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Thomas Hardy (1840–1928). Wessex Poems and Other Verses. 1898.

7. A Confession to a Friend in Trouble

YOUR troubles shrink not, though I feel them less

Here, far away, than when I tarried near;

I even smile old smiles—with listlessness—

Yet smiles they are, not ghastly mockeries mere.

A thought too strange to house within my brain

Haunting its outer precincts I discern:

—That I will not show zeal again to learn

Your griefs, and, sharing them, renew my pain.…

It goes, like murky bird or buccaneer

That shapes its lawless figure on the main,

And each new impulse tends to make outflee

The unseemly instinct that had lodgment here;

Yet, comrade old, can bitterer knowledge be

Than that, though banned, such instinct was in me!