful weight.

You alone reconcile me to myself, and to my beloved hopes.

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