Percy Bysshe Shelley: Invocation to Misery

Invocation to Misery

Published by Medwin, "The Athenaeum", September 8, 1832. Reprinted (as "Misery, a Fragment") by Mrs. Shelley, "Poetical Works", 1839, 1st edition. Our text is that of 1839. A pencil copy of this poem is amongst the Shelley manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. See Mr. C.D. Locock's "Examination", etc., 1903, page 38. The readings of this copy are indicated by the letter B. in the footnotes.

Come, be happy!—sit near me,
Shadow-vested Misery:
Coy, unwilling, silent bride,
Mourning in thy robe of pride,
Come, be happy!—sit near me:
Sad as I may seem to thee,
I am happier far than thou,
Lady, whose imperial brow
Is endiademed with woe.
Misery! we have known each other,
Like a sister and a brother
Living in the same lone home,
Many years—we must live some
Hours or ages yet to come.
'Tis an evil lot, and yet
Let us make the best of it;
If love can live when pleasure dies,
We two will love, till in our eyes
This heart's Hell seem Paradise.
Come, be happy!—lie thee down
On the fresh grass newly mown,
Where the Grasshopper doth sing
Merrily—one joyous thing
In a world of sorrowing!
There our tent shall be the willow,
And mine arm shall be thy pillow;
Sounds and odours, sorrowful
Because they once were sweet, shall lull
Us to slumber, deep and dull.
Ha! thy frozen pulses flutter
With a love thou darest not utter.
Thou art murmuring—thou art weeping—
Is thine icy bosom leaping
While my burning heart lies sleeping?
Kiss me;—oh! thy lips are cold:
Round my neck thine arms enfold—
They are soft, but chill and dead;
And thy tears upon my head
Burn like points of frozen lead.
Hasten to the bridal bed—
Underneath the grave 'tis spread:
In darkness may our love be hid,
Oblivion be our coverlid—
We may rest, and none forbid.
Clasp me till our hearts be grown
Like two shadows into one;
Till this dreadful transport may
Like a vapour fade away,
In the sleep that lasts alway.
We may dream, in that long sleep,
That we are not those who weep;
E'en as Pleasure dreams of thee,
Life-deserting Misery,
Thou mayst dream of her with me.
Let us laugh, and make our mirth,
At the shadows of the earth,
As dogs bay the moonlight clouds,
Which, like spectres wrapped in shrouds,
Pass o'er night in multitudes.
All the wide world, beside us,
Show like multitudinous
Puppets passing from a scene;
What but mockery can they mean,
Where I am—where thou hast been?
_1 near B., 1839; by 1832.
_8 happier far]merrier yet B.
_15 Hours or]Years and 1832.
_17 best]most 1832.
_19 We two will]We will 1832.
_27 mine arm shall be thy B., 1839; thine arm shall be my 1832.
_33 represented by asterisks, 1832.
_34, _35 Thou art murmuring, thou art weeping,
Whilst my burning bosom's leaping 1832;
Was thine icy bosom leaping
While my burning heart was sleeping B.
_40 frozen 1832, 1839, B.; molten cj. Forman.
_44 be]is B.
_47 shadows]lovers 1832, B.
_59 which B., 1839; that 1832.
_62 Show]Are 1832, B.
_63 Puppets passing]Shadows shifting 1832; Shadows passing B.
_64, _65 So B.: What but mockery may they mean?
Where am I?—Where thou hast been 1832.