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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!

1866.

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Thomas Hardy