The complete poems of emily dickinson

This page features the full text of ALL the Poems known to be composed by Emily Dickinson. Also included here are Dickinson family photos, and images of Emily's original handwritten manuscripts. 

You'd have to scroll down about a mile to see it all. But containing all of Emily Dickinson's poetry on a single page offers convenience and other benefits for poets, historians, students, and anyone who loves Emily Dickinson. 

The poems shown below appear in alphabetical order, arranged by first line. 

Corrections made on this document are noted as they appear. Also find a NEW poem by Emily Dickinson and many more surprises! 

This has been a labor of love for Emily. 

Why no one has done this before is a mystery to me. 

Here are just a few cool things you can do with this massive file:

  • Search certain words to create themed poems.
  • Search for a verse you like by typing in a word or phrase you remember from a poem. 
  • Pick lines at random and meditate on their meanings, or just on the sheer beauty of Emily's electrifying word formations. 
  • Analyze the works of Emily Dickinson with greater ease for any school project. 
  • ESL students can use Emily Dickinson's poems to learn the English language. 

You can even print your favorite lines and make them into poetry magnets for your fridge. You can't help noticing that every line is a gem! Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • The Orchard sparkled like a Jew
  • The parasol is the umbrella's daughter 
  • Touch lightly Nature's sweet Guitar 
  • We shall find the Cube of the Rainbow 

Nobody says Poems better than Emily Dickinson!  

Children Can Go Here Right Now To See A Collection Of Award Winning Children's Poems 

For another extraordinary surprise discovery, visit this link:

The Posthumous Autobiography of Emily Dickinson 


GO HERE to see the Spanish Translation Of This Poem

Above Left: Emily Dickinson

Above Right: Susan Gilbert Dickinson 


Looking for a quick study? Go Here To See

The Top 10 Poems By Emily Dickinson 

ALL known Poems by emily dickinson

A Bee his burnished Carriage

Drove boldly to a Rose —

Combinedly alighting —

Himself — his Carriage was —

The Rose received his visit

With frank tranquillity

Withholding not a Crescent

To his Cupidity —

Their Moment consummated —

Remained for him — to flee —

Remained for her — of rapture

But the humility.

A Bird came down the Walk —

He did not know I saw —

He bit an Angleworm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew

From a convenient Grass —

And then hopped sidewise to the Wall

To let a Beetle pass —

He glanced with rapid eyes

That hurried all around —

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought —

He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,

I offered him a Crumb

And he unrolled his feathers

And rowed him softer home —

Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam —

Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon

Leap, splashless as they swim. 

A brief, but patient illness —

An hour to prepare, 

And one below this morning 

Is where the angels are — 

It was a short procession, 

The Bobolink was there — 

An aged Bee addressed us — 

And then we knelt in prayer — 

We trust that she was willing — 

We ask that we may be 

Summer — Sister — Seraph! 

Let us go with thee! 

A Burdock — clawed my Gown —

Not Burdock's — blame —

But mine —

Who went too near

The Burdock's Den —

A Bog — affronts my shoe —

What else have Bogs — to do —

The only Trade they know —

The splashing Men!

Ah, pity — then!

'Tis Minnows can despise!

The Elephant's — calm eyes

Look further on! 

A Cap of Lead across the sky

Was tight and surly drawn

We could not find the mighty Face

The Figure was withdrawn —

A Chill came up as from a shaft

Our noon became a well

A Thunder storm combines the charms

Of Winter and of Hell. 

A Charm invests a face

Imperfectly beheld —

The Lady dare not lift her Veil

For fear it be dispelled —

But peers beyond her mesh —

And wishes — and denies —

Lest Interview — annul a want

That Image — satisfies — 

A chastened Grace is twice a Grace 

Nay, ’tis a Holiness

With a sweet May Day 

A chilly Peace infests the Grass

The Sun respectful lies —

Not any Trance of industry

These shadows scrutinize —

Whose Allies go no more astray

For service or for Glee —

But all mankind deliver here

From whatsoever sea —

A Clock stopped —

Not the Mantel's —

Geneva's farthest skill

Can't put the puppet bowing —

That just now dangled still —

An awe came on the Trinket!

The Figures hunched, with pain —

Then quivered out of Decimals —

Into Degreeless Noon —

It will not stir for Doctors —

This Pendulum of snow —

The Shopman importunes it —

While cool — concernless No —

Nods from the Gilded pointers —

Nods from the Seconds slim —

Decades of Arrogance between

The Dial life —

And Him —


A Cloud withdrew from the Sky

Superior Glory be

But that Cloud and its Auxiliaries

Are forever lost to me

Had I but further scanned

Had I secured the Glow

In an Hermetic Memory

It had availed me now.

Never to pass the Angel

With a glance and a Bow

Till I am firm in Heaven

Is my intention now.

A Coffin — is a small Domain,

Yet able to contain

A Citizen of Paradise

In its diminished Plane.

A Grave — is a restricted Breadth —

Yet ampler than the Sun —

And all the Seas He populates

And Lands He looks upon

To Him who on its small Repose

Bestows a single Friend —

Circumference without Relief —

Or Estimate — or End —

A Counterfeit — a Plated Person —

I would not be —

Whatever strata of Iniquity

My Nature underlie —

Truth is good Health — and Safety, and the Sky.

How meagre, what an Exile — is a Lie,

And Vocal — when we die —

A curious Cloud surprised the Sky,

'Twas like a sheet with Horns;

The sheet was Blue —

The Antlers Gray —

It almost touched the lawns.

So low it leaned — then statelier drew —

And trailed like robes away,

A Queen adown a satin aisle

Had not the majesty.

A darting fear — a pomp — a tear —

A waking on a morn

To find that what one waked for,

Inhales the different dawn.

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!

Your prayers, oh Passer by!

From such a common ball as this

Might date a Victory!

From marshallings as simple

The flags of nations swang

Steady — my soul: What issues

Upon thine arrow hang!

A Death blow is a Life blow to Some

Who till they died, did not alive become —

Who had they lived, had died but when

They died, Vitality begun.

A Deed knocks first at Thought

And then — it knocks at Will —

That is the manufacturing spot

And Will at Home and well

It then goes out an Act

Or is entombed so still

That only to the ear of God

Its Doom is audible —

A Dew sufficed itself —

And satisfied a Leaf

And felt "how vast a destiny" —

"How trivial is Life!"

The Sun went out to work —

The Day went out to play

And not again that Dew be seen

By Physiognomy

Whether by Day Abducted

Or emptied by the Sun

Into the Sea in passing

Eternally unknown

Attested to this Day

That awful Tragedy

By Transport's instability

And Doom's celerity.

A Diamond on the Hand

To Custom Common grown

Subsides from its significance

The Gem were best unknown —

Within a Seller's Shrine

How many sight and sigh

And cannot, but are mad for fear

That any other buy.

Above images:

A Dimple in the Tomb

Makes that ferocious Room

A Home —

A Door just opened on a street —

I — lost — was passing by —

An instant's Width of Warmth disclosed —

And Wealth — and Company.

The Door as instant shut — And I —

I — lost — was passing by —

Lost doubly — but by contrast — most —

Informing — misery —

A doubt if it be Us

Assists the staggering Mind

In an extremer Anguish

Until it footing find.

An Unreality is lent,

A merciful Mirage

That makes the living possible

While it suspends the lives.

A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree —

Another — on the Roof —

A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves —

And made the Gables laugh —

A few went out to help the Brook

That went to help the Sea —

Myself Conjectured were they Pearls —

What Necklace could be —

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads —

The Birds jocoser sung —

The Sunshine threw his Hat away —

The Bushes — spangles flung —

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes —

And bathed them in the Glee —

Then Orient showed a single Flag,

And signed the Fete away —

A Drunkard cannot meet a Cork

Without a Revery —

And so encountering a Fly

This January Day

Jamaicas of Remembrance stir

That send me reeling in —

The moderate drinker of Delight

Does not deserve the spring —

Of juleps, part are in the Jug

And more are in the joy —

Your connoisseur in Liquours

Consults the Bumble Bee —

A Dying Tiger — moaned for Drink —

I hunted all the Sand —

I caught the Dripping of a Rock

And bore it in my Hand —

His Mighty Balls — in death were thick —

But searching — I could see

A Vision on the Retina

Of Water — and of me —

'Twas not my blame — who sped too slow —

'Twas not his blame — who died

While I was reaching him —

But 'twas — the fact that He was dead —

A face devoid of love or grace,

A hateful, hard, successful face,

A face with which a stone

Would feel as thoroughly at ease

As were they old acquaintances —

First time together thrown.

A faded Boy — in sallow Clothes

Who drove a lonesome Cow

To pastures of Oblivion —

A statesman's Embryo —

The Boys that whistled are extinct —

The Cows that fed and thanked

Remanded to a Ballad's Barn

Or Clover's Retrospect —

A feather from the Whippoorwill

That everlasting — sings!

Whose galleries — are Sunrise —

Whose Opera — the Springs —

Whose Emerald Nest the Ages spin

Of mellow — murmuring thread —

Whose Beryl Egg, what Schoolboys hunt

In "Recess" — Overhead!

A Field of Stubble, lying sere

Beneath the second Sun —

Its Toils to Brindled People thrust —

Its Triumphs — to the Bin —

Accosted by a timid Bird

Irresolute of Alms —

Is often seen — but seldom felt,

On our New England Farms —

A first Mute Coming —

In the Stranger's House —

A first fair Going —

When the Bells rejoice —

A first Exchange — of

What hath mingled — been —

For Lot — exhibited to

Faith — alone —

A Flower will not trouble her,

it has so small a Foot,

And yet if you compare the Lasts,

Hers is the smallest Boot —

A full fed Rose on meals of Tint

A Dinner for a Bee

In process of the Noon became —

Each bright Mortality

The Forfeit is of Creature fair

Itself, adored before

Submitting for our unknown sake

To be esteemed no more —

A fuzzy fellow, without feet,

Yet doth exceeding run!

Of velvet, is his Countenance,

And his Complexion, dun!

Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass!

Sometime, upon a bough,

From which he doth descend in plush

Upon the Passer-by!

All this in summer but when winds

Alarm the Forest Folk,

He taketh Damask Residence —

And struts in sewing silk!

Then, finer than a Lady,

Emerges in the spring!

A Feather on each shoulder!

You'd scarce recognize him!

By Men, yclept Caterpillar!

By me! But who am I,

To tell the pretty secret

Of the Butterfly!

A great Hope fell

You heard no noise

The Ruin was within

Oh cunning wreck that told no tale

And let no Witness in

The mind was built for mighty Freight

For dread occasion planned

How often foundering at Sea

Ostensibly, on Land

A happy lip — breaks sudden —

It doesn't state you how

It contemplated — smiling —

Just consummated — now —

But this one, wears its merriment

So patient — like a pain —

Fresh gilded — to elude the eyes

Unqualified, to scan —

A House upon the Height —

That Wagon never reached —

No Dead, were ever carried down —

No Peddler's Cart — approached —

Whose Chimney never smoked —

Whose Windows — Night and Morn —

Caught Sunrise first — and Sunset — last —

Then — held an Empty Pane —

Whose fate — Conjecture knew —

No other neighbor — did —

And what it was — we never lisped —

Because He — never told —

A Lady red — amid the Hill

Her annual secret keeps!

A Lady white, within the Field

In placid Lily sleeps!

The tidy Breezes, with their Brooms —

Sweep vale — and hill — and tree!

Prithee, My pretty Housewives!

Who may expected be?

The Neighbors do not yet suspect!

The Woods exchange a smile!

Orchard, and Buttercup, and Bird —

In such a little while!

And yet, how still the Landscape stands!

How nonchalant the Hedge!

As if the "Resurrection"

Were nothing very strange!

A lane of Yellow led the eye

Unto a Purple Wood

Whose soft inhabitants to be

Surpasses solitude

If Bird the silence contradict

Or flower presume to show

In that low summer of the West

Impossible to know —

A Letter is a joy of Earth —

It is denied the Gods —

A Light exists in Spring

Not present on the Year

At any other period —

When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad

On Solitary Fields

That Science cannot overtake

But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,

It shows the furthest Tree

Upon the furthest Slope you know

It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step

Or Noons report away

Without the Formula of sound

It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss

Affecting our Content

As Trade had suddenly encroached

Upon a Sacrament.

A little bread — a crust — a crumb —

A little trust — a demijohn —

Can keep the soul alive —

Not portly, mind! but breathing — warm —

Conscious — as old Napoleon,

The night before the Crown!

A modest lot — A fame petite —

A brief Campaign of sting and sweet

Is plenty! Is enough!

A Sailor's business is the shore!

A Soldier's — balls! Who asketh more,

Must seek the neighboring life!

A little Dog that wags his tail

And knows no other joy

Of such a little Dog am I

Reminded by a Boy

Who gambols all the living Day

Without an earthly cause

Because he is a little Boy

I honestly suppose —

The Cat that in the Corner dwells

Her martial Day forgot

The Mouse but a Tradition now

Of her desireless Lot

Another class remind me

Who neither please nor play

But not to make a "bit of noise"

Beseech each little Boy —

Above: Portrait of the Dickinson children around 1840

A little East of Jordan,

Evangelists record,

A Gymnast and an Angel

Did wrestle long and hard —

Till morning touching mountain —

And Jacob, waxing strong,

The Angel begged permission

To Breakfast — to return —

Not so, said cunning Jacob!

"I will not let thee go

Except thou bless me" — Stranger!

The which acceded to —

Light swung the silver fleeces

"Peniel" Hills beyond,

And the bewildered Gymnast

Found he had worsted God!

A little Madness in the Spring

Is wholesome even for the King,

But God be with the Clown —

Who ponders this tremendous scene —

This whole Experiment of Green —

As if it were his own!

A little overflowing word

That any, hearing, had inferred

For Ardor or for Tears,

Though Generations pass away,

Traditions ripen and decay,

As eloquent appears —

A little road not made of man,

Enabled of the eye,

Accessible to thill of bee,

Or cart of butterfly.

If town it have, beyond itself,

'Tis that I cannot say ;

I only sigh,—no vehicle 

Bears me along that way.

A little Snow was here and there

Disseminated in her Hair —

Since she and I had met and played

Decade had gathered to Decade —

But Time had added not obtained

Impregnable the Rose

For summer too indelible

Too obdurate for Snows —

A long — long Sleep — A famous — Sleep —

That makes no show for Morn —

By Stretch of Limb — or stir of Lid —

An independent One —

Was ever idleness like This?

Upon a Bank of Stone

To bask the Centuries away —

Nor once look up — for Noon?

A loss of something ever felt I —

The first that I could recollect

Bereft I was — of what I knew not

Too young that any should suspect

A Mourner walked among the children

I notwithstanding went about

As one bemoaning a Dominion

Itself the only Prince cast out —

Elder, Today, a session wiser

And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —

I find myself still softly searching

For my Delinquent Palaces —

And a Suspicion, like a Finger

Touches my Forehead now and then

That I am looking oppositely

For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven —

A Man may make a Remark —

In itself — a quiet thing

That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark

In dormant nature — lain —

Let us deport — with skill —

Let us discourse — with care —

Powder exists in Charcoal —

Before it exists in Fire.

A Mien to move a Queen —

Half Child — Half Heroine —

An Orleans in the Eye

That puts its manner by

For humbler Company

When none are near

Even a Tear —

Its frequent Visitor —

A Bonnet like a Duke —

And yet a Wren's Peruke

Were not so shy

Of Goer by —

And Hands — so slight —

They would elate a Sprite

With Merriment —

A Voice that Alters — Low

And on the Ear can go

Like Let of Snow —

Or shift supreme —

As tone of Realm

On Subjects Diadem —

Too small — to fear —

Too distant — to endear —

And so Men Compromise

And just — revere —

Above: I think this poem is about Queen Victoria, a very tiny lady who ruled England for most of Emily's lifetime.


Note: The chess theme of this poem and the line "An Orleans in the eye" brings to mind Paul Morphy. He was a former child chess prodigy from New Orleans, Louisiana. Morphy was world famous at the time, so it seems likely that Emily had heard of him.

The year following his father's death, Paul Morphy traveled the world. During his trip to England in 1858, he played chess with Queen Victoria herself. 


A Mine there is no Man would own

But must it be conferred,

Demeaning by exclusive wealth

A Universe beside —

Potosi never to be spent

But hoarded in the mind

What Misers wring their hands tonight

For Indies in the Ground!

A Moth the hue of this

Haunts Candles in Brazil.

Nature's Experience would make

Our Reddest Second pale.

Nature is fond, I sometimes think,

Of Trinkets, as a Girl.

A Murmur in the Trees — to note —

Not loud enough — for Wind —

A Star — not far enough to seek —

Nor near enough — to find —

A long — long Yellow — on the Lawn —

A Hubbub — as of feet —

Not audible — as Ours — to Us —

But dapperer — More Sweet —

A Hurrying Home of little Men

To Houses unperceived —

All this — and more — if I should tell —

Would never be believed —

Of Robins in the Trundle bed

How many I espy

Whose Nightgowns could not hide the Wings —

Although I heard them try —

But then I promised ne'er to tell —

How could I break My Word?

So go your Way — and I'll go Mine —

No fear you'll miss the Road.

A narrow Fellow in the Grass

Occasionally rides — 

You may have met Him — did you not

His notice sudden is —

The Grass divides as with a Comb — 

A spotted shaft is seen —

And then it closes at your feet

And opens further on —

He likes a Boggy Acre

A Floor too cool for Corn —

Yet when a Boy, and Barefoot —

I more than once at Noon

Have passed, I thought, a Whip lash

Unbraiding in the Sun

When stooping to secure it

It wrinkled and was gone —

Several of Nature's People

I know, and they know me —

I feel for them a transport

Of cordiality —

But never met this Fellow,

Attended, or alone

Without a tighter breathing

And Zero at the Bone —

A nearness to Tremendousness —

An Agony procures —

Affliction ranges Boundlessness —

Vicinity to Laws

Contentment's quiet Suburb —

Affliction cannot stay

In Acres — Its Location

Is Illocality —

A Night — there lay the Days between —

The Day that was Before —

And Day that was Behind — were one —

And now — 'twas Night — was here —

Slow — Night — that must be watched away —

As Grains upon a shore —

Too imperceptible to note —

Till it be night — no more —

A not admitting of the wound

Until it grew so wide

That all my Life had entered it

And there were troughs beside —

A closing of the simple lid

that opened to the sun

Until the tender Carpenter

Perpetual nail it down —

A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring

In contrast with the things that sing

Not Birds entirely — but Minds —

Minute Effulgencies and Winds —

When what they sung for is undone

Who cares about a Blue Bird's Tune —

Why, Resurrection had to wait

Till they had moved a Stone —

A Pit — but Heaven over it —

And Heaven beside, and Heaven abroad,

And yet a Pit —

With Heaven over it.

To stir would be to slip —

To look would be to drop —

To dream — to sap the Prop

That holds my chances up.

Ah! Pit! With Heaven over it!

The depth is all my thought —

I dare not ask my feet —

'Twould start us where we sit

So straight you'd scarce suspect

It was a Pit — with fathoms under it —

Its Circuit just the same.

Seed — summer — tomb —

Whose Doom to whom?

A Plated Life — diversified

With Gold and Silver Pain

To prove the presence of the Ore

In Particles — 'tis when

A Value struggle — it exist —

A Power — will proclaim

Although Annihilation pile

Whole Chaoses on Him —

A poor — torn heart — a tattered heart —

That sat it down to rest —

Nor noticed that the Ebbing Day

Flowed silver to the West —

Nor noticed Night did soft descend —

Nor Constellation burn —

Intent upon the vision

Of latitudes unknown.

The angels — happening that way

This dusty heart espied —

Tenderly took it up from toil

And carried it to God —

There — sandals for the Barefoot —

There — gathered from the gales —

Do the blue havens by the hand

Lead the wandering Sails.

A precious — mouldering pleasure — 'tis —

To meet an Antique Book —

In just the Dress his Century wore —

A privilege — I think —

His venerable Hand to take —

And warming in our own —

A passage back — or two — to make —

To Times when he — was young —

His quaint opinions — to inspect —

His thought to ascertain

On Themes concern our mutual mind —

The Literature of Man —

What interested Scholars — most —

What Competitions ran —

When Plato — was a Certainty —

And Sophocles — a Man —

When Sappho — was a living Girl —

And Beatrice wore

The Gown that Dante — deified —

Facts Centuries before

He traverses — familiar —

As One should come to Town —

And tell you all your Dreams — were true —

He lived — where Dreams were born —

His presence is Enchantment —

You beg him not to go —

Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads

And tantalize — just so —

Above: Emily's brother William Austin Dickinson, also known as Austin, or Awe.

A Prison gets to be a friend —

Between its Ponderous face

And Ours — a Kinsmanship express —

And in its narrow Eyes —

We come to look with gratitude

For the appointed Beam

It deal us — stated as our food —

And hungered for — the same —

We learn to know the Planks —

That answer to Our feet —

So miserable a sound — at first —

Nor ever now — so sweet —

A splashing in the Pools —

When Memory was a Boy —

But a Demurer Circuit —

A Geometric Joy —

The Posture of the Key

That interrupt the Day

To Our Endeavor — Not so real

The Check of Liberty —

As this Phantasm Steel —

Whose features — Day and Night —

Are present to us — as Our Own —

And as escapeless — quite —

The narrow Round — the Stint —

The slow exchange of Hope —

For something passiver — Content

Too steep for looking up —

The Liberty we knew

Avoided — like a Dream —

Too wide for any Night but Heaven —

If That — indeed — redeem —

A prompt — executive Bird is the Jay —

Bold as a Bailiff's Hymn —

Brittle and Brief in quality —

Warrant in every line —

Sitting a Bough like a Brigadier

Confident and straight —

Much is the mien of him in March

As a Magistrate —

A Rat surrendered here

A brief career of Cheer

And Fraud and Fear.

Of Ignominy's due

Let all addicted to


The most obliging Trap

Its tendency to snap

Cannot resist —

Temptation is the Friend

Repugnantly resigned

At last.

A Route of Evanescence

With a revolving Wheel —

A Resonance of Emerald —

A Rush of Cochineal —

And every Blossom on the Bush

Adjusts its tumbled Head —

The mail from Tunis, probably,

An easy Morning's Ride —

A Saucer holds a Cup

In sordid human Life

But in a Squirrel's estimate

A Saucer hold a Loaf.

A Table of a Tree

Demands the little King

And every Breeze that run along

His Dining Room do swing.

His Cutlery — he keeps

Within his Russet Lips —

To see it flashing when he dines

Do Birmingham eclipse —

Convicted — could we be

Of our Minutiae

The smallest Citizen that flies

Is heartier than we —

A science — so the Savants say,

"Comparative Anatomy" —

By which a single bone —

Is made a secret to unfold

Of some rare tenant of the mold,

Else perished in the stone —

So to the eye prospective led,

This meekest flower of the mead

Upon a winter's day,

Stands representative in gold

Of Rose and Lily, manifold,

And countless Butterfly!

A Secret told —

Ceases to be a Secret — then —

A Secret — kept —

That — can appal but One —

Better of it — continual be afraid —

Than it —

And Whom you told it to — beside —

A sepal, petal, and a thorn

Upon a common summer's morn —

A flask of Dew — A Bee or two —

A Breeze — a caper in the trees —

And I'm a Rose!

A Shade upon the mind there passes

As when on Noon

A Cloud the mighty Sun encloses


That some there be too numb to notice

Oh God

Why give if Thou must take away

The Loved?

A shady friend — for Torrid days —

Is easier to find —

Than one of higher temperature

For Frigid — hour of Mind —

The Vane a little to the East —

Scares Muslin souls — away —

If Broadcloth Hearts are firmer —

Than those of Organdy —

Who is to blame? The Weaver?

Ah, the bewildering thread!

The Tapestries of Paradise

So notelessly — are made!

A Sickness of this World it most occasions

When Best Men die.

A Wishfulness their far Condition

To occupy.

A Chief indifference, as Foreign

A World must be

Themselves forsake — contented,

For Deity.

A single Clover Plank

Was all that saved a Bee

A Bee I personally knew

From sinking in the sky —

'Twixt Firmament above

And Firmament below

The Billows of Circumference

Were sweeping him away —

The idly swaying Plank

Responsible to nought

A sudden Freight of Wind assumed

And Bumble Bee was not —

This harrowing event

Transpiring in the Grass

Did not so much as wring from him

A wandering "Alas" —

A single Screw of Flesh

Is all that pins the Soul

That stands for Deity, to Mine,

Upon my side the Veil —

Once witnessed of the Gauze —

Its name is put away

As far from mine, as if no plight

Had printed yesterday,

In tender — solemn Alphabet,

My eyes just turned to see,

When it was smuggled by my sight

Into Eternity —

More Hands — to hold — These are but Two —

One more new-mailed Nerve

Just granted, for the Peril's sake —

Some striding — Giant — Love —

So greater than the Gods can show,

They slink before the Clay,

That not for all their Heaven can boast

Will let its Keepsake — go

A slash of Blue —

A sweep of Gray —

Some scarlet patches on the way,

Compose an Evening Sky —

A little purple — slipped between —

Some Ruby Trousers hurried on —

A Wave of Gold —

A Bank of Day —

This just makes out the Morning Sky.

A Sloop of Amber slips away

Upon an Ether Sea,

And wrecks in Peace a Purple Tar,

The Son of Ecstasy —

A soft Sea washed around the House

A Sea of Summer Air

And rose and fell the magic Planks

That sailed without a care —

For Captain was the Butterfly

For Helmsman was the Bee

And an entire universe

For the delighted crew.

A solemn thing — it was — I said —

A woman — white — to be —

And wear — if God should count me fit —

Her blameless mystery —

A hallowed thing — to drop a life

Into the purple well —

Too plummetless — that it return —

Eternity — until —

I pondered how the bliss would look —

And would it feel as big —

When I could take it in my hand —

As hovering — seen — through fog —

And then — the size of this "small" life —

The Sages — call it small —

Swelled — like Horizons — in my vest —

And I sneered — softly — “small"!

A Solemn thing within the Soul

To feel itself get ripe —

And golden hang — while farther up —

The Maker's Ladders stop —

And in the Orchard far below —

You hear a Being — drop —

A Wonderful — to feel the Sun

Still toiling at the Cheek

You thought was finished —

Cool of eye, and critical of Work —

He shifts the stem — a little —

To give your Core — a look —

But solemnest — to know

Your chance in Harvest moves

A little nearer — Every Sun

The Single — to some lives.


A something in a summer's Day

As slow her flambeaux burn away

Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer's noon —

A depth — an Azure — a perfume —

Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer's night

A something so transporting bright

I clap my hands to see —

Then veil my too inspecting face

Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace

Flutter too far for me —

The wizard fingers never rest —

The purple brook within the breast

Still chafes its narrow bed —

Still rears the East her amber Flag —

Guides still the sun along the Crag

His Caravan of Red —

So looking on — the night — the morn

Conclude the wonder gay —

And I meet, coming thro' the dews

Another summer's Day!

A South Wind — has a pathos

Of individual Voice —

As One detect on Landings

An Emigrant's address.

A Hint of Ports and Peoples —

And much not understood —

The fairer — for the farness —

And for the foreignhood. 

A Sparrow took a Slice of Twig

And thought it very nice

I think, because his empty Plate

Was handed Nature twice —

Invigorated, waded

In all the deepest Sky

Until his little Figure

Was forfeited away —

A Spider sewed at Night

Without a Light

Upon an Arc of White.

If Ruff it was of Dame

Or Shroud of Gnome

Himself himself inform.

Of Immortality

His Strategy

Was Physiognomy.

A stagnant pleasure like a Pool

That lets its Rushes grow

Until they heedless tumble in

And make the Water slow

Impeding navigation bright

Of Shadows going down

Yet even this shall rouse itself

When freshets come along.

A still — Volcano — Life —

That flickered in the night —

When it was dark enough to do

Without erasing sight —

A quiet — Earthquake Style —

Too subtle to suspect

By natures this side Naples —

The North cannot detect

The Solemn — Torrid — Symbol —

The lips that never lie —

Whose hissing Corals part — and shut —

And Cities — ooze away —

A Thought went up my mind today —

That I have had before —

But did not finish — some way back —

I could not fix the Year —

Nor where it went — nor why it came

The second time to me —

Nor definitely, what it was —

Have I the Art to say —

But somewhere — in my Soul — I know —

I've met the Thing before —

It just reminded me — 'twas all —

And came my way no more —

A throe upon the features —

A hurry in the breath —

An ecstasy of parting

Denominated "Death" —

An anguish at the mention

Which when to patience grown,

I've known permission given

To rejoin its own.

Above: Lavinia Dickinson, younger

A Toad, can die of Light —

Death is the Common Right

Of Toads and Men —

Of Earl and Midge

The privilege —

Why swagger, then?

The Gnat's supremacy is large as Thine —

Life — is a different Thing —

So measure Wine —

Naked of Flask — Naked of Cask —

Bare Rhine —

Which Ruby's mine?

A Tongue — to tell Him I am true!

Its fee — to be of Gold —

Had Nature — in Her monstrous House

A single Ragged Child —

To earn a Mine — would run

That Interdicted Way,

And tell Him — Charge thee speak it plain —

That so far — Truth is True?

And answer What I do —

Beginning with the Day

That Night — begun —

Nay — Midnight — 'twas —

Since Midnight — happened — say —

If once more — Pardon — Boy —

The Magnitude thou may

Enlarge my Message — If too vast

Another Lad — help thee —

Thy Pay — in Diamonds — be —

And His — in solid Gold —

Say Rubies — if He hesitate —

My Message — must be told —

Say — last I said — was This —

That when the Hills — come down —

And hold no higher than the Plain —

My Bond — have just begun —

And when the Heavens — disband —

And Deity conclude —

Then — look for me. Be sure you say —

Least Figure — on the Road —

A Tooth upon Our Peace

The Peace cannot deface —

Then Wherefore be the Tooth?

To vitalize the Grace —

The Heaven hath a Hell —

Itself to signalize —

And every sign before the Place

Is Gilt with Sacrifice — 

A train went through a burial gate,

A bird broke forth and sang,

And trilled, and quivered, and shook his throat

Till all the churchyard rang ;

And then adjusted his little notes,

And bowed and sang again.

Doubtless, he thought it meet of him

To say good-by to men.

A transport one cannot contain

May yet a transport be —

Though God forbid it lift the lid —

Unto its Ecstasy!

A Diagram — of Rapture!

A sixpence at a Show —

With Holy Ghosts in Cages!

The Universe would go!

A Visitor in Marl —

Who influences Flowers —

Till they are orderly as Busts —

And Elegant — as Glass —

Who visits in the Night —

And just before the Sun —

Concludes his glistening interview —

Caresses — and is gone —

But whom his fingers touched —

And where his feet have run —

And whatsoever Mouth be kissed —

Is as it had not been —

A Weight with Needles on the pounds —

To push, and pierce, besides —

That if the Flesh resist the Heft —

The puncture — coolly tries —

That not a pore be overlooked

Of all this Compound Frame —

As manifold for Anguish —

As Species — be — for name —

A Wife — at daybreak I shall be —

Sunrise — Hast thou a Flag for me?

At Midnight, I am but a Maid,

How short it takes to make a Bride —

Then — Midnight, I have passed from thee

Unto the East, and Victory —

Midnight — Good Night! I hear them call,

The Angels bustle in the Hall —

Softly my Future climbs the Stair,

I fumble at my Childhood's prayer

So soon to be a Child no more —

Eternity, I'm coming — Sire,

Savior — I've seen the face — before!

A wild Blue sky abreast of Winds

That threatened it — did run

And crouched behind his Yellow Door

Was the defiant sun —

Some conflict with those upper friends

So genial in the main

That we deplore peculiarly

Their arrogant campaign —


A Wind that rose

Though not a Leaf

In any Forest stirred

But with itself did cold engage

Beyond the Realm of Bird —

A Wind that woke 

A lone Delight

Like Separation's Swell

Restored in Arctic Confidence

To the Invisible —

A winged spark doth soar about —

I never met it near

For Lightning it is oft mistook

When nights are hot and sere —

Its twinkling Travels it pursues

Above the Haunts of men —

A speck of Rapture — first perceived

By feeling it is gone —

A Word dropped careless on a Page

May stimulate an eye

When folded in perpetual seam

The Wrinkled Maker lie

Infection in the sentence breeds

We may inhale Despair

At distances of Centuries

From the Malaria —

A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live

That day.

A Word made Flesh is seldom

And tremblingly partook

Nor then perhaps reported

But have I not mistook

Each one of us has tasted

With ecstasies of stealth

The very food debated

To our specific strength —

A Word that breathes distinctly

Has not the power to die

Cohesive as the Spirit

It may expire if He —

"Made Flesh and dwelt among us"

Could condescension be

Like this consent of Language

This loved Philology.

A World made penniless by that departure

Of minor fabrics begs

But sustenance is of the spirit

The Gods but Dregs

A wounded deer leaps highest,

I've heard the hunter tell

'Tis but the ecstasy of death,

And then the brake is still.

The smitten rock that gushes,

The trampled steel that springs

A cheek is always redder

Just where the hectic stings!

Mirth is the mail of anguish,

In which it cautions arm,

Lest anybody spy the blood

And "You're hurt" exclaim!

Above Oblivion's Tide there is a Pier

And an effaceless "Few" are lifted there —

Nay — lift themselves — Fame has no Arms —

And but one smile — that meagres Balms —

Abraham to kill him —

Was distinctly told —

Isaac was an Urchin —

Abraham was old —

Not a hesitation —

Abraham complied —

Flattered by Obeisance

Tyranny demurred —

Isaac — to his children

Lived to tell the tale —

Moral — with a Mastiff

Manners may prevail.

Absence disembodies — so does Death

Hiding individuals from the Earth

Superposition helps, as well as love —

Tenderness decreases as we prove —

Absent Place — an April Day —

Daffodils a-blow

Homesick curiosity

To the Souls that snow —

Drift may block within it

Deeper than without —

Daffodil delight but

Him it duplicate —

Adrift! A little boat adrift!

And night is coming down!

Will no one guide a little boat

Unto the nearest town?

So Sailors say — on yesterday —

Just as the dusk was brown

One little boat gave up its strife

And gurgled down and down.

So angels say — on yesterday —

Just as the dawn was red

One little boat — o'erspent with gales —

Retrimmed its masts — redecked its sails —

And shot — exultant on!

Advance is Life's condition

The Grave but a Relay

Supposed to be a terminus

That makes it hated so —

The Tunnel is not lighted

Existence with a wall

Is better we consider

Than not exist at all —

Afraid! Of whom am I afraid?

Not Death — for who is He?

The Porter of my Father's Lodge

As much abasheth me!

Of Life? 'Twere odd I fear [a] thing

That comprehendeth me

In one or two existences —

As Deity decree —

Of Resurrection? Is the East

Afraid to trust the Morn

With her fastidious forehead?

As soon impeach my Crown!

After a hundred years

Nobody knows the Place

Agony that enacted there

Motionless as Peace

Weeds triumphant ranged

Strangers strolled and spelled

At the lone Orthography

Of the Elder Dead

Winds of Summer Fields

Recollect the way —

Instinct picking up the Key

Dropped by memory —

After all Birds have been investigated and laid aside —

Nature imparts the little Blue-Bird — assured

Her conscientious Voice will soar unmoved

Above ostensible Vicissitude.

First at the March — competing with the Wind —

Her panting note exalts us — like a friend —

Last to adhere when Summer cleaves away —

Elegy of Integrity.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes —

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —

The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,

And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round —

A Wooden Way

Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —

Regardless grown,

A Quartz contentment, like a stone —

This is the Hour of Lead —

Remembered, if outlived,

As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —

First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —

After the Sun comes out

How it alters the World —

Waggons like messengers hurry about

Yesterday is old —

All men meet as if

Each foreclosed a news —

Fresh as a Cargo from Batize

Nature's qualities —

Again — his voice is at the door —

I feel the old Degree —

I hear him ask the servant

For such an one — as me —

I take a flower — as I go —

My face to justify —

He never saw me — in this life —

I might surprise his eye!

I cross the Hall with mingled steps —

I — silent — pass the door —

I look on all this world contains —

Just his face — nothing more!

We talk in careless — and it toss —

A kind of plummet strain —

Each — sounding — shyly —

Just — how — deep —

The other's one — had been —

We walk — I leave my Dog — at home —

A tender — thoughtful Moon —

Goes with us — just a little way —

And — then — we are alone —

Alone — if Angels are "alone" —

First time they try the sky!

Alone — if those "veiled faces" — be —

We cannot count — on High!

I'd give — to live that hour — again —

The purple — in my Vein —

But He must count the drops — himself —

My price for every stain!

Above: Lavinia Dickinson, older 

Ah, Teneriffe!

Retreating Mountain!

Purples of Ages — pause for you —

Sunset — reviews her Sapphire Regiment —

Day — drops you her Red Adieu!

Still — Clad in your Mail of ices —

Thigh of Granite — and thew — of Steel —

Heedless — alike — of pomp — or parting

Ah, Teneriffe!

I'm kneeling — still —

Ah, Moon — and Star!

You are very far —

But were no one

Farther than you —

Do you think I'd stop

For a Firmament —

Or a Cubit — or so?

I could borrow a Bonnet

Of the Lark —

And a Chamois' Silver Boot —

And a stirrup of an Antelope —

And be with you — Tonight!

But, Moon, and Star,

Though you're very far —

There is one — farther than you —

He — is more than a firmament — from Me —

So I can never go!

Ah, Necromancy Sweet!

Ah, Wizard erudite!

Teach me the skill,

That I instil the pain

Surgeons assuage in vain,

Nor Herb of all the plain

Can Heal!

Air has no Residence, no Neighbor,

No Ear, no Door,

No Apprehension of Another

Oh, Happy Air!

Ethereal Guest at e'en an Outcast's Pillow —

Essential Host, in Life's faint, wailing Inn,

Later than Light thy Consciousness accost me

Till it depart, persuading Mine —

All but Death, can be Adjusted —

Dynasties repaired —

Systems — settled in their Sockets —

Citadels — dissolved —

Wastes of Lives — resown with Colors

By Succeeding Springs —

Death — unto itself — Exception —

Is exempt from Change —

All Circumstances are the Frame

In which His Face is set —

All Latitudes exist for His

Sufficient Continent —

The Light His Action, and the Dark

The Leisure of His Will —

In Him Existence serve or set

A Force illegible.

All forgot for recollecting

Just a paltry One —

All forsook, for just a Stranger's

New Accompanying —

Grace of Wealth, and Grace of Station

Less accounted than

An unknown Esteem possessing —

Estimate — Who can —

Home effaced — Her faces dwindled —

Nature — altered small —

Sun — if shone — or Storm — if shattered —

Overlooked I all —

Dropped — my fate — a timid Pebble —

In thy bolder Sea —

Prove — me — Sweet — if I regret it —

Prove Myself — of Thee —

All I may, if small,

Do it not display

Larger for the Totalness —

'Tis Economy

To bestow a World

And withhold a Star —

Utmost, is Munificence —

Less, tho' larger, poor.

All men for Honor hardest work

But are not known to earn —

Paid after they have ceased to work

In Infamy or Urn —

All overgrown by cunning moss,

All interspersed with weed,

The little cage of "Currer Bell"

In quiet "Haworth" laid.

Gathered from many wanderings —

Gethsemane can tell

Thro' what transporting anguish

She reached the Asphodel!

Soft fall the sounds of Eden

Upon her puzzled ear —

Oh what an afternoon for Heaven,

When "Bronte" entered there!

All that I do

Is in review

To his enamored mind

I know his eye

Where e'er I ply

Is pushing close behind

Not any Port

Nor any flight

But he doth there preside

What omnipresence lies in wait

For her to be a Bride

All the letters I can write

Are not fair as this —

Syllables of Velvet —

Sentences of Plush,

Depths of Ruby, undrained,

Hid, Lip, for Thee —

Play it were a Humming Bird —

And just sipped — me —

All these my banners be.

I sow my pageantry

In May —

It rises train by train —

Then sleeps in state again —

My chancel — all the plain


All things swept sole away

This — is immensity —

Alone and in a Circumstance

Reluctant to be told

A spider on my reticence

Assiduously crawled

And so much more at Home than I

Immediately grew

I felt myself a visitor

And hurriedly withdrew

Revisiting my late abode

With articles of claim

I found it quietly assumed

As a Gymnasium

Where Tax asleep and Title off

The inmates of the Air

Perpetual presumption took

As each were special Heir —

If any strike me on the street

I can return the Blow —

If any take my property

According to the Law

The Statute is my Learned friend

But what redress can be

For an offense nor here nor there

So not in Equity —

That Larceny of time and mind

That marrow of the Day

By spider, or forbid it Lord

That I should specify.


Alone, I cannot be —

For Hosts — do visit me —

Recordless Company —

Who baffle Key —

They have no Robes, nor Names —

No Almanacs — nor Climes —

But general Homes

Like Gnomes —

Their Coming, may be known

By Couriers within —

Their going — is not —

For they've never gone —

Alter? When the hills do. 

Falter? When the sun 

Question if his glory 

Be the perfect one. 

Surfeit? When the daffodil 

Doth of the dew: 

Even as herself, O friend! 

I will of you!

Although I put away his life —

An Ornament too grand

For Forehead low as mine, to wear,

This might have been the Hand

That sowed the flower, he preferred —

Or smoothed a homely pain,

Or pushed the pebble from his path —

Or played his chosen tune —

On Lute the least — the latest —

But just his Ear could know

That whatsoe'er delighted it,

I never would let go —

The foot to bear his errand —

A little Boot I know —

Would leap abroad like Antelope —

With just the grant to do —

His weariest Commandment —

A sweeter to obey,

Than "Hide and Seek" —

Or skip to Flutes —

Or all Day, chase the Bee —

Your Servant, Sir, will weary —

The Surgeon, will not come —

The World, will have its own — to do —

The Dust, will vex your Fame —

The Cold will force your tightest door

Some February Day,

But say my apron bring the sticks

To make your Cottage gay —

That I may take that promise

To Paradise, with me —

To teach the Angels, avarice,

You, Sir, taught first — to me.

Always Mine!

No more Vacation!

Term of Light this Day begun!

Failless as the fair rotation

Of the Seasons and the Sun.

Old the Grace, but new the Subjects —

Old, indeed, the East,

Yet upon His Purple Programme

Every Dawn, is first.

Ambition cannot find him.

Affection doesn't know

How many leagues of nowhere

Lie between them now.

Yesterday, undistinguished!

Eminent Today

For our mutual honor, Immortality!

Ample make this Bed —

Make this Bed with Awe —

In it wait till Judgment break

Excellent and Fair.

Be its Mattress straight —

Be its Pillow round —

Let no Sunrise' yellow noise

Interrupt this Ground —

An altered look about the hills —

A Tyrian light the village fills —

A wider sunrise in the morn —

A deeper twilight on the lawn —

A print of a vermillion foot —

A purple finger on the slope —

A flippant fly upon the pane —

A spider at his trade again —

An added strut in Chanticleer —

A flower expected everywhere —

An axe shrill singing in the woods —

Fern odors on untravelled roads —

All this and more I cannot tell —

A furtive look you know as well —

And Nicodemus' Mystery

Receives its annual reply!

An antiquated Grace

Becomes that cherished Face

As well as prime

Enjoining us to part

We and our pouting Heart

Good friends with time

An Antiquated Tree

Is cherished of the Crow

Because that Junior Foliage is disrespectful now

To venerable Birds

Whose Corporation Coat

Would decorate Oblivion's

Remotest Consulate.

An awful Tempest mashed the air —

The clouds were gaunt, and few —

A Black — as of a Spectre's Cloak

Hid Heaven and Earth from view.

The creatures chuckled on the Roofs —

And whistled in the air —

And shook their fists —

And gnashed their teeth —

And swung their frenzied hair.

The morning lit — the Birds arose —

The Monster's faded eyes

Turned slowly to his native coast —

And peace — was Paradise!

An Everywhere of Silver

With Ropes of Sand

To keep it from effacing

The Track called Land.

Above: The Dickinson homestead


An honest Tear

Is durabler than Bronze —

This Cenotaph

May each that dies —

Reared by itself —

No Deputy suffice —

Gratitude bears

When Obelisk decays

An Hour is a Sea

Between a few, and me —

With them would Harbor be —

An ignorance a Sunset

Confer upon the Eye —

Of Territory — Color —

Circumference — Decay —

Its Amber Revelation

Exhilarate — Debase —

Omnipotence' inspection

Of Our inferior face —

And when the solemn features

Confirm — in Victory —

We start — as if detected

In Immortality —

An angel is everywhere

And this of all my Hopes

This, is the silent end

Bountiful colored, my Morning rose

Early and sere, its end

Never Bud from a Stem

Stepped with so gay a Foot

Never a Worm so confident

Bored at so brave a Root

"And with what body do they come?" —

Then they do come — Rejoice!

What Door — What Hour — Run — run — My Soul!

Illuminate the House!

"Body!" Then real — a Face and Eyes —

To know that it is them!

Paul knew the Man that knew the News —

He passed through Bethlehem —

Angels in the early morning

May be seen the dews among,

Stooping, plucking, smiling, flying

Do the buds to them belong?

Angels when the sun is hottest

May be seen the sands among,

Stooping, plucking, sighing, flying

Parched the flowers they bear along.

Answer July —

Where is the Bee —

Where is the Blush —

Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July —

Where is the Seed —

Where is the Bud —

Where is the May —

Answer Thee — Me —

Nay — said the May —

Show me the Snow —

Show me the Bells —

Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay —

Where be the Maize —

Where be the Haze —

Where be the Bur?

Here — said the Year —

Apology for Her

Be rendered by the Bee —

Herself, without a Parliament

Apology for Me.

Apparently with no surprise

To any happy Flower

The Frost beheads it at its play —

In accidental power —

The blonde Assassin passes on —

The Sun proceeds unmoved

To measure off another Day

For an Approving God.

 "Arcturus" is his other name —

I'd rather call him "Star."

It's very mean of Science

To go and interfere!

I slew a worm the other day —

A "Savant" passing by

Murmured "Resurgam" — "Centipede"!

"Oh Lord — how frail are we"!

I pull a flower from the woods —

A monster with a glass

Computes the stamens in a breath —

And has her in a "class"!

Whereas I took the Butterfly

Aforetime in my hat —

He sits erect in "Cabinets" —

The Clover bells forgot.

What once was "Heaven" Is "Zenith" now —

Where I proposed to go

When Time's brief masquerade was done

Is mapped and charted too.

What if the poles should frisk about

And stand upon their heads!

I hope I'm ready for "the worst" —

Whatever prank betides!

Perhaps the "Kingdom of Heaven's" changed —

I hope the "Children" there

Won't be "new fashioned" when I come —

And laugh at me — and stare —

I hope the Father in the skies

Will lift his little girl —

Old fashioned — naughty — everything —

Over the stile of "Pearl."

Are Friends Delight or Pain?

Could Bounty but remain

Riches were good —

But if they only stay

Ampler to fly away

Riches are sad.

Arrows enamored of his Heart —

Forgot to rankle there

And Venoms he mistook for Balms

disdained to rankle there —

Art thou the thing I wanted?

Begone — my Tooth has grown —

Supply the minor Palate

That has not starved so long —

I tell thee while I waited

The mystery of Food

Increased till I abjured it

And dine without Like God —

Artists wrestled here!

Lo, a tint Cashmere!

Lo, a Rose!

Student of the Year!

For the easel here

Say Repose!

As by the dead we love to sit,

Become so wondrous dear —

As for the lost we grapple

Tho' all the rest are here —

In broken mathematics

We estimate our prize

Vast — in its fading ration

To our penurious eyes!

As children bid the guest good-night,

And then reluctant turn,

My flowers raise their pretty lips,

Then put their nightgowns on.

As children caper when they wake,

Merry that it is morn,

My flowers from a hundred cribs

Will peep, and prance again.

As far from pity, as complaint —

As cool to speech — as stone —

As numb to Revelation

As if my Trade were Bone —

As far from time — as History —

As near yourself — Today —

As Children, to the Rainbow's scarf —

Or Sunset's Yellow play

To eyelids in the Sepulchre —

How dumb the Dancer lies —

While Color's Revelations break —

And blaze — the Butterflies!

As from the earth the light Balloon

Asks nothing but release —

Ascension that for which it was,

Its soaring Residence.

The spirit looks upon the Dust

That fastened it so long

With indignation,

As a Bird

Defrauded of its song.

As Frost is best conceived

By force of its Result —

Affliction is inferred

By subsequent effect —

If when the sun reveal,

The Garden keep the Gash —

If as the Days resume

The wilted countenance

Cannot correct the crease

Or counteract the stain —

Presumption is Vitality

Was somewhere put in twain.

As if I asked a common Alms -

And in my wondering hand

A Stranger pressed a Kingdom,

And I, bewildered, stand -

As if I asked the Orient

Had it for me a Morn -

And it should lift its purple Dikes,

And shatter Me with Dawn!

As if some little Arctic flower

Upon the polar hem —

Went wandering down the Latitudes

Until it puzzled came

To continents of summer —

To firmaments of sun —

To strange, bright crowds of flowers —

And birds, of foreign tongue!

I say, As if this little flower

To Eden, wandered in —

What then? Why nothing,

Only, your inference therefrom!

As if the Sea should part

And show a further Sea —

And that — a further — and the Three

But a presumption be —

Of Periods of Seas —

Unvisited of Shores —

Themselves the Verge of Seas to be —

Eternity — is Those —

As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away —

Too imperceptible at last

To feel like Perfidy —

A Quietness distilled —

As Twilight long begun —

Or Nature - spending with Herself

Sequestered Afternoon —

Sobriety inhered

Though gaudy influence

The Maple lent unto the Road

And graphic Consequence

Invested sombre place —

As suddenly be worn

By sober Individual

A Homogeneous Gown.

Departed was the Bird —

And scarcely had the Hill —

A flower to help His straightened face

In stress of Burial —

The Winds came closer up —

The Cricket spoke so clear

Presumption was — His Ancestors

Inherited the Floor —

The Dusk drew earlier in —

The Morning foreign shone —

The courteous, but harrowing Grace

Of Guest who would be gone —

And thus, without a Wing

Or service of a Keel —

Our Summer made Her light Escape

Unto the Beautiful

Above: Two different versions of the same poem. Notice that the lines are broken in he first image (1st version), but unbroken in the next 2 images (2nd version). Both appear to have been written by Emily Dickinson, although neither one of them appears to be signed.

It is believed that Emily Dickinson actually wrote at least 4 versions of this poem through the years. The one printed above is the earliest and most complete version. 

As old as Woe —

How old is that?

Some eighteen thousand years —

As old as Bliss

How old is that

They are of equal years

Together chiefest they ard found

But seldom side by side

From neither of them tho' he try

Can Human nature hide

As One does Sickness over

In convalescent Mind,

His scrutiny of Chances

By blessed Health obscured —

As One rewalks a Precipice

And whittles at the Twig

That held Him from Perdition

Sown sidewise in the Crag

A Custom of the Soul

Far after suffering

Identity to question

For evidence it has been —

As plan for Noon and plan for Night

So differ Life and Death

In positive Prospective —

The Foot upon the Earth

At Distance, and Achievement, strains,

The Foot upon the Grave

Makes effort at conclusion

Assisted faint of Love.

As Sleigh Bells seem in summer

Or Bees, at Christmas show —

So fairy — so fictitious

The individuals do

Repealed from observation —

A Party that we knew —

More distant in an instant

Than Dawn in Timbuctoo.

As subtle as tomorrow

That never came,

A warrant, a conviction,

Yet but a name.

As Summer into Autumn slips

And yet we sooner say

"The Summer" than "the Autumn," lest

We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront

The presence to concede

Of one however lovely, not

The one that we have loved —

So we evade the charge of Years

On one attempting shy

The Circumvention of the Shaft

Of Life's Declivity. 

As the Starved Maelstrom laps the Navies

As the Vulture teased

Forces the Broods in lonely Valleys

As the Tiger eased

By but a Crumb of Blood, fasts Scarlet

Till he meet a Man

Dainty adorned with Veins and Tissues

And partakes — his Tongue

Cooled by the Morsel for a moment

Grows a fiercer thing

Till he esteem his Dates and Cocoa

A Nutrition mean

I, of a finer Famine

Deem my Supper dry

For but a Berry of Domingo

And a Torrid Eye —

As Watchers hang upon the East,

As Beggars revel at a feast

By savory Fancy spread —

As brooks in deserts babble sweet

On ear too far for the delight,

Heaven beguiles the tired.

As that same watcher, when the East

Opens the lid of Amethyst

And lets the morning go —

That Beggar, when an honored Guest,

Those thirsty lips to flagons pressed,

Heaven to us, if true.

As we pass Houses musing slow

If they be occupied

So minds pass minds

If they be occupied 

As willing lid o'er weary eye

The Evening on the Day leans

Till of all our nature's House

Remains but Balcony

Ashes denote that Fire was —

Revere the Grayest Pile

For the Departed Creature's sake

That hovered there awhile —

Fire exists the first in light

And then consolidates

Only the Chemist can disclose

Into what Carbonates.

At Half past Three, a single Bird

Unto a silent Sky

Propounded but a single term

Of cautious melody.

At Half past Four, Experiment

Had subjugated test

And lo, Her silver Principle

Supplanted all the rest.

At Half past Seven, Element

Nor Implement, be seen —

And Place was where the Presence was

Circumference between.

At last, to be identified!

At last, the lamps upon thy side

The rest of Life to see!

Past Midnight! Past the Morning Star!

Past Sunrise!

Ah, What leagues there were

Between our feet, and Day!

At least — to pray — is left — is left —

Oh Jesus — in the Air —

I know not which thy chamber is —

I'm knocking — everywhere —

Thou settest Earthquake in the South —

And Maelstrom, in the Sea —

Say, Jesus Christ of Nazareth —

Hast thou no Arm for Me?

At leisure is the Soul

That gets a Staggering Blow —

The Width of Life — before it spreads

Without a thing to do —

It begs you give it Work —

But just the placing Pins —

Or humblest Patchwork — Children do —

To Help its Vacant Hands —

Aurora is the effort

Of the Celestial Face

Unconsciousness of Perfectness

To simulate, to Us.

Autumn — overlooked my Knitting —

Dyes — said He — have I —

Could disparage a Flamingo —

Show Me them — said I —

Cochineal — I chose — for deeming

It resemble Thee —

And the little Border — Dusker —

For resembling Me —

Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,

Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!

Oh the Earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain,

For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain.

All things do go a courting, in earth, or sea, or air,

God hath made nothing single but thee in His world so fair!

The bride, and then the bridegroom, the two, and then the one,

Adam, and Eve, his consort, the moon, and then the sun;

The life doth prove the precept, who obey shall happy be,

Who will not serve the sovereign, be hanged on fatal tree.

The high do seek the lowly, the great do seek the small,

None cannot find who seeketh, on this terrestrial ball;

The bee doth court the flower, the flower his suit receives,

And they make merry wedding, whose guests are hundred leaves;

The wind doth woo the branches, the branches they are won,

And the father fond demandeth the maiden for his son.

The storm doth walk the seashore humming a mournful tune,

The wave with eye so pensive, looketh to see the moon,

Their spirits meet together, they make their solemn vows,

No more he singeth mournful, her sadness she doth lose.

The worm doth woo the mortal, death claims a living bride,

Night unto day is married, morn unto eventide;

Earth is a merry damsel, and heaven a knight so true,

And Earth is quite coquettish, and beseemeth in vain to sue.

Now to the application, to the reading of the roll,

To bringing thee to justice, and marshalling thy soul:

Thou art a human solo, a being cold, and lone,

Wilt have no kind companion, thou reap'st what thou hast sown.

Hast never silent hours, and minutes all too long,

And a deal of sad reflection, and wailing instead of song?

There's Sarah, and Eliza, and Emeline so fair,

And Harriet, and Susan, and she with curling hair!

Thine eyes are sadly blinded, but yet thou mayest see

Six true, and comely maidens sitting upon the tree;

Approach that tree with caution, then up it boldly climb,

And seize the one thou lovest, nor care for space, or time!

Then bear her to the greenwood, and build for her a bower,

And give her what she asketh, jewel, or bird, or flower —

And bring the fife, and trumpet, and beat upon the drum —

And bid the world Goodmorrow, and go to glory home!

Above: Original manuscript of 'Awake Ye Muses Nine,' written in Emily's most perfect penmanship with her favorite fountain pen on March 4th 1850, when the Poet was 19.


Away from Home are some and I —

An Emigrant to be

In a Metropolis of Homes

Is easy, possibly —

The Habit of a Foreign Sky

We — difficult — acquire

As Children, who remain in Face

The more their Feet retire. 

Back from the cordial Grave I drag thee

He shall not take thy Hand

Nor put his spacious arm around thee

That none can understand

Baffled for just a day or two —

Embarrassed — not afraid —

Encounter in my garden

An unexpected Maid.

She beckons, and the woods start —

She nods, and all begin —

Surely, such a country

I was never in!

Above: It's interesting to note how Emily Dickinson liked to experiment with different spellings of her first name. The above poem is signed 'Emilie,' while others are signed 'Emily,' 'Emili,' and possibly even 'Emilii.' 


Banish Air from Air —

Divide Light if you dare —

They'll meet

While Cubes in a Drop

Or Pellets of Shape


Films cannot annul

Odors return whole

Force Flame

And with a Blonde push

Over your impotence

Flits Steam.

Be Mine the Doom —

Sufficient Fame —

To perish in Her Hand!

Beauty — be not caused — It Is —

Chase it, and it ceases —

Chase it not, and it abides —

Overtake the Creases

In the Meadow — when the Wind

Runs his fingers thro' it —

Deity will see to it

That You never do it —

Beauty crowds me till I die

Beauty mercy have on me

But if I expire today

Let it be in sight of thee —

Because He loves Her

We will pry and see if she is fair

What difference is on her Face

From Features others wear.

It will not harm her magic pace

That we so far behind —

Her Distances propitiate

As Forests touch the Wind

Not hoping for his notice vast

But nearer to adore

'Tis Glory's far sufficiency

That makes our trying poor.

Because I could not stop for Death—

He kindly stopped for me—

The Carriage held but just Ourselves—

And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste,

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility—

We passed the School, where Children strove

At recess—in the ring—

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—

We passed the Setting Sun—

Or rather—He passed Us—

The Dews drew quivering and chill—

For only Gossamer, my Gown—

My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground—

The Roof was scarcely visible—

The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—'tis centuries— and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity—

Because my Brook is fluent

I know 'tis dry —

Because my Brook is silent

It is the Sea —

And startled at its rising

I try to flee

To where the Strong assure me

Is "no more Sea" —

Because that you are going

And never coming back

And I, however absolute,

May overlook your Track —

Because that Death is final,

However first it be,

This instant be suspended

Above Mortality —

Significance that each has lived

The other to detect

Discovery not God himself

Could now annihilate

Eternity, Presumption

The instant I perceive

That you, who were Existence

Yourself forgot to live —

The "Life that is" will then have been

A thing I never knew —

As Paradise fictitious

Until the Realm of you —

The "Life that is to be," to me,

A Residence too plain

Unless in my Redeemer's Face

I recognize your own —

Of Immortality who doubts

He may exchange with me

Curtailed by your obscuring Face

Of everything but He —

Of Heaven and Hell I also yield

The Right to reprehend

To whoso would commute this Face

For his less priceless Friend.

If "God is Love" as he admits

We think that me must be

Because he is a "jealous God"

He tells us certainly

If "All is possible with" him

As he besides concedes

He will refund us finally

Our confiscated Gods —

Because the Bee may blameless hum

For Thee a Bee do I become

List even unto Me.

Because the Flowers unafraid

May lift a look on thine, a Maid

Alway a Flower would be.

Nor Robins, Robins need not hide

When Thou upon their Crypts intrude

So Wings bestow on Me

Or Petals, or a Dower of Buzz

That Bee to ride, or Flower of Furze

I that way worship Thee.

Because 'twas Riches I could own,

Myself had earned it — Me,

I knew the Dollars by their names —

It feels like Poverty

An Earldom out of sight to hold,

An Income in the Air,

Possession — has a sweeter chink

Unto a Miser's Ear — 

Bee! I'm expecting you!

Was saying Yesterday

To Somebody you know

That you were due —

The Frogs got Home last Week —

Are settled, and at work —

Birds, mostly back —

The Clover warm and thick —

You'll get my Letter by

The seventeenth; Reply

Or better, be with me —

Yours, Fly.

Bees are Black, with Gilt Surcingles —

Buccaneers of Buzz.

Ride abroad in ostentation

And subsist on Fuzz.

Fuzz ordained — not Fuzz contingent —

Marrows of the Hill.

Jugs — a Universe's fracture

Could not jar or spill.

Before He comes we weigh the Time!

'Tis Heavy and 'tis Light.

When He depart, an Emptiness

Is the prevailing Freight.

Before I got my eye put out

I liked as well to see —

As other Creatures, that have Eyes

And know no other way —

But were it told to me — Today —

That I might have the sky

For mine — I tell you that my Heart

Would split, for size of me —

The Meadows — mine —

The Mountains — mine —

All Forests — Stintless Stars —

As much of Noon as I could take

Between my finite eyes —

The Motions of the Dipping Birds —

The Morning's Amber Road —

For mine — to look at when I liked —

The News would strike me dead —

So safer — guess — with just my soul

Upon the Window pane —

Where other Creatures put their eyes —

Incautious — of the Sun —

Before the ice is in the pools —

Before the skaters go,

Or any check at nightfall

Is tarnished by the snow —

Before the fields have finished,

Before the Christmas tree,

Wonder upon wonder

Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of

On a summer's day —

What is only walking

Just a bridge away —

That which sings so — speaks so —

When there's no one here —

Will the frock I wept in

Answer me to wear?

Before you thought of Spring

Except as a Surmise

You see — God bless his suddenness —

A Fellow in the Skies

Of independent Hues

A little weather worn

Inspiriting habiliments

Of Indigo and Brown —

With specimens of Song

As if for you to choose —

Discretion in the interval

With gay delays he goes

To some superior Tree

Without a single Leaf

And shouts for joy to Nobody

But his seraphic self —

Behind Me — dips Eternity —

Before Me — Immortality —

Myself — the Term between —

Death but the Drift of Eastern Gray,

Dissolving into Dawn away,

Before the West begin —

'Tis Kingdoms — afterward — they say —

In perfect — pauseless Monarchy —

Whose Prince — is Son of None —

Himself — His Dateless Dynasty —

Himself — Himself diversify —

In Duplicate divine —

'Tis Miracle before Me — then —

'Tis Miracle behind — between —

A Crescent in the Sea —

With Midnight to the North of Her —

And Midnight to the South of Her —

And Maelstrom — in the Sky —

Behold this little Bane —

The Boon of all alive —

As common as it is unknown

The name of it is Love —

To lack of it is Woe —

To own of it is Wound —

Not elsewhere — if in Paradise

Its Tantamount be found —

Belshazzar had a letter —

He never had but one

Belshazzar's correspondent

Concluded and begun

In that immortal copy

The conscience of us all

Can read without its glasses

On revelation's wall.

Bereaved of all, I went abroad —

No less bereaved was I

Upon a New Peninsula —

The Grave preceded me —

Obtained my Lodgings, ere myself —

And when I sought my Bed —

The Grave it was reposed upon

The Pillow for my Head —

I waked to find it first awake —

I rose — It followed me —

I tried to drop it in the Crowd —

To lose it in the Sea —

In Cups of artificial Drowse

To steep its shape away —

The Grave — was finished — but the Spade

Remained in Memory —

Bereavement in their death to feel

Whom We have never seen —

A Vital Kinsmanship import

Our Soul and theirs — between —

For Stranger — Strangers do not mourn —

There be Immortal friends

Whom Death see first — 'tis news of this

That paralyze Ourselves —

Who, vital only to Our Thought —

Such Presence bear away

In dying — 'tis as if Our Souls

Absconded — suddenly —

Besides the Autumn poets sing

A few prosaic days

A little this side of the snow

And that side of the Haze —

A few incisive Mornings —

A few Ascetic Eves —

Gone — Mr. Bryant's "Golden Rod" —

And Mr. Thomson's "sheaves."

Still, is the bustle in the Brook —

Sealed are the spicy valves —

Mesmeric fingers softly touch

The Eyes of many Elves —

Perhaps a squirrel may remain —

My sentiments to share —

Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind —

Thy windy will to bear!

Besides this May

We know

There is Another —

How fair

Our Speculations of the Foreigner!

Some know Him whom We knew —

Sweet Wonder —

A Nature be

Where Saints, and our plain going Neighbor

Keep May!

Best Gains — must have the Losses' Test —

To constitute them — Gains —

Best Things dwell out of Sight

The Pearl — the Just — Our Thought.

Most shun the Public Air

Legitimate, and Rare —

The Capsule of the Wind

The Capsule of the Mind

Exhibit here, as doth a Burr —

Germ's Germ be where?

Best Witchcraft is Geometry

To the magician's mind —

His ordinary acts are feats

To thinking of mankind.

Betrothed to Righteousness might be

An Ecstasy discreet

But Nature relishes the Pinks

Which she was taught to eat —

Better — than Music! For I — who heard it —

I was used — to the Birds — before —

This — was different — 'Twas Translation —

Of all tunes I knew — and more —

'Twasn't contained — like other stanza —

No one could play it — the second time —

But the Composer — perfect Mozart —

Perish with him — that Keyless Rhyme!

So — Children — told how Brooks in Eden —

Bubbled a better — Melody —

Quaintly infer — Eve's great surrender —

Urging the feet — that would — not — fly —

Children — matured — are wiser — mostly —

Eden — a legend — dimly told —

Eve — and the Anguish — Grandame's story —

But — I was telling a tune — I heard —

Not such a strain — the Church — baptizes —

When the last Saint — goes up the Aisles —

Not such a stanza splits the silence —

When the Redemption strikes her Bells —

Let me not spill — its smallest cadence —

Humming — for promise — when alone —

Humming — until my faint Rehearsal —

Drop into tune — around the Throne —

Between My Country — and the Others —

There is a Sea —

But Flowers — negotiate between us —

As Ministry.

Above: Amherst Massachusetts, 1886

Between the form of Life and Life

The difference is as big

As Liquor at the Lip between

And Liquor in the Jug

The latter — excellent to keep —

But for ecstatic need

The corkless is superior —

I know for I have tried

Bind me — I still can sing —

Banish — my mandolin

Strikes true within —

Slay — and my Soul shall rise

Chanting to Paradise —

Still thine.

Birthday of but a single pang

That there are less to come —

Afflictive is the Adjective

But affluent the doom —

Blazing in Gold and quenching in Purple

Leaping like Leopards to the Sky

Then at the feet of the old Horizon

Laying her spotted Face to die

Stooping as low as the Otter's Window

Touching the Roof and tinting the Barn

Kissing her Bonnet to the Meadow

And the Juggler of Day is gone

Bless God, he went as soldiers,

His musket on his breast —

Grant God, he charge the bravest

Of all the martial blest!

Please God, might I behold him

In epauletted white —

I should not fear the foe then —

I should not fear the fight!

Bliss is the plaything of the child —

The secret of the man

The sacred stealth of Boy and Girl

Rebuke it if we can

Bloom — is Result — to meet a Flower

And casually glance

Would scarcely cause one to suspect

The minor Circumstance

Assisting in the Bright Affair

So intricately done

Then offered as a Butterfly

To the Meridian —

To pack the Bud — oppose the Worm —

Obtain its right of Dew —

Adjust the Heat — elude the Wind —

Escape the prowling Bee

Great Nature not to disappoint

Awaiting Her that Day —

To be a Flower, is profound

Responsibility —

Bloom upon the Mountain — stated —

Blameless of a Name —

Efflorescence of a Sunset —

Reproduced — the same —

Seed, had I, my Purple Sowing

Should endow the Day —

Not a Topic of a Twilight —

Show itself away —

Who for tilling — to the Mountain

Come, and disappear —

Whose be Her Renown, or fading,

Witness, is not here —

While I state — the Solemn Petals,

Far as North — and East,

Far as South and West — expanding —

Culminate — in Rest —

And the Mountain to the Evening

Fit His Countenance —

Indicating, by no Muscle —

The Experience —

Blossoms will run away,

Cakes reign but a Day,

But Memory like Melody

Is pink Eternally.

Bound — a trouble —

And lives can bear it!

Limit — how deep a bleeding go!

So — many — drops — of vital scarlet —

Deal with the soul

As with Algebra!

Tell it the Ages — to a cypher —

And it will ache — contented — on —

Sing — at its pain — as any Workman —

Notching the fall of the Even Sun!

Bring me the sunset in a cup,

Reckon the morning's flagons up

And say how many Dew,

Tell me how far the morning leaps —

Tell me what time the weaver sleeps

Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be

In the new Robin's ecstasy

Among astonished boughs —

How many trips the Tortoise makes —

How many cups the Bee partakes,

The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow's piers,

Also, who leads the docile spheres

By withes of supple blue?

Whose fingers string the stalactite —

Who counts the wampum of the night

To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House

And shut the windows down so close

My spirit cannot see?

Who'll let me out some gala day

With implements to fly away,

Passing Pomposity?

Brother of Ingots — Ah Peru —

Empty the Hearts that purchased you —

But little Carmine hath her face —

Of Emerald scant — her Gown —

Her Beauty — is the love she doth —

Itself — exhibit — Mine —

But that defeated accent 

is louder now than him 

Eternity may imitate 

The Affluence of time 

By a departing light

We see acuter, quite,

Than by a wick that stays.

There's something in the flight

That clarifies the sight

And decks the rays.

By a flower — By a letter —

By a nimble love —

If I weld the Rivet faster —

Final fast — above —

Never mind my breathless Anvil!

Never mind Repose!

Never mind the sooty faces

Tugging at the Forge!

By Chivalries as tiny,

A Blossom, or a Book,

The seeds of smiles are planted —

Which blossom in the dark.

By homely gift and hindered Words

The human heart is told

Of Nothing —

"Nothing" is the force

That renovates the World —

By my Window have I for Scenery

Just a Sea — with a Stem —

If the Bird and the Farmer — deem it a "Pine" —

The Opinion will serve — for them —

It has no Port, nor a "Line" — but the Jays —

That split their route to the Sky —

Or a Squirrel, whose giddy Peninsula

May be easier reached — this way —

For Inlands — the Earth is the under side —

And the upper side — is the Sun —

And its Commerce — if Commerce it have —

Of Spice — I infer from the Odors borne —

Of its Voice — to affirm — when the Wind is within —

Can the Dumb — define the Divine?

The Definition of Melody — is —

That Definition is none —

It — suggests to our Faith —

They — suggest to our Sight —

When the latter — is put away

I shall meet with Conviction I somewhere met

That Immortality —

Was the Pine at my Window a "Fellow

Of the Royal" Infinity?

Apprehensions — are God's introductions —

To be hallowed — accordingly —

By such and such an offering

To Mr. So and So,

The web of live woven —

So martyrs albums show!

Candor — my tepid friend —

Come not to play with me —

The Myrrhs, and Mochas, of the Mind

Are its iniquity —

Circumference thou Bride of Awe

Possessing thou shalt be

Possessed by every hallowed Knight

That dares to covet thee

Civilization — spurns — the Leopard!

Was the Leopard — bold?

Deserts — never rebuked her Satin —

Ethiop — her Gold —

Tawny — her Customs —

She was Conscious —

Spotted — her Dun Gown —

This was the Leopard's nature — Signor —

Need — a keeper — frown?

Pity — the Pard — that left her Asia —

Memories — of Palm —

Cannot be stifled — with Narcotic —

Nor suppressed — with Balm —

Climbing to reach the costly Hearts

To which he gave the worth,

He broke them, fearing punishment

He ran away from Earth —

Cocoon above! Cocoon below!

Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so

What all the world suspect?

An hour, and gay on every tree

Your secret, perched in ecstasy

Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,

Then gay above receding grass

A Butterfly to go!

A moment to interrogate,

Then wiser than a "Surrogate,"

The Universe to know!

Color — Caste — Denomination —

These — are Time's Affair —

Death's diviner Classifying

Does not know they are —

As in sleep — All Hue forgotten —

Tenets — put behind —

Death's large — Democratic fingers

Rub away the Brand —

If Circassian — He is careless —

If He put away

Chrysalis of Blonde — or Umber —

Equal Butterfly —

They emerge from His Obscuring —

What Death — knows so well —

Our minuter intuitions —

Deem unplausible —

Come show thy Durham Breast

To her who loves thee best,

Delicious Robin —

And if it be not me

At least within my Tree

Do the avowing —

Thy Nuptial so minute

Perhaps is more astute

Than vaster suing —

For so to soar away

Is our propensity

The Day ensuing —

Come slowly — Eden!

Lips unused to Thee —

Bashful — sip they Jessamines —

as the fainting Bee —

Reaching late his flower,

Round her chamber hums —

Counts his nectars — Enters —

and is lost in Balms.

Conferring with myself

My stranger disappeared

Though first upon a berry fat

Miraculously fared

How paltry looked my cares

My practise how absurd

Superfluous my whole career

Beside this travelling Bird

Confirming All who analyze

In the Opinion fair

That Eloquence is when the Heart

Has not a Voice to spare —

Conjecturing a Climate

Of unsuspended Suns —

Adds poignancy to Winter —

The Shivering Fancy turns

To a fictitious Country

To palliate a Cold —

Not obviated of Degree —

Nor erased — of Latitude —

Conscious am I in my Chamber,

Of a shapeless friend —

He doth not attest by Posture —

Nor Confirm — by Word —

Neither Place — need I present Him —

Fitter Courtesy

Hospitable intuition

Of His Company —

Presence — is His furthest license —

Neither He to Me

Nor Myself to Him — by Accent —

Forfeit Probity —

Weariness of Him, were quainter

Than Monotony

Knew a Particle — of Space's

Vast Society

Neither if He visit Other —

Do He dwell — or Nay — know I —

But Instinct esteem Him

Immortality —

Consulting summer's clock,

But half the hours remain.

I ascertain it with a shock —

I shall not look again.

The second half of joy

Is shorter than the first.

The truth I do not dare to know

I muffle with a jest. 

Contained in this short Life

Are magical extents

The soul returning soft at night

To steal securer thence

As Children strictest kept

Turn soonest to the sea

Whose nameless Fathoms slink away

Beside infinity

Cosmopolites without a plea

Alight in every Land

The compliments of Paradise

From those within my Hand

Their dappled Journey to themselves

A compensation fair

Knock and it shall be opened

Is their Theology

Could — I do more — for Thee —

Wert Thou a Bumble Bee —

Since for the Queen, have I —

Nought but Bouquet?

Could Hope inspect her Basis

Her Craft were done —

Has a fictitious Charter

Or it has none —

Balked in the vastest instance

But to renew —

Felled by but one assassin —

Prosperity —

Could I — then — shut the door —

Lest my beseeching face — at last —

Rejected — be — of Her?

Could I but ride indefinite

As doth the Meadow Bee

And visit only where I liked

And No one visit me

And flirt all Day with Buttercups

And marry whom I may

And dwell a little everywhere

Or better, run away

With no Police to follow

Or chase Him if He do

Till He should jump Peninsulas

To get away from me —

I said "But just to be a Bee"

Upon a Raft of Air

And row in Nowhere all Day long

And anchor "off the Bar"

What Liberty! So Captives deem

Who tight in Dungeons are.

Could live — did live —

Could die — did die —

Could smile upon the whole

Through faith in one he met not,

To introduce his soul.

Could go from scene familiar

To an untraversed spot —

Could contemplate the journey

With unpuzzled heart —

Such trust had one among us,

Among us not today —

We who saw the launching

Never sailed the Bay!

Could mortal lip divine

The undeveloped Freight

Of a delivered syllable

'Twould crumble with the weight.

Could that sweet Darkness where they dwell

Be once disclosed to us

The clamor for their loveliness

Would burst the Loneliness —

Count not that far that can be had,

Though sunset lie between —

Nor that adjacent, that beside,

Is further than the sun.

Crisis is a Hair

Toward which the forces creep

Past which forces retrograde

If it come in sleep

To suspend the Breath

Is the most we can

Ignorant is it Life or Death

Nicely balancing.

Let an instant push

Or an Atom press

Or a Circle hesitate

In Circumference

It — may jolt the Hand

That adjusts the Hair

That secures Eternity

From presenting — Here —

Crisis is sweet and yet the Heart

Upon the hither side

Has Dowers of Prospective

To Denizens denied

Inquire of the closing Rose

Which rapture she preferred

And she will point you sighing

To her rescinded Bud.

Crumbling is not an instant's Act

A fundamental pause

Dilapidation's processes

Are organized Decays.

'Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul

A Cuticle of Dust

A Borer in the Axis

An Elemental Rust —

Ruin is formal — Devil's work

Consecutive and slow —

Fail in an instant, no man did

Slipping — is Crash's law.

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat? —

Then crouch within the door —

Red — is the Fire's common tint —

But when the vivid Ore

Has vanquished Flame's conditions,

It quivers from the Forge

Without a color, but the light

Of unannointed Blaze.

Least Village has its Blacksmith

Whose Anvil's even ring

Stands symbol for the finer Forge

That soundless tugs — within —

Refining these impatient Ores

With Hammer, and with Blaze

Until the Designated Light

Repudiate the Forge —

Dear March — Come in —

How glad I am —

I hoped for you before —

Put down your Hat —

You must have walked —

How out of Breath you are —

Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me —

I have so much to tell —

I got your Letter, and the Birds —

The Maples never knew that you were coming — till I called

I declare — how Red their Faces grew —

But March, forgive me — and

All those Hills you left for me to Hue —

There was no Purple suitable —

You took it all with you —

Who knocks? That April.

Lock the Door —

I will not be pursued —

He stayed away a Year to call

When I am occupied —

But trifles look so trivial

As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise

And Praise as mere as Blame —

Death is a dialogue between

The spirit and the dust.

"Dissolve," says Death.  The Spirit, "Sir,

I have another trust."

Death doubts it, argues from the ground.

The Spirit turns away,

Just laying off, for evidence,

An overcoat of clay.

Death is like the insect

Menacing the tree,

Competent to kill it,

But decoyed may be.

Bait it with the balsam,

Seek it with the saw,

Baffle, if it cost you

Everything you are.

Then, if it have burrowed

Out of reach of skill —

Wring the tree and leave it,

'Tis the vermin's will.

Death is potential to that Man

Who dies — and to his friend —

Beyond that — unconspicuous

To Anyone but God —

Of these Two — God remembers

The longest — for the friend —

Is integral — and therefore

Itself dissolved — of God —

Death is the supple Suitor

That wins at last —

It is a stealthy Wooing

Conducted first

By pallid innuendoes

And dim approach

But brave at last with Bugles

And a bisected Coach

It bears away in triumph

To Troth unknown

And Kindred as responsive

As Porcelain.

Death leaves Us homesick, who behind,

Except that it is gone

Are ignorant of its Concern

As if it were not born.

Through all their former Places, we

Like Individuals go

Who something lost, the seeking for

Is all that's left them, now —

Death sets a Thing significant

The Eye had hurried by

Except a perished Creature

Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little Workmanships

In Crayon, or in Wool,

With "This was last Her fingers did" —

Industrious until —

The Thimble weighed too heavy —

The stitches stopped — by themselves —

And then 'twas put among the Dust

Upon the Closet shelves —

A Book I have — a friend gave —

Whose Pencil — here and there —

Had notched the place that pleased Him —

At Rest — His fingers are —

Now — when I read — I read not —

For interrupting Tears —

Obliterate the Etchings

Too Costly for Repairs.

Death warrants are supposed to be

An enginery of equity

A merciful mistake

A pencil in an Idol's Hand

A Devotee has oft consigned

To Crucifix or Block

Death's Waylaying not the sharpest

Of the thefts of Time —

There Marauds a sorer Robber,

Silence — is his name —

No Assault, nor any Menace

Doth betoken him.

But from Life's consummate Cluster —

He supplants the Balm.

Declaiming Waters none may dread —

But Waters that are still

Are so for that most fatal cause

In Nature — they are full —

Defrauded I a Butterfly —

The lawful Heir — for Thee —

Delayed till she had ceased to know —

Delayed till in its vest of snow

Her loving bosom lay —

An hour behind the fleeting breath —

Later by just an hour than Death —

Oh lagging Yesterday!

Could she have guessed that it would be —

Could but a crier of the joy

Have climbed the distant hill —

Had not the bliss so slow a pace

Who knows but this surrendered face

Were undefeated still?

Oh if there may departing be

Any forgot by Victory

In her imperial round —

Show them this meek appareled thing

That could not stop to be a king —

Doubtful if it be crowned!

Delight — becomes pictorial —

When viewed through Pain —

More fair — because impossible

Than any gain —

The Mountain — at a given distance —

In Amber — lies —

Approached — the Amber flits — a little —

And That's — the Skies —

Delight is as the flight —

Or in the Ratio of it,

As the Schools would say —

The Rainbow's way —

A Skein

Flung colored, after Rain,

Would suit as bright,

Except that flight

Were Aliment —

"If it would last"

I asked the East,

When that Bent Stripe

Struck up my childish

Firmament —

And I, for glee,

Took Rainbows, as the common way,

And empty Skies

The Eccentricity —

And so with Lives —

And so with Butterflies —

Seen magic — through the fright

That they will cheat the sight —

And Dower latitudes far on —

Some sudden morn —

Our portion — in the fashion —

Done —

Delight's Despair at setting

Is that Delight is less

Than the sufficing Longing

That so impoverish.

Enchantment's Perihelion

Mistaken oft has been

For the Authentic orbit

Of its Anterior Sun.

Denial — is the only fact

Perceived by the Denied —

Whose Will — a numb significance —

The Day the Heaven died —

And all the Earth strove common round —

Without Delight, or Beam —

What Comfort was it Wisdom — was —

The spoiler of Our Home?

Departed to the judgment,

A mighty afternoon

Great clouds like ushers leaning,

Creation looking on.

The flesh surrendered, cancelled,

The bodiless begun ;

Two worlds, like audiences, disperse

And leave the soul alone.

Departed was the Bird

And scarcely had the Hill

A flower to help His straightened face

In stress at Burial.

The Winds came closer up —

The Cricket spoke so clear

Presumption was — his Ancestors

Inherited the Floor.

The Dusk drew Earlier in —

The Morning foreign shone —

The courteous but harrowing Grace

Of Guest who would be gone —

And thus, without a Wing

or service of a Keel

Our Summer made His Light Escape

Unto the Beautiful.

Deprived of other Banquet,

I entertained Myself —

At first — a scant nutrition —

An insufficient Loaf —

But grown by slender addings

To so esteemed a size

'Tis sumptuous enough for me —

And almost to suffice

A Robin's famine able —

Red Pilgrim, He and I —

A Berry from our table

Reserve — for charity —

Despair's advantage is achieved

By suffering — Despair —

To be assisted of Reverse

One must Reverse have bore —

The Worthiness of Suffering like

The Worthiness of Death

Is ascertained by tasting —

As can no other Mouth

Of Savors — make us conscious —

As did ourselves partake —

Affliction feels impalpable

Until Ourselves are struck —

Dew — is the Freshet in the Grass —

'Tis many a tiny Mill

Turns unperceived beneath our feet

And Artisan lies still —

We spy the Forests and the Hills

The Tents to Nature's Show

Mistake the Outside for the in

And mention what we saw.

Could Commentators on the Sign

Of Nature's Caravan

Obtain "Admission" as a Child

Some Wednesday Afternoon.

Did life's penurious length

Italicize its sweetness,

The men that daily live

Would stand so deep in joy

That it would clog the cogs

Of that revolving reason

Whose esoteric belt

Protects our sanity.

Did Our Best Moment last —

'Twould supersede the Heaven —

A few — and they by Risk — procure —

So this Sort — are not given —

Except as stimulants — in

Cases of Despair —

Or Stupor — The Reserve —

These Heavenly Moments are —

A Grant of the Divine —

That Certain as it Comes —

Withdraws — and leaves the dazzled Soul

In her unfurnished Rooms

Did the Harebell loose her girdle

To the lover Bee

Would the Bee the Harebell hallow

Much as formerly?

Did the "Paradise" — persuaded —

Yield her moat of pearl —

Would the Eden be an Eden,

Or the Earl — an Earl?

Did We abolish Frost

The Summer would not cease —

If Seasons perish or prevail

Is optional with Us — 

Did we disobey Him?

Just one time!

Charged us to forget Him —

But we couldn't learn!

Were Himself — such a Dunce —

What would we — do?

Love the dull lad — best —

Oh, wouldn't you?

Did you ever stand in a Cavern's Mouth —

Widths out of the Sun —

And look — and shudder, and block your breath —

And deem to be alone

In such a place, what horror,

How Goblin it would be —

And fly, as 'twere pursuing you?

Then Loneliness — looks so —

Did you ever look in a Cannon's face —

Between whose Yellow eye —

And yours — the Judgment intervened —

The Question of "To die" —

Extemporizing in your ear

As cool as Satyr's Drums —

If you remember, and were saved —

It's liker so — it seems —

Distance — is not the Realm of Fox

Nor by Relay of Bird

Abated — Distance is

Until thyself, Beloved.

Distrustful of the Gentian —

And just to turn away,

The fluttering of her fringes

Chid my perfidy —

Weary for my (???)

I will singing go —

I shall not feel the sleet — then —

I shall not fear the snow.

Do People moulder equally,

They bury, in the Grave?

I do believe a Species

As positively live

As I, who testify it

Deny that I — am dead —

And fill my Lungs, for Witness —

From Tanks — above my Head —

I say to you, said Jesus —

That there be standing here —

A Sort, that shall not taste of Death —

If Jesus was sincere —

I need no further Argue —

That statement of the Lord

Is not a controvertible —

He told me, Death was dead —

Dominion lasts until obtained —

Possession just as long —

But these — endowing as they flit

Eternally belong.

How everlasting are the Lips

Known only to the Dew —

These are the Brides of permanence

Supplanting me and you.

Don't put up my Thread and Needle —

I'll begin to Sew

When the Birds begin to whistle —

Better Stitches — so —

These were bent — my sight got crooked —

When my mind — is plain

I'll do seams — a Queen's endeavor

Would not blush to own —

Hems — too fine for Lady's tracing

To the sightless Knot —

Tucks — of dainty interspersion —

Like a dotted Dot —

Leave my Needle in the furrow —

Where I put it down —

I can make the zigzag stitches

Straight — when I am strong —

Till then — dreaming I am sewing

Fetch the seam I missed —

Closer — so I — at my sleeping —

Still surmise I stitch —

Above: A short, sweet letter (or is it a poem that doesn't rhyme?) by Emily Dickinson:

Don't you know you are happiest 

while I withhold and not confer — 

Don't you know that "No" is the wildest word

we consign to Language?

You do, for you know all Things —


Doom is the House without the Door —

'Tis entered from the Sun —

And then the Ladder's thrown away,

Because Escape — is done —

'Tis varied by the Dream

Of what they do outside —

Where Squirrels play — and Berries die —

And Hemlocks — bow — to God —

Doubt Me! My Dim Companion!

Why, God, would be content

With but a fraction of the Life —

Poured thee, without a stint —

The whole of me — forever —

What more the Woman can,

Say quick, that I may dower thee

With last Delight I own!

It cannot be my Spirit —

For that was thine, before —

I ceded all of Dust I knew —

What Opulence the more

Had I — a freckled Maiden,

Whose farthest of Degree,

Was — that she might — some distant Heaven,

Dwell timidly, with thee!

Sift her, from Brow to Barefoot!

Strain till your last Surmise —

Drop, like a Tapestry, away,

Before the Fire's Eyes —

Winnow her finest fondness —

But hallow just the snow

Intact, in Everlasting flake —

Oh, Caviler, for you!

Down Time's quaint stream

Without an oar

We are enforced to sail

Our Port a secret

Our Perchance a Gale

What Skipper would

Incur the Risk

What Buccaneer would ride

Without a surety from the Wind

Or schedule of the Tide —

Drab Habitation of Whom?

Tabernacle or Tomb —

Or Dome of Worm —

Or Porch of Gnome —

Or some Elf's Catacomb?

Drama's Vitallest Expression is the Common Day

That arise and set about Us —

Other Tragedy

Perish in the Recitation —

This — the best enact

When the Audience is scattered

And the Boxes shut —

"Hamlet" to Himself were Hamlet —

Had not Shakespeare wrote —

Though the "Romeo" left no Record

Of his Juliet,

It were infinite enacted

In the Human Heart —

Only Theatre recorded

Owner cannot shut —

Dreams — are well — but Waking's better,

If One wake at morn —

If One wake at Midnight — better —

Dreaming — of the Dawn —

Sweeter — the Surmising Robins —

Never gladdened Tree —

Than a Solid Dawn — confronting —

Leading to no Day —

Dreams are the subtle Dower

That make us rich an Hour —

Then fling us poor

Out of the purple Door

Into the Precinct raw

Possessed before —

Dropped into the Ether Acre —

Wearing the Sod Gown —

Bonnet of Everlasting Laces —

Brooch — frozen on —

Horses of Blonde — and Coach of Silver —

Baggage a strapped Pearl —

Journey of Down — and Whip of Diamond —

Riding to meet the Earl —

Drowning is not so pitiful

As the attempt to rise

Three times, 'tis said, a sinking man

Comes up to face the skies,

And then declines forever

To that abhorred abode,

Where hope and he part company —

For he is grasped of God.

The Maker's cordial visage,

However good to see,

Is shunned, we must admit it,

Like an adversity.

Dust is the only Secret —

Death, the only One

You cannot find out all about

In his "native town."

Nobody know "his Father" —

Never was a Boy —

Hadn't any playmates,

Or "Early history" —

Industrious! Laconic!

Punctual! Sedate!

Bold as a Brigand!

Stiller than a Fleet!

Builds, like a Bird, too!

Christ robs the Nest —

Robin after Robin

Smuggled to Rest!

Dying at my music!

Bubble! Bubble!

Hold me till the Octave's run!

Quick! Burst the Windows!


Phials left, and the Sun!

Dying! Dying in the night!

Won't somebody bring the light

So I can see which way to go

Into the everlasting snow?

And "Jesus"! Where is Jesus gone?

They said that Jesus — always came —

Perhaps he doesn't know the House —

This way, Jesus, Let him pass!

Somebody run to the great gate

And see if Dollie's coming! Wait!

I hear her feet upon the stair!

Death won't hurt — now Dollie's here!

Dying! To be afraid of thee

One must to thine Artillery

Have left exposed a Friend —

Than thine old Arrow is a Shot

Delivered straighter to the Heart

The leaving Love behind.

Not for itself, the Dust is shy,

But, enemy, Beloved be

Thy Batteries divorce.

Fight sternly in a Dying eye

Two Armies, Love and Certainty

And Love and the Reverse.

Each Life Converges to some Centre —

Expressed — or still —

Exists in every Human Nature

A Goal —

Embodied scarcely to itself — it may be —

Too fair

For Credibility's presumption

To mar —

Adored with caution — as a Brittle Heaven —

To reach

Were hopeless, as the Rainbow's Raiment

To touch —

Yet persevered toward — sure — for the Distance —

How high —

Unto the Saint's slow diligence —

The Sky —

Ungained — it may be — by a Life's low Venture —

But then —

Eternity enable the endeavoring


Each Scar I'll keep for Him

Instead I'll say of Gem

In His long Absence worn

A Costlier one

But every Tear I bore

Were He to count them o'er

His own would fall so more

I'll miss him then.

Above: The last line of this poem is illegible as written. What does it say?

Each Second is the last

Perhaps, recalls the Man

Just measuring unconsciousness

The Sea and Spar between.

To fail within a Chance —

How terribler a thing

Than perish from the Chance's list

Before the Perishing! 

Each that we lose takes part of us;

A crescent still abides,

Which like the moon, some turbid night,

Is summoned by the tides. 

Eden is that old-fashioned House

We dwell in every day

Without suspecting our abode

Until we drive away.

How fair on looking back, the Day

We sauntered from the Door —

Unconscious our returning,

But discover it no more. 

Elijah's Wagon knew no thill

Was innocent of Wheel

Elijah's horses as unique

As was his vehicle —

Elijah's journey to portray

Expire with him the skill

Who justified Elijah

In feats inscrutable —

Elizabeth told Essex

That she could not forgive

The clemency of Deity

However — might survive —

That secondary succor

We trust that she partook

When suing — like her Essex

For a reprieving Look —

Elysium is as far as to

The very nearest Room

If in that Room a Friend await

Felicity or Doom —

What fortitude the Soul contains,

That it can so endure

The accent of a coming Foot —

The opening of a Door —

Embarrassment of one another

And God

Is Revelation's limit,


Is nothing that is chief,

But still,

Divinity dwells under a seal.

Empty my Heart, of Thee —

Its single Artery —

Begin, and leave Thee out —

Simply Extinction's Date —

Much Billow hath the Sea —

One Baltic — They —

Subtract Thyself, in play,

And not enough of me

Is left — to put away —

"Myself" meanth Thee —

Erase the Root — no Tree —

Thee — then — no me —

The Heavens stripped —

Eternity's vast pocket, picked —

Endanger it, and the Demand

Of tickets for a sigh

Amazes the Humility

Of Credibility —

Recover it to Nature

And that dejected Fleet

Find Consternation's Carnival

Divested of its Meat.

Ended, ere it begun —

The Title was scarcely told

When the Preface perished from Consciousness

The Story, unrevealed —

Had it been mine, to print!

Had it been yours, to read!

That it was not Our privilege

The interdict of God —

Endow the Living — with the Tears —

You squander on the Dead,

And They were Men and Women — now,

Around Your Fireside —

Instead of Passive Creatures,

Denied the Cherishing

Till They — the Cherishing deny —

With Death's Ethereal Scorn —

Escape is such a thankful Word

I often in the Night

Consider it unto myself

No spectacle in sight

Escape — it is the Basket

In which the Heart is caught

When down some awful Battlement

The rest of Life is dropt —

'Tis not to sight the savior —

It is to be the saved —

And that is why I lay my Head

Upon this trusty word —

Escaping backward to perceive

The Sea upon our place —

Escaping forward, to confront

His glittering Embrace —

Retreating up, a Billow's height

Retreating blinded down

Our undermining feet to meet

Instructs to the Divine.

Essential Oils — are wrung —

The Attar from the Rose

Be not expressed by Suns — alone —

It is the gift of Screws —

The General Rose — decay —

But this — in Lady's Drawer

Make Summer — When the Lady lie

In Ceaseless Rosemary —

Estranged from Beauty — none can be —

For Beauty is Infinity —

And power to be finite ceased

Before Identity was leased.

Except the Heaven had come so near —

So seemed to choose My Door —

The Distance would not haunt me so —

I had not hoped — before —

But just to hear the Grace depart —

I never thought to see —

Afflicts me with a Double loss —

'Tis lost — and lost to me —

Except the smaller size

No lives are round —

These — hurry to a sphere

And show and end —

The larger — slower grow

And later hang —

The Summers of Hesperides

Are long.

Except to Heaven, she is nought.

Except for Angels — lone.

Except to some wide-wandering Bee

A flower superfluous blown.

Except for winds — provincial.

Except by Butterflies

Unnoticed as a single dew

That on the Acre lies.

The smallest Housewife in the grass,

Yet take her from the Lawn

And somebody has lost the face

That made Existence — Home!

Exhilaration — is within —

There can no Outer Wine

So royally intoxicate

As that diviner Brand

The Soul achieves — Herself —

To drink — or set away

For Visitor — Or Sacrament —

'Tis not of Holiday

To stimulate a Man

Who hath the Ample Rhine

Within his Closet — Best you can

Exhale in offering.

Exhilaration is the Breeze

That lifts us from the Ground

And leaves us in another place

Whose statement is not found —

Returns us not, but after time

We soberly descend

A little newer for the term

Upon Enchanted Ground —

Expanse cannot be lost —

Not Joy, but a Decree

Is Deity —

His Scene, Infinity —

Whose rumor's Gate was shut so tight

Before my Beam was sown,

Not even a Prognostic's push

Could make a Dent thereon —

The World that thou hast opened

Shuts for thee,

But not alone,

We all have followed thee —

Escape more slowly

To thy Tracts of Sheen —

The Tent is listening,

But the Troops are gone!

Expectation — is Contentment —

Gain — Satiety —

But Satiety — Conviction

Of Necessity

Of an Austere trait in Pleasure —

Good, without alarm

Is a too established Fortune —

Danger — deepens Sum —

Experience is the Angled Road

Preferred against the Mind

By — Paradox — the Mind itself —

Presuming it to lead

Quite Opposite — How Complicate

The Discipline of Man —

Compelling Him to Choose Himself

His Preappointed Pain —

Experiment escorts us last —

His pungent company

Will not allow an Axiom

An Opportunity

Experiment to me

Is every one I meet

If it contain a Kernel?

The Figure of a Nut

Presents upon a Tree

Equally plausibly,

But Meat within, is requisite

To Squirrels, and to Me.

Extol thee — could I? Then I will

By saying nothing new —

But just the truest truth

That thou art heavenly.

Perceiving thee is evidence

That we are of the sky

Partaking thee a guaranty

Of immortality

Exultation is the going

Of an inland soul to sea,

Past the houses — past the headlands —

Into deep Eternity —

Bred as we, among the mountains,

Can the sailor understand

The divine intoxication

Of the first league out from land? 

Facts by our side are never sudden

Until they look around

And then they scare us like a spectre

Protruding from the Ground —

The height of our portentous Neighbor

We never know —

Till summoned to his recognition

By an Adieu —

Adieu for whence

The sage cannot conjecture

The bravest die

As ignorant of their resumption

As you or I —

Fairer through Fading — as the Day

Into the Darkness dips away —

Half Her Complexion of the Sun —

Hindering — Haunting — Perishing —

Rallies Her Glow, like a dying Friend —

Teasing with glittering Amend —

Only to aggravate the Dark

Through an expiring — perfect — look —

Faith — is the Pierless Bridge

Supporting what We see

Unto the Scene that We do not —

Too slender for the eye

It bears the Soul as bold

As it were rocked in Steel

With Arms of Steel at either side —

It joins — behind the Veil

To what, could We presume

The Bridge would cease to be

To Our far, vacillating Feet

A first Necessity.

"Faith" is a fine invention

For Gentlemen who see!

But Microscopes are prudent

In an Emergency!

"Faithful to the end" Amended

From the Heavenly Clause —

Constancy with a Proviso

Constancy abhors —

"Crowns of Life" are servile Prizes

To the stately Heart,

Given for the Giving, solely,

No Emolument.

"Faithful to the end" Amended

From the Heavenly clause —

Lucrative indeed the offer

But the Heart withdraws —

"I will give" the base Proviso —

Spare Your "Crown of Life" —

Those it fits, too fair to wear it —

Try it on Yourself —

Falsehood of Thee could I suppose

'Twould undermine the Sill

To which my Faith pinned Block by Block

Her Cedar Citadel.

Fame is a bee.

  It has a song —

It has a sting —

  Ah, too, it has a wing.

Fame is a fickle food

Upon a shifting plate

Whose table once a

Guest but not

The second time is set.

Whose crumbs the crows inspect

And with ironic caw

Flap past it to the

Farmer's Corn —

Men eat of it and die.

Fame is the one that does not stay —

Its occupant must die

Or out of sight of estimate

Ascend incessantly —

Or be that most insolvent thing

A Lightning in the Germ —

Electrical the embryo

But we demand the Flame

Fame is the tint that Scholars leave

Upon their Setting Names —

The Iris not of Occident

That disappears as comes —

Fame of Myself, to justify,

All other Plaudit be

Superfluous — An Incense

Beyond Necessity —

Fame of Myself to lack — Although

My Name be else Supreme —

This were an Honor honorless —

A futile Diadem —

Fame's Boys and Girls, who never die

And are too seldom born —

Far from Love the Heavenly Father

Leads the Chosen Child,

Oftener through Realm of Briar

Than the Meadow mild.

Oftener by the Claw of Dragon

Than the Hand of Friend

Guides the Little One predestined

To the Native Land.

Fate slew Him, but He did not drop —

She felled — He did not fall —

Impaled Him on Her fiercest stakes —

He neutralized them all —

She stung Him — sapped His firm Advance —

But when Her Worst was done

And He — unmoved regarded Her —

Acknowledged Him a Man. 

Ferocious as a Bee without a wing 

The Prince of Honey and the Prince of Sting 

So plain a flower presents her Disk to thee 

Few, yet enough,

Enough is One —

To that ethereal throng

Have not each one of us the right

To stealthily belong?

Finding is the first Act

The second, loss,

Third, Expedition for

The "Golden Fleece"

Fourth, no Discovery —

Fifth, no Crew —

Finally, no Golden Fleece —

Jason — sham — too.

Finite — to fail, but infinite to Venture —

For the one ship that struts the shore

Many's the gallant — overwhelmed Creature

Nodding in Navies nevermore —

Fitter to see Him, I may be

For the long Hindrance — Grace — to Me —

With Summers, and with Winters, grow,

Some passing Year — A trait bestow

To make Me fairest of the Earth —

The Waiting — then — will seem so worth

I shall impute with half a pain

The blame that I was chosen — then —

Time to anticipate His Gaze —

It's first — Delight — and then — Surprise —

The turning o'er and o'er my face

For Evidence it be the Grace —

He left behind One Day — So less

He seek Conviction, That — be This —

I only must not grow so new

That He'll mistake — and ask for me

Of me — when first unto the Door

I go — to Elsewhere go no more —

I only must not change so fair

He'll sigh — "The Other — She — is Where?"

The Love, tho', will array me right

I shall be perfect — in His sight —

If He perceive the other Truth —

Upon an Excellenter Youth —

How sweet I shall not lack in Vain —

But gain — thro' loss — Through Grief — obtain —

The Beauty that reward Him best —

The Beauty of Demand — at Rest —

Flees so the phantom meadow 

Before the breathless Bee — 

So bubble brooks in deserts

On Ears that dying lie — 

Burn so the Evening Spires 

To Eyes that Closing go —

Hangs so distant Heaven — 

To a hand below. 

Floss won't save you from an Abyss

But a Rope will —

Notwithstanding a Rope for a Souvenir

Is not beautiful —

But I tell you every step is a Trough —

And every stop a Well —

Now will you have the Rope or the Floss?

Prices reasonable —

Flowers — Well — if anybody

Can the ecstasy define —

Half a transport — half a trouble —

With which flowers humble men: 

Anybody find the fountain

From which floods so contra flow —

I will give him all the Daisies

Which upon the hillside blow.

Too much pathos in their faces

For a simple breast like mine —

Butterflies from St. Domingo

Cruising round the purple line —

Have a system of aesthetics —

Far superior to mine.


Fly — fly — but as you fly 

Remember — the second

Pass you by — 

The Second is pursuing 

The Century 

The Century is chasing

Eternity — 

Ah the Responsibility —

No wonder that the

Little Second flee —

Out of its frightened way — 

Follow wise Orion

Till you waste your Eye —

Dazzlingly decamping

He is just as high —

For Death — or rather

For the Things 'twould buy —

This — put away

Life's Opportunity —

The Things that Death will buy

Are Room —

Escape from Circumstances —

And a Name —

With Gifts of Life

How Death's Gifts may compare —

We know not —

For the Rates — lie Here —

For each ecstatic instant

We must an anguish pay

In keen and quivering ratio

To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour

Sharp pittances of years —

Bitter contested farthings —

And Coffers heaped with Tears!

For every Bird a Nest —

Wherefore in timid quest

Some little Wren goes seeking round —

Wherefore when boughs are free —

Households in every tree —

Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high —

Ah Aristocracy!

The little Wren desires —

Perhaps of twig so fine —

Of twine e'en superfine,

Her pride aspires —

The Lark is not ashamed

To build upon the ground

Her modest house —

Yet who of all the throng

Dancing around the sun

Does so rejoice?

For largest Woman's Hearth I knew —

'Tis little I can do —

And yet the largest Woman's Heart

Could hold an Arrow — too —

And so, instructed by my own,

I tenderer, turn Me to.

For this — accepted Breath —

Through it — compete with Death —

The fellow cannot touch this Crown —

By it — my title take —

Ah, what a royal sake

To my necessity — stooped down!

No Wilderness — can be

Where this attendeth me —

No Desert Noon —

No fear of frost to come

Haunt the perennial bloom —

But Certain June!

Get Gabriel — to tell — the royal syllable —

Get Saints — with new — unsteady tongue —

To say what trance below

Most like their glory show —

Fittest the Crown!

Forbidden Fruit a flavor has

That lawful Orchards mocks —

How luscious lies within the Pod

The Pea that Duty locks —

above image: 

Forever — is composed of Nows —

'Tis not a different time —

Except for Infiniteness —

And Latitude of Home —

From this — experienced Here —

Remove the Dates — to These —

Let Months dissolve in further Months —

And Years — exhale in Years —

Without Debate — or Pause —

Or Celebrated Days —

No different Our Years would be

From Anno Domini's —

Forever at His side to walk —

The smaller of the two!

Brain of His Brain —

Blood of His Blood —

Two lives — One Being — now —

Forever of His fate to taste —

If grief — the largest part —

If joy — to put my piece away

For that beloved Heart —

All life — to know each other —

Whom we can never learn —

And bye and bye — a Change —

Called Heaven —

Rapt Neighborhoods of Men —

Just finding out — what puzzled us —

Without the lexicon!

Forever cherished be the Tree

Whose Apple Winter torn

Enticed to breakfast from the Sky

Two Gabriel Yestermorn.

They registered in Nature's book

As Robin — Sire and Son —

But Angels have that modest way

To screen them from Renown

Forget! The lady with the Amulet

Forget she wore it at her Heart

Because she breathed against

Was Treason twixt?

Deny! Did Rose her Bee —

For Privilege of Play

Or Wile of Butterfly

Or Opportunity — Her Lord away?

The lady with the Amulet — will face —

The Bee — in Mausoleum laid —

Discard his Bride —

But longer than the little Rill —

That cooled the Forehead of the Hill —

While Other — went the Sea to fill —

And Other — went to turn the Mill —

I'll do thy Will —

Fortitude incarnate

Here is laid away

In the swift Partitions

Of the awful Sea —

Babble of the Happy

Cavil of the Bold

Hoary the Fruition

But the Sea is old

Edifice of Ocean

Thy tumultuous Rooms

Suit me at a venture

Better than the Tombs

Four Trees — upon a solitary Acre —

Without Design

Or Order, or Apparent Action —

Maintain —

The Sun — upon a Morning meets them —

The Wind —

No nearer Neighbor — have they —

But God —

The Acre gives them — Place —

They — Him — Attention of Passer by —

Of Shadow, or of Squirrel, haply —

Or Boy —

What Deed is Theirs unto the General Nature —

What Plan

They severally — retard — or further —

Unknown —

Frequently the woods are pink —

Frequently, are brown.

Frequently the hills undress

Behind my native town —

Oft a head is crested

I was wont to see —

And as oft a cranny

Where it used to be —

And the Earth — they tell me

On its axis turned!

Wonderful rotation —

By but twelve performed!

Frigid and sweet Her parting Face —

Frigid and fleet my Feet —

Alien and vain whatever Clime

Acrid whatever Fate.

Given to me without the Suit

Riches and Name and Realm —

Who was She to withhold from me

Penury and Home?

From all the Jails the Boys and Girls

Ecstatically leap —

Beloved only Afternoon

That Prison doesn't keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,

A Mob of solid Bliss —

Alas — that Frowns should lie in wait

For such a Foe as this —

From Blank to Blank —

A Threadless Way

I pushed Mechanic feet —

To stop — or perish — or advance —

Alike indifferent —

If end I gained

It ends beyond

Indefinite disclosed —

I shut my eyes — and groped as well

'Twas lighter — to be Blind —

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly

As Lady from her Door

Emerged — a Summer Afternoon —

Repairing Everywhere —

Without Design — that I could trace

Except to stray abroad

On Miscellaneous Enterprise

The Clovers — understood —

Her pretty Parasol be seen

Contracting in a Field

Where Men made Hay —

Then struggling hard

With an opposing Cloud —

Where Parties — Phantom as Herself —

To Nowhere — seemed to go

In purposeless Circumference —

As 'twere a Tropic Show —

And notwithstanding Bee — that worked —

And Flower — that zealous blew —

This Audience of Idleness

Disdained them, from the Sky —

Till Sundown crept — a steady Tide —

And Men that made the Hay —

And Afternoon — and Butterfly —

Extinguished — in the Sea —

above image:

From his slim Palace in the Dust

He relegates the Realm,

More loyal for the exody

That has befallen him. 

From Us She wandered now a Year,

Her tarrying, unknown,

If Wilderness prevent her feet

Or that Ethereal Zone

No eye hath seen and lived

We ignorant must be —

We only know what time of Year

We took the Mystery.

Funny — to be a Century —

And see the People — going by —

I — should die of the Oddity —

But then — I'm not so staid — as He —

He keeps His Secrets safely — very —

Were He to tell — extremely sorry

This Bashful Globe of Ours would be —

So dainty of Publicity —

Further in Summer than the Birds

Pathetic from the Grass

A minor Nation celebrates

It's unobtrusive Mass.

No Ordinance be seen

So gradual the Grace

A pensive Custom it becomes

Enlarging Loneliness.

Antiquest felt at Noon

When August is burning low

Arise this spectral Canticle

Repose to typify

Remit as yet no Grace

No Furrow on the Glow

Yet a Druidic Difference

Enhances Nature now

Garland for Queens, may be —

Laurels — for rare degree

Of soul or sword.

Ah — but remembering me —

Ah — but remembering thee —

Nature in chivalry —

Nature in charity —

Nature in equity —

This Rose ordained!

Gathered into the Earth,

And out of story —

Gathered so that strange Fame —

That lonesome Glory

That hath no omen here — but Awe —

Give little Anguish —

Lives will fret —

Give Avalanches —

And they'll slant —

Straighten — look cautious for their Breath —

But make no syllable — like Death —

Who only shows the Marble Disc —

Sublimer sort — than Speech —

Given in Marriage unto Thee

Oh thou Celestial Host —

Bride of the Father and the Son

Bride of the Holy Ghost.

Other Betrothal shall dissolve —

Wedlock of Will, decay —

Only the Keeper of this Ring

Conquer Mortality —

Glass was the Street — in tinsel Peril

Tree and Traveller stood —

Filled was the Air with merry venture

Hearty with Boys the Road —

Shot the lithe Sleds like shod vibrations

Emphasized and gone

It is the Past's supreme italic

Makes this Present mean —

Glee! the great storm is over!

Four have recovered the land

Forty gone down together

Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!

Toll, for the bonnie souls —

Neighbor and friend and bridegroom

Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck

When winter shakes the door,

Till the children ask, "But the forty?

Did they come back no more?"

Then a silence suffuses the story,

And a softness the teller's eye

And the children no further question,

And only the waves reply.

Glory is that bright tragic thing

That for an instant

Means Dominion —

Warms some poor name

That never felt the Sun,

Gently replacing

In oblivion —

Glowing is her Bonnet,

Glowing is her Cheek,

Glowing is her Kirtle,

Yet she cannot speak.

Better as the Daisy

From the Summer hill

Vanish unrecorded

Save by tearful rill —

Save by loving sunrise

Looking for her face.

Save by feet unnumbered

Pausing at the place.

Go not too near a House of Rose —

The depredation of a Breeze —

Or inundation of a Dew

Alarms its walls away —

Nor try to tie the Butterfly,

Nor climb the Bars of Ecstasy,

In insecurity to lie

Is Joy's insuring quality.

Go slow, my soul, to feed thyself

Upon his rare approach —

Go rapid, lest Competing Death

Prevail upon the Coach —

Go timid, should his final eye

Determine thee amiss —

Go boldly — for thou paid'st his price

Redemption — for a Kiss —

"Go tell it" — What a Message —

To whom — is specified —

Not murmur — not endearment —

But simply — we — obeyed —

Obeyed — a Lure — a Longing?

Oh Nature — none of this —

To Law — said sweet Thermopylae

I send my dying Kiss —

Go thy great way!

The Stars thou meetst

Are even as Thyself —

For what are Stars but Asterisks

To point a human Life?

"Go travelling with us!"

Her travels daily be

By routes of ecstasy 

To Evening's Sea —

God gave a Loaf to every Bird —

But just a Crumb — to Me —

I dare not eat it — tho' I starve —

My poignant luxury —

To own it — touch it —

Prove the feat — that made the Pellet mine —

Too happy — for my Sparrow's chance —

For Ampler Coveting —

It might be Famine — all around —

I could not miss an Ear —

Such Plenty smiles upon my Board —

My Garner shows so fair —

I wonder how the Rich — may feel —

An Indiaman — An Earl —

I deem that I — with but a Crumb —

Am Sovereign of them all —

God is a distant — stately Lover —

Woos, as He states us — by His Son —

Verily, a Vicarious Courtship —

"Miles", and "Priscilla", were such an One —

But, lest the Soul — like fair "Priscilla"

Choose the Envoy — and spurn the Groom —

Vouches, with hyperbolic archness —

"Miles", and "John Alden" were Synonym —

God is indeed a jealous God —

He cannot bear to see

That we had rather not with Him

But with each other play.

God made a little Gentian —

It tried — to be a Rose —

And failed — and all the Summer laughed —

But just before the Snows

There rose a Purple Creature —

That ravished all the Hill —

And Summer hid her Forehead —

And Mockery — was still —

The Frosts were her condition —

The Tyrian would not come

Until the North — invoke it —

Creator — Shall I — bloom?

God made no act without a cause,

Nor heart without an aim,

Our inference is premature,

Our premises to blame.

God permits industrious Angels —

Afternoons — to play —

I met one — forgot my Schoolmates —

All — for Him — straightway —

God calls home — the Angels — promptly —

At the Setting Sun —

I missed mine — how dreary — Marbles —

After playing Crown!

Going to Heaven!

I don't know when —

Pray do not ask me how!

Indeed I'm too astonished

To think of answering you!

Going to Heaven!

How dim it sounds!

And yet it will be done

As sure as flocks go home at night

Unto the Shepherd's arm!

Perhaps you're going too!

Who knows?

If you should get there first

Save just a little space for me

Close to the two I lost —

The smallest "Robe" will fit me

And just a bit of "Crown" —

For you know we do not mind our dress

When we are going home —

I'm glad I don't believe it

For it would stop my breath —

And I'd like to look a little more

At such a curious Earth!

I'm glad they did believe it

Whom I have never found

Since the might Autumn afternoon

I left them in the ground.

Going to Him! Happy letter!

Tell Him —

Tell Him the page I didn't write —

Tell Him — I only said the Syntax —

And left the Verb and the pronoun out —

Tell Him just how the fingers hurried —

Then — how they waded — slow — slow —

And then you wished you had eyes in your pages —

So you could see what moved them so —

Tell Him — it wasn't a Practised Writer —

You guessed — from the way the sentence toiled —

You could hear the Bodice tug, behind you —

As if it held but the might of a child —

You almost pitied it — you — it worked so —

Tell Him — no — you may quibble there —

For it would split His Heart, to know it —

And then you and I, were silenter.

Tell Him — Night finished — before we finished —

And the Old Clock kept neighing "Day"!

And you — got sleepy — and begged to be ended —

What could it hinder so — to say?

Tell Him — just how she sealed you — Cautious!

But — if He ask where you are hid

Until tomorrow — Happy letter!

Gesture Coquette — and shake your Head!

Good Morning — Midnight —

I'm coming Home —

Day — got tired of Me —

How could I — of Him?

Sunshine was a sweet place —

I liked to stay —

But Morn — didn't want me — now —

So — Goodnight — Day!

I can look — can't I —

When the East is Red?

The Hills — have a way — then —

That puts the Heart — abroad —

You — are not so fair — Midnight —

I chose — Day —

But — please take a little Girl —

He turned away!

Good Night! Which put the Candle out?

A jealous Zephyr — not a doubt —

Ah, friend, you little knew

How long at that celestial wick

The Angels — labored diligent —

Extinguished — now — for you!

It might — have been the Light House spark —

Some Sailor — rowing in the Dark —

Had importuned to see!

It might — have been the waning lamp

That lit the Drummer from the Camp

To purer Reveille!

Good night, because we must,

How intricate the dust!

I would go, to know!

Oh incognito!

Saucy, Saucy Seraph

To elude me so!

Father! they won't tell me,

Won't you tell them to?

Good to hide, and hear 'em hunt!

Better, to be found,

If one care to, that is,

The Fox fits the Hound —

Good to know, and not tell,

Best, to know and tell,

Can one find the rare Ear

Not too dull —

Gratitude — is not the mention

Of a Tenderness,

But its still appreciation

Out of Plumb of Speech.

When the Sea return no Answer

By the Line and Lead

Proves it there's no Sea, or rather

A remoter Bed?

Great Caesar! Condescend

The Daisy, to receive,

Gathered by Cato's Daughter,

With your majestic leave!

Great Streets of silence led away

To Neighborhoods of Pause —

Here was no Notice — no Dissent

No Universe — no laws —

By Clocks, 'twas Morning, and for Night

The Bells at Distance called —

But Epoch had no basis here

For Period exhaled.

Grief is a Mouse —

And chooses Wainscot in the Breast

For His Shy House —

And baffles quest —

Grief is a Thief — quick startled —

Pricks His Ear — report to hear

Of that Vast Dark —

That swept His Being — back —

Grief is a Juggler — boldest at the Play —

Lest if He flinch — the eye that way

Pounce on His Bruises — One — say — or Three —

Grief is a Gourmand — spare His luxury —

Best Grief is Tongueless — before He'll tell —

Burn Him in the Public Square —

His Ashes — will

Possibly — if they refuse — How then know —

Since a Rack couldn't coax a syllable — now.

Growth of Man — like Growth of Nature —

Gravitates within —

Atmosphere, and Sun endorse it —

Bit it stir — alone —

Each — its difficult Ideal

Must achieve — Itself —

Through the solitary prowess

Of a Silent Life —

Effort — is the sole condition —

Patience of Itself —

Patience of opposing forces —

And intact Belief —

Looking on — is the Department

Of its Audience —

But Transaction — is assisted

By no Countenance —

Guest am I to have

Light my northern room

Why to cordiality

so averse to come

Other friends adjourn

Other bonds decay

Why avoid so narrowly

My fidelity —

Had I known that the first was the last

I should have kept it longer.

Had I known that the last was the first

I should have drunk it stronger.

Cup, it was your fault,

Lip was not the liar.

No, lip, it was yours,

Bliss was most to blame.

Had I not seen the Sun

I could have borne the shade

But Light a newer Wilderness

My Wilderness has made —

Had I not This, or This, I said,

Appealing to Myself,

In moment of prosperity —

Inadequate — were Life —

"Thou hast not Me, nor Me" — it said,

In Moment of Reverse —

"And yet Thou art industrious —

No need — hadst Thou — of us"?

My need — was all I had — I said —

The need did not reduce —

Because the food — exterminate —

The hunger — does not cease —

But diligence — is sharper —

Proportioned to the Chance —

To feed upon the Retrograde —

Enfeebles — the Advance —

Had I presumed to hope —

The loss had been to Me

A Value — for the Greatness' Sake —

As Giants — gone away —

Had I presumed to gain

A Favor so remote —

The failure but confirm the Grace

In further Infinite —

'Tis failure — not of Hope —

But Confident Despair —

Advancing on Celestial Lists —

With faint — Terrestial power —

'Tis Honor — though I die —

For That no Man obtain

Till He be justified by Death —

This — is the Second Gain —

Had this one Day not been.

Or could it cease to be

How smitten, how superfluous,

Were every other Day!

Lest Love should value less

What Loss would value more

Had it the stricken privilege,

It cherishes before.

Had we known the Ton she bore

We had helped the terror

But she straighter walked for Freight

So be hers the error —

Had we our senses

But perhaps 'tis well they're not at Home

So intimate with Madness

He's liable with them

Had we the eyes without our Head —

How well that we are Blind —

We could not look upon the Earth —

So utterly unmoved —

Have any like Myself

Investigating March,

New Houses on the Hill descried —

And possibly a Church —

That were not, We are sure —

As lately as the Snow —

And are Today — if We exist —

Though how may this be so?

Have any like Myself

Conjectured Who may be

The Occupants of the Adobes —

So easy to the Sky —

'Twould seem that God should be

The nearest Neighbor to —

And Heaven — a convenient Grace

For Show, or Company —

Have any like Myself

Preserved the Charm secure

By shunning carefully the Place

All Seasons of the Year,

Excepting March — 'Tis then

My Villages be seen —

And possibly a Steeple —

Not afterward — by Men —

Have you got a brook in your little heart,

Where bashful flowers blow,

And blushing birds go down to drink,

And shadows tremble so ?

And nobody knows, so still it flows,

That any brook is there ;

And yet your little draught of life

Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,

When the rivers overflow,

And the snows come hurrying from the hills,

And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,

When the meadows parching lie,

Beware, lest this little brook of life

Some burning noon go dry!

He ate and drank the precious Words —

His Spirit grew robust —

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was Dust —

He danced along the dingy Days

And this Bequest of Wings

Was but a Book — What Liberty

A loosened spirit brings —

He forgot — and I — remembered —

'Twas an everyday affair —

Long ago as Christ and Peter —

"Warmed them" at the "Temple fire."

"Thou wert with him" — quoth "the Damsel"?

"No" — said Peter, 'twasn't me —

Jesus merely "looked" at Peter —

Could I do aught else — to Thee?

He fought like those Who've nought to lose —

Bestowed Himself to Balls

As One who for a further Life

Had not a further Use —

Invited Death — with bold attempt —

But Death was Coy of Him

As Other Men, were Coy of Death —

To Him — to live — was Doom —

His Comrades, shifted like the Flakes

When Gusts reverse the Snow —

But He — was left alive Because

Of Greediness to die —

He found my Being — set it up —

Adjusted it to place —

Then carved his name — upon it —

And bade it to the East

Be faithful — in his absence —

And he would come again —

With Equipage of Amber —

That time — to take it Home —

Above: Emily's brother Austin Dickinson in his later years. 

He fumbles at your Soul

As Players at the Keys

Before they drop full Music on —

He stuns you by degrees —

Prepares your brittle Nature

For the Ethereal Blow

By fainter Hammers — further heard —

Then nearer — Then so slow

Your Breath has time to straighten —

Your Brain — to bubble Cool —

Deals — One — imperial — Thunderbolt —

That scalps your naked Soul —

When Winds take Forests in the Paws —

The Universe — is still —

He gave away his Life —

To Us — Gigantic Sum —

A trifle — in his own esteem —

But magnified — by Fame —

Until it burst the Hearts

That fancied they could hold —

When swift it slipped its limit —

And on the Heavens — unrolled —

'Tis Ours — to wince — and weep —

And wonder — and decay

By Blossoms gradual process —

He chose — Maturity —

And quickening — as we sowed —

Just obviated Bud —

And when We turned to note the Growth —

Broke — perfect — from the Pod —

He is alive, this morning —

He is alive — and awake —

Birds are resuming for Him —

Blossoms — dress for His Sake.

Bees — to their Loaves of Honey

Add an Amber Crumb

Him — to regale — Me — Only —

Motion, and am dumb.

He lived the Life of Ambush

And went the way of Dusk

And now against his subtle name

There stands an Asterisk

As confident of him as we —

Impregnable we are —

The whole of Immortality intrenched

Within a star —

He outstripped Time with but a Bout,

He outstripped Stars and Sun

And then, unjaded, challenged God

In presence of the Throne.

And He and He in mighty List

Unto this present, run,

The larger Glory for the less

A just sufficient Ring.

He parts Himself — like Leaves —

And then — He closes up —

Then stands upon the Bonnet

Of Any Buttercup —

And then He runs against

And oversets a Rose —

And then does Nothing —

Then away upon a Jib — He goes —

And dangles like a Mote

Suspended in the Noon —

Uncertain — to return Below —

Or settle in the Moon —

What come of Him — at Night —

The privilege to say

Be limited by Ignorance —

What come of Him — That Day —

The Frost — possess the World —

In Cabinets — be shown —

A Sepulchre of quaintest Floss —

An Abbey — a Cocoon —

He preached upon "Breadth" till it argued him narrow —

The Broad are too broad to define

And of "Truth" until it proclaimed him a Liar —

The Truth never flaunted a Sign —

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence

As Gold the Pyrites would shun —

What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus

To meet so enabled a Man! 

He put the Belt around my life

I heard the Buckle snap —

And turned away, imperial,

My Lifetime folding up —

Deliberate, as a Duke would do

A Kingdom's Title Deed —

Henceforth, a Dedicated sort —

A Member of the Cloud.

Yet not too far to come at call —

And do the little Toils

That make the Circuit of the Rest —

And deal occasional smiles

To lives that stoop to notice mine —

And kindly ask it in —

Whose invitation, know you not

For Whom I must decline?

He scanned it — staggered —

Dropped the Loop

To Past or Period —

Caught helpless at a sense as if

His Mind were going blind —

Groped up, to see if God was there —

Groped backward at Himself

Caressed a Trigger absently

And wandered out of Life.

He strained my faith —

Did he find it supple?

Shook my strong trust —

Did it then — yield?

Hurled my belief —

But — did he shatter — it?

Racked — with suspense —

Not a nerve failed!

Wrung me — with Anguish —

But I never doubted him —

'Tho' for what wrong

He did never say —

Stabbed — while I sued

His sweet forgiveness —

Jesus — it's your little "John"!

Don't you know — me?

He told a homely tale

And spotted it with tears —

Upon his infant face was set

The Cicatrice of years —

All crumpled was the cheek

No other kiss had known

Than flake of snow, divided with

The Redbreast of the Barn —

If Mother — in the Grave —

Or Father — on the Sea —

Or Father in the Firmament —

Or Brethren, had he —

If Commonwealth below,

Or Commonwealth above

Have missed a Barefoot Citizen —

I've ransomed it — alive —

He touched me, so I live to know

That such a day, permitted so,

I groped upon his breast —

It was a boundless place to me

And silenced, as the awful sea

Puts minor streams to rest.

And now, I'm different from before,

As if I breathed superior air —

Or brushed a Royal Gown —

My feet, too, that had wandered so —

My Gypsy face — transfigured now —

To tenderer Renown —

Into this Port, if I might come,

Rebecca, to Jerusalem,

Would not so ravished turn —

Nor Persian, baffled at her shrine

Lift such a Crucifixial sign

To her imperial Sun.

He was my host — he was my guest,

I never to this day

If I invited him could tell,

Or he invited me.

So infinite our intercourse

So intimate, indeed,

Analysis as capsule seemed

To keeper of the seed.

He was weak, and I was strong — then —

So He let me lead him in —

I was weak, and He was strong then —

So I let him lead me — Home.

'Twasn't far — the door was near —

'Twasn't dark — for He went — too —

'Twasn't loud, for He said nought —

That was all I cared to know.

Day knocked — and we must part —

Neither — was strongest — now —

He strove — and I strove — too —

We didn't do it — tho’!

He went by sleep that drowsy route

To the surmising Inn —

At day break to begin his race

Or ever to remain —

He who in Himself believes —

Fraud cannot presume —

Faith is Constancy's Result —

And assumes — from Home —

Cannot perish, though it fail

Every second time —

But defaced Vicariously —

For Some Other Shame —

Heart! We will forget him!

You and I — tonight!

You may forget the warmth he gave —

I will forget the light!

When you have done, pray tell me

That I may straight begin!

Haste! lest while you're lagging

I remember him!

Heart, not so heavy as mine

Wending late home —

As it passed my window

Whistled itself a tune —

A careless snatch — a ballad —

A ditty of the street —

Yet to my irritated Ear

An Anodyne so sweet —

It was as if a Bobolink

Sauntering this way

Carolled, and paused, and carolled —

Then bubbled slow away!

It was as if a chirping brook

Upon a dusty way —

Set bleeding feet to minuets

Without the knowing why!

Tomorrow, night will come again —

Perhaps, weary and sore —

Ah Bugle! By my window

I pray you pass once more.

"Heaven" — is what I cannot reach!

The Apple on the Tree —

Provided it do hopeless — hang —

That — "Heaven" is — to Me!

The Color, on the Cruising Cloud —

The interdicted Land —

Behind the Hill — the House behind —

There — Paradise — is found!

Her teasing Purples — Afternoons —

The credulous — decoy —

Enamored — of the Conjurer —

That spurned us — Yesterday!

"Heaven" has different Signs — to me — 

Sometimes, I think that Noon

Is but a symbol of the Place —

And when again, at Dawn,

A mighty look runs round the World

And settles in the Hills —

An Awe if it should be like that

Upon the Ignorance steals —

The Orchard, when the Sun is on —

The Triumph of the Birds

When they together Victory make —

Some Carnivals of Clouds —

The Rapture of a finished Day —

Returning to the West —

All these — remind us of the place

That Men call "paradise" —

Itself be fairer — we suppose —

But how Ourself, shall be

Adorned, for a Superior Grace —

Not yet, our eyes can see —

Heaven is so far of the Mind

That were the Mind dissolved —

The Site — of it — by Architect

Could not again be proved —

'Tis vast — as our Capacity —

As fair — as our idea —

To Him of adequate desire

No further 'tis, than Here —

"Heavenly Father" — take to thee

The supreme iniquity

Fashioned by thy candid Hand

In a moment contraband —

Though to trust us — seems to us

More respectful — "We are Dust" —

We apologize to thee

For thine own Duplicity —

Her — "last Poems" —

Poets — ended —

Silver — perished — with her Tongue —

Not on Record — bubbled other,

Flute — or Woman —

So divine —

Not unto its Summer — Morning

Robin — uttered Half the Tune —

Gushed too free for the Adoring —

From the Anglo-Florentine —

Late — the Praise —

'Tis dull — conferring

On the Head too High to Crown —

Diadem — or Ducal Showing —

Be its Grave — sufficient sign —

Nought — that We — No Poet's Kinsman —

Suffocate — with easy woe —

What, and if, Ourself a Bridegroom —

Put Her down — in Italy?

Her breast is fit for pearls,

But I was not a "Diver" —

Her brow is fit for thrones

But I have not a crest.

Her heart is fit for home —

I — a Sparrow — build there

Sweet of twigs and twine

My perennial nest.

Her face was in a bed of hair,

Like flowers in a plot —

Her hand was whiter than the sperm

That feeds the sacred light.

Her tongue more tender than the tune

That totters in the leaves —

Who hears may be incredulous,

Who witnesses, believes.

Her final Summer was it —

And yet We guessed it not —

If tenderer industriousness

Pervaded Her, We thought

A further force of life

Developed from within —

When Death lit all the shortness up

It made the hurry plain —

We wondered at our blindness

When nothing was to see

But Her Carrara Guide post —

At Our Stupidity —

When duller than our dullness

The Busy Darling lay —

So busy was she — finishing —

So leisurely — were We — 

Her gallant note 

Endows us like 

A friend

When summer cleaves away 

Her Grace is all she has —

And that, so least displays —

One Art to recognize, must be,

Another Art, to praise.

Her little Parasol to lift

And once to let it down

Her whole Responsibility —

To imitate be Mine.

A Summer further I must wear,

Content if Nature's Drawer

Present me from sepulchral Crease

As blemishless, as Her.

Her Losses make our Gains ashamed —

She bore Life's empty Pack

As gallantly as if the East

Were swinging at her Back.

Life's empty Pack is heaviest,

As every Porter knows —

In vain to punish Honey —

It only sweeter grows.

Her smile was shaped like other smiles —

The Dimples ran along —

And still it hurt you, as some Bird

Did hoist herself, to sing

Then recollect a Ball, she got —

And hold upon the Twig,

Convulsive, while the Music broke —

Like Beads — among the Bog —

Her sovereign People

Nature knows as well

And is as fond of signifying

As if fallible —

Her spirit rose to such a height

Her countenance it did inflate

Like one that fed on awe.

More prudent to assault the dawn

Than merit the ethereal scorn

That effervesced from her.

Her Sweet turn to leave the Homestead

Came the Darker Way —

Carriages — Be Sure — and Guests — too —

But for Holiday

'Tis more pitiful Endeavor

Than did Loaded Sea

O'er the Curls attempt to caper

It had cast away —

Never Bride had such Assembling —

Never kinsmen kneeled

To salute so fair a Forehead —

Garland be indeed —

Fitter Feet — of Her before us —

Than whatever Brow

Art of Snow — or Trick of Lily

Possibly bestow

Of Her Father — Whoso ask Her —

He shall seek as high

As the Palm — that serve the Desert —

To obtain the Sky —

Distance — be Her only Motion —

If 'tis Nay — or Yes —

Acquiescence — or Demurral —

Whosoever guess —

He — must pass the Crystal Angle

That obscure Her face —

He — must have achieved in person

Equal Paradise —

Her sweet Weight on my Heart a Night

Had scarcely deigned to lie —

When, stirring, for Belief's delight,

My Bride had slipped away —

If 'twas a Dream — made solid — just

The Heaven to confirm —

Or if Myself were dreamed of Her —

The power to presume —

With Him remain — who unto Me —

Gave — even as to All —

A Fiction superseding Faith —

By so much — as 'twas real —

Here, where the Daisies fit my Head

'Tis easiest to lie

And every Grass that plays outside

Is sorry, some, for me.

Where I am not afraid to go

I may confide my Flower —

Who was not Enemy of Me

Will gentle be, to Her.

Nor separate, Herself and Me

By Distances become —

A single Bloom we constitute

Departed, or at Home —

Herein a Blossom lies —

A Sepulchre, between —

Cross it, and overcome the Bee —

Remain — 'tis but a Rind.

High from the earth I heard a bird,

He trod upon the trees

As he esteemed them trifles,

And then he spied a breeze

And situated softly

Upon a pile of wind

Which in a perturbation

Nature had left behind.

A joyous going fellow

I gathered from his talk

Which both of benediction

And badinage partook.

Without apparent burden

I subsequently learned

He was the faithful father

Of a dependent brood.

And this untoward transport

His remedy for care.

A contrast to our respites.

How different we are!

His Bill an Auger is

His Head, a Cap and Frill

He laboreth at every Tree

A Worm, His utmost Goal.

His Bill is clasped — his Eye forsook —

His Feathers wilted low —

The Claws that clung, like lifeless Gloves

Indifferent hanging now —

The Joy that in his happy Throat

Was waiting to be poured

Gored through and through with Death, to be

Assassin of a Bird

Resembles to my outraged mind

The firing in Heaven,

On Angels — squandering for you

Their Miracles of Tune —

His Cheek is his Biographer —

As long as he can blush

Perdition is Opprobrium —

Past that, he sins in peace —

His Feet are shod with Gauze —

His Helmet, is of Gold,

His Breast, a Single Onyx

With Chrysophrase, inlaid.

His Labor is a Chant —

His Idleness — a Tune —

Oh, for a Bee's experience

Of Clovers, and of Noon!

His Heart was darker than the starless night

For that there is a morn

But in this black Receptacle

Can be no Bode of Dawn

His little Hearse like Figure

Unto itself a Dirge

To a delusive Lilac

The vanity divulge

Of Industry and Morals

And every righteous thing

For the divine Perdition

Of Idleness and Spring —

His Mansion in the Pool

The Frog forsakes —

He rises on a Log

And statements makes —

His Auditors two Worlds

Deducting me —

The Orator of April

Is hoarse Today —

His Mittens at his Feet

No Hand hath he —

His eloquence a Bubble

As Fame should be —

Applaud him to discover

To your chagrin

Demosthenes has vanished

In Waters Green —

His Mind like Fabrics of the East

Displayed to the despair

Of everyone but here and there

An humble Purchaser —

For though his price was not of Gold —

More arduous there is —

That one should comprehend the worth

Was all the price there was —

His mind of man, a secret makes

I meet him with a start

He carries a circumference

In which I have no part —

Or even if I deem I do

He otherwise may know

Impregnable to inquest

However neighborly —

His oriental heresies

Exhilarate the Bee,

And filling all the Earth and Air

With gay apostasy

Fatigued at last, a Clover plain

Allures his jaded eye

That lowly Breast where Butterflies

Have felt it meet to die —

His voice decrepit was with Joy —

Her words did totter so

How old the News of Love must be

To make Lips elderly

That purled a moment since with Glee —

Is it Delight or Woe —

Or Terror — that do decorate

This livid interview 

Hope is a strange invention —

A Patent of the Heart —

In unremitting action

Yet never wearing out —

Of this electric Adjunct

Not anything is known

But its unique momentum

Embellish all we own —

Above: A little-known poem by Emily Dickinson:

Ho Pilot Ho!

Know'st thou the shore

When no breakers roar

When the storm is o'er?

In the peaceful West

Many the sails at rest

The anchors fast -

Thither I pilot thee

Land ho! Eternity!

Ashore at last!

Hope is a subtle Glutton —

He feeds upon the Fair —

And yet — inspected closely

What Abstinence is there —

His is the Halcyon Table —

That never seats but One —

And whatsoever is consumed

The same amount remain —

"Hope" is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul 

And sings the tune without the words 

And never stops at all 

And sweetest in the Gale is heard 

And sore must be the storm —

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm —

I've heard it in the chillest land —

And on the strangest Sea —

Yet, never, in Extremity,

It asked a crumb — of Me.

"Houses" — so the Wise Men tell me —

"Mansions"! Mansions must be warm!

Mansions cannot let the tears in,

Mansions must exclude the storm!

"Many Mansions," by "his Father,"

I don't know him; snugly built!

Could the Children find the way there —

Some, would even trudge tonight!

How brittle are the Piers

On which our Faith doth tread —

No Bridge below doth totter so —

Yet none hath such a Crowd.

It is as old as God —

Indeed — 'twas built by him —

He sent his Son to test the Plank,

And he pronounced it firm.

How dare the robins sing,

When men and women hear

Who since they went to their account

Have settled with the year! —

Paid all that life had earned

In one consummate bill,

And now, what life or death can do

Is immaterial.

Insulting is the sun

To him whose mortal light

Beguiled of immortality

Bequeaths him to the night.

Extinct be every hum

In deference to him

Whose garden wrestles with the dew,

At daybreak overcome!

How destitute is he

Whose Gold is firm

Who finds it every time

The small stale Sum —

When Love with but a Pence

Will so display

As is a disrespect

To India.

How far is it to Heaven?

As far as Death this way —

Of River or of Ridge beyond

Was no discovery.

How far is it to Hell?

As far as Death this way —

How far left hand the Sepulchre

Defies Topography.

How firm Eternity must look

To crumbling men like me

The only Adamant Estate

In all Identity —

How mighty to the insecure

Thy Physiognomy

To whom not any Face cohere —

Unless concealed in thee

How fits his Umber Coat

The Tailor of the Nut?

Combined without a seam

Like Raiment of a Dream —

Who spun the Auburn Cloth?

Computed how the girth?

The Chestnut aged grows

In those primeval Clothes —

We know that we are wise —

Accomplished in Surprise —

Yet by this Countryman —

This nature — how undone!

How fleet - how indiscreet an one —

      how always wrong is Love —

      The joyful little Deity

      We are not scourged to serve —

How fortunate the Grave —

All Prizes to obtain —

Successful certain, if at last,

First Suitor not in vain.

How good his Lava Bed,

To this laborious Boy —

Who must be up to call the World

And dress the sleepy Day —

How happy I was if I could forget

To remember how sad I am

Would be an easy adversity

But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult

Till I who was almost bold

Lose my way like a little Child

And perish of the cold.

How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn't care about Careers

And Exigencies never fears —

Whose Coat of elemental Brown

A passing Universe put on,

And independent as the Sun

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute Decree

In casual simplicity —

How Human Nature dotes

On what it can't detect.

The moment that a Plot is plumbed

Prospective is extinct —

Prospective is the friend

Reserved for us to know

When Constancy is clarified

Of Curiosity —

Of subjects that resist

Redoubtablest is this

Where go we —

Go we anywhere

Creation after this?

How know it from a Summer's Day?

Its Fervors are as firm —

And nothing in the Countenance

But scintillates the same —

Yet Birds examine it and flee —

And Vans without a name

Inspect the Admonition

And sunder as they came —

How lonesome the Wind must feel Nights —

When people have put out the Lights

And everything that has an Inn

Closes the shutter and goes in —

How pompous the Wind must feel Noons

Stepping to incorporeal Tunes

Correcting errors of the sky

And clarifying scenery

How mighty the Wind must feel Morns

Encamping on a thousand dawns

Espousing each and spurning all

Then soaring to his Temple Tall — 

How many Flowers fail in Wood —

Or perish from the Hill —

Without the privilege to know

That they are Beautiful —

How many cast a nameless Pod

Upon the nearest Breeze —

Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight —

It bear to Other Eyes —

How many schemes may die

In one short Afternoon

Entirely unknown

To those they most concern —

The man that was not lost

Because by accident

He varied by a Ribbon's width

From his accustomed route —

The Love that would not try

Because beside the Door

It must be competitions

Some unsuspecting Horse was tied

Surveying his Despair

How many times these low feet staggered —

Only the soldered mouth can tell —

Try — can you stir the awful rivet —

Try — can you lift the hasps of steel!

Stroke the cool forehead — hot so often —

Lift — if you care — the listless hair —

Handle the adamantine fingers

Never a thimble — more — shall wear —

Buzz the dull flies — on the chamber window —

Brave — shines the sun through the freckled pane —

Fearless — the cobweb swings from the ceiling —

Indolent Housewife — in Daisies — lain!

How much of Source escapes with thee —

How chief thy sessions be —

For thou hast borne a universe

Entirely away.

How much the present moment means

To those who've nothing more —

The Fop — the Carp — the Atheist —

Stake an entire store

Upon a Moment's shallow Rim

While their commuted Feet

The Torrents of Eternity

Do all but inundate —

How News must feel when travelling

If News have any Heart

Alighting at the Dwelling

'Twill enter like a Dart!

What News must think when pondering

If News have any Thought

Concerning the stupendousness

Of its perceiveless freight!

What News will do when every Man

Shall comprehend as one

And not in all the Universe

A thing to tell remain?

How noteless Men, and Pleiads, stand,

Until a sudden sky

Reveals the fact that One is rapt

Forever from the Eye —

Members of the Invisible,

Existing, while we stare,

In Leagueless Opportunity,

O'ertakenless, as the Air —

Why didn't we detain Them?

The Heavens with a smile,

Sweep by our disappointed Heads

Without a syllable —

How ruthless are the gentle —

How cruel are the kind —

God broke his contract to his Lamb

To qualify the Wind —

How sick — to wait — in any place — but thine —

I knew last night — when someone tried to twine —

Thinking — perhaps — that I looked tired — or alone —

Or breaking — almost — with unspoken pain —

And I turned — ducal —

That right — was thine —

One port — suffices — for a Brig — like mine —

Ours be the tossing — wild though the sea —

Rather than a Mooring — unshared by thee.

Ours be the Cargo — unladed — here —

Rather than the "spicy isles —"

And thou — not there —

How slow the Wind —

how slow the sea —

how late their Feathers be!

How soft a Caterpillar steps —

I find one on my Hand

From such a velvet world it comes

Such plushes at command

Its soundless travels just arrest

My slow — terrestrial eye

Intent upon its own career

What use has it for me —

How soft this Prison is

How sweet these sullen bars

No Despot but the King of Down

Invented this repose

Of Fate if this is All

Has he no added Realm

A Dungeon but a Kinsman is

Incarceration — Home.

How still the Bells in Steeples stand

Till swollen with the Sky

They leap upon their silver Feet

In frantic Melody!

How the old Mountains drip with Sunset

How the Hemlocks burn —

How the Dun Brake is draped in Cinder

By the Wizard Sun —

How the old Steeples hand the Scarlet

Till the Ball is full —

Have I the lip of the Flamingo

That I dare to tell?

Then, how the Fire ebbs like Billows —

Touching all the Grass

With a departing — Sapphire — feature —

As a Duchess passed —

How a small Dusk crawls on the Village

Till the Houses blot

And the odd Flambeau, no men carry

Glimmer on the Street —

How it is Night — in Nest and Kennel —

And where was the Wood —

Just a Dome of Abyss is Bowing

Into Solitude —

These are the Visions flitted Guido —

Titian — never told —

Domenichino dropped his pencil —

Paralyzed, with Gold —

How the Waters closed above Him

We shall never know —

How He stretched His Anguish to us

That — is covered too —

Spreads the Pond Her Base of Lilies

Bold above the Boy

Whose unclaimed Hat and Jacket

Sum the History —

How well I knew Her not

Whom not to know has been

A Bounty in prospective, now

Next Door to mine the Pain.

I am afraid to own a Body —

I am afraid to own a Soul —

Profound — precarious Property —

Possession, not optional —

Double Estate — entailed at pleasure

Upon an unsuspecting Heir —

Duke in a moment of Deathlessness

And God, for a Frontier.

I am alive — I guess —

The Branches on my Hand

Are full of Morning Glory —

And at my finger's end —

The Carmine — tingles warm —

And if I hold a Glass

Across my Mouth — it blurs it —

Physician's — proof of Breath —

I am alive — because

I am not in a Room —

The Parlor — Commonly — it is —

So Visitors may come —

And lean — and view it sidewise —

And add "How cold — it grew" —

And "Was it conscious — when it stepped

In Immortality?"

I am alive — because

I do not own a House —

Entitled to myself — precise —

And fitting no one else —

And marked my Girlhood's name —

So Visitors may know

Which Door is mine — and not mistake —

And try another Key —

How good — to be alive!

How infinite — to be

Alive — two-fold — The Birth I had —

And this — besides, in — Thee!

I am ashamed — I hide —

What right have I — to be a Bride —

So late a Dowerless Girl —

Nowhere to hide my dazzled Face —

No one to teach me that new Grace —

Nor introduce — my Soul —

Me to adorn — How — tell —

Trinket — to make Me beautiful —

Fabrics of Cashmere —

Never a Gown of Dun — more —

Raiment instead — of Pompadour —

For Me — My soul — to wear —

Fingers — to frame my Round Hair

Oval — as Feudal Ladies wore —

Far Fashions — Fair —

Skill to hold my Brow like an Earl —

Plead — like a Whippoorwill —

Prove — like a Pearl —

Then, for Character —

Fashion My Spirit quaint — white —

Quick — like a Liquor —

Gay — like Light —

Bring Me my best Pride —

No more ashamed —

No more to hide —

Meek — let it be — too proud — for Pride —

Baptized — this Day — a Bride —

I asked no other thing.

No other was denied.

I offered Being for it ;

The mighty merchant smiled.

Brazil ?  He twirled a button, 

Without a glance my way :

"But, madam, is there nothing else

That we can show to-day?”

I bet with every Wind that blew

Till Nature in chagrin

Employed a Fact to visit me

And scuttle my Balloon —

I breathed enough to take the Trick —

And now, removed from Air —

I simulate the Breath, so well —

That One, to be quite sure —

The Lungs are stirless — must descend

Among the Cunning Cells —

And touch the Pantomine — Himself,

How numb, the Bellows feels!

I bring an unaccustomed wine

To lips long parching, next to mine,

And summon them to drink.

Crackling with fever, they essay;

I turn my brimming eyes away,

And come next hour to look.

The hands still hug the tardy glass;

The lips I would have cooled, alas!

Are so superfluous cold,

I would as soon attempt to warm

The bosoms where the frost has lain

Ages beneath the mould.

Some other thirsty there may be

To whom this would have pointed me

Had it remained to speak.

And so I always bear the cup

If, haply, mine may be the drop

Some pilgrim thirst to slake,—

If, haply, any say to me,

"Unto the little, unto me,"

When I at last awake.

I Came to buy a smile — today —

But just a single smile —

The smallest one upon your face

Will suit me just as well —

The one that no one else would miss

It shone so very small —

I'm pleading at the "counter" — sir —

Could you afford to sell —

I've Diamonds — on my fingers —

You know what Diamonds are?

I've Rubies — live the Evening Blood —

And Topaz — like the star!

'Twould be "a Bargain" for a Jew!

Say — may I have it — Sir?

I can wade Grief —

Whole Pools of it —

I'm used to that —

But the least push of Joy

Breaks up my feet —

And I tip — drunken —

Let no Pebble — smile —

'Twas the New Liquor —

That was all!

Power is only Pain —

Stranded, thro' Discipline,

Till Weights — will hang —

Give Balm — to Giants —

And they'll wilt, like Men —

Give Himmaleh —

They'll Carry — Him!

I can't tell you — but you feel it —

Nor can you tell me —

Saints, with ravished slate and pencil

Solve our April Day!

Sweeter than a vanished frolic

From a vanished green!

Swifter than the hoofs of Horsemen

Round a Ledge of dream!

Modest, let us walk among it

With our faces veiled —

As they say polite Archangels

Do in meeting God!

Not for me — to prate about it!

Not for you — to say

To some fashionable Lady

"Charming April Day"!

Rather — Heaven's "Peter Parley"!

By which Children slow

To sublimer Recitation

Are prepared to go!

I cannot be ashamed

Because I cannot see

The love you offer —


Reverses Modesty

And I cannot be proud

Because a Height so high

Involves Alpine


And Services of Snow.

I cannot buy it — 'tis not sold —

There is no other in the World —

Mine was the only one

I was so happy I forgot

To shut the Door And it went out

And I am all alone —

If I could find it Anywhere

I would not mind the journey there

Though it took all my store

But just to look it in the Eye —

"Did'st thou?" "Thou did'st not mean," to say,

Then, turn my Face away.

I cannot dance upon my Toes —

No Man instructed me —

But oftentimes, among my mind,

A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge —

Would put itself abroad

In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe —

Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze —

No Ringlet, to my Hair,

Nor hopped to Audiences — like Birds,

One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,

Nor rolled on wheels of snow

Till I was out of sight, in sound,

The House encore me so —

Nor any know I know the Art

I mention — easy — Here —

Nor any Placard boast me —

It's full as Opera —

I cannot live with You —

It would be Life —

And Life is over there —

Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to —

Putting up

Our Life — His Porcelain —

Like a Cup —

Discarded of the Housewife —

Quaint — or Broke —

A newer Sevres pleases —

Old Ones crack —

I could not die — with You —

For One must wait

To shut the Other's Gaze down —

You — could not —

And I — Could I stand by

And see You — freeze —

Without my Right of Frost —

Death's privilege?

Nor could I rise — with You —

Because Your Face

Would put out Jesus' —

That New Grace

Glow plain — and foreign

On my homesick Eye —

Except that You than He

Shone closer by —

They'd judge Us — How —

For You — served Heaven — You know,

Or sought to —

I could not —

Because You saturated Sight —

And I had no more Eyes

For sordid excellence

As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be —

Though My Name

Rang loudest

On the Heavenly fame —

And were You — saved —

And I — condemned to be

Where You were not —

That self — were Hell to Me —

So We must meet apart —

You there — I — here —

With just the Door ajar

That Oceans are — and Prayer —

And that White Sustenance —

Despair —

I cannot meet the Spring unmoved —

I feel the old desire —

A Hurry with a lingering, mixed,

A Warrant to be fair —

A Competition in my sense

With something hid in Her —

And as she vanishes, Remorse

I saw no more of Her.

I cannot see my soul but know 'tis there

Nor ever saw his house nor furniture,

Who has invited me with him to dwell;

But a confiding guest consult as well,

What raiment honor him the most,

That I be adequately dressed,

For he insures to none

Lest men specified adorn

Procuring him perpetual drest

By dating it a sudden feast.

I cannot want it more —

I cannot want it less —

My Human Nature's fullest force

Expends itself on this.

And yet it nothing is

To him who easy owns —

Is Worth itself or Distance

He fathoms who obtains.

I cautious, scanned my little life —

I winnowed what would fade

From what would last till Heads like mine

Should be a-dreaming laid.

I put the latter in a Barn —

The former, blew away.

I went one winter morning

And lo - my priceless Hay

Was not upon the "Scaffold" —

Was not upon the "Beam" —

And from a thriving Farmer —

A Cynic, I became.

Whether a Thief did it —

Whether it was the wind —

Whether Deity's guiltless —

My business is, to find!

So I begin to ransack!

How is it Hearts, with Thee?

Art thou within the little Barn

Love provided Thee?

I could bring You Jewels — had I a mind to —

But You have enough — of those —

I could bring You Odors from St. Domingo —

Colors — from Vera Cruz —

Berries of the Bahamas — have I —

But this little Blaze

Flickering to itself — in the Meadow —

Suits Me — more than those —

Never a Fellow matched this Topaz —

And his Emerald Swing —

Dower itself — for Bobadilo —

Better — Could I bring?

I could die — to know —

'Tis a trifling knowledge —

News-Boys salute the Door —

Carts — joggle by —

Morning's bold face — stares in the window —

Were but mine — the Charter of the least Fly —

Houses hunch the House

With their Brick Shoulders —

Coals — from a Rolling Load — rattle — how — near —

To the very Square — His foot is passing —

Possibly, this moment —

While I — dream — Here —

I could not drink it, Sue,

Till You had tasted first,

Though cooler than the Water was

The Thoughtfulness of Thirst. 

I could not prove the Years had feet —

Yet confident they run

Am I, from symptoms that are past

And Series that are done —

I find my feet have further Goals —

I smile upon the Aims

That felt so ample — Yesterday —

Today's — have vaster claims —

I do not doubt the self I was

Was competent to me —

But something awkward in the fit —

Proves that — outgrown — I see —

I could suffice for Him, I knew —

He — could suffice for Me —

Yet Hesitating Fractions — Both

Surveyed Infinity —

"Would I be Whole" He sudden broached —

My syllable rebelled —

'Twas face to face with Nature — forced —

'Twas face to face with God —

Withdrew the Sun — to Other Wests —

Withdrew the furthest Star

Before Decision — stooped to speech —

And then — be audibler

The Answer of the Sea unto

The Motion of the Moon —

Herself adjust Her Tides — unto —

Could I — do else — with Mine?

I cried at Pity — not at Pain —

I heard a Woman say

"Poor Child" — and something in her voice

Convicted me — of me —

So long I fainted, to myself

It seemed the common way,

And Health, and Laughter, Curious things —

To look at, like a Toy —

To sometimes hear "Rich people" buy

And see the Parcel rolled —

And carried, I supposed — to Heaven,

For children, made of Gold —

But not to touch, or wish for,

Or think of, with a sigh —

And so and so — had been to me,

Had God willed differently.

I wish I knew that Woman's name —

So when she comes this way,

To hold my life, and hold my ears

For fear I hear her say

She's "sorry I am dead" — again —

Just when the Grave and I —

Have sobbed ourselves almost to sleep,

Our only Lullaby —

I cross till I am weary

A Mountain — in my mind —

More Mountains — then a Sea —

More Seas — And then

A Desert — find —

And My Horizon blocks

With steady — drifting — Grains

Of unconjectured quantity —

As Asiatic Rains —

Nor this — defeat my Pace —

It hinder from the West

But as an Enemy's Salute

One hurrying to Rest —

What merit had the Goal —

Except there intervene

Faint Doubt — and far Competitor —

To jeopardize the Gain?

At last — the Grace in sight —

I shout unto my feet —

I offer them the Whole of Heaven

The instant that we meet —

They strive — and yet delay —

They perish — Do we die —

Or is this Death's Experiment —

Reversed — in Victory?

I did not reach Thee

But my feet slip nearer every day

Three Rivers and a Hill to cross

One Desert and a Sea

I shall not count the journey one

When I am telling thee.

Two deserts, but the Year is cold

So that will help the sand

One desert crossed —

The second one

Will feel as cool as land

Sahara is too little price

To pay for thy Right hand.

The Sea comes last — Step merry, feet,

So short we have to go —

To play together we are prone,

But we must labor now,

The last shall be the lightest load

That we have had to draw.

The Sun goes crooked —

That is Night

Before he makes the bend.

We must have passed the Middle Sea —

Almost we wish the End

Were further off —

Too great it seems

So near the Whole to stand.

We step like Plush,

We stand like snow,

The waters murmur new.

Three rivers and the Hill are passed —

Two deserts and the sea!

Now Death usurps my Premium

And gets the look at Thee.

I died for beauty, but was scarce

Adjusted in the tomb,

When one who died for truth was lain

In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed ?

"For beauty," I replied.

"And I for truth, — the two are one ;

We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,

We talked between the rooms,

Until the moss had reached our lips,

And covered up our names.

I do not care – why should I care

And yet I fear I’m caring

To rock a fretting truth to sleep –

Is short security  

The terror it will wake

Persistent as perdition

Is harder than to face

The frank adversity – 

Above: Portrait of Emily Dickinson's father, the Honorable Edward Dickinson

I dreaded that first Robin, so,

But He is mastered, now,

I'm some accustomed to Him grown,

He hurts a little, though —

I thought If I could only live

Till that first Shout got by —

Not all Pianos in the Woods

Had power to mangle me —

I dared not meet the Daffodils —

For fear their Yellow Gown

Would pierce me with a fashion

So foreign to my own —

I wished the Grass would hurry —

So — when 'twas time to see —

He'd be too tall, the tallest one

Could stretch — to look at me —

I could not bear the Bees should come,

I wished they'd stay away

In those dim countries where they go,

What word had they, for me?

They're here, though; not a creature failed —

No Blossom stayed away

In gentle deference to me —

The Queen of Calvary —

Each one salutes me, as he goes,

And I, my childish Plumes,

Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment

Of their unthinking Drums —

I dwell in Possibility —

A fairer House than Prose —

More numerous of Windows —

Superior — for Doors —

Of Chambers as the Cedars —

Impregnable of Eye —

And for an Everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky —

Of Visitors — the fairest —

For Occupation — This —

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise —

I envy Seas, whereon He rides —

I envy Spokes of Wheels

Of Chariots, that Him convey —

I envy Crooked Hills

That gaze upon His journey —

How easy All can see

What is forbidden utterly

As Heaven — unto me!

I envy Nests of Sparrows —

That dot His distant Eaves —

The wealthy Fly, upon His Pane —

The happy — happy Leaves —

That just abroad His Window

Have Summer's leave to play —

The Ear Rings of Pizarro

Could not obtain for me —

I envy Light — that wakes Him —

And Bells — that boldly ring

To tell Him it is Noon, abroad —

Myself — be Noon to Him —

Yet interdict — my Blossom —

And abrogate — my Bee —

Lest Noon in Everlasting Night —

Drop Gabriel — and Me — 

I fear a Man of frugal Speech —

I fear a Silent Man —

Haranguer — I can overtake —

Or Babbler — entertain —

But He who weigheth — While the Rest —

Expend their furthest pound —

Of this Man — I am wary —

I fear that He is Grand —

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind —

As if my Brain had split —

I tried to match it — Seam by Seam —

But could not make them fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join

Unto the thought before —

But Sequence ravelled out of Sound

Like Balls — upon a Floor.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading — treading — till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through —

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum —

Kept beating — beating — till I thought

My Mind was going numb —

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space — began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race

Wrecked, solitary, here —

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down —

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing — then —

I felt my life with both my hands

To see if it was there —

I held my spirit to the Glass,

To prove it possibler —

I turned my Being round and round

And paused at every pound

To ask the Owner's name —

For doubt, that I should know the Sound —

I judged my features — jarred my hair —

I pushed my dimples by, and waited —

If they — twinkled back —

Conviction might, of me —

I told myself, "Take Courage, Friend —

That — was a former time —

But we might learn to like the Heaven,

As well as our Old Home!”

I fit for them —

I seek the Dark

Till I am thorough fit.

The labor is a sober one

With this sufficient sweet

That abstinence of mine produce

A purer food for them, if I succeed,

If not I had

The transport of the Aim —

I found the words to every thought

I ever had — but One —

And that — defies me —

As a Hand did try to chalk the Sun

To Races — nurtured in the Dark —

How would your own — begin?

Can Blaze be shown in Cochineal —

Or Noon — in Mazarin?

I gained it so —

By Climbing slow —

By Catching at the Twigs that grow

Between the Bliss — and me —

It hung so high

As well the Sky

Attempt by Strategy —

I said I gained it —

This — was all —

Look, how I clutch it

Lest it fall —

And I a Pauper go —

Unfitted by an instant's Grace

For the Contented — Beggar's face

I wore — an hour ago —

I gave myself to Him —

And took Himself, for Pay,

The solemn contract of a Life

Was ratified, this way —

The Wealth might disappoint —

Myself a poorer prove

Than this great Purchaser suspect,

The Daily Own — of Love

Depreciate the Vision —

But till the Merchant buy —

Still Fable — in the Isles of Spice —

The subtle Cargoes — lie —

At least — 'tis Mutual — Risk —

Some — found it — Mutual Gain —

Sweet Debt of Life — Each Night to owe —

Insolvent — every Noon —

Above: Frazar Stearns

I got so I could take his name —

Without — Tremendous gain —

That Stop-sensation — on my Soul —

And Thunder — in the Room —

I got so I could walk across

That Angle in the floor,

Where he turned so, and I turned — how —

And all our Sinew tore —

I got so I could stir the Box —

In which his letters grew

Without that forcing, in my breath —

As Staples — driven through —

Could dimly recollect a Grace —

I think, they call it "God" —

Renowned to ease Extremity —

When Formula, had failed —

And shape my Hands —

Petition's way,

Tho' ignorant of a word

That Ordination — utters —

My Business, with the Cloud,

If any Power behind it, be,

Not subject to Despair —

It care, in some remoter way,

For so minute affair

As Misery —

Itself, too vast, for interrupting — more —

I groped for him before I knew

With solemn nameless need

All other bounty sudden chaff

For this foreshadowed Food

Which others taste and spurn and sneer —

Though I within suppose

That consecrated it could be

The only Food that grows

I had a daily Bliss

I half indifferent viewed

Till sudden I perceived it stir —

It grew as I pursued

Till when around a Height

It wasted from my sight

Increased beyond my utmost scope

I learned to estimate.

I had a guinea golden —

I lost it in the sand —

And tho' the sum was simple

And pounds were in the land —

Still, had it such a value

Unto my frugal eye —

That when I could not find it —

I sat me down to sigh.

I had a crimson Robin —

Who sang full many a day

But when the woods were painted,

He, too, did fly away —

Time brought me other Robins —

Their ballads were the same —

Still, for my missing Troubador

I kept the "house at hame."

I had a star in heaven —

One "Pleiad" was its name —

And when I was not heeding,

It wandered from the same.

And tho' the skies are crowded —

And all the night ashine —

I do not care about it —

Since none of them are mine.

My story has a moral —

I have a missing friend —

"Pleiad" its name, and Robin,

And guinea in the sand.

And when this mournful ditty

Accompanied with tear —

Shall meet the eye of traitor

In country far from here —

Grant that repentance solemn

May seize upon his mind —

And he no consolation

Beneath the sun may find.

I had been hungry, all the Years —

My Noon had Come — to dine —

I trembling drew the Table near —

And touched the Curious Wine —

'Twas this on Tables I had seen —

When turning, hungry, Lone

I looked in Windows, for the Wealth

I could not hope — to Own —

I did not know the ample Bread —

'Twas so unlike the Crumb

The Birds and I, had often shared

In Nature's — Dining Room —

The Plenty hurt me — 'twas so new —

Myself felt ill — and odd —

As Berry — of a Mountain Bush —

Transplanted — to a Road —

Nor was I hungry — so I found

That Hunger — was a way

Of Persons outside Windows —

The Entering — takes away —

I had no Cause to be awake —

My Best — was gone to sleep —

And Morn a new politeness took —

And failed to wake them up —

But called the others — clear —

And passed their Curtains by —

Sweet Morning — when I oversleep —

Knock — Recollect — to Me —

I looked at Sunrise — Once —

And then I looked at Them —

And wishfulness in me arose —

For Circumstance the same —

'Twas such an Ample Peace —

It could not hold a Sigh —

'Twas Sabbath — with the Bells divorced —

'Twas Sunset — all the Day —

So choosing but a Gown —

And taking but a Prayer —

The only Raiment I should need —

I struggled — and was There —

I had no time to Hate —


The Grave would hinder Me —

And Life was not so

Ample I

Could finish — Enmity —

Nor had I time to Love —

But since

Some Industry must be —

The little Toil of Love —

I thought

Be large enough for Me —

I had not minded — Walls —

Were Universe — one Rock —

And far I heard his silver Call

The other side the Block —

I'd tunnel — till my Groove

Pushed sudden thro' to his —

Then my face take her Recompense —

The looking in his Eyes —

But 'tis a single Hair —

A filament — a law —

A Cobweb — wove in Adamant —

A Battlement — of Straw —

A limit like the Veil

Unto the Lady's face —

But every Mesh — a Citadel —

And Dragons — in the Crease —

Above: Photograph of Emily Dickinson's father, the Honorable Edward Dickinson

I had some things that I called mine —

And God, that he called his,

Till, recently a rival Claim

Disturbed these amities.

The property, my garden,

Which having sown with care,

He claims the pretty acre,

And sends a Bailiff there.

The station of the parties

Forbids publicity,

But Justice is sublimer

Than arms, or pedigree.

I'll institute an "Action" —

I'll vindicate the law —

Jove! Choose your counsel —

I retain “Shaw"!

I had the Glory — that will do —

An Honor, Thought can turn her to

When lesser Fames invite —

With one long "Nay" —

Bliss' early shape

Deforming — Dwindling — Gulfing up —

Time's possibility.

I have a Bird in spring

Which for myself doth sing -

The spring decoys.

And as the summer nears -

And as the Rose appears,

Robin is gone.

Yet do I not repine

Knowhing that Bird of mine

Though flown -

Learneth beyond the sea

Melody new for me

And will return.

Fast in safer hand

Held in a truer Land

Are min -

And though they now depart,

Tell I my doubting heart

They're thine.

In a serener Bright,

In a more golden light

I see

Each little doubt and fear,

Each little discord here


Then will I not repine,

Knowing that Bird of mine

Though flown

Shall in distant tree

Bright melody for me


I have a King, who does not speak —

So — wondering — thro' the hours meek

I trudge the day away —

Half glad when it is night, and sleep,

If, haply, thro' a dream, to peep

In parlors, shut by day.

And if I do — when morning comes —

It is as if a hundred drums

Did round my pillow roll,

And shouts fill all my Childish sky,

And Bells keep saying "Victory"

From steeples in my soul!

And if I don't — the little Bird

Within the Orchard, is not heard,

And I omit to pray

"Father, thy will be done" today

For my will goes the other way,

And it were perjury!

I have never seen "Volcanoes" —

But, when Travellers tell

How those old — phlegmatic mountains

Usually so still —

Bear within — appalling Ordnance,

Fire, and smoke, and gun,

Taking Villages for breakfast,

And appalling Men —

If the stillness is Volcanic

In the human face

When upon a pain Titanic

Features keep their place —

If at length the smouldering anguish

Will not overcome —

And the palpitating Vineyard

In the dust, be thrown?

If some loving Antiquary,

On Resumption Morn,

Will not cry with joy "Pompeii"!

To the Hills return!

I have no Life but this —

To lead it here —

Nor any Death — but lest

Dispelled from there —

Nor tie to Earths to come —

Nor Action new —

Except through this extent —

The Realm of you —

I haven't told my garden yet —

Lest that should conquer me.

I haven't quite the strength now

To break it to the Bee —

I will not name it in the street

For shops would stare at me —

That one so shy — so ignorant

Should have the face to die.

The hillsides must not know it —

Where I have rambled so —

Nor tell the loving forests

The day that I shall go —

Nor lisp it at the table —

Nor heedless by the way

Hint that within the Riddle

One will walk today —

I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air —

Between the Heaves of Storm —

The Eyes around — had wrung them dry —

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset — when the King

Be witnessed — in the Room —

I willed my Keepsakes — Signed away

What portion of me be

Assignable — and then it was

There interposed a Fly —

With Blue — uncertain stumbling Buzz —

Between the light — and me —

And then the Windows failed — and then

I could not see to see—

I heard, as if I had no Ear

Until a Vital Word

Came all the way from Life to me

And then I knew I heard.

I saw, as if my Eye were on

Another, till a Thing

And now I know 'twas Light, because

It fitted them, came in.

I dwelt, as if Myself, were out,

My Body but within

Until a Might detected me

And set my kernel in.

And Spirit turned unto the Dust

"Old Friend, thou knowest me,"

And Time went out to tell the News

And met Eternity.

I held a Jewel in my fingers —

And went to sleep —

The day was warm, and winds were prosy —

I said "'Twill keep" —

I woke — and chid my honest fingers,

The Gem was gone —

And now, an Amethyst remembrance

Is all I own —

I held it so tight that I lost it 

Said the Child of the Butterfly

Of many a vaster Capture 

That — is the Elegy 

I hide myself within my flower,

That fading from your Vase,

You, unsuspecting, feel for me —

Almost a loneliness.

I keep my pledge.

I was not called —

Death did not notice me.

I bring my Rose.

I plight again,

By every sainted Bee —

By Daisy called from hillside —

by Bobolink from lane.

Blossom and I —

Her oath, and mine —

Will surely come again.

I knew that I had gained

And yet I knew not how

By Diminution it was not

But Discipline unto

A Rigor unrelieved

Except by the Content

Another bear its Duplicate

In other Continent.

I know a place where Summer strives

With such a practised Frost —

She — each year — leads her Daisies back —

Recording briefly — "Lost" —

But when the South Wind stirs the Pools

And struggles in the lanes —

Her Heart misgives Her, for Her Vow —

And she pours soft Refrains

Into the lap of Adamant —

And spices — and the Dew —

That stiffens quietly to Quartz —

Upon her Amber Shoe — 

I know lives, I could miss

Without a Misery —

Others — whose instant's wanting —

Would be Eternity —

The last — a scanty Number —

'Twould scarcely fill a Two —

The first — a Gnat's Horizon

Could easily outgrow —

Above: The 4-page handwritten letter from Emily Dickinson to Mr. Higginson, asking him "to say if my verse is alive?"


I know of people in the Grave

Who would be very glad

To know the news I know tonight

If they the chance had had.

'Tis this expands the least event

And swells the scantest deed —

My right to walk upon the Earth

If they this moment had.

I know some lonely Houses off the Road

A Robber'd like the look of —

Wooden barred,

And Windows hanging low,

Inviting to —

A Portico,

Where two could creep —

One — hand the Tools —

The other peep —

To make sure All's Asleep —

Old fashioned eyes —

Not easy to surprise!

How orderly the Kitchen'd look, by night,

With just a Clock —

But they could gag the Tick —

And Mice won't bark —

And so the Walls — don't tell —

None — will —

A pair of Spectacles ajar just stir —

An Almanac's aware —

Was it the Mat — winked,

Or a Nervous Star?

The Moon — slides down the stair,

To see who's there!

There's plunder — where —

Tankard, or Spoon —

Earring — or Stone —

A Watch — Some Ancient Brooch

To match the Grandmama —

Staid sleeping — there —

Day — rattles — too

Stealth's — slow —

The Sun has got as far

As the third Sycamore —

Screams Chanticleer

"Who's there"?

And Echoes — Trains away,

Sneer — "Where"!

While the old Couple, just astir,

Fancy the Sunrise — left the door ajar!

I know Suspense — it steps so terse

And turns so weak away —

Besides — Suspense is neighborly

When I am riding by —

Is always at the Window

Though lately I descry

And mention to my Horses

The need is not of me —

I know that He exists.

Somewhere — in Silence —

He has hid his rare life

From our gross eyes.

'Tis an instant's play.

'Tis a fond Ambush —

Just to make Bliss

Earn her own surprise!

But — should the play

Prove piercing earnest —

Should the glee — glaze —

In Death's — stiff — stare —

Would not the fun

Look too expensive!

Would not the jest —

Have crawled too far!

I know where Wells grow — Droughtless Wells —

Deep dug — for Summer days —

Where Mosses go no more away —

And Pebble — safely plays —

It's made of Fathoms — and a Belt —

A Belt of jagged Stone —

Inlaid with Emerald — half way down —

And Diamonds — jumbled on —

It has no Bucket — Were I rich

A Bucket I would buy —

I'm often thirsty — but my lips

Are so high up — You see —

I read in an Old fashioned Book

That People "thirst no more" —

The Wells have Buckets to them there —

It must mean that — I'm sure —

Shall We remember Parching — then?

Those Waters sound so grand —

I think a little Well — like Mine —

Dearer to understand —

Above: Portrait of Emily Dickinson's mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson

I learned — at least — what Home could be —

How ignorant I had been

Of pretty ways of Covenant —

How awkward at the Hymn

Round our new Fireside — but for this —

This pattern — of the Way —

Whose Memory drowns me, like the Dip

Of a Celestial Sea —

What Mornings in our Garden — guessed —

What Bees — for us — to hum —

With only Birds to interrupt

The Ripple of our Theme —

And Task for Both —

When Play be done —

Your Problem — of the Brain —

And mine — some foolisher effect —

A Ruffle — or a Tune —

The Afternoons — Together spent —

And Twilight — in the Lanes —

Some ministry to poorer lives —

Seen poorest — thro' our gains —

And then Return — and Night — and Home —

And then away to You to pass —

A new — diviner — care —

Till Sunrise take us back to Scene —

Transmuted — Vivider —

This seems a Home —

And Home is not —

But what that Place could be —

Afflicts me — as a Setting Sun —

Where Dawn — knows how to be —

I like a look of Agony,

Because I know it's true —

Men do not sham Convulsion,

Nor simulate, a Throe —

The Eyes glaze once — and that is Death —

Impossible to feign

The Beads upon the Forehead

By homely Anguish strung.

I like to see it lap the Miles —

And lick the Valleys up —

And stop to feed itself at Tanks —

And then — prodigious step

Around a Pile of Mountains —

And supercilious peer

In Shanties — by the sides of Roads —

And then a Quarry pare

To fit its Ribs

And crawl between

Complaining all the while

In horrid — hooting stanza —

Then chase itself down Hill —

And neigh like Boanerges —

Then — punctual as a Star

Stop — docile and omnipotent

At its own stable door —

I live with Him — I see His face —

I go no more away

For Visitor — or Sundown —

Death's single privacy

The Only One — forestalling Mine —

And that — by Right that He

Presents a Claim invisible —

No wedlock — granted Me —

I live with Him — I hear His Voice —

I stand alive — Today —

To witness to the Certainty

Of Immortality —

Taught Me — by Time — the lower Way —

Conviction — Every day —

That Life like This — is stopless —

Be Judgment — what it may —

I lived on Dread —

To Those who know

The Stimulus there is

In Danger — Other impetus

Is numb — and Vitalless —

As 'twere a Spur — upon the Soul —

A Fear will urge it where

To go without the Sceptre's aid

Were Challenging Despair.

I lost a World — the other day!

Has Anybody found?

You'll know it by the Row of Stars

Around its forehead bound.

A Rich man — might not notice it —

Yet — to my frugal Eye,

Of more Esteem than Ducats —

Oh find it — Sir — for me!

I made slow Riches but my Gain

Was steady as the Sun

And every Night, it numbered more

Than the preceding One

All Days, I did not earn the same

But my perceiveless Gain

Inferred the less by Growing than

The Sum that it had grown.

I make His Crescent fill or lack —

His Nature is at Full

Or Quarter — as I signify —

His Tides — do I control —

He holds superior in the Sky

Or gropes, at my Command

Behind inferior Clouds — or round

A Mist's slow Colonnade —

But since We hold a Mutual Disc —

And front a Mutual Day —

Which is the Despot, neither knows —

Nor Whose — the Tyranny —

I many times thought Peace had come

When Peace was far away —

As Wrecked Men — deem they sight the Land —

At Centre of the Sea —

And struggle slacker — but to prove

As hopelessly as I —

How many the fictitious Shores —

Before the Harbor be —

I meant to find Her when I came —

Death — had the same design —

But the Success — was His — it seems —

And the Surrender — Mine —

I meant to tell Her how I longed

For just this single time —

But Death had told Her so the first —

And she had past, with Him —

To wander — now — is my Repose —

To rest — To rest would be

A privilege of Hurricane

To Memory — and Me.

I meant to have but modest needs —

Such as Content — and Heaven —

Within my income — these could lie

And Life and I — keep even —

But since the last — included both —

It would suffice my Prayer

But just for One — to stipulate —

And Grace would grant the Pair —

And so — upon this wise — I prayed —

Great Spirit — Give to me

A Heaven not so large as Yours,

But large enough — for me —

A Smile suffused Jehovah's face —

The Cherubim — withdrew —

Grave Saints stole out to look at me —

And showed their dimples — too —

I left the Place, with all my might —

I threw my Prayer away —

The Quiet Ages picked it up —

And Judgment — twinkled — too —

Tat one so honest — be extant —

It take the Tale for true —

That "Whatsoever Ye shall ask —

Itself be given You" —

But I, grown shrewder — scan the Skies

With a suspicious Air —

As Children — swindled for the first

All Swindlers — be — infer —

I measure every Grief I meet

With narrow, probing, Eyes —

I wonder if It weighs like Mine —

Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long —

Or did it just begin —

I could not tell the Date of Mine —

It feels so old a pain —

I wonder if it hurts to live —

And if They have to try —

And whether — could They choose between —

It would not be — to die —

I note that Some — gone patient long —

At length, renew their smile —

An imitation of a Light

That has so little Oil —

I wonder if when Years have piled —

Some Thousands — on the Harm —

That hurt them early — such a lapse

Could give them any Balm —

Or would they go on aching still

Through Centuries of Nerve —

Enlightened to a larger Pain -

In Contrast with the Love —

The Grieved — are many — I am told —

There is the various Cause —

Death — is but one — and comes but once —

And only nails the eyes —

There's Grief of Want — and Grief of Cold —

A sort they call "Despair" —

There's Banishment from native Eyes —

In sight of Native Air —

And though I may not guess the kind —

Correctly — yet to me

A piercing Comfort it affords

In passing Calvary —

To note the fashions — of the Cross —

And how they're mostly worn —

Still fascinated to presume

That Some — are like My Own —

I met a King this afternoon!

He had not on a Crown indeed,

A little Palmleaf Hat was all,

And he was barefoot, I'm afraid!

But sure I am he Ermine wore

Beneath his faded Jacket's blue —

And sure I am, the crest he bore

Within that Jacket's pocket too!

For 'twas too stately for an Earl —

A Marquis would not go so grand!

'Twas possibly a Czar petite —

A Pope, or something of that kind!

If I must tell you, of a Horse

My freckled Monarch held the rein —

Doubtless an estimable Beast,

But not at all disposed to run!

And such a wagon! While I live

Dare I presume to see

Another such a vehicle

As then transported me!

Two other ragged Princes

His royal state partook!

Doubtless the first excursion

These sovereigns ever took!

I question if the Royal Coach

Round which the Footmen wait

Has the significance, on high,

Of this Barefoot Estate!

I never felt at Home — Below —

And in the Handsome Skies

I shall not feel at Home — I know —

I don't like Paradise —

Because it's Sunday — all the time —

And Recess — never comes —

And Eden'll be so lonesome

Bright Wednesday Afternoons —

If God could make a visit —

Or ever took a Nap —

So not to see us — but they say

Himself — a Telescope

Perennial beholds us —

Myself would run away

From Him — and Holy Ghost — and All —

But there's the "Judgement Day”!

I never hear that one is dead

Without the chance of Life

Afresh annihilating me

That mightiest Belief,

Too mighty for the Daily mind

That tilling its abyss,

Had Madness, had it once or twice

The yawning Consciousness,

Beliefs are Bandaged, like the Tongue

When Terror were it told

In any Tone commensurate

Would strike us instant Dead

I do not know the man so bold

He dare in lonely Place

That awful stranger Consciousness

Deliberately face —

I never hear the word "escape"

Without a quicker blood,

A sudden expectation

A flying attitude!

I never hear of prisons broad

By soldiers battered down,

But I tug childish at my bars

Only to fail again!

I never lost as much but twice,

And that was in the sod.

Twice have I stood a beggar

Before the door of God!

Angels — twice descending

Reimbursed my store —

Burglar! Banker — Father!

I am poor once more!

I never saw a Moor —

I never saw the Sea —

Yet know I how the Heather looks

And what a Billow be.

I never spoke with God,

Nor visited in Heaven —

Yet certain am I of the spot

As if the Checks were given —

I never told the buried gold

Upon the hill — that lies —

I saw the sun — his plunder done

Crouch low to guard his prize.

He stood as near

As stood you here —

A pace had been between —

Did but a snake bisect the brake

My life had forfeit been.

That was a wondrous booty —

I hope 'twas honest gained.

Those were the fairest ingots

That ever kissed the spade!

Whether to keep the secret —

Whether to reveal —

Whether as I ponder

Kidd will sudden sail —

Could a shrewd advise me

We might e'en divide —

Should a shrewd betray me —

Atropos decide!

I noticed People disappeared

When but a little child —

Supposed they visited remote

Or settled Regions wild —

But did because they died

A Fact withheld the little child —

Above: Photo of Emily Dickinson's mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson

I often passed the village

When going home from school —

And wondered what they did there —

And why it was so still —

I did not know the year then —

In which my call would come —

Earlier, by the Dial,

Than the rest have gone.

It's stiller than the sundown.

It's cooler than the dawn —

The Daisies dare to come here —

And birds can flutter down —

So when you are tired —

Or perplexed — or cold —

Trust the loving promise

Underneath the mould,

Cry "it's I," "take Dollie,"

And I will enfold!

I pay — in Satin Cash —

You did not state — your price —

A Petal, for a Paragraph

Is near as I can guess — 

I play at Riches — to appease

The Clamoring for Gold —

It kept me from a Thief, I think,

For often, overbold

With Want, and Opportunity —

I could have done a Sin

And been Myself that easy Thing

An independent Man —

But often as my lot displays

Too hungry to be borne

I deem Myself what I would be —

And novel Comforting

My Poverty and I derive —

We question if the Man —

Who own — Esteem the Opulence —

As We — Who never Can —

Should ever these exploring Hands

Chance Sovereign on a Mine —

Or in the long — uneven term

To win, become their turn —

How fitter they will be — for Want —

Enlightening so well —

I know not which, Desire, or Grant —

Be wholly beautiful —

I prayed, at first, a little Girl,

Because they told me to —

But stopped, when qualified to guess

How prayer would feel — to me —

If I believed God looked around,

Each time my Childish eye

Fixed full, and steady, on his own

In Childish honesty —

And told him what I'd like, today,

And parts of his far plan

That baffled me —

The mingled side

Of his Divinity —

And often since, in Danger,

I count the force 'twould be

To have a God so strong as that

To hold my life for me

Till I could take the Balance

That tips so frequent, now,

It takes me all the while to poise —

And then — it doesn't stay —

I read my sentence — steadily —

Reviewed it with my eyes,

To see that I made no mistake

In its extremest clause —

The Date, and manner, of the shame —

And then the Pious Form

That "God have mercy" on the Soul

The Jury voted Him —

I made my soul familiar — with her extremity —

That at the last, it should not be a novel Agony —

But she, and Death, acquainted —

Meet tranquilly, as friends —

Salute, and pass, without a Hint —

And there, the Matter ends —

I reason, earth is short,

And anguish absolute,

And many hurt ;

But what of that ?

I reason, we could die :

The best vitality 

Cannot excel decay ;

But what of that ?

I reason that in heaven

Somehow, it will be even,

Some new equation given ;

But what of that?

I reckon — when I count it all —

First — Poets — Then the Sun —

Then Summer — Then the Heaven of God —

And then — the List is done —

But, looking back — the First so seems

To Comprehend the Whole —

The Others look a needless Show —

So I write — Poets — All —

Their Summer — lasts a Solid Year —

They can afford a Sun

The East — would deem extravagant —

And if the Further Heaven —

Be Beautiful as they prepare

For Those who worship Them —

It is too difficult a Grace —

To justify the Dream —

I robbed the Woods —

The trusting Woods.

The unsuspecting Trees

Brought out their Burs and mosses

My fantasy to please.

I scanned their trinkets curious — I grasped — I bore away —

What will the solemn Hemlock —

What will the Oak tree say?

I rose — because He sank —

I thought it would be opposite —

But when his power dropped —

My Soul grew straight.

I cheered my fainting Prince —

I sang firm — even — Chants —

I helped his Film — with Hymn —

And when the Dews drew off

That held his Forehead stiff —

I met him —

Balm to Balm —

I told him Best — must pass

Through this low Arch of Flesh —

No Casque so brave

It spurn the Grave —

I told him Worlds I knew

Where Emperors grew —

Who recollected us

If we were true —

And so with Thews of Hymn —

And Sinew from within —

And ways I knew not that I knew — till then —

I lifted Him —

I saw no Way — The Heavens were stitched —

I felt the Columns close —

The Earth reversed her Hemispheres —

I touched the Universe —

And back it slid — and I alone —

A Speck upon a Ball —

Went out upon Circumference —

Beyond the Dip of Bell —

I saw that the Flake was on it

But plotted with Time to dispute —

"Unchanged" I urged with a candor

That cost me my honest Heart —

But "you" — she returned with valor

Sagacious of my mistake

"Have altered — Accept the pillage

For the progress' sake" —

I saw the wind within her

I knew it blew for me —

But she must buy my shelter

I asked Humility

I see thee better — in the Dark —

I do not need a Light —

The Love of Thee — a Prism be —

Excelling Violet —

I see thee better for the Years

That hunch themselves between —

The Miner's Lamp — sufficient be —

To nullify the Mine —

And in the Grave — I see Thee best —

Its little Panels be

Aglow — All ruddy — with the Light

I held so high, for Thee —

What need of Day —

To Those whose Dark — hath so — surpassing Sun —

It deem it be — Continually —

At the Meridian?

I see thee clearer for the Grave

That took thy face between

No Mirror could illumine thee

Like that impassive stone —

I know thee better for the Act

That made thee first unknown

The stature of the empty nest

Attests the Bird that's gone.

I send Two Sunsets—

Day and I—in competition ran—

I finished Two—and several Stars—

While He—was making One—

His own was ampler—but as I

Was saying to a friend—

Mine—is the more convenient

To Carry in the Hand—

I send you a decrepit flower

That nature sent to me

At parting — she was going south

And I designed to stay —

Her motive for the souvenir

If sentiment for me

Or circumstances prudential

Withheld invincibly —

image credit:

I shall keep singing!

Birds will pass me

On their way to Yellower Climes —

Each — with a Robin's expectation —

I — with my Redbreast —

And my Rhymes —

Late — when I take my place in summer —

But — I shall bring a fuller tune —

Vespers — are sweeter than Matins — Signor —

Morning — only the seed of Noon —

I shall know why, when time is over,

And I have ceased to wonder why ;

Christ will explain each separate anguish

In the fair schoolroom of the sky.

He will tell me what Peter promised,

And I, for wonder at his woe,

I shall forget the drop of anguish

That scalds me now, that scalds me now.

I shall not murmur if at last

The ones I loved below

Permission have to understand

For what I shunned them so —

Divulging it would rest my Heart

But it would ravage theirs —

Why, Katie, Treason has a Voice —

But mine — dispels — in Tears.

I should have been too glad, I see —

Too lifted — for the scant degree

Of Life's penurious Round —

My little Circuit would have shamed

This new Circumference — have blamed —

The homelier time behind.

I should have been too saved — I see —

Too rescued — Fear too dim to me

That I could spell the Prayer

I knew so perfect — yesterday —

That Scalding One — Sabachthani —

Recited fluent — here —

Earth would have been too much — I see —

And Heaven — not enough for me —

I should have had the Joy

Without the Fear — to justify —

The Palm — without the Calvary —

So Savior — Crucify —

Defeat — whets Victory — they say —

The Reefs — in old Gethsemane —

Endear the Coast — beyond!

'Tis Beggars — Banquets — can define —

'Tis Parching — vitalizes Wine —

"Faith" bleats — to understand!

I should not dare to be so sad

So many Years again —

A Load is first impossible

When we have put it down —

The Superhuman then withdraws

And we who never saw

The Giant at the other side

Begin to perish now.

I should not dare to leave my friend,

Because — because if he should die

While I was gone — and I — too late —

Should reach the Heart that wanted me —

If I should disappoint the eyes

That hunted — hunted so — to see —

And could not bear to shut until

They "noticed" me — they noticed me —

If I should stab the patient faith

So sure I'd come — so sure I'd come —

It listening — listening — went to sleep —

Telling my tardy name —

My Heart would wish it broke before —

Since breaking then — since breaking then —

Were useless as next morning's sun —

Where midnight frosts — had lain!

I showed her Heights she never saw —

"Would'st Climb," I said?

She said — "Not so" —

"With me —" I said — With me?

I showed her Secrets — Morning's Nest —

The Rope the Nights were put across —

And now — "Would'st have me for a Guest?"

She could not find her Yes —

And then, I brake my life — And Lo,

A Light, for her, did solemn glow,

The larger, as her face withdrew —

And could she, further, “No"?

I sing to use the Waiting

My Bonnet but to tie

And shut the Door unto my House

No more to do have I

Till His best step approaching

We journey to the Day

And tell each other how We sung

To Keep the Dark away.

I sometimes drop it, for a Quick —

The Thought to be alive —

Anonymous Delight to know —

And Madder — to conceive —

Consoles a Woe so monstrous

That did it tear all Day,

Without an instant's Respite —

'Twould look too far — to Die —

Delirium - diverts the Wretch

For Whom the Scaffold neighs —

The Hammock's Motion lulls the Heads

So close on Paradise —

A Reef - crawled easy from the Sea

Eats off the Brittle Line —

The Sailor doesn't know the Stroke —

Until He's past the Pain —

Above: Hand signed letter from Emily.

I started Early — Took my Dog —

And visited the Sea —

The Mermaids in the Basement

Came out to look at me —

And Frigates — in the Upper Floor

Extended Hempen Hands —

Presuming Me to be a Mouse —

Aground — upon the Sands —

But no Man moved Me — till the Tide

Went past my simple Shoe —

And past my Apron — and my Belt —

And past my Bodice — too —

And made as He would eat me up —

As wholly as a Dew

Upon a Dandelion's Sleeve —

And then — I started — too —

And He — He followed — close behind —

I felt his Silver Heel

Upon my Ankle — Then my Shoes

Would overflow with Pearl —

Until We met the Solid Town —

No One He seemed to know —

And bowing — with a Mighty look —

At me — The Sea withdrew —

I stepped from Plank to Plank

A slow and cautious way

The Stars about my Head I felt

About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next

Would be my final inch —

This gave me that precarious Gait

Some call Experience.

I stole them from a Bee —

Because — Thee —

Sweet plea —

He pardoned me!

I sued the News — yet feared — the News

That such a Realm could be —

"The House not made with Hands" it was —

Thrown open wide to me —

I suppose the time will come

Aid it in the coming

When the Bird will crowd the Tree

And the Bee be booming.

I suppose the time will come

Hinder it a little

When the Corn in Silk will dress

And in Chintz the Apple

I believe the Day will be

When the Jay will giggle

At his new white House the Earth

That, too, halt a little —

I Taste a liquor never brewed,

From tankards scooped in pearl;

Not all the vats upon the Rhine

Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,

And debauchee of dew,

Reeling, through endless summer days,

From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee

Out of the foxglove's door,

When butterflies renounce their drams,

I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,

And saints to windows run,

To see the little tippler

Leaning against the sun!

I tend my flowers for thee —

Bright Absentee!

My Fuchsia's Coral Seams

Rip — while the Sower — dreams

Geraniums — tint — and spot —

Low Daisies — dot —

My Cactus — splits her Beard

To show her throat —

Carnations — tip their spice —

And Bees — pick up —

A Hyacinth — I hid —

Puts out a Ruffled Head —

And odors fall

From flasks — so small —

You marvel how they held —

Globe Roses — break their satin flake —

Upon my Garden floor

Yet — thou — not there —

I had as lief they bore

No Crimson — more —

Thy flower — be gay —

Her Lord — away!

It ill becometh me —

I'll dwell in Calyx — Gray —

How modestly — alway —

Thy Daisy —

Draped for thee!

I think I was enchanted

When first a sombre Girl —

I read that Foreign Lady —

The Dark — felt beautiful —

And whether it was noon at night —

Or only Heaven — at Noon —

For very Lunacy of Light

I had not power to tell —

The Bees — became as Butterflies —

The Butterflies — as Swans —

Approached — and spurned the narrow Grass —

And just the meanest Tunes

That Nature murmured to herself

To keep herself in Cheer —

I took for Giants — practising

Titanic Opera —

The Days — to Mighty Metres stept —

The Homeliest — adorned

As if unto a Jubilee

'Twere suddenly Confirmed —

I could not have defined the change —

Conversion of the Mind

Like Sanctifying in the Soul —

Is Witnessed — not Explained —

'Twas a Divine Insanity —

The Danger to be sane

Should I again experience —

'Tis Antidote to turn —

To Tomes of solid Witchcraft —

Magicians be asleep —

But Magic — hath an Element —

Like Deity — to keep —

I think just how my shape will rise —

When I shall be "forgiven" —

Till Hair — and Eyes — and timid Head —

Are out of sight — in Heaven —

I think just how my lips will weigh —

With shapeless — quivering — prayer —

That you — so late — "Consider" me —

The "Sparrow" of your Care —

I mind me that of Anguish — sent —

Some drifts were moved away —

Before my simple bosom — broke —

And why not this — if they?

And so I con that thing — "forgiven" —

Until — delirious — borne —

By my long bright — and longer — trust —

I drop my Heart — unshriven!

I think that the Root of the Wind is Water —

It would not sound so deep

Were it a Firmamental Product —

Airs no Oceans keep —

Mediterranean intonations —

To a Current's Ear —

There is a maritime conviction

In the Atmosphere —

I think the Hemlock likes to stand

Upon a Marge of Snow —

It suits his own Austerity —

And satisfies an awe

That men, must slake in Wilderness —

And in the Desert — cloy —

An instinct for the Hoar, the Bald —

Lapland's — necessity —

The Hemlock's nature thrives — on cold —

The Gnash of Northern winds

Is sweetest nutriment — to him —

His best Norwegian Wines —

To satin Races — he is nought —

But Children on the Don,

Beneath his Tabernacles, play,

And _____ Wrestlers run.

Above: Handwritten original version of "I think the Hemlock likes to stand," by Emily Dickinson. The 3rd word from the end has been transcribed incorrectly. "Dnieper" refers only to the name of a River in Russia, and so it seems out of place here. Still, I can't read it either. Can you? 


I think the longest Hour of all

Is when the Cars have come —

And we are waiting for the Coach —

It seems as though the Time

Indignant — that the Joy was come —

Did block the Gilded Hands —

And would not let the Seconds by —

But slowest instant — ends —

The Pendulum begins to count —

Like little Scholars — loud —

The steps grow thicker — in the Hall —

The Heart begins to crowd —

Then I — my timid service done —

Tho' service 'twas, of Love —

Take up my little Violin —

And further North — remove.

I think to Live — may be a Bliss

To those who dare to try —

Beyond my limit to conceive —

My lip — to testify —

I think the Heart I former wore

Could widen — till to me

The Other, like the little Bank

Appear — unto the Sea —

I think the Days — could every one

In Ordination stand —

And Majesty — be easier —

Than an inferior kind —

No numb alarm — lest Difference come —

No Goblin — on the Bloom —

No start in Apprehension's Ear,

No Bankruptcy — no Doom —

But Certainties of Sun —

Midsummer — in the Mind —

A steadfast South — upon the Soul —

Her Polar time — behind —

The Vision — pondered long —

So plausible becomes

That I esteem the fiction — real —

The Real — fictitious seems —

How bountiful the Dream —

What Plenty — it would be —

Had all my Life but been Mistake

Just rectified — in Thee

I thought that nature was enough

Till Human nature came

But that the other did absorb

As Parallax a Flame —

Of Human nature just aware

There added the Divine

Brief struggle for capacity

The power to contain

Is always as the contents

But give a Giant room

And you will lodge a Giant

And not a smaller man

I thought the Train would never come —

How slow the whistle sang —

I don't believe a peevish Bird

So whimpered for the Spring —

I taught my Heart a hundred times

Precisely what to say —

Provoking Lover, when you came

Its Treatise flew away

To hide my strategy too late

To wiser be too soon —

For miseries so halcyon

The happiness atone —

I tie my Hat — I crease my Shawl —

Life's little duties do — precisely —

As the very least

Were infinite — to me —

I put new Blossoms in the Glass —

And throw the old — away —

I push a petal from my Gown

That anchored there — I weigh

The time 'twill be till six o'clock

I have so much to do —

And yet — Existence — some way back —

Stopped — struck — my ticking — through —

We cannot put Ourself away

As a completed Man

Or Woman — When the Errand's done

We came to Flesh — upon —

There may be — Miles on Miles of Nought —

Of Action — sicker far —

To simulate — is stinging work —

To cover what we are

From Science — and from Surgery —

Too Telescopic Eyes

To bear on us unshaded —

For their — sake — not for Ours —

'Twould start them —

We — could tremble —

But since we got a Bomb —

And held it in our Bosom —

Nay — Hold it — it is calm —

Therefore — we do life's labor —

Though life's Reward — be done —

With scrupulous exactness —

To hold our Senses — on —

I took my Power in my Hand —

And went against the World —

'Twas not so much as David — had —

But I — was twice as bold —

I aimed by Pebble — but Myself

Was all the one that fell —

Was it Goliath — was too large —

Or was myself — too small?

I took one Draught of Life —

I'll tell you what I paid —

Precisely an existence —

The market price, they said.

They weighed me, Dust by Dust —

They balanced Film with Film,

Then handed me my Being's worth —

A single Dram of Heaven!

I tried to think a lonelier Thing

Than any I had seen —

Some Polar Expiation — An Omen in the Bone

Of Death's tremendous nearness —

I probed Retrieveless things

My Duplicate — to borrow —

A Haggard Comfort springs

From the belief that Somewhere —

Within the Clutch of Thought —

There dwells one other Creature

Of Heavenly Love — forgot —

I plucked at our Partition

As One should pry the Walls —

Between Himself — and Horror's Twin —

Within Opposing Cells —

I almost strove to clasp his Hand,

Such Luxury — it grew —

That as Myself — could pity Him —

Perhaps he — pitied me —

"I want" — it pleaded — All its life —

I want — was chief it said

When Skill entreated it — the last —

And when so newly dead —

I could not deem it late — to hear

That single — steadfast sigh —

The lips had placed as with a "Please"

Toward Eternity —

I was a Phoebe — nothing more —

A Phoebe — nothing less —

The little note that others dropt

I fitted into place —

I dwelt too low that any seek —

Too shy, that any blame —

A Phoebe makes a little print

Upon the Floors of Fame —

Above: A contemporary oil portrait of Emily Dickinson by John Morse

I was the slightest in the House —

I took the smallest Room —

At night, my little Lamp, and Book —

And one Geranium —

So stationed I could catch the Mint

That never ceased to fall —

And just my Basket —

Let me think — I'm sure —

That this was all —

I never spoke — unless addressed —

And then, 'twas brief and low —

I could not bear to live — aloud —

The Racket shamed me so —

And if it had not been so far —

And any one I knew

Were going — I had often thought

How noteless — I could die —

I watched her face to see which way

She took the awful news —

Whether she died before she heard

Or in protracted bruise

Remained a few slow years with us —

Each heavier than the last —

A further afternoon to fail,

As Flower at fall of Frost.

I watched the Moon around the House

Until upon a Pane —

She stopped — a Traveller's privilege — for Rest —

And there upon

I gazed — as at a stranger —

The Lady in the Town

Doth think no incivility

To lift her Glass — upon —

But never Stranger justified

The Curiosity

Like Mine — for not a Foot — nor Hand —

Nor Formula — had she —

But like a Head — a Guillotine

Slid carelessly away —

Did independent, Amber —

Sustain her in the sky —

Or like a Stemless Flower —

Upheld in rolling Air

By finer Gravitations —

Than bind Philosopher —

No Hunger — had she — nor an Inn —

Her Toilette — to suffice —

Nor Avocation — nor Concern

For little Mysteries

As harass us — like Life — and Death —

And Afterwards — or Nay —

But seemed engrossed to Absolute —

With shining — and the Sky —

The privilege to scrutinize

Was scarce upon my Eyes

When, with a Silver practise —

She vaulted out of Gaze —

And next — I met her on a Cloud —

Myself too far below

To follow her superior Road —

Or its advantage — Blue —

I went to Heaven —

'Twas a small Town —

Lit — with a Ruby —

Lathed — with Down —

Stiller — than the fields

At the full Dew —

Beautiful — as Pictures —

No Man drew.

People — like the Moth —

Of Mechlin — frames —

Duties — of Gossamer —

And Eider — names —

Almost — contented —

I — could be —

'Mong such unique

Society —

I went to thank her,

But she slept ;

Her bed a funnelled stone,

With nosegays at the head and foot,

That travellers had thrown,

Who went to thank her ;

But she slept.

'T was short to cross the sea

To look upon her like, alive,

But turning back 't was slow.

I worked for chaff and earning Wheat

Was haughty and betrayed.

What right had Fields to arbitrate

In matters ratified?

I tasted Wheat and hated Chaff

And thanked the ample friend —

Wisdom is more becoming viewed

At distance than at hand.

I would distil a cup,

And bear to all my friends,

Drinking to her no more astir,

By beck, or burn, or moor!

I would not paint — a picture —

I'd rather be the One

Its bright impossibility

To dwell — delicious — on —

And wonder how the fingers feel

Whose rare — celestial — stir —

Evokes so sweet a Torment —

Such sumptuous — Despair —

I would not talk, like Cornets —

I'd rather be the One

Raised softly to the Ceilings —

And out, and easy on —

Through Villages of Ether —

Myself endued Balloon

By but a lip of Metal —

The pier to my Pontoon —

Nor would I be a Poet —

It's finer — own the Ear —

Enamored — impotent — content —

The License to revere,

A privilege so awful

What would the Dower be,

Had I the Art to stun myself

With Bolts of Melody!

Above images: 

I Years had been from Home

And now before the Door

I dared not enter, lest a Face

I never saw before

Stare solid into mine

And ask my Business there —

"My Business but a Life I left

Was such remaining there?"

I leaned upon the Awe —

I lingered with Before —

The Second like an Ocean rolled

And broke against my ear —

I laughed a crumbling Laugh

That I could fear a Door

Who Consternation compassed

And never winced before.

I fitted to the Latch

My Hand, with trembling care

Lest back the awful Door should spring

And leave me in the Floor —

Then moved my Fingers off

As cautiously as Glass

And held my ears, and like a Thief

Fled gasping from the House —

I'd rather recollect a setting

Than own a rising sun

Though one is beautiful forgetting —

And true the other one.

Because in going is a Drama

Staying cannot confer

To die divinely once a Twilight —

Than wane is easier —

I'll clutch — and clutch —

Next — One — Might be the golden touch —

Could take it —

Diamonds — Wait —

I'm diving — just a little late —

But stars — go slow — for night —

I'll string you — in fine Necklace —

Tiaras — make — of some —

Wear you on Hem —

Loop up a Countess — with you —

Make — a Diadem — and mend my old One —

Count — Hoard — then lose —

And doubt that you are mine —

To have the joy of feeling it — again —

I'll show you at the Court —

Bear you — for Ornament

Where Women breathe —

That every sigh — may lift you

Just as high — as I —

And — when I die —

In meek array — display you —

Still to show — how rich I go —

Lest Skies impeach a wealth so wonderful —

And banish me —

I'll send the feather from my Hat!

Who knows — but at the sight of that

My Sovereign will relent?

As trinket — worn by faded Child —

Confronting eyes long — comforted —

Blisters the Adamant!

I'll tell you how the Sun rose —

A Ribbon at a time —

The Steeples swam in Amethyst —

The news, like Squirrels, ran —

The Hills untied their Bonnets —

The Bobolinks — begun —

Then I said softly to myself —

"That must have been the Sun"!

But how he set — I know not —

There seemed a purple stile

That little Yellow boys and girls

Were climbing all the while —

Till when they reached the other side,

A Dominie in Gray —

Put gently up the evening Bars —

And led the flock away —

I'm ceded — I've stopped being Theirs —

The name They dropped upon my face

With water, in the country church

Is finished using, now,

And They can put it with my Dolls,

My childhood, and the string of spools,

I've finished threading — too —

Baptized, before, without the choice,

But this time, consciously, of Grace —

Unto supremest name —

Called to my Full — The Crescent dropped —

Existence's whole Arc, filled up,

With one small Diadem.

My second Rank — too small the first —

Crowned — Crowing — on my Father's breast —

A half unconscious Queen —

But this time — Adequate — Erect,

With Will to choose, or to reject,

And I choose, just a Crown —

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

Are you — Nobody — too?

Then there's a pair of us!

Don't tell! they'd advertise — you know.

How dreary — to be — Somebody!

How public — like a Frog —

To tell one's name — the livelong June —

To an admiring Bog!

I'm saying every day

"If I should be a Queen, tomorrow" —

I'd do this way —

And so I deck, a little,

If it be, I wake a Bourbon,

None on me, bend supercilious —

With "This was she —

Begged in the Market place —


Court is a stately place —

I've heard men say —

So I loop my apron, against the Majesty

With bright Pins of Buttercup —

That not too plain —

Rank — overtake me —

And perch my Tongue

On Twigs of singing — rather high —

But this, might be my brief Term

To qualify —

Put from my simple speech all plain word —

Take other accents, as such I heard

Though but for the Cricket — just,

And but for the Bee —

Not in all the Meadow —

One accost me —

Better to be ready —

Than did next morn

Meet me in Aragon —

My old Gown — on —

And the surprised Air

Rustics — wear —

Summoned — unexpectedly —

To Exeter —

I'm sorry for the Dead — Today —

It's such congenial times

Old Neighbors have at fences —

It's time o' year for Hay.

And Broad — Sunburned Acquaintance

Discourse between the Toil —

And laugh, a homely species

That makes the Fences smile —

It seems so straight to lie away

From all of the noise of Fields —

The Busy Carts — the fragrant Cocks —

The Mower's Metre — Steals —

A Trouble lest they're homesick —

Those Farmers — and their Wives —

Set separate from the Farming —

And all the Neighbors' lives —

A Wonder if the Sepulchre

Don't feel a lonesome way —

When Men — and Boys — and Carts — and June,

Go down the Fields to "Hay" —

I'm the little "Heart's Ease"!

I don't care for pouting skies!

If the Butterfly delay

Can I, therefore, stay away?

If the Coward Bumble Bee

In his chimney corner stay,

I, must resoluter be!

Who'll apologize for me?

Dear, Old fashioned, little flower!

Eden is old fashioned, too!

Birds are antiquated fellows!

Heaven does not change her blue.

Nor will I, the little Heart's Ease —

Ever be induced to do!

Above: Drawing of Emily Dickinson by Radhika Ravindran

image credit:

I'm "wife" — I've finished that —

That other state —

I'm Czar — I'm "Woman" now —

It's safer so —

How odd the Girl's life looks

Behind this soft Eclipse —

I think that Earth feels so

To folks in Heaven — now —

This being comfort — then

That other kind — was pain —

But why compare?

I'm "Wife"! Stop there!

I've dropped my Brain — My Soul is numb —

The Veins that used to run

Stop palsied — 'tis Paralysis

Done perfecter on stone

Vitality is Carved and cool.

My nerve in Marble lies —

A Breathing Woman

Yesterday — Endowed with Paradise.

Not dumb — I had a sort that moved —

A Sense that smote and stirred —

Instincts for Dance — a caper part —

An Aptitude for Bird —

Who wrought Carrara in me

And chiselled all my tune

Were it a Witchcraft — were it Death —

I've still a chance to strain

To Being, somewhere — Motion — Breath —

Though Centuries beyond,

And every limit a Decade —

I'll shiver, satisfied.

I've got an arrow here.

Loving the hand that sent it

I the dart revere.

Fell, they will say, in "skirmish"!

Vanquished, my soul will know

By but a simple arrow

Sped by an archer's bow.

I've heard an Organ talk, sometimes

In a Cathedral Aisle,

And understood no word it said —

Yet held my breath, the while —

And risen up — and gone away,

A more Bernardine Girl —

Yet — know not what was done to me

In that old Chapel Aisle.

I've known a Heaven, like a Tent —

To wrap its shining Yards —

Pluck up its stakes, and disappear —

Without the sound of Boards

Or Rip of Nail — Or Carpenter —

But just the miles of Stare —

That signalize a Show's Retreat —

In North America —

No Trace — no Figment of the Thing

That dazzled, Yesterday,

No Ring — no Marvel —

Men, and Feats —

Dissolved as utterly —

As Bird's far Navigation

Discloses just a Hue —

A plash of Oars, a Gaiety —

Then swallowed up, of View.

I've none to tell me to but Thee

So when Thou failest, nobody.

It was a little tie —

It just held Two, nor those it held

Since Somewhere thy sweet Face has spilled

Beyond my Boundary —

If things were opposite — and Me

And Me it were — that ebbed from Thee

On some unanswering Shore —

Would'st Thou seek so — just say

That I the Answer may pursue

Unto the lips it eddied through —

So — overtaking Thee —

I've nothing else — to bring, You know —

So I keep bringing These —

Just as the Night keeps fetching Stars

To our familiar eyes —

Maybe, we shouldn't mind them —

Unless they didn't come —

Then — maybe, it would puzzle us

To find our way Home —

I've seen a dying eye

Run round and round a room

In search of something, as it seemed,

Then cloudier become ;

And then, obscure with fog,

And then be soldered down,

Without disclosing what it be,

'T were blessed to have seen.

Ideals are the Fairly Oil

With which we help the Wheel

But when the Vital Axle turns

The Eye rejects the Oil.

If all the griefs I am to have

Would only come today,

I am so happy I believe

They'd laugh and run away.

If all the joys I am to have

Would only come today,

They could not be so big as this

That happens to me now.

If any sink, assure that this, now standing —

Failed like Themselves — and conscious that it rose —

Grew by the Fact, and not the Understanding

How Weakness passed — or Force — arose —

Tell that the Worst, is easy in a Moment —

Dread, but the Whizzing, before the Ball —

When the Ball enters, enters Silence —

Dying — annuls the power to kill.

If anybody's friend be dead

It's sharpest of the theme

The thinking how they walked alive —

At such and such a time —

Their costume, of a Sunday,

Some manner of the Hair —

A prank nobody knew but them

Lost, in the Sepulchre —

How warm, they were, on such a day,

You almost feel the date —

So short way off it seems —

And now — they're Centuries from that —

How pleased they were, at what you said —

You try to touch the smile

And dip your fingers in the frost —

When was it — Can you tell —

You asked the Company to tea —

Acquaintance — just a few —

And chatted close with this Grand Thing

That don't remember you —

Past Bows, and Invitations —

Past Interview, and Vow —

Past what Ourself can estimate —

That — makes the Quick of Woe!

If Blame be my side — forfeit Me —

But doom me not to forfeit Thee —

To forfeit Thee? The very name

Is sentence from Belief — and House —

If ever the lid gets off my head

And lets the brain away

The fellow will go where he belonged —

Without a hint from me,

And the world — if the world be looking on —

Will see how far from home

It is possible for sense to live

The soul there — all the time.

If He dissolve — then — there is nothing — more —

Eclipse — at Midnight —

It was dark — before —

Sunset — at Easter —

Blindness — on the Dawn —

Faint Star of Bethlehem —

Gone down!

Would but some God — inform Him —

Or it be too late!

Say — that the pulse just lisps —

The Chariots wait —

Say — that a little life — for His —

Is leaking — red —

His little Spaniel — tell Him!

Will He heed?

If He were living — dare I ask —

And how if He be dead —

And so around the Words I went —

Of meeting them — afraid —

I hinted Changes — Lapse of Time —

The Surfaces of Years —

I touched with Caution — lest they crack —

And show me to my fears —

Reverted to adjoining Lives —

Adroitly turning out

Wherever I suspected Graves —

'Twas prudenter — I thought —

And He — I pushed — with sudden force —

In face of the Suspense —

"Was buried" — "Buried"! "He!"

My Life just holds the Trench —

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain ;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

If I could bribe them by a Rose

I'd bring them every flower that grows

From Amherst to Cashmere!

I would not stop for night, or storm —

Or frost, or death, or anyone —

My business were so dear!

If they would linger for a Bird

My Tambourin were soonest heard

Among the April Woods!

Unwearied, all the summer long,

Only to break in wilder song

When Winter shook the boughs!

What if they hear me!

Who shall say

That such an importunity

May not at last avail?

That, weary of this Beggar's face —

They may not finally say, Yes —

To drive her from the Hall?

If I could tell how glad I was

I should not be so glad —

But when I cannot make the Force,

Nor mould it into Word,

I know it is a sign

That new Dilemna be

From mathematics further off

Than for Eternity.

If I may have it, when it's dead,

I'll be contented — so —

If just as soon as Breath is out

It shall belong to me —

Until they lock it in the Grave,

'Tis Bliss I cannot weigh —

For tho' they lock Thee in the Grave,

Myself — can own the key —

Think of it Lover! I and Thee

Permitted — face to face to be —

After a Life — a Death — We'll say —

For Death was That —

And this — is Thee —

I'll tell Thee All — how Bald it grew —

How Midnight felt, at first — to me —

How all the Clocks stopped in the World —

And Sunshine pinched me — 'Twas so cold —

Then how the Grief got sleepy — some —

As if my Soul were deaf and dumb —

Just making signs — across — to Thee —

That this way — thou could'st notice me —

I'll tell you how I tried to keep

A smile, to show you, when this Deep

All Waded — We look back for Play,

At those Old Times — in Calvary,

Forgive me, if the Grave come slow —

For Coveting to look at Thee —

Forgive me, if to stroke thy frost

Outvisions Paradise!

If I should cease to bring a Rose

Upon a festal day,

'Twill be because beyond the Rose

I have been called away —

If I should cease to take the names

My buds commemorate —

'Twill be because Death's finger

Claps my murmuring lip!

If I should die,

And you should live —

And time should gurgle on —

And morn should beam —

And noon should burn —

As it has usual done —

If Birds should build as early

And Bees as bustling go —

One might depart at option

From enterprise below!

'Tis sweet to know that stocks will stand

When we with Daisies lie —

That Commerce will continue —

And Trades as briskly fly —

It makes the parting tranquil

And keeps the soul serene —

That gentlemen so sprightly

Conduct the pleasing scene!

If I should see a single Bird 

(According to Sue's daughter, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, this fragment was the start of a poem that Emily wrote for her nephew Gib. However, Martha couldn't remember the rest of the poem, nor has the poem ever been found. My best guess is that Martha may have misremembered (or her listener misheard) the poem that begins, "At half past Three, a single Bird." Scroll up to read that poem.  

Above: Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Emily's niece, circa 1910.

If I shouldn't be alive

When the robins come,

Give the one in red cravat

A memorial crumb.

If I could n't thank you,

Being just asleep,

You will know I'm trying

With my granite lip !

If I'm lost — now

That I was found —

Shall still my transport be —

That once — on me — those Jasper Gates

Blazed open — suddenly —

That in my awkward — gazing — face —

The Angels — softly peered —

And touched me with their fleeces,

Almost as if they cared —

I'm banished — now — you know it —

How foreign that can be —

You'll know — Sir — when the Savior's face

Turns so — away from you —

If it had no pencil

Would it try mine —

Worn — now — and dull — sweet,

Writing much to thee.

If it had no word,

Would it make the Daisy,

Most as big as I was,

When it plucked me?

If my Bark sink

'Tis to another sea —

Mortality's Ground Floor

Is Immortality —

If Nature smiles — the Mother must

I'm sure, at many a whim

Of Her eccentric Family —

Is She so much to blame?

If pain for peace prepares

Lo, what "Augustan" years

Our feet await!

If springs from winter rise,

Can the Anemones

Be reckoned up?

If night stands fast — then noon

To gird us for the sun,

What gaze!

When from a thousand skies

On our developed eyes

Noons blaze!

If recollecting were forgetting,

Then I remember not,

And if forgetting, recollecting,

How near I had forgot,

And if to miss, were merry,

And to mourn, were gay,

How very blithe the fingers

That gathered this, today!

If she had been the Mistletoe

And I had been the Rose —

How gay upon your table

My velvet life to close —

Since I am of the Druid,

And she is of the dew —

I'll deck Tradition's buttonhole —

And send the Rose to you.

If the foolish, call them "flowers" —

Need the wiser, tell?

If the Savants "Classify" them

It is just as well!

Those who read the "Revelations"

Must not criticize

Those who read the same Edition —

With beclouded Eyes!

Could we stand with that Old "Moses" —

"Canaan" denied —

Scan like him, the stately landscape

On the other side —

Doubtless, we should deem superfluous

Many Sciences,

Not pursued by learned Angels

In scholastic skies!

Low amid that glad Belles lettres

Grant that we may stand,

Stars, amid profound Galaxies —

At that grand "Right hand”!

Above: Drawing of Emily Dickinson by Kate Boxer

image credit:

If this is "fading"

Oh let me immediately "fade"!

If this is "dying"

Bury me, in such a shroud of red!

If this is "sleep,"

On such a night

How proud to shut the eye!

Good Evening, gentle Fellow men!

Peacock presumes to die!

If those I loved were lost

The Crier's voice would tell me —

If those I loved were found

The bells of Ghent would ring —

Did those I loved repose

The Daisy would impel me.

Philip — when bewildered

Bore his riddle in!

If What we could — were what we would —

Criterion — be small —

It is the Ultimate of Talk —

The Impotence to Tell —

If wrecked upon the Shoal of Thought

How is it with the Sea?

The only Vessel that is shunned

Is safe — Simplicity —

Above: It's clear that Emily cares about these poems. Every word is carefully considered. 

image credit:

If you were coming in the fall,

I'd brush the summer by

With half a smile and half a spurn,

As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,

I'd wind the months in balls,

And put them each in separate drawers,

Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,

I'd count them on my hand,

Subtracting till my fingers dropped

Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out

That yours and mine should be,

I'd toss it yonder like a rind,

And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length

Of time's uncertain wing,

It goads me, like the goblin bee,

That will not state its sting.

If your Nerve, deny you —

Go above your Nerve —

He can lean against the Grave,

If he fear to swerve —

That's a steady posture —

Never any bend

Held of those Brass arms —

Best Giant made —

If your Soul seesaw —

Lift the Flesh door —

The Poltroon wants Oxygen —

Nothing more —

Image of Light, Adieu —

Thanks for the interview —

So long — so short —

Preceptor of the whole —

Coeval Cardinal —

Impart — Depart —

Immortal is an ample word

When what we need is by

But when it leaves us for a time

'Tis a necessity.

Of Heaven above the firmest proof

We fundamental know

Except for its marauding Hand

It had been Heaven below.

Immured in Heaven!

What a Cell!

Let every Bondage be,

Thou sweetest of the Universe,

Like that which ravished thee!

Impossibility, like Wine

Exhilarates the Man

Who tastes it; Possibility

Is flavorless — Combine

A Chance's faintest Tincture

And in the former Dram

Enchantment makes ingredient

As certainly as Doom —

In Ebon Box, when years have flown

To reverently peer,

Wiping away the velvet dust

Summers have sprinkled there!

To hold a letter to the light —

Grown Tawny now, with time —

To con the faded syllables

That quickened us like Wine!

Perhaps a Flower's shrivelled check

Among its stores to find —

Plucked far away, some morning —

By gallant — mouldering hand!

A curl, perhaps, from foreheads

Our Constancy forgot —

Perhaps, an Antique trinket —

In vanished fashions set!

And then to lay them quiet back —

And go about its care —

As if the little Ebon Box

Were none of our affair!

In falling Timbers buried —

There breathed a Man —

Outside — the spades — were plying —

The Lungs — within —

Could He — know — they sought Him —

Could They — know — He breathed —

Horrid Sand Partition —

Neither — could be heard —

Never slacked the Diggers —

But when Spades had done —

Oh, Reward of Anguish,

It was dying — Then —

Many Things — are fruitless —

'Tis a Baffling Earth —

But there is no Gratitude

Like the Grace — of Death —

In lands I never saw — they say

Immortal Alps look down —

Whose Bonnets touch the firmament —

Whose Sandals touch the town —

Meek at whose everlasting feet

A Myriad Daisy play —

Which, Sir, are you and which am I

Upon an August day?

In many and reportless places

We feel a Joy —

Reportless, also, but sincere as Nature

Or Deity —

It comes, without a consternation —

Dissolves — the same —

But leaves a sumptuous Destitution —

Without a Name —

Profane it by a search — we cannot

It has no home —

Nor we who having once inhaled it —

Thereafter roam.

In rags mysterious as these

The shining Courtiers go —

Veiling the purple, and the plumes —

Veiling the ermine so.

Smiling, as they request an alms —

At some imposing door!

Smiling when we walk barefoot

Upon their golden floor!

In snow thou comest —

Thou shalt go with the resuming ground,

The sweet derision of the crow,

And Glee's advancing sound.

In fear thou comest —

Thou shalt go at such a gait of joy

That man anew embark to live

Upon the depth of thee.

In the name of the Bee — 

And of the Butterfly — 

And of the Breeze — Amen! 

In this short Life

That only lasts an hour

How much — how little — is

Within our power

In thy long Paradise of Light

No moment will there be

When I shall long for Earthly Play

And mortal Company —

In Winter in my Room

I came upon a Worm —

Pink, lank and warm —

But as he was a worm

And worms presume

Not quite with him at home —

Secured him by a string

To something neighboring

And went along.

A Trifle afterward

A thing occurred

I'd not believe it if I heard

But state with creeping blood —

A snake with mottles rare

Surveyed my chamber floor

In feature as the worm before

But ringed with power —

The very string with which

I tied him — too

When he was mean and new

That string was there —

I shrank — "How fair you are"!

Propitiation's claw —

"Afraid," he hissed

"Of me"?

"No cordiality" —

He fathomed me —

Then to a Rhythm Slim

Secreted in his Form

As Patterns swim

Projected him.

That time I flew

Both eyes his way

Lest he pursue

Nor ever ceased to run

Till in a distant Town

Towns on from mine

I set me down

This was a dream.

Inconceivably solemn!

Things go gay

Pierce — by the very Press

Of Imagery —

Their far Parades — order on the eye

With a mute Pomp —

A pleading Pageantry —

Flags, are a brave sight —

But no true Eye

Ever went by One —

Steadily —

Music's triumphant —

But the fine Ear

Winces with delight

Are Drums too near —

Incredible the Lodging

But limited the Guest 

Is Bliss then, such Abyss,

I must not put my foot amiss

For fear I spoil my shoe?

I'd rather suit my foot

Than save my Boot —

For yet to buy another Pair

Is possible,

At any store —

But Bliss, is sold just once.

The Patent lost

None buy it any more —

Say, Foot, decide the point —

The Lady cross, or not?

Verdict for Boot!

Is Heaven a Physician?

They say that He can heal —

But Medicine Posthumous

Is unavailable —

Is Heaven an Exchequer?

They speak of what we owe —

But that negotiation

I'm not a Party to —

Is Immortality a bane

That men are so oppressed?

Is it dead — Find it —

Out of sound — Out of sight —

"Happy"? Which is wiser —

You, or the Wind?

"Conscious"? Won't you ask that —

Of the low Ground?

"Homesick"? Many met it —

Even through them — This

Cannot testify —

Themself — as dumb —

Is it too late to touch you, Dear?

We this moment knew —

Love Marine and Love terrene —

Love celestial too —

Is it true, dear Sue?

Are there two?

I shouldn't like to come

For fear of joggling Him!

If I could shut him up

In a Coffee Cup,

Or tie him to a pin

Till I got in —

Or make him fast

To "Toby's" fist —

Hist! Whist! I'd come!

It always felt to me — a wrong

To that Old Moses — done —

To let him see — the Canaan —

Without the entering —

And tho' in soberer moments —

No Moses there can be

I'm satisfied — the Romance

In point of injury —

Surpasses sharper stated —

Of Stephen — or of Paul —

For these — were only put to death —

While God's adroiter will

On Moses — seemed to fasten

With tantalizing Play

As Boy — should deal with lesser Boy —

To prove ability.

The fault — was doubtless Israel's —

Myself — had banned the Tribes —

And ushered Grand Old Moses

In Pentateuchal Robes

Upon the Broad Possession

'Twas little — But titled Him — to see —

Old Man on Nebo! Late as this —

My justice bleeds — for Thee!

It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon —

The Flower — distinct and Red —

I, passing, thought another Noon

Another in its stead

Will equal glow, and thought no More

But came another Day

To find the Species disappeared —

The Same Locality —

The Sun in place — no other fraud

On Nature's perfect Sum —

Had I but lingered Yesterday —

Was my retrieveless blame —

Much Flowers of this and further Zones

Have perished in my Hands

For seeking its Resemblance —

But unapproached it stands —

The single Flower of the Earth

That I, in passing by

Unconscious was — Great Nature's Face

Passed infinite by Me —

It came at last but prompter Death

Had occupied the House —

His pallid Furniture arranged

And his metallic Peace —

Oh faithful Frost that kept the Date

Had Love as punctual been

Delight had aggrandized the Gate

And blocked the coming in.

It came his turn to beg —

The begging for the life

Is different from another Alms

'Tis Penury in Chief —

I scanned his narrow realm

I gave him leave to live

Lest Gratitude revive the snake

Though smuggled his reprieve

It can't be "Summer"!

That — got through!

It's early — yet — for "Spring"!

There's that long town of White — to cross —

Before the Blackbirds sing!

It can't be "Dying"!

It's too Rouge —

The Dead shall go in White —

So Sunset shuts my question down

With Cuffs of Chrysolite!

It ceased to hurt me, though so slow

I could not feel the Anguish go —

But only knew by looking back —

That something — had benumbed the Track —

Nor when it altered, I could say,

For I had worn it, every day,

As constant as the Childish frock —

I hung upon the Peg, at night.

But not the Grief — that nestled close

As needles — ladies softly press

To Cushions Cheeks —

To keep their place —

Nor what consoled it, I could trace —

Except, whereas 'twas Wilderness —

It's better — almost Peace —

It did not surprise me —

So I said — or thought —

She will stir her pinions

And the nest forgot,

Traverse broader forests —

Build in gayer boughs,

Breathe in Ear more modern

God's old fashioned vows —

This was but a Birdling —

What and if it be

One within my bosom

Had departed me?

This was but a story —

What and if indeed

There were just such coffin

In the heart instead?

It don't sound so terrible — quite — as it did —

I run it over — "Dead", Brain, "Dead."

Put it in Latin — left of my school —

Seems it don't shriek so — under rule.

Turn it, a little — full in the face

A Trouble looks bitterest —

Shift it — just —

Say "When Tomorrow comes this way —

I shall have waded down one Day."

I suppose it will interrupt me some

Till I get accustomed — but then the Tomb

Like other new Things — shows largest — then —

And smaller, by Habit —

It's shrewder then

Put the Thought in advance — a Year —

How like "a fit" — then —

Murder — wear!

It dropped so low — in my Regard —

I heard it hit the Ground —

And go to pieces on the Stones

At bottom of my Mind —

Yet blamed the Fate that flung it — less

Than I denounced Myself,

For entertaining Plated Wares

Upon my Silver Shelf —

It feels a shame to be Alive —

When Men so brave — are dead —

One envies the Distinguished Dust —

Permitted — such a Head —

The Stone — that tells defending Whom

This Spartan put away

What little of Him we — possessed

In Pawn for Liberty —

The price is great — Sublimely paid —

Do we deserve — a Thing —

That lives — like Dollars — must be piled

Before we may obtain?

Are we that wait — sufficient worth —

That such Enormous Pearl

As life — dissolved be — for Us —

In Battle's — horrid Bowl?

It may be — a Renown to live —

I think the Man who die —

Those unsustained — Saviors —

Present Divinity —

It is a lonesome Glee —

Yet sanctifies the Mind —

With fair association —

Afar upon the Wind

A Bird to overhear

Delight without a Cause —

Arrestless as invisible —

A matter of the Skies.

It is an honorable Thought

And make One lift One's Hat

As One met sudden Gentlefolk

Upon a daily Street

That We've immortal Place

Though Pyramids decay

And Kingdoms, like the Orchard

Flit Russetly away

It is easy to work when the soul is at play —

But when the soul is in pain —

The hearing him put his playthings up

Makes work difficult — then —

It is simple, to ache in the Bone, or the Rind —

But Gimlets — among the nerve —

Mangle daintier — terribler —

Like a Panter in the Glove —

It knew no lapse, nor Diminuation —

But large — serene —

Burned on — until through Dissolution —

It failed from Men —

I could not deem these Planetary forces

Annulled —

But suffered an Exchange of Territory —

Or World —

It knew no Medicine —

It was not Sickness — then —

Nor any need of Surgery —

And therefore — 'twas not Pain —

It moved away the Cheeks —

A Dimple at a time —

And left the Profile — plainer —

And in the place of Bloom

It left the little Tint

That never had a Name —

You've seen it on a Cast's face —

Was Paradise — to blame —

If momently ajar —

Temerity — drew near —

And sickened — ever afterward

For Somewhat that it saw?

It makes no difference abroad —

The Seasons — fit — the same —

The Mornings blossom into Noons —

And split their Pods of Flame —

Wild flowers — kindle in the Woods —

The Brooks slam — all the Day —

No Black bird bates his Banjo —

For passing Calvary —

Auto da Fe — and Judgment —

Are nothing to the Bee —

His separation from His Rose —

To Him — sums Misery —

It might be lonelier

Without the Loneliness —

I'm so accustomed to my Fate —

Perhaps the Other — Peace —

Would interrupt the Dark —

And crowd the little Room —

Too scant — by Cubits — to contain

The Sacrament — of Him —

I am not used to Hope —

It might intrude upon —

Its sweet parade — blaspheme the place —

Ordained to Suffering —

It might be easier

To fail — with Land in Sight —

Than gain — My Blue Peninsula —

To perish — of Delight —

It rises — passes — on our South

Inscribes a simple Noon —

Cajoles a Moment with the Spires

And infinite is gone —

It sifts from Leaden Sieves —

It powders all the Wood.

It fills with Alabaster Wool

The Wrinkles of the Road —

It makes an Even Face

Of Mountain, and of Plain —

Unbroken Forehead from the East

Unto the East again —

It reaches to the Fence —

It wraps it Rail by Rail

Till it is lost in Fleeces —

It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack — and Stem —

A Summer's empty Room —

Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,

Recordless, but for them—

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts

As Ankles of a Queen —

Then stills its Artisans — like Ghosts —

Denying they have been —

It sounded as if the Streets were running

And then — the Streets stood still —

Eclipse — was all we could see at the Window

And Awe — was all we could feel.

By and by — the boldest stole out of his Covert

To see if Time was there —

Nature was in an Opal Apron,

Mixing fresher Air.

It stole along so stealthy

Suspicion it was done

Was dim as to the wealthy

Beginning not to own —

It struck me — every Day —

The Lightning was as new

As if the Cloud that instant slit

And let the Fire through —

It burned Me — in the Night —

It Blistered to My Dream —

It sickened fresh upon my sight —

With every Morn that came —

I thought that Storm — was brief —

The Maddest — quickest by —

But Nature lost the Date of This —

And left it in the Sky — 

It tossed — and tossed —

A little Brig I knew — o'ertook by Blast —

It spun — and spun —

And groped delirious, for Morn —

It slipped — and slipped —

As One that drunken — stept —

Its white foot tripped —

Then dropped from sight —

Ah, Brig — Good Night

To Crew and You —

The Ocean's Heart too smooth — too Blue —

To break for You —

It troubled me as once I was —

For I was once a Child —

Concluding how an Atom — fell —

And yet the Heavens — held —

The Heavens weighed the most — by far —

Yet Blue — and solid — stood —

Without a Bolt — that I could prove —

Would Giants — understand?

Life set me larger — problems —

Some I shall keep — to solve

Till Algebra is easier —

Or simpler proved — above —

Then — too — be comprehended —

What sorer — puzzled me —

Why Heaven did not break away —

And tumble — Blue — on me —

It was a Grave, yet bore no Stone

Enclosed 'twas not of Rail

A Consciousness its Acre, and

It held a Human Soul.

Entombed by whom, for what offence

If Home or Foreign born —

Had I the curiosity

'Twere not appeased of men

Till Resurrection, I must guess

Denied the small desire

A Rose upon its Ridge to sow

Or take away a Briar.

It was a quiet seeming Day —

There was no harm in earth or sky —

Till with the closing sun

There strayed an accidental Red

A Strolling Hue, one would have said

To westward of the Town —

But when the Earth began to jar

And Houses vanished with a roar

And Human Nature hid

We comprehended by the Awe

As those that Dissolution saw

The Poppy in the Cloud

It was a quiet way —

He asked if I was his —

I made no answer of the Tongue

But answer of the Eyes —

And then He bore me on

Before this mortal noise

With swiftness, as of Chariots

And distance, as of Wheels.

This World did drop away

As Acres from the feet

Of one that leaneth from Balloon

Upon an Ether street.

The Gulf behind was not,

The Continents were new —

Eternity it was before

Eternity was due.

No Seasons were to us —

It was not Night nor Morn —

But Sunrise stopped upon the place

And fastened it in Dawn.

It was given to me by the Gods —

When I was a little Girl —

They given us Presents most — you know —

When we are new — and small.

I kept it in my Hand —

I never put it down —

I did not dare to eat — or sleep —

For fear it would be gone —

I heard such words as "Rich" —

When hurrying to school —

From lips at Corners of the Streets —

And wrestled with a smile.

Rich! 'Twas Myself — was rich —

To take the name of Gold —

And Gold to own — in solid Bars —

The Difference — made me bold —

It was not Death, for I stood up,

And all the Dead, lie down —

It was not Night, for all the Bells

Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh

I felt Siroccos — crawl —

Nor Fire — for just my Marble feet

Could keep a Chancel, cool —

And yet, it tasted, like them all,

The Figures I have seen

Set orderly, for Burial,

Reminded me, of mine —

As if my life were shaven,

And fitted to a frame,

And could not breathe without a key,

And 'twas like Midnight, some -

When everything that ticked — has stopped —

And Space stares all around —

Or Grisly frosts — first Autumn morns,

Repeal the Beating Ground —

But, most, like Chaos - Stopless — cool —

Without a Chance, or Spar —

Or even a Report of Land —

To justify — Despair.

It was not Saint — it was too large —

Nor Snow — it was too small —

It only held itself aloof

Like something spiritual —

It was too late for man,

But early yet for God ;

Creation impotent to help,

But prayer remained our side.

How excellent the heaven,

When earth cannot be had ;

How hospitable, then, the face

Of our old neighbor, God !

It will be Summer — eventually.

Ladies — with parasols —

Sauntering Gentlemen — with Canes —

And little Girls — with Dolls —

Will tint the pallid landscape —

As 'twere a bright Bouquet —

Tho' drifted deep, in Parian —

The Village lies — today —

The Lilacs — bending many a year —

Will sway with purple load —

The Bees — will not despise the tune —

Their Forefathers — have hummed —

The Wild Rose — redden in the Bog —

The Aster — on the Hill

Her everlasting fashion — set —

And Covenant Gentians — frill —

Till Summer folds her miracle —

As Women — do — their Gown —

Or Priests — adjust the Symbols —

When Sacrament — is done —

It would have starved a Gnat —

To live so small as I —

And yet I was a living Child —

With Food's necessity

Upon me — like a Claw —

I could no more remove

Than I could coax a Leech away —

Or make a Dragon — move —

Not like the Gnat — had I —

The privilege to fly

And seek a Dinner for myself —

How mightier He — than I —

Nor like Himself — the Art

Upon the Window Pane

To gad my little Being out —

And not begin — again —

It would never be Common — more — I said —

Difference — had begun —

Many a bitterness — had been —

But that old sort — was done —

Or — if it sometime — showed — as 'twill —

Upon the Downiest — Morn —

Such bliss — had I — for all the years —

'Twould give an Easier — pain —

I'd so much joy — I told it — Red —

Upon my simple Cheek —

I felt it publish — in my Eye —

'Twas needless — any speak —

I walked — as wings — my body bore —

The feet — I former used —

Unnecessary — now to me —

As boots — would be — to Birds —

I put my pleasure all abroad —

I dealth a word of Gold

To every Creature — that I met —

And Dowered — all the World —

When — suddenly — my Riches shrank —

A Goblin — drank my Dew —

My Palaces — dropped tenantless —

Myself — was beggared — too —

I clutched at sounds —

I groped at shapes —

I touched the tops of Films —

I felt the Wilderness roll back

Along my Golden lines —

The Sackcloth — hangs upon the nail —

The Frock I used to wear —

But where my moment of Brocade —

My — drop — of India?

It would not know if it were spurned,

This gallant little flower —

How therefore safe to be a flower

If one would tamper there.

To enter, it would not aspire —

But may it not despair

That it is not a Cavalier,

To dare and perish there?

It's all I have to bring today —

This, and my heart beside —

This, and my heart, and all the fields —

And all the meadows wide —

Be sure you count — should I forget

Some one the sum could tell —

This, and my heart, and all the Bees

Which in the Clover dwell.

It's coming — the postponeless Creature —

It gains the Block — and now — it gains the Door —

Chooses its latch, from all the other fastenings —

Enters — with a "You know Me — Sir"?

Simple Salute — and certain Recognition —

Bold — were it Enemy — Brief — were it friend —

Dresses each House in Crape, and Icicle —

And carries one — out of it — to God —

It's easy to invent a Life —

God does it — every Day —

Creation — but the Gambol

Of His Authority —

It's easy to efface it —

The thrifty Deity

Could scarce afford Eternity

To Spontaneity —

The Perished Patterns murmur —

But His Perturbless Plan

Proceed — inserting Here — a Sun —

There — leaving out a Man —

It's like the Light —

A fashionless Delight —

It's like the Bee —

A dateless — Melody —

It's like the Woods —

Private — Like the Breeze —

Phraseless — yet it stirs

The proudest Trees —

It's like the Morning —

Best — when it's done —

And the Everlasting Clocks —

Chime — Noon!

It's such a little thing to weep —

So short a thing to sigh —

And yet — by Trades — the size of these

We men and women die!

It's thoughts — and just One Heart —

And Old Sunshine — about —

Make frugal — Ones — Content —

And two or three — for Company —

Upon a Holiday —

Crowded — as Sacrament —

Books — when the Unit —

Spare the Tenant — long eno' —

A Picture — if it Care —

Itself — a Gallery too rare —

For needing more —

Flowers — to keep the Eyes — from going awkward —

When it snows —

A Bird — if they — prefer —

Though Winter fire — sing clear as Plover —

To our — ear —

A Landscape — not so great

To suffocate the Eye —

A Hill — perhaps —

Perhaps — the profile of a Mill

Turned by the Wind —

Tho' such — are luxuries —

It's thoughts — and just two Heart —

And Heaven — about —

At least — a Counterfeit —

We would not have Correct —

And Immortality — can be almost —

Not quite — Content —

Its Hour with itself

The Spirit never shows.

What Terror would enthrall the Street

Could Countenance disclose

The Subterranean Freight

The Cellars of the Soul —

Thank God the loudest Place he made

Is licensed to be still.

Its little Ether Hood

Doth sit upon its Head —

The millinery supple

Of the sagacious God —

Till when it slip away

A nothing at a time —

And Dandelion's Drama

Expires in a stem.

Jesus! thy Crucifix

Enable thee to guess

The smaller size!

Jesus! thy second face

Mind thee in Paradise

Of ours!

Joy to have merited the Pain —

To merit the Release —

Joy to have perished every step —

To Compass Paradise —

Pardon — to look upon thy face —

With these old fashioned Eyes —

Better than new — could be — for that —

Though bought in Paradise —

Because they looked on thee before —

And thou hast looked on them —

Prove Me — My Hazel Witnesses

The features are the same —

So fleet thou wert, when present —

So infinite — when gone —

An Orient's Apparition —

Remanded of the Morn —

The Height I recollect —

'Twas even with the Hills —

The Depth upon my Soul was notched —

As Floods — on Whites of Wheels —

To Haunt — till Time have dropped

His last Decade away,

And Haunting actualize — to last

At least — Eternity —

Judgment is justest

When the Judged,

His action laid away,

Divested is of every Disk

But his sincerity.

Honor is then the safest hue

In a posthumous Sun —

Not any color will endure

That scrutiny can burn.

Just as He spoke it from his Hands

This Edifice remain —

A Turret more, a Turret less

Dishonor his Design —

According as his skill prefer

It perish, or endure —

Content, soe'er, it ornament

His absent character.

Just lost, when I was saved!

Just felt the world go by!

Just girt me for the onset with Eternity,

When breath blew back,

And on the other side

I heard recede the disappointed tide!

Therefore, as One returned, I feel

Odd secrets of the line to tell!

Some Sailor, skirting foreign shores —

Some pale Reporter, from the awful doors

Before the Seal!

Next time, to stay!

Next time, the things to see

By Ear unheard,

Unscrutinized by Eye —

Next time, to tarry,

While the Ages steal —

Slow tramp the Centuries,

And the Cycles wheel!

Just Once! Oh least Request!

Could Adamant refuse

So small a Grace

So scanty put,

Such agonizing terms?

Would not a God of Flint

Be conscious of a sigh

As down His Heaven dropt remote

"Just Once" Sweet Deity?

Just so — Jesus — raps —

He — doesn't weary —

Last — at the Knocker —

And first — at the Bell.

Then — on divinest tiptoe — standing —

Might He but spy the lady's soul —

When He — retires —

Chilled — or weary —

It will be ample time for — me —

Patient — upon the steps — until then —

Hears! I am knocking — low at thee.

Kill your Balm — and its Odors bless you —

Bare your Jessamine — to the storm —

And she will fling her maddest perfume —

Haply — your Summer night to Charm —

Stab the Bird — that built in your bosom —

Oh, could you catch her last Refrain —

Bubble! "forgive" — "Some better" — Bubble!

"Carol for Him — when I am gone”!

Knock with tremor —

These are Caesars —

Should they be at Home

Flee as if you trod unthinking

On the Foot of Doom —

These receded to accostal

Centuries ago —

Should they rend you with "How are you"

What have you to show?

Knows how to forget!

But could It teach it?

Easiest of Arts, they say

When one learn how

Dull Hearts have died

In the Acquisition

Sacrificed for Science

Is common, though, now —

I went to School

But was not wiser

Globe did not teach it

Nor Logarithm Show

"How to forget"!

Say — some — Philosopher!

Ah, to be erudite

Enough to know!

Is it in a Book?

So, I could buy it —

Is it like a Planet?

Telescopes would know —

If it be invention

It must have a Patent.

Rabbi of the Wise Book

Don't you know?

Lad of Athens, faithful be

To Thyself,

And Mystery—

All the rest is Perjury—

Lain in Nature — so suffice us

The enchantless Pod

When we advertise existence

For the missing Seed —

Maddest Heart that God created

Cannot move a sod

Pasted by the simple summer

On the Longed for Dead

Lay this Laurel on the One

Too intrinsic for Renown —

Laurel — veil your deathless tree —

Him you chasten, that is He!

Least Bee that brew —

A Honey's Weight

Content Her smallest fraction help

The Amber Quantity —

Least Rivers — docile to some sea.

My Caspian — thee.

Left in immortal Youth

On that low Plain

That hath nor Retrospection

Nor Again —

Ransomed from years —

Sequestered from Decay

Canceled like Dawn

In comprehensive Day —

Lest any doubt that we are glad that they were born Today

Whose having lived is held by us in noble Holiday

Without the date, like Consciousness or Immortality —

Lest they should come — is all my fear

When sweet incarcerated here

Lest this be Heaven indeed

An Obstacle is given

That always gauges a Degree

Between Ourself and Heaven.

Let down the Bars, Oh Death —

The tired Flocks come in

Whose bleating ceases to repeat

Whose wandering is done —

Thine is the stillest night

Thine the securest Fold

Too near Thou art for seeking Thee

Too tender, to be told.

Let me not mar that perfect Dream

By an Auroral stain

But so adjust my daily Night

That it will come again.

Not when we know, the Power accosts —

The Garment of Surprise

Was all our timid Mother wore

At Home — in Paradise.

Let me not thirst with this Hock at my Lip,

Nor beg, with Domains in my Pocket —

Let my first Knowing be of thee

With morning's warming Light —

And my first Fearing, lest Unknowns

Engulf thee in the night —

Let others – show this Surry’s Grace –

Myself – assist his Cross –

Let Us play Yesterday —

I — the Girl at school —

You — and Eternity — the

Untold Tale —

Easing my famine

At my Lexicon —

Logarithm — had I — for Drink —

'Twas a dry Wine —

Somewhat different — must be —

Dreams tint the Sleep —

Cunning Reds of Morning

Make the Blind — leap —

Still at the Egg-life —

Chafing the Shell —

When you troubled the Ellipse —

And the Bird fell —

Manacles be dim — they say —

To the new Free —

Liberty — Commoner —

Never could — to me —

'Twas my last gratitude

When I slept — at night —

'Twas the first Miracle

Let in — with Light —

Can the Lark resume the Shell —

Easier — for the Sky —

Wouldn't Bonds hurt more

Than Yesterday?

Wouldn't Dungeons sorer frate

On the Man — free —

Just long enough to taste —

Then — doomed new —

God of the Manacle

As of the Free —

Take not my Liberty

Away from Me —

"Lethe" in my flower,

Of which they who drink

In the fadeless orchards

Hear the bobolink!

Merely flake or petal

As the Eye beholds

Jupiter! my father!

I perceive the rose!

Life — is what we make of it —

Death — we do not know —

Christ's acquaintance with Him

Justify Him — though —

He — would trust no stranger —

Other — could betray —

Just His own endorsement —

That — sufficeth Me —

All the other Distance

He hath traversed first —

No New Mile remaineth —

Far as Paradise —

His sure foot preceding —

Tender Pioneer —

Base must be the Coward

Dare not venture — now —

Life is death we're lengthy at,

Death the hinge to life.

Life, and Death, and Giants —

Such as These — are still —

Minor — Apparatus — Hopper of the Mill —

Beetle at the Candle —

Or a Fife's Fame —

Maintain — by Accident that they proclaim —

Lift it — with the Feathers

Not alone we fly —

Launch it — the aquatic

Not the only sea —

Advocate the Azure

To the lower Eyes —

He has obligation

Who has Paradise —

Light is sufficient to itself —

If Others want to see

It can be had on Window Panes

Some Hours in the Day.

But not for Compensation —

It holds as large a Glow

To Squirrel in the Himmaleh

Precisely, as to you.

Lightly stepped a yellow star

To its lofty place —

Loosed the Moon her silver hat

From her lustral Face —

All of Evening softly lit

As an Astral Hall —

Father, I observed to Heaven,

You are punctual. 

Like Brooms of Steel

The Snow and Wind

Had swept the Winter Street —

The House was hooked

The Sun sent out

Faint Deputies of Heat —

Where rode the Bird

The Silence tied

His ample — plodding Steed

The Apple in the Cellar snug

Was all the one that played.

Like eyes that looked on Wastes —

Incredulous of Ought

But Blank — and steady Wilderness —

Diversified by Night —

Just Infinites of Nought —

As far as it could see —

So looked the face I looked upon —

So looked itself — on Me —

I offered it no Help —

Because the Cause was Mine —

The Misery a Compact

As hopeless — as divine —

Neither — would be absolved —

Neither would be a Queen

Without the Other — Therefore —

We perish — tho' We reign —

Like Flowers, that heard the news of Dews,

But never deemed the dripping prize

Awaited their — low Brows —

Or Bees — that thought the Summer's name

Some rumor of Delirium,

No Summer — could — for Them —

Or Arctic Creatures, dimly stirred —

By Tropic Hint — some Travelled Bird

Imported to the Wood —

Or Wind's bright signal to the Ear —

Making that homely, and severe,

Contented, known, before —

The Heaven — unexpected come,

To Lives that thought the Worshipping

A too presumptuous Psalm —

Like her the Saints retire,

In their Chapeaux of fire,

Martial as she!

Like her the Evenings steal

Purple and Cochineal

After the Day!

"Departed" — both — they say!

i.e. gathered away,

Not found,

Argues the Aster still —

Reasons the Daffodil


Like Men and Women Shadows walk

Upon the Hills Today —

With here and there a mighty Bow

Or trailing Courtesy

To Neighbors doubtless of their own

Not quickened to perceive

Minuter landscape as Ourselves

And Boroughs where we live —

Like Mighty Foot Lights — burned the Red

At Bases of the Trees —

The far Theatricals of Day

Exhibiting — to These —

'Twas Universe — that did applaud —

While Chiefest — of the Crowd —

Enabled by his Royal Dress —

Myself distinguished God —

Like Rain it sounded till it curved

And then I new 'twas Wind —

It walked as wet as any Wave

But swept as dry as sand —

When it had pushed itself away

To some remotest Plain

A coming as of Hosts was heard

That was indeed the rain —

It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools

It warbled in the Road —

It pulled the spigot from the Hills

And let the Floods abroad —

It loosened acres, lifted seas

The sites of Centres stirred

Then like Elijah rode away

Upon a Wheel of Cloud.

Like Some Old fashioned Miracle

When Summertime is done —

Seems Summer's Recollection

And the Affairs of June

As infinite Tradition

As Cinderella's Bays —

Or Little John — of Lincoln Green —

Or Blue Beard's Galleries —

Her Bees have a fictitious Hum —

Her Blossoms, like a Dream —

Elate us — till we almost weep —

So plausible — they seem —

Her Memories like Strains — Review —

When Orchestra is dumb —

The Violin in Baize replaced —

And Ear — and Heaven — numb —

Like Time's insidious wrinkle

On a beloved Face

We clutch the Grace the tighter

Though we resent the crease

The Frost himself so comely

Dishevels every prime

Asserting from his Prism

That none can punish him

Like Trains of Cars on Tracks of Plush

I hear the level Bee —

A Jar across the Flowers goes

Their Velvet Masonry —

Withstands until the sweet Assault

Their Chivalry consumes —

While He, victorious tilts away

To vanquish other Blooms.

Lives he in any other world

My faith cannot reply

Before it was imperative

'Twas all distinct to me —

Long Years apart — can make no

Breach a second cannot fill —

The absence of the Witch does not

Invalidate the spell —

The embers of a Thousand Years

Uncovered by the Hand

That fondled them when they were Fire

Will stir and understand —

Longing is like the Seed

That wrestles in the Ground,

Believing if it intercede

It shall at length be found.

The Hour, and the Clime —

Each Circumstance unknown,

What Constancy must be achieved

Before it see the Sun!

Look back on time with kindly eyes,

He doubtless did his best ;

How softly sinks his trembling sun

In human nature's west !

Love — is anterior to Life —

Posterior — to Death —

Initial of Creation, and

The Exponent of Breath —

Love — is that later Thing than Death —

More previous — than Life —

Confirms it at its entrance — And

Usurps it — of itself —

Tastes Death — the first — to hand the sting

The Second — to its friend —

Disarms the little interval —

Deposits Him with God —

Then hovers — an inferior Guard —

Lest this Beloved Charge

Need — once in an Eternity —

A smaller than the Large —

Love — thou art high —

I cannot climb thee —

But, were it Two —

Who knows but we —

Taking turns — at the Chimborazo —

Ducal — at last — stand up by thee —

Love — thou are deep —

I cannot cross thee —

But, were there Two

Instead of One —

Rower, and Yacht — some sovereign Summer —

Who knows — but we'd reach the Sun?

Love — thou are Veiled —

A few — behold thee —

Smile — and alter — and prattle — and die —

Bliss — were an Oddity — without thee —

Nicknamed by God —

Eternity —

Love can do all but raise the Dead

I doubt if even that

From such a giant were withheld

Were flesh equivalent

But love is tired and must sleep,

And hungry and must graze

And so abets the shining Fleet

Till it is out of gaze.

Love is done when Love's begun,

Sages say,

But have Sages known?

Truth adjourn your Boon

Without Day.

Love reckons by itself — alone —

"As large as I" — relate the Sun

To One who never felt it blaze —

Itself is all the like it has —

Love's stricken "why"

Is all that love can speak —

Built of but just a syllable

The hugest hearts that break.

Low at my problem bending,

Another problem comes —

Larger than mine — Serener —

Involving statelier sums.

I check my busy pencil,

My figures file away.

Wherefore, my baffled fingers

Thy perplexity?

Luck is not chance —

It's Toil —

Fortune's expensive smile

Is earned —

The Father of the Mine

Is that old-fashioned Coin

We spurned —

Make me a picture of the sun —

So I can hang it in my room —

And make believe I'm getting warm

When others call it "Day"!

Draw me a Robin — on a stem —

So I am hearing him, I'll dream,

And when the Orchards stop their tune —

Put my pretense — away —

Say if it's really — warm at noon —

Whether it's Buttercups — that "skim" —

Or Butterflies — that "bloom"?

Then — skip — the frost — upon the lea —

And skip the Russet — on the tree —

Let's play those — never come!

Mama never forgets her birds,

Though in another tree —

She looks down just as often

And just as tenderly

As when her little mortal nest

With cunning care she wove —

If either of her "sparrows fall,"

She "notices," above.

Many a phrase has the English language —

I have heard but one —

Low as the laughter of the Cricket,

Loud, as the Thunder's Tongue —

Murmuring, like old Caspian Choirs,

When the Tide's a' lull —

Saying itself in new infection —

Like a Whippoorwill —

Breaking in bright Orthography

On my simple sleep —

Thundering its Prospective —

Till I stir, and weep —

Not for the Sorrow, done me —

But the push of Joy —

Say it again, Saxon!

Hush — Only to me!

Many cross the Rhine

In this cup of mine.

Sip old Frankfort air

From my brown Cigar.

March is the Month of Expectation.

The things we do not know —

The Persons of prognostication

Are coming now —

We try to show becoming firmness —

But pompous Joy

Betrays us, as his first Betrothal

Betrays a Boy.

Me — come! My dazzled face

In such a shining place!

Me — hear! My foreign Ear

The sounds of Welcome — there!

The Saints forget

Our bashful feet —

My Holiday, shall be

That They — remember me —

My Paradise — the fame

That They — pronounce my name —

Me from Myself — to banish —

Had I Art —

Impregnable my Fortress

Unto All Heart —

But since Myself — assault Me —

How have I peace

Except by subjugating


And since We're mutual Monarch

How this be

Except by Abdication —

Me — of Me?

Me prove it now — Whoever doubt

Me stop to prove it — now —

Make haste — the Scruple! Death be scant

For Opportunity —

The River reaches to my feet —

As yet — My Heart be dry —

Oh Lover — Life could not convince —

Might Death — enable Thee —

The River reaches to My Breast —

Still — still — My Hands above

Proclaim with their remaining Might —

Dost recognize the Love?

The River reaches to my Mouth —

Remember — when the Sea

Swept by my searching eyes — the last —

Themselves were quick — with Thee!

Me, change! Me, alter!

Then I will, when on the Everlasting Hill

A Smaller Purple grows —

At sunset, or a lesser glow

Flickers upon Cordillera —

At Day's superior close!

Meeting by Accident,

We hovered by design —

As often as a Century

An error so divine

Is ratified by Destiny,

But Destiny is old

And economical of Bliss

As Midas is of Gold —

Midsummer, was it, when They died —

A full, and perfect time —

The Summer closed upon itself

In Consummated Bloom —

The Corn, her furthest kernel filled

Before the coming Flail —

When These — leaned unto Perfectness —

Through Haze of Burial —

Mine — by the Right of the White Election!

Mine — by the Royal Seal!

Mine — by the Sign in the Scarlet prison —

Bars — cannot conceal!

Mine — here — in Vision — and in Veto!

Mine — by the Grave's Repeal —

Tilted — Confirmed —

Delirious Charter!

Mine — long as Ages steal!

Mine Enemy is growing old —

I have at last Revenge —

The Palate of the Hate departs —

If any would avenge

Let him be quick — the Viand flits —

It is a faded Meat —

Anger as soon as fed is dead —

'Tis starving makes it fat —


More Life — went out — when He went

Than Ordinary Breath —

Lit with a finer Phosphor —

Requiring in the Quench —

A Power of Renowned Cold,

The Climate of the Grave

A Temperature just adequate

So Anthracite, to live —

For some — an Ampler Zero —

A Frost more needle keen

Is necessary, to reduce

The Ethiop within.

Others — extinguish easier —

A Gnat's minutest Fan

Sufficient to obliterate

A Tract of Citizen —

Whose Peat lift — amply vivid —

Ignores the solemn News

That Popocatapel exists —

Or Etna's Scarlets, Choose —

More than the Grave is closed to me —

The Grave and that Eternity

To which the Grave adheres —

I cling to nowhere till I fall —

The Crash of nothing, yet of all —

How similar appears —

Morning — is the place for Dew —

Corn — is made at Noon —

After dinner light — for flowers —

Dukes — for Setting Sun!

"Morning" — means "Milking" — to the Farmer —

Dawn — to the Teneriffe —

Dice — to the Maid —

Morning means just Risk — to the Lover —

Just revelation — to the Beloved —

Epicures — date a Breakfast — by it —

Brides — an Apocalypse —

Worlds — a Flood —

Faint-going Lives — Their Lapse from Sighing —

Faith — The Experiment of Our Lord

Morning is due to all —

To some — the Night —

To an imperial few —

The Auroral light. 

Morning might come by Accident, Sister —

Night comes by Event —

To believe the final line of the Card

Would foreclose Faith — 

Faith is Doubt, Sister — 

Show me Eternity, and I will show you memory —

Both in one package lain

And lifted back again.

Be Sue, while I am Emily. 

Be next, what you have ever been, Infinity — 

above image: 

Morning that comes but once,

Considers coming twice —

Two Dawns upon a single Morn,

Make Life a sudden price.

Morns like these — we parted —

Noons like these — she rose —

Fluttering first — then firmer

To her fair repose.

Never did she lisp it —

It was not for me —

She — was mute from transport —

I — from agony —

Till — the evening nearing

One the curtains drew —

Quick! A Sharper rustling!

And this linnet flew!

Most she touched me by her muteness —

Most she won me by the way

She presented her small figure —

Plea itself — for Charity —

Were a Crumb my whole possession —

Were there famine in the land —

Were it my resource from starving —

Could I such a plea withstand —

Not upon her knee to thank me

Sank this Beggar from the Sky —

But the Crumb partook — departed —

And returned On High —

I supposed — when sudden

Such a Praise began

'Twas as Space sat singing

To herself — and men —

'Twas the Winged Beggar —

Afterward I learned

To her Benefactor

Making Gratitude

Much madness is divinest sense

To a discerning eye ;

Much sense the starkest madness.

'T is the majority

In this, as all, prevails.

Assent, and you are sane ;

Demur, — you're straightway dangerous,

And handled with a chain.

Musicians wrestle everywhere —

All day — among the crowded air

I hear the silver strife —

And — waking — long before the morn —

Such transport breaks upon the town

I think it that "New Life"!

If is not Bird — it has no nest —

Nor "Band" — in brass and scarlet — drest —

Nor Tamborin — nor Man —

It is not Hymn from pulpit read —

The "Morning Stars" the Treble led

On Time's first Afternoon!

Some — say — it is "the Spheres" — at play!

Some say that bright Majority

Of vanished Dames — and Men!

Some — think it service in the place

Where we — with late — celestial face —

Please God — shall Ascertain!

Must be a Woe —

A loss or so —

To bend the eye

Best Beauty's way —

But — once aslant

It notes Delight

As difficult

As Stalactite

A Common Bliss

Were had for less —

The price — is

Even as the Grace —

Our lord — thought no


To pay — a Cross —

Mute thy Coronation —

Meek my Vive le roi,

Fold a tiny courtier

In thine Ermine, Sir,

There to rest revering

Till the pageant by,

I can murmur broken,

Master, It was I —

My best Acquaintances are those

With Whom I spoke no Word —

The Stars that stated come to Town

Esteemed Me never rude

Although to their Celestial Call

I failed to make reply —

My constant — reverential Face

Sufficient Courtesy.

My Cocoon tightens — Colors tease —

I'm feeling for the Air —

A dim capacity for Wings

Demeans the Dress I wear —

A power of Butterfly must be —

The Aptitude to fly

Meadows of Majesty implies

And easy Sweeps of Sky —

So I must baffle at the Hint

And cipher at the Sign

And make much blunder, if at last

I take the clue divine —

My country need not change her gown,

Her triple suit as sweet

As when 'twas cut at Lexington,

And first pronounced "a fit."

Great Britain disapproves, "the stars";

Disparagement discreet, —

There's something in their attitude

That taunts her bayonet.

My Eye is fuller than my vase —

Her Cargo — is of Dew —

And still — my Heart — my Eye outweighs —

East India — for you!

My Faith is larger than the Hills —

So when the Hills decay —

My Faith must take the Purple Wheel

To show the Sun the way —

'Tis first He steps upon the Vane —

And then — upon the Hill —

And then abroad the World He go

To do His Golden Will —

And if His Yellow feet should miss —

The Bird would not arise —

The Flowers would slumber on their Stems —

No Bells have Paradise —

How dare I, therefore, stint a faith

On which so vast depends —

Lest Firmament should fail for me —

The Rivet in the Bands

My first well Day — since many ill —

I asked to go abroad,

And take the Sunshine in my hands,

And see the things in Pod —

A 'blossom just when I went in

To take my Chance with pain —

Uncertain if myself, or He,

Should prove the strongest One.

The Summer deepened, while we strove —

She put some flowers away —

And Redder cheeked Ones — in their stead —

A fond — illusive way —

To cheat Herself, it seemed she tried —

As if before a child

To fade — Tomorrow — Rainbows held

The Sepulchre, could hide.

She dealt a fashion to the Nut —

She tied the Hoods to Seeds —

She dropped bright scraps of Tint, about —

And left Brazilian Threads

On every shoulder that she met —

Then both her Hands of Haze

Put up — to hide her parting Grace

From our unfitted eyes.

My loss, by sickness — Was it Loss?

Or that Ethereal Gain

One earns by measuring the Grave —

Then — measuring the Sun —

My friend attacks my friend!

Oh Battle picturesque!

Then I turn Soldier too,

And he turns Satirist!

How martial is this place!

Had I a mighty gun

I think I'd shoot the human race

And then to glory run!

My friend must be a Bird —

Because it flies!

Mortal, my friend must be,

Because it dies!

Barbs has it, like a Bee!

Ah, curious friend!

Thou puzzlest me!

My Garden — like the Beach —

Denotes there be — a Sea —

That's Summer —

Such as These — the Pearls

She fetches — such as Me

My God — He sees thee —

Shine thy best —

Fling up thy Balls of Gold

Till every Cubit play with thee

And every Crescent hold —

Elate the Acre at his feet —

Upon his Atom swim —

Oh Sun — but just a Second's right

In thy long Race with him!

My Heart ran so to thee

It would not wait for me

And I affronted grew

And drew away

For whatsoe'er my pace

He first achieve they Face

How general a Grace

Allotted two —

Not in malignity

Mentioned I this to thee —

Had he obliquity

Soonest to share

But for the Greed of him —

Boasting my Premium —

Basking in Bethleem

Ere I be there —

My Heart upon a little Plate

Her Palate to delight

A Berry or a Bun, would be,

Might it an Apricot!

My life closed twice before its close—

It yet remains to see

If Immortality unveil

A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive

As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,

And all we need of hell.

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —

In Corners — till a Day

The Owner passed — identified —

And carried Me away —

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods —

And now We hunt the Doe —

And every time I speak for Him —

The Mountains straight reply —

And do I smile, such cordial light

Upon the Valley glow —

It is as a Vesuvian face

Had let its pleasure through —

And when at Night — Our good Day done —

I guard My Master's Head —

'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's

Deep Pillow — to have shared —

To foe of His — I'm deadly foe —

None stir the second time —

On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —

Or an emphatic Thumb —

Though I than He — may longer live

He longer must — than I —

For I have but the power to kill,

Without — the power to die —

My Maker — let me be

Enamored most of thee —

But nearer this

I more should miss —

My nosegays are for Captives —

Dim — expectant eyes,

Fingers denied the plucking,

Patient till Paradise.

To such, if they should whisper

Of morning and the moor,

They bear no other errand,

And I, no other prayer.

My period had come for Prayer —

No other Art — would do —

My Tactics missed a rudiment —

Creator — Was it you?

God grows above — so those who pray

Horizons — must ascend —

And so I stepped upon the North

To see this Curious Friend —

His House was not — no sign had He —

By Chimney — nor by Door

Could I infer his Residence —

Vast Prairies of Air

Unbroken by a Settler —

Were all that I could see —

Infinitude — Had'st Thou no Face

That I might look on Thee?

The Silence condescended —

Creation stopped — for Me —

But awed beyond my errand —

I worshipped — did not "pray" —

My Portion is Defeat — today —

A paler luck than Victory —

Less Paeans — fewer Bells —

The Drums don't follow Me — with tunes —

Defeat — a somewhat slower — means —

More Arduous than Balls —

'Tis populous with Bone and stain —

And Men too straight to stoop again —,

And Piles of solid Moan —

And Chips of Blank — in Boyish Eyes —

And scraps of Prayer —

And Death's surprise,

Stamped visible — in Stone —

There's somewhat prouder, over there —

The Trumpets tell it to the Air —

How different Victory

To Him who has it — and the One

Who to have had it, would have been

Contenteder — to die —

My Reward for Being, was This.

My premium — My Bliss —

An Admiralty, less —

A Sceptre — penniless —

And Realms — just Dross —

When Thrones accost my Hands —

With "Me, Miss, Me" —

I'll unroll Thee —

Dominions dowerless — beside this Grace —

Election — Vote —

The Ballots of Eternity, will show just that.

My River runs to thee —

Blue Sea! Wilt welcome me?

My River wait reply —

Oh Sea — look graciously —

I'll fetch thee Brooks

From spotted nooks —

Say — Sea — Take Me! 

My Season's furthest Flower —

I tenderer commend

Because I found Her Kinsmanless,

A Grace without a Friend. 

My Soul — accused me — And I quailed —

As Tongue of Diamond had reviled

All else accused me — and I smiled —

My Soul — that Morning — was My friend —

Her favor — is the best Disdain

Toward Artifice of Time — or Men —

But Her Disdain — 'twere lighter bear

A finger of Enamelled Fire —

My Triumph lasted till the Drums

Had left the Dead alone

And then I dropped my Victory

And chastened stole along

To where the finished Faces

Conclusion turned on me

And then I hated Glory

And wished myself were They.

What is to be is best descried

When it has also been —

Could Prospect taste of Retrospect

The tyrannies of Men

Were Tenderer — diviner

The Transitive toward.

A Bayonet's contrition

Is nothing to the Dead.

My Wars are laid away in Books —

I have one Battle more —

A Foe whom I have never seen

But oft has scanned me o'er —

And hesitated me between

And others at my side,

But chose the best — Neglecting me — till

All the rest, have died —

How sweet if I am not forgot

By Chums that passed away —

Since Playmates at threescore and ten

Are such a scarcity —

My wheel is in the dark!

I cannot see a spoke

Yet know its dripping feet

Go round and round.

My foot is on the Tide!

An unfrequented road —

Yet have all roads

A clearing at the end —

Some have resigned the Loom —

Some in the busy tomb

Find quaint employ —

Some with new — stately feet —

Pass royal through the gate —

Flinging the problem back

At you and I!

My Worthiness is all my Doubt —

His Merit — all my fear —

Contrasting which, my quality

Do lowlier — appear —

Lest I should insufficient prove

For His beloved Need —

The Chiefest Apprehension

Upon my thronging Mind —

'Tis true — that Deity to stoop

Inherently incline —

For nothing higher than Itself

Itself can rest upon —

So I — the undivine abode

Of His Elect Content —

Conform my Soul — as 'twere a Church,

Unto Her Sacrament —

Myself can read the Telegrams

A Letter chief to me

The Stock's advance and Retrograde

And what the Markets say

The Weather — how the Rains

In Counties have begun.

'Tis News as null as nothing,

But sweeter so — than none.

Myself was formed — a Carpenter —

An unpretending time

My Plane — and I, together wrought

Before a Builder came —

To measure our attainments —

Had we the Art of Boards

Sufficiently developed — He'd hire us

At Halves —

My Tools took Human — Faces —

The Bench, where we had toiled —

Against the Man — persuaded —

We — Temples build — I said —

Nature — sometimes sears a Sapling —

Sometimes — scalps a Tree —

Her Green People recollect it

When they do not die —

Fainter Leaves — to Further Seasons —

Dumbly testify —

We — who have the Souls —

Die oftener — Not so vitally —

Nature — the Gentlest Mother is,

Impatient of no Child —

The feeblest — or the waywardest —

Her Admonition mild —

In Forest — and the Hill —

By Traveller — be heard —

Restraining Rampant Squirrel —

Or too impetuous Bird —

How fair Her Conversation —

A Summer Afternoon —

Her Household — Her Assembly —

And when the Sun go down —

Her Voice among the Aisles

Incite the timid prayer

Of the minutest Cricket —

The most unworthy Flower —

When all the Children sleep —

She turns as long away

As will suffice to light Her lamps —

Then bending from the Sky —

With infinite Affection —

And infiniter Care —

Her Golden finger on Her lip —

Wills Silence — Everywhere —

Nature affects to be sedate

Upon occasion, grand

But let our observation shut

Her practices extend

To Necromancy and the Trades

Remote to understand

Behold our spacious Citizen

Unto a Juggler turned —

Nature and God — I neither knew

Yet Both so well knew me

They startled, like Executors

Of My identity.

Yet Neither told — that I could learn —

My Secret as secure

As Herschel's private interest

Or Mercury's affair —

Nature assigns the Sun —

That — is Astronomy —

Nature cannot enact a Friend —

That — is Astrology.

Nature can do no more

She has fulfilled her Dyes

Whatever Flower fail to come

Of other Summer days

Her crescent reimburse

If other Summers be

Nature's imposing negative

Nulls opportunity —

"Nature" is what we see —

The Hill — the Afternoon —

Squirrel — Eclipse — the Bumble bee —

Nay — Nature is Heaven —

Nature is what we hear —

The Bobolink — the Sea —

Thunder — the Cricket —

Nay — Nature is Harmony —

Nature is what we know —

Yet have no art to say —

So impotent Our Wisdom is

To her Simplicity.

Nature rarer uses Yellow

Than another Hue.

Saves she all of that for Sunsets

Prodigal of Blue

Spending Scarlet, like a Woman

Yellow she affords

Only scantly and selectly

Like a Lover's Words.

Never for Society

He shall seek in vain —

Who His own acquaintance

Cultivate — Of Men

Wiser Men may weary —

But the Man within

Never knew Satiety —

Better entertain

Than could Border Ballad —

Or Biscayan Hymn —

Neither introduction

Need You — unto Him —

New feet within my garden go,

New fingers stir the sod ;

A troubadour upon the elm

Betrays the solitude.

New children play upon the green,

New weary sleep below 

And still the pensive spring returns,

And still the punctual snow!

No Autumn's intercepting Chill

Appalls this Tropic Breast —

But African Exuberance

And Asiatic rest.

No Bobolink — reverse His Singing

When the only Tree

Ever He minded occupying

By the Farmer be —

Clove to the Root —

His Spacious Future —

Best Horizon — gone —

Whose Music be His

Only Anodyne —

Brave Bobolink —

No Brigadier throughout the Year

So civic as the Jay —

A Neighbor and a Warrior too

With shrill felicity

Pursuing Winds that censure us

A February Day,

The Brother of the Universe

Was never blown away —

The Snow and he are intimate —

I've often seem them play

When Heaven looked upon us all

With such severity

I felt apology were due

To an insulted sky

Whose pompous frown was Nutriment

To their Temerity —

The Pillow of this daring Head

Is pungent Evergreens —

His Larder — terse and Militant —

Unknown — refreshing things —

His Character — a Tonic —

His future — a Dispute —

Unfair an Immortality

That leaves this Neighbor out —

Above: Handwritten letter signed by Lavinia Dickinson

No Crowd that has occurred

Exhibit — I suppose

That General Attendance

That Resurrection — does —

Circumference be full —

The long restricted Grave

Assert her Vital Privilege —

The Dust — connect — and live —

On Atoms — features place —

All Multitudes that were

Efface in the Comparison —

As Suns — dissolve a star —

Solemnity — prevail —

Its Individual Doom

Possess each separate Consciousness —

August — Absorbed — Numb —

What Duplicate — exist —

What Parallel can be —

Of the Significance of This —

To Universe — and Me?

No ladder needs the bird but skies

To situate its wings,

Nor any leader's grim baton

Arraigns it as it sings.

The implements of bliss are few —

As Jesus says of Him,

"Come unto me" the moiety

That wafts the cherubim.

No Life can pompless pass away —

The lowliest career

To the same Pageant wends its way

As that exalted here —

How cordial is the mystery!

The hospitable Pall

A "this way" beckons spaciously —

A Miracle for all!

No Man can compass a Despair —

As round a Goalless Road

No faster than a Mile at once

The Traveller proceed —

Unconscious of the Width —

Unconscious that the Sun

Be setting on His progress —

So accurate the One

At estimating Pain —

Whose own — has just begun —

His ignorance — the Angel

That pilot Him along —

No man saw awe, nor to his house

Admitted he a man

Though by his awful residence

Has human nature been.

Not deeming of his dread abode

Till laboring to flee

A grasp on comprehension laid

Detained vitality.

Returning is a different route

The Spirit could not show

For breathing is the only work

To be enacted now.

"Am not consumed," old Moses wrote,

"Yet saw him face to face" —

That very physiognomy

I am convinced was this.

No matter — now — Sweet —

But when I'm Earl —

Won't you wish you'd spoken

To that dull Girl?

Trivial a Word — just —

Trivial — a Smile —

But won't you wish you'd spared one

When I'm Earl?

I shan't need it — then —

Crests — will do —

Eagles on my Buckles —

On my Belt — too —

Ermine — my familiar Gown —

Say — Sweet — then

Won't you wish you'd smiled — just —

Me upon?

No matter where the Saints abide,

They make their Circuit fair

Behold how great a Firmament

Accompanies a Star.

No Notice gave She, but a Change —

No Message, but a Sigh —

For Whom, the Time did not suffice

That She should specify.

She was not warm, though Summer shone

Nor scrupulous of cold

Though Rime by Rime, the steady Frost

Upon Her Bosom piled —

Of shrinking ways — she did not fright

Though all the Village looked —

But held Her gravity aloft —

And met the gaze — direct —

And when adjusted like a Seed

In careful fitted Ground

Unto the Everlasting Spring

And hindered but a Mound

Her Warm return, if so she chose —

And We — imploring drew —

Removed our invitation by

As Some She never knew —

No Other can reduce

Our mortal Consequence

Like the remembering it be nought

A Period from hence

But Contemplation for

Contemporaneous Nought

Our Single Competition

Jehovah's Estimate.

No Passenger was known to flee —

That lodged a night in memory —

That wily — subterranean Inn

Contrives that none go out again —

No Prisoner be —

Where Liberty —

Himself — abide with Thee —

No Rack can torture me —

My Soul — at Liberty —

Behind this mortal Bone

There knits a bolder One —

You cannot prick with saw —

Nor pierce with Scimitar —

Two Bodies — therefore be —

Bind One — The Other fly —

The Eagle of his Nest

No easier divest —

And gain the Sky

Than mayest Thou —

Except Thyself may be

Thine Enemy —

Captivity is Consciousness —

So's Liberty.

No Romance sold unto

Could so enthrall a Man

As the perusal of

His Individual One —

'Tis Fiction's — When 'tis small enough

To Credit — 'Tisn't true!

No Rose, yet felt myself a'bloom,

No Bird - yet rode in Ether.

Nobody knows this little Rose —

It might a pilgrim be

Did I not take it from the ways

And lift it up to thee.

Only a Bee will miss it —

Only a Butterfly,

Hastening from far journey —

On its breast to lie —

Only a Bird will wonder —

Only a Breeze will sigh —

Ah Little Rose — how easy

For such as thee to die!

None can experience stint

Who Bounty — have not known —

The fact of Famine — could not be

Except for Fact of Corn —

Want — is a meagre Art

Acquired by Reverse —

The Poverty that was not Wealth —

Cannot be Indigence.

None who saw it ever told it

'Tis as hid as Death

Had for that specific treasure

A departing breath —

Surfaces may be invested

Did the Diamond grow

General as the Dandelion

Would you serve it so?

Noon — is the Hinge of Day —

Evening — the Tissue Door —

Morning — the East compelling the sill

Till all the World is ajar —

Nor Mountain hinder Me

Nor Sea —

Who's Baltic —

Who's Cordillera?

Not all die early, dying young —

Maturity of Fate

Is consummated equally

In Ages, or a Night —

A Hoary Boy, I've known to drop

Whole statured — by the side

Of Junior of Fourscore — 'twas Act

Not Period — that died.

Not any higher stands the Grave

For Heroes than for Men —

Not any nearer for the Child

Than numb Three Score and Ten —

This latest Leisure equal lulls

The Beggar and his Queen

Propitiate this Democrat

A Summer's Afternoon —

Not any more to be lacked —

Not any more to be known —

Denizen of Significance

For a span so worn —

Even Nature herself

Has forgot it is there —

Sedulous of her Multitudes

Notwithstanding Despair —

Of the Ones that pursued it

Suing it not to go

Some have solaced the longing

To accompany —

Some — rescinded the Wrench —

Others — Shall I say

Plated the residue of Adz

With Monotony.

Not any sunny tone

From any fervent zone

Find entrance there —

Better a grave of Balm

Toward human nature's home —

And Robins near —

Than a stupendous Tomb

Proclaiming to the Gloom

How dead we are —

Not at Home to Callers

Says the Naked Tree —

Bonnet due in April —

Wishing you Good Day —

Not in this World to see his face —

Sounds long — until I read the place

Where this — is said to be

But just the Primer — to a life —

Unopened — rare — Upon the Shelf —

Clasped yet — to Him — and Me —

And yet — My Primer suits me so

I would not choose — a Book to know

Than that — be sweeter wise —

Might some one else — so learned — be —

And leave me — just my A — B — C —

Himself — could have the Skies —

Not knowing when the Dawn will come,

I open every Door,

Or has it Feathers, like a Bird,

Or Billows, like a Shore —

Not One by Heaven defrauded stay —

Although he seem to steal

He restitutes in some sweet way

Secreted in his will —

Not probable — The barest Chance —

A smile too few — a word too much

And far from Heaven as the Rest —

The Soul so close on Paradise —

What if the Bird from journey far —

Confused by Sweets — as Mortals — are —

Forget the secret of His wing

And perish — but a Bough between —

Oh, Groping feet —

Oh Phantom Queen!

Not "Revelation" — 'tis — that waits,

But our unfurnished eyes —

Not seeing, still we know —

Not knowing, guess —

Not guessing, smile and hide

And half caress —

And quake — and turn away,

Seraphic fear —

Is Eden's innuendo

"If you dare”?

Not Sickness stains the Brave,

Nor any Dart,

Nor Doubt of Scene to come,

But an adjourning Heart —

Not so the infinite Relations — Below

Division is Adhesion's forfeit — On High

Affliction but a Speculation — And Woe

A Fallacy, a Figment, We knew —

Not that We did, shall be the test

When Act and Will are done

But what Our Lord infers We would

Had We diviner been —

Not to discover weakness is

The Artifice of strength —

Impregnability inheres

As much through Consciousness

Of faith of others in itself

As Pyramidal Nerve

Behind the most unconscious clock

What skillful Pointers move —

Not with a Club, the Heart is broken

Nor with a Stone —

A Whip so small you could not see it

I've known

To lash the Magic Creature

Till it fell,

Yet that Whip's Name

Too noble then to tell.

Magnanimous as Bird

By Boy descried —

Singing unto the Stone

Of which it died —

Shame need not crouch

In such an Earth as Ours —

Shame — stand erect —

The Universe is yours.

Now I knew I lost her —

Not that she was gone —

But Remoteness travelled

On her Face and Tongue.

Alien, though adjoining

As a Foreign Race —

Traversed she though pausing

Latitudeless Place.

Elements Unaltered —

Universe the same

But Love's transmigration —

Somehow this had come —

Henceforth to remember

Nature took the Day

I had paid so much for —

His is Penury

Not who toils for Freedom

Or for Family

But the Restitution

Of Idolatry.

Now I lay thee down to Sleep —

I pray the Lord thy Dust to keep —

And if thou live before thou wake —

I pray the Lord thy Soul to make —

Now that he goes — we love him more

Who led us while he stayed.

Beyond earth's trafficking frontier,

For what he moved, he made.

Above: A poem fragment by Emily Dickinson that says, "Not to send errands by John Alden is one of the instructions of History —"

This may be a reference to an 1858 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called "The Courtship Of Miles Standish." Longfellow's poem features a Mayflower pilgrim named John Alden and his wife, Priscilla. 


Obtaining but our own Extent

In whatsoever Realm —

'Twas Christ's own personal Expanse

That bore him from the Tomb —

Of all the Souls that stand create —

I have elected — One —

When Sense from Spirit — files away —

And Subterfuge — is done —

When that which is — and that which was —

Apart — intrinsic — stand —

And this brief Drama in the flesh —

Is shifted — like a Sand —

When Figures show their royal Front —

And Mists — are carved away,

Behold the Atom — I preferred —

To all the lists of Clay!

Of all the Sounds despatched abroad,

There's not a Charge to me

Like that old measure in the Boughs —

That phraseless Melody —

The Wind does — working like a Hand,

Whose fingers Comb the Sky —

Then quiver down — with tufts of Tune —

Permitted Gods, and me —

Inheritance, it is, to us —

Beyond the Art to Earn —

Beyond the trait to take away

By Robber, since the Gain

Is gotten not of fingers —

And inner than the Bone —

Hid golden, for the whole of Days,

And even in the Urn,

I cannot vouch the merry Dust

Do not arise and play

In some odd fashion of its own,

Some quainter Holiday,

When Winds go round and round in Bands —

And thrum upon the door,

And Birds take places, overhead,

To bear them Orchestra.

I crave Him grace of Summer Boughs,

If such an Outcast be —

Who never heard that fleshless Chant —

Rise — solemn — on the Tree,

As if some Caravan of Sound

Off Deserts, in the Sky,

Had parted Rank,

Then knit, and swept —

In Seamless Company —

Of Being is a Bird

The likest to the Down

An Easy Breeze do put afloat

The General Heavens — upon —

It soars — and shifts — and whirls —

And measures with the Clouds

In easy — even — dazzling pace —

No different the Birds —

Except a Wake of Music

Accompany their feet —

As did the Down emit a Tune —

For Ecstasy — of it

Of Bronze — and Blaze —

The North — Tonight —

So adequate — it forms —

So preconcerted with itself —

So distant — to alarms —

An Unconcern so sovereign

To Universe, or me —

Infects my simple spirit

With Taints of Majesty —

Till I take vaster attitudes —

And strut upon my stem —

Disdaining Men, and Oxygen,

For Arrogance of them —

My Splendors, are Menagerie —

But their Competeless Show

Will entertain the Centuries

When I, am long ago,

An Island in dishonored Grass —

Whom none but Beetles — know.

Of Brussels — it was not —

Of Kidderminster? Nay —

The Winds did buy it of the Woods —

They — sold it unto me

It was a gentle price —

The poorest — could afford —

It was within the frugal purse

Of Beggar — or of Bird —

Of small and spicy Yards —

In hue — a mellow Dun —

Of Sunshine — and of Sere — Composed —

But, principally — of Sun —

The Wind — unrolled it fast —

And spread it on the Ground —

Upholsterer of the Pines — is He —

Upholsterer — of the Pond —

Of Consciousness, her awful Mate

The Soul cannot be rid —

As easy the secreting her

Behind the Eyes of God.

The deepest hid is sighted first

And scant to Him the Crowd —

What triple Lenses burn upon

The Escapade from God —

Of Course — I prayed —

And did God Care?

He cared as much as on the Air

A Bird — had stamped her foot —

And cried "Give Me" —

My Reason — Life —

I had not had — but for Yourself —

'Twere better Charity

To leave me in the Atom's Tomb —

Merry, and Nought, and gay, and numb —

Than this smart Misery.

Of Death I try to think like this —

The Well in which they lay us

Is but the Likeness of the Brook

That menaced not to slay us,

But to invite by that Dismay

Which is the Zest of sweetness

To the same Flower Hesperian,

Decoying but to greet us —

I do remember when a Child

With bolder Playmates straying

To where a Brook that seemed a Sea

Withheld us by its roaring

From just the Purple Flower beyond

Until constrained to clutch it

If Doom itself were the result,

The boldest leaped, and clutched it —

Of Glory not a Beam is left

But her Eternal House —

The Asterisk is for the Dead,

The Living, for the Stars —

Of God we ask one favor,

That we may be forgiven —

For what, he is presumed to know —

The Crime, from us, is hidden —

Immured the whole of Life

Within a magic Prison

We reprimand the Happiness

That too competes with Heaven.

Of Life to own —

From Life to draw —

But never tough the reservoir —

Of Nature I shall have enough

When I have entered these

Entitled to a Bumble bee's


Of nearness to her sundered Things

The Soul has special times —

When Dimness — looks the Oddity —

Distinctness — easy — seems —

The Shapes we buried, dwell about,

Familiar, in the Rooms —

Untarnished by the Sepulchre,

The Mouldering Playmate comes —

In just the Jacket that he wore —

Long buttoned in the Mold

Since we — old mornings, Children — played —

Divided — by a world —

The Grave yields back her Robberies —

The Years, our pilfered Things —

Bright Knots of Apparitions

Salute us, with their wings —

As we — it were — that perished —

Themself — had just remained till we rejoin them —

And 'twas they, and not ourself

That mourned.

Of Paradise' existence

All we know

Is the uncertain certainty —

But its vicinity infer,

By its Bisecting


Of Paul and Silas it is said

There were in Prison laid

But when they went to take them out

They were not there instead.

Security the same insures

To our assaulted Minds —

The staple must be optional

That an Immortal binds.

Of Silken Speech and Specious Shoe

A Traitor is the Bee

His service to the newest Grace

Present continually

His Suit a chance

His Troth a Term

Protracted as the Breeze

Continual Ban propoundeth He

Continual Divorce.

Of so divine a Loss

We enter but the Gain,

Indemnity for Loneliness

That such a Bliss has been.

Of the Heart that goes in, and closes the Door

Shall the Playfellow Heart complain

Though the Ring is unwhole, and the Company broke

Can never be fitted again?

Of their peculiar light

I keep one ray

To clarify the Sight

To seek them by —

Of this is Day composed

A morning and a noon

A Revelry unspeakable

And then a gay unknown

Whose Pomps allure and spurn

And dower and deprive

And penury for Glory

Remedilessly leave.

Of Tolling Bell I ask the cause?

"A Soul has gone to Heaven"

I'm answered in a lonesome tone —

Is Heaven then a Prison?

That Bells should ring till all should know

A Soul had gone to Heaven

Would seem to me the more the way

A Good News should be given.

Of Tribulation, these are They,

Denoted by the White —

The Spangled Gowns, a lesser Rank

Of Victors — designate —

All these — did conquer —

But the ones who overcame most times —

Wear nothing commoner than Snow —

No Ornament, but Palms —

Surrender — is a sort unknown —

On this superior soil —

Defeat — an outgrown Anguish —

Remembered, as the Mile

Our panting Ankle barely passed —

When Night devoured the Road —

But we — stood whispering in the House —

And all we said — was “Saved"!

Of whom so dear

The name to hear

Illumines with a Glow

As intimate — as fugitive

As Sunset on the snow —

Of Yellow was the outer Sky

In Yellower Yellow hewn

Till Saffron in Vermilion slid

Whose seam could not be shewn.

Oh Future! thou secreted peace

Or subterranean woe —

Is there no wandering route of grace

That leads away from thee —

No circuit sage of all the course

Descried by cunning Men

To balk thee of thy sacred Prey —

Advancing to thy Den —

Oh give it Motion — deck it sweet

With Artery and Vein —

Upon its fastened Lips lay words —

Affiance it again

To that Pink stranger we call Dust —

Acquainted more with that

Than with this horizontal one

That will not lift its Hat —

Oh Shadow on the Grass,

Art thou a Step or not?

Go make thee fair my Candidate

My nominated Heart —

Oh Shadow on the Grass

While I delay to guess

Some other thou wilt consecrate —

Oh Unelected Face —

Oh Sumptuous moment

Slower go

That I may gloat on thee —

'Twill never be the same to starve

Now I abundance see —

Which was to famish, then or now —

The difference of Day

Ask him unto the Gallows led —

With morning in the sky —

Oh what a Grace is this,

What Majesties of Peace,

That having breathed

The fine — ensuing Right

Without Diminuet Proceed!

Oh, honey of an hour,

I never knew thy power,

Prohibit me

Till my minutest dower,

My unfrequented flower,

Deserving be.

On a Columnar Self —

How ample to rely

In Tumult — or Extremity —

How good the Certainty

That Lever cannot pry —

And Wedge cannot divide

Conviction — That Granitic Base —

Though None be on our Side —

Suffice Us — for a Crowd —

Ourself — and Rectitude —

And that Assembly — not far off

From furthest Spirit — God —

On my volcano grows the Grass

A meditative spot —

An acre for a Bird to choose

Would be the General thought —

How red the Fire rocks below

How insecure the sod

Did I disclose

Would populate with awe my solitude.

On such a night, or such a night,

Would anybody care

If such a little figure

Slipped quiet from its chair —

So quiet — Oh how quiet,

That nobody might know

But that the little figure

Rocked softer — to and fro —

On such a dawn, or such a dawn —

Would anybody sigh

That such a little figure

Too sound asleep did lie

For Chanticleer to wake it —

Or stirring house below —

Or giddy bird in orchard —

Or early task to do?

There was a little figure plump

For every little knoll —

Busy needles, and spools of thread —

And trudging feet from school —

Playmates, and holidays, and nuts —

And visions vast and small —

Strange that the feet so precious charged

Should reach so small a goal!

On that dear Frame the Years had worn

Yet precious as the House

In which We first experienced Light

The Witnessing, to Us —

Precious! It was conceiveless fair

As Hands the Grave had grimed

Should softly place within our own

Denying that they died.

On that specific Pillow

Our projects flit away —

The Night's tremendous Morrow

And whether sleep will stay

Or usher us — a stranger —

To situations new

The effort to comprise it

Is all the soul can do.

On the World you colored

Morning painted rose —

Idle his Vermillion

Aimless crept the Glows

Over Realms of Orchards

I the Day before

Conquered with the Robin —

Misery - how fair

Till your wrinkled Finger

Shoved the sun away

Midnight's awful Pattern

In the Goods of Day —

On this long storm the rainbow rose,

On this late morn the sun ;

The clouds, like listless elephants,

Horizons straggled down.

The birds rose smiling in their nests,

The gales indeed were done ;

Alas !  how heedless were the eyes

On whom the summer shone !

The quiet nonchalance of death

No daybreak can bestir ;

The slow archangel's syllables

Must awaken her.

On this wondrous sea

Sailing silently,

Ho! Pilot, ho!

Knowest thou the shore

Where no breakers roar —

Where the storm is o'er?

In the peaceful west

Many the sails at rest —

The anchors fast —

Thither I pilot thee — 

Land Ho! Eternity!

Ashore at last! 

Once more, my now bewildered Dove

Bestirs her puzzled wings

Once more her mistress, on the deep

Her troubled question flings —

Thrice to the floating casement

The Patriarch's bird returned,

Courage! My brave Columba!

There may yet be land

One and One — are One —

Two — be finished using —

Well enough for Schools —

But for Minor Choosing —

Life — just — or Death —

Or the Everlasting —

More — would be too vast

For the Soul's Comprising —

One Anguish — in a Crowd —

A Minor thing — it sounds —

And yet, unto the single Doe

Attempted of the Hounds

'Tis Terror as consummate

As Legions of Alarm

Did leap, full flanked, upon the Host —

'Tis Units — make the Swarm —

A Small Leech — on the Vitals —

The sliver, in the Lung —

The Bung out — of an Artery —

Are scarce accounted — Harms —

Yet might — by relation

To that Repealless thing —

A Being — impotent to end —

When once it has begun —

One Blessing had I than the rest

So larger to my Eyes

That I stopped gauging — satisfied —

For this enchanted size —

It was the limit of my Dream —

The focus of my Prayer —

A perfect — paralyzing Bliss —

Contented as Despair —

I knew no more of Want — or Cold —

Phantasms both become

For this new Value in the Soul —

Supremest Earthly Sum —

The Heaven below the Heaven above —

Obscured with ruddier Blue —

Life's Latitudes leant over — full —

The Judgment perished — too —

Why Bliss so scantily disburse —

Why Paradise defer —

Why Floods be served to Us — in Bowls —

I speculate no more —

One crown that no one seeks

And yet the highest head

Its isolation coveted

Its stigma deified

While Pontius Pilate lives

In whatsoever hell

That coronation pierces him

He recollects it well.

One Crucifixion is recorded — only —

How many be

Is not affirmed of Mathematics —

Or History —

One Calvary — exhibited to Stranger —

As many be

As persons — or Peninsulas —

Gethsemane —

Is but a Province — in the Being's Centre —

Judea —

For Journey — or Crusade's Achieving —

Too near —

Our Lord — indeed — made Compound Witness —

And yet —

There's newer — nearer Crucifixion

Than That —

One Day is there of the Series

Termed Thanksgiving Day.

Celebrated part at Table

Part in Memory.

Neither Patriarch nor Pussy

I dissect the Play

Seems it to my Hooded thinking

Reflex Holiday.

Had there been no sharp Subtraction

From the early Sum —

Not an Acre or a Caption

Where was once a Room —

Not a Mention, whose small Pebble

Wrinkled any Sea,

Unto Such, were such Assembly

'Twere Thanksgiving Day.

One dignity delays for all,

One mitred afternoon.

None can avoid this purple,

None evade this crown.

Coach it insures, and footmen,

Chamber and state and throng ;

Bells, also, in the village,

As we ride grand along.

What dignified attendants,

What service when we pause !

How loyally at parting

Their hundred hats they raise !

How pomp surpassing ermine,

When simple you and I

Present our meek escutcheon,

And claim the rank to die !

One Joy of so much anguish

Sweet nature has for me

I shun it as I do Despair

Or dear iniquity —

Why Birds, a Summer morning

Before the Quick of Day

Should stab my ravished spirit

With Dirks of Melody

Is part of an inquiry

That will receive reply

When Flesh and Spirit sunder

In Death's Immediately —

One Life of so much Consequence!

Yet I — for it — would pay —

My Soul's entire income —

In ceaseless — salary 

One Pearl — to me — so signal —

That I would instant dive —

Although — I knew — to take it —

Would cost me — just a life!

The Sea is full — I know it!

That — does not blur my Gem!

It burns — distinct from all the row —

Intact — in Diadem!

The life is thick — I know it!

Yet — not so dense a crowd —

But Monarchs — are perceptible —

Far down the dustiest Road!

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —

One need not be a House —

The Brain has Corridors — surpassing

Material Place —

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting

External Ghost

Than its interior Confronting —

That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,

The Stones a'chase —

Than Unarmed, one's a'self encounter —

In lonesome Place —

Ourself behind ourself, concealed —

Should startle most —

Assassin hid in our Apartment

Be Horror's least.

The Body — borrows a Revolver —

He bolts the Door —

O'erlooking a superior spectre —

Or More —

One note from One Bird 

Is better than a Million Words — 

A scabbard holds but — one sword

One of the ones that Midas touched

Who failed to touch us all

Was that confiding Prodigal

The reeling Oriole —

So drunk he disavows it

With badinage divine —

So dazzling we mistake him

For an alighting Mine —

A Pleader — a Dissembler —

An Epicure — a Thief —

Betimes an Oratorio —

An Ecstasy in chief —

The Jesuit of Orchards

He cheats as he enchants

Of an entire Attar

For his decamping wants —

The splendor of a Burmah

The Meteor of Birds,

Departing like a Pageant

Of Ballads and of Bards —

I never thought that Jason sought

For any Golden Fleece

But then I am a rural man

With thoughts that make for Peace —

But if there were a Jason,

Tradition bear with me

Behold his lost Aggrandizement

Upon the Apple Tree —

One Sister have I in our house,

And one, a hedge away.

There's only one recorded,

But both belong to me.

One came the road that I came —

And wore my last year's gown —

The other, as a bird her nest,

Builded our hearts among.

She did not sing as we did —

It was a different tune —

Herself to her a music

As Bumble bee of June.

Today is far from Childhood —

But up and down the hills

I held her hand the tighter —

Which shortened all the miles —

And still her hum

The years among,

Deceives the Butterfly;

Still in her Eye

The Violets lie

Mouldered this many May.

I spilt the dew —

But took the morn —

I chose this single star

From out the wide night's numbers —

Sue - forevermore!

One thing of it we borrow

And promise to return —

The Booty and the Sorrow

Its Sweetness to have known —

One thing of it we covet —

The power to forget —

The Anguish of the Avarice

Defrays the Dross of it —

One Year ago — jots what?

God — spell the word! I — can't —

Was't Grace? Not that —

Was't Glory? That — will do —

Spell slower — Glory —

Such Anniversary shall be —

Sometimes — not often — in Eternity —

When farther Parted, than the Common Woe —

Look — feed upon each other's faces — so —

In doubtful meal, if it be possible

Their Banquet's true —

I tasted — careless — then —

I did not know the Wine

Came once a World — Did you?

Oh, had you told me so —

This Thirst would blister — easier — now —

You said it hurt you — most —

Mine — was an Acorn's Breast —

And could not know how fondness grew

In Shaggier Vest —

Perhaps — I couldn't —

But, had you looked in —

A Giant — eye to eye with you, had been —

No Acorn — then —

So — Twelve months ago —

We breathed —

Then dropped the Air —

Which bore it best?

Was this — the patientest —

Because it was a Child, you know —

And could not value — Air?

If to be "Elder" — mean most pain —

I'm old enough, today, I'm certain — then —

As old as thee — how soon?

One — Birthday more — or Ten?

Let me — choose!

Ah, Sir, None!

Only a Shrine, but Mine —

I made the Taper shine —

Madonna dim, to whom all Feet may come,

Regard a Nun —

Thou knowest every Woe —

Needless to tell thee — so —

But can'st thou do

The Grace next to it — heal?

That looks a harder skill to us —

Still — just as easy, if it be thy Will

To thee — Grant me —

Thou knowest, though, so Why tell thee?

Only God — detect the Sorrow —

Only God —

The Jehovahs — are no Babblers —

Unto God —

God the Son — Confide it —

Still secure —

God the Spirit's Honor —

Just as sure —

Opinion is a flitting thing,

But Truth, outlasts the Sun —

If then we cannot own them both —

Possess the oldest one —

Our journey had advanced —

Our feet were almost come

To that odd Fork in Being's Road —

Eternity — by Term —

Our pace took sudden awe —

Our feet — reluctant — led —

Before — were Cities — but Between —

The Forest of the Dead —

Retreat — was out of Hope —

Behind — a Sealed Route —

Eternity's White Flag — Before —

And God — at every Gate —

Our little Kinsmen — after Rain

In plenty may be seen,

A Pink and Pulpy multitude

The tepid Ground upon.

A needless life, it seemed to me

Until a little Bird

As to a Hospitality

Advanced and breakfasted.

As I of He, so God of Me

I pondered, may have judged,

And left the little Angle Worm

With Modesties enlarged.

Our little secrets slink away —

Beside God's shall not tell —

He kept his word a Trillion years

And might we not as well —

But for the niggardly delight

To make each other stare

Is there no sweet beneath the sun

With this that may compare —

Our lives are Swiss —

So still — so Cool —

Till some odd afternoon

The Alps neglect their Curtains

And we look farther on!

Italy stands the other side!

While like a guard between —

The solemn Alps —

The siren Alps

Forever intervene!

Our own possessions — though our own —

'Tis well to hoard anew —

Remembering the Dimensions

Of Possibility.

Our share of night to bear, 

Our share of morning, 

Our blank in bliss to fill, 

Our blank in scorning. 

Here a star, and there a star, 

Some lose their way. 

Here a mist, and there a mist, 


Ourselves we do inter with sweet derision.

The channel of the dust who once achieves

Invalidates the balm of that religion

That doubts as fervently as it believes.

Ourselves were wed one summer — dear —

Your Vision — was in June —

And when Your little Lifetime failed,

I wearied — too — of mine —

And overtaken in the Dark —

Where You had put me down —

By Some one carrying a Light —

I — too — received the Sign.

'Tis true — Our Futures different lay —

Your Cottage — faced the sun —

While Oceans — and the North must be —

On every side of mine

'Tis true, Your Garden led the Bloom,

For mine — in Frosts — was sown —

And yet, one Summer, we were Queens —

But You — were crowned in June —

Out of sight? What of that?

See the Bird — reach it!

Curve by Curve — Sweep by Sweep —

Round the Steep Air —

Danger! What is that to Her?

Better 'tis to fail — there —

Than debate — here —

Blue is Blue — the World through —

Amber — Amber — Dew — Dew —

Seek — Friend — and see —

Heaven is shy of Earth — that's all —

Bashful Heaven — thy Lovers small —

Hide — too — from thee —

Over and over, like a Tune —

The Recollection plays —

Drums off the Phantom Battlements

Cornets of Paradise —

Snatches, from Baptized Generations —

Cadences too grand

But for the Justified Processions

At the Lord's Right hand.

Over the fence —

Strawberries — grow —

Over the fence —

I could climb — if I tried, I know —

Berries are nice!

But — if I stained my Apron —

God would certainly scold!

Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a Boy —

He'd — climb — if He could! 

Pain — expands the Time —

Ages coil within

The minute Circumference

Of a single Brain —

Pain contracts — the Time —

Occupied with Shot

Gamuts of Eternities

Are as they were not —

Pain — has an Element of Blank —

It cannot recollect

When it begun — or if there were

A time when it was not —

It has no Future — but itself —

Its Infinite realms contain

Its Past — enlightened to perceive

New Periods — of Pain.

Pain has but one Acquaintance

And that is Death —

Each one unto the other

Society enough.

Pain is the Junior Party

By just a Second's right —

Death tenderly assists Him

And then absconds from Sight.


Papa above!

Regard a Mouse

O'erpowered by the Cat!

Reserve within thy kingdom

A "Mansion" for the Rat!

Snug in seraphic Cupboards

To nibble all the day

While unsuspecting Cycles

Wheel solemnly away!

Paradise is of the option.

Whosoever will

Own in Eden notwithstanding

Adam and Repeal.

Paradise is that old mansion

Many owned before —

Occupied by each an instant

Then reversed the Door —

Bliss is frugal of her Leases

Adam taught her Thrift

Bankrupt once through his excesses —

Partake as doth the Bee,


The Rose is an Estate —

In Sicily.

Parting with Thee reluctantly,

That we have never met,

A Heart sometimes a Foreigner,

Remembers it forgot —

Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light,

Pangless except for us —

Who slowly for the Mystery

Which thou hast leaped across!

Patience — has a quiet Outer —

Patience — Look within —

Is an Insect's futile forces

Infinites — between —

'Scaping one — against the other

Fruitlesser to fling —

Patience — is the Smile's exertion

Through the quivering —

Peace is a fiction of our Faith —

The Bells a Winter Night

Bearing the Neighbor out of Sound

That never did alight.

Perception of an object costs

Precise the Object's loss —

Perception in itself a Gain

Replying to its Price —

The Object Absolute — is nought —

Perception sets it fair

And then upbraids a Perfectness

That situates so far —

Perhaps I asked too large —

I take — no less than skies —

For Earths, grow thick as

Berries, in my native town —

My Basket holds — just — Firmaments —

Those — dangle easy — on my arm,

But smaller bundles — Cram.

Perhaps they do not go so far

As we who stay, suppose —

Perhaps come closer, for the lapse

Of their corporeal clothes —

It may be know so certainly

How short we have to fear

That comprehension antedates

And estimates us there —

Perhaps you think me stooping

I'm not ashamed of that

Christ — stooped until He touched the Grave —

Do those at Sacrament

Commemorative Dishonor

Or love annealed of love

Until it bend as low as Death

Redignified, above?

Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower?

But I could never sell.

If you would like to borrow

Until the daffodil

Unties her yellow bonnet

Beneath the village door,

Until the bees, from clover rows

Their hock and sherry draw,

Why, I will lend until just then,

But not an hour more !

Peril as a Possession

'Tis Good to hear

Danger disintegrates Satiety

There's Basis there —

Begets an awe

That searches Human Nature's creases

As clean as Fire.

Pigmy seraphs — gone astray —

Velvet people from Vevay —

Balles from some lost summer day —

Bees exclusive Coterie —

Paris could not lay the fold

Belted down with Emerald —

Venice could not show a check

Of a tint so lustrous meek —

Never such an Ambuscade

As of briar and leaf displayed

For my little damask maid —

I had rather wear her grace

Than an Earl's distinguished face —

I had rather dwell like her

Than be "Duke of Exeter" —

Royalty enough for me

To subdue the Bumblebee.

Pink — small — and punctual —

Aromatic — low —

Covert — in April —

Candid — in May —

Dear to the Moss —

Known to the Knoll —

Next to the Robin

In every human Soul —

Bold little Beauty

Bedecked with thee

Nature forswears

Antiquity —

Poor little Heart!

Did they forget thee?

Then dinna care! Then dinna care!

Proud little Heart!

Did they forsake thee?

Be debonnaire! Be debonnaire!

Frail little Heart!

I would not break thee —

Could'st credit me? Could'st credit me?

Gay little Heart —

Like Morning Glory!

Wind and Sun — wilt thee array!

Portraits are to daily faces

As an Evening West,

To a fine, pedantic sunshine —

In a satin Vest!

Power is a familiar growth —

Not foreign — not to be —

Beside us like a bland Abyss

In every company —

Escape it — there is but a chance —

When consciousness and clay

Lean forward for a final glance —

Disprove that and you may —

Praise it — 'tis dead —

It cannot glow —

Warm this inclement Ear

With the encomium it earned

Since it was gathered here —

Invest this alabaster Zest

In the Delights of Dust —

Remitted — since it flitted it

In recusance august.

Prayer is the little implement

Through which Men reach

Where Presence — is denied them.

They fling their Speech

By means of it — in God's Ear —

If then He hear —

This sums the Apparatus

Comprised in Prayer —

Precious to Me — She still shall be —

Though She forget the name I bear —

The fashion of the Gown I wear —

The very Color of My Hair —

So like the Meadows — now —

I dared to show a Tress of Theirs

If haply — She might not despise

A Buttercup's Array —

I know the Whole — obscures the Part —

The fraction — that appeased the Heart

Till Number's Empery —

Remembered — as the Milliner's flower

When Summer's Everlasting Dower —

Confronts the dazzled Bee.

Presentiment — is that long Shadow — on the Lawn —

Indicative that Suns go down —

The Notice to the startled Grass

That Darkness — is about to pass —

Promise This — When You be Dying —

Some shall summon Me —

Mine belong Your latest Sighing —

Mine — to Belt Your Eye —

Not with Coins — though they be Minted

From an Emperor's Hand —

Be my lips — the only Buckle

Your low Eyes — demand —

Mine to stay — when all have wandered —

To devise once more

If the Life be too surrendered —

Life of Mine — restore —

Poured like this — My Whole Libation —

Just that You should see

Bliss of Death — Life's Bliss extol thro'

Imitating You —

Mine — to guard Your Narrow Precinct —

To seduce the Sun

Longest on Your South, to linger,

Largest Dews of Morn

To demand, in Your low favor

Lest the Jealous Grass

Greener lean — Or fonder cluster

Round some other face —

Mine to supplicate Madonna —

If Madonna be

Could behold so far a Creature —

Christ — omitted — Me —

Just to follow Your dear future —

Ne'er so far behind —

For My Heaven —

Had I not been

Most enough — denied?

Proud of my broken heart, since thou didst break it,

Proud of the pain I did not feel till thee,

Proud of my night, since thou with moons dost slake it,

Not to partake thy passion, my humility.

Thou can'st not boast, like Jesus, drunken without companion

Was the strong cup of anguish brewed for the Nazarene

Thou can'st not pierce tradition with the peerless puncture,

See! I usurped thy crucifix to honor mine!

Publication — is the Auction

Of the Mind of Man —

Poverty — be justifying

For so foul a thing

Possibly — but We — would rather

From Our Garret go

White — Unto the White Creator —

Than invest — Our Snow —

Thought belong to Him who gave it —

Then — to Him Who bear

Its Corporeal illustration — Sell

The Royal Air —

In the Parcel — Be the Merchant

Of the Heavenly Grace —

But reduce no Human Spirit

To Disgrace of Price —

Purple — is fashionable twice —

This season of the year,

And when a soul perceives itself

To be an Emperor.

Pursuing you in your transitions,

In other Motes —

Of other Myths

Your requisition be.

The Prism never held the Hues,

It only heard them play —

Put up my lute!

What of — my Music!

Since the sole ear I cared to charm —

Passive — as Granite — laps My Music —

Sobbing — will suit — as well as psalm!

Would but the "Memnon" of the Desert —

Teach me the strain

That vanquished Him —

When He — surrendered to the Sunrise —

Maybe — that — would awaken — them!

Quite empty, quite at rest,

The Robin locks her Nest, and tries her Wings.

She does not know a Route

But puts her Craft about

For rumored Springs —

She does not ask for Noon —

She does not ask for Boon,

Crumbless and homeless, of but one request —

The Birds she lost —

Rather arid delight

If Contentment accrue

Make an abstemious Ecstasy

Not so good as joy —

But Rapture's Expense

Must not be incurred

With a tomorrow knocking

And the Rent unpaid —

Read — Sweet — how others — strove —

Till we — are stouter —

What they — renounced —

Till we — are less afraid —

How many times they — bore the faithful witness —

Till we — are helped —

As if a Kingdom — cared!

Read then — of faith —

That shone above the fagot —

Clear strains of Hymn

The River could not drown —

Brave names of Men —

And Celestial Women —

Passed out — of Record

Into — Renown!

Rearrange a "Wife's" affection!

When they dislocate my Brain!

Amputate my freckled Bosom!

Make me bearded like a man!

Blush, my spirit, in thy Fastness —

Blush, my unacknowledged clay —

Seven years of troth have taught thee

More than Wifehood every may!

Love that never leaped its socket —

Trust entrenched in narrow pain —

Constancy thro' fire — awarded —

Anguish — bare of anodyne!

Burden — borne so far triumphant —

None suspect me of the crown,

For I wear the "Thorns" till Sunset —

Then — my Diadem put on.

Big my Secret but it's bandaged —

It will never get away

Till the Day its Weary Keeper

Leads it through the Grave to thee.

Recollect the Face of me

When in thy Felicity,

Due in Paradise today

Guest of mine assuredly —

Other Courtesies have been —

Other Courtesy may be —

We commend ourselves to thee

Paragon of Chivalry.

"Red Sea," indeed! Talk not to me

Of purple Pharaoh —

I have a Navy in the West

Would pierce his Columns thro' —

Guileless, yet of such Glory fine

That all along the Line

Is it, or is it not, divine —

The Eye inquires with a sigh

That Earth sh'd be so big —

What Exultation in the Woe —

What Wine in the fatigue!

Rehearsal to Ourselves

Of a Withdrawn Delight —

Affords a Bliss like Murder —

Omnipotent — Acute —

We will not drop the Dirk —

Because We love the Wound

The Dirk Commemorate — Itself

Remind Us that we died.

"Remember me" implored the Thief!

Oh Hospitality!

My Guest "Today in Paradise"

I give thee guaranty.

That Courtesy will fair remain

When the Delight is Dust

With which we cite this mightiest case

Of compensated Trust.

Of all we are allowed to hope

But Affidavit stands

That this was due where most we fear

Be unexpected Friends.

Remembrance has a Rear and Front —

'Tis something like a House —

It has a Garret also

For Refuse and the Mouse.

Besides the deepest Cellar

That ever Mason laid —

Look to it by its Fathoms

Ourselves be not pursued —

Remorse is memory awake,

Her companies astir —

A presence of departed acts

At window and at door.

It's past set down before the soul,

And lighted with a match,

Perusal to facilitate

Of its condensed despatch.

Remorse is cureless — the disease

Not even God can heal

For 'tis his institution —

The complement of hell.

Removed from Accident of Loss

By Accident of Gain

Befalling not my simple Days —

Myself had just to earn —

Of Riches — as unconscious

As is the Brown Malay

Of Pearls in Eastern Waters,

Marked His — What Holiday

Would stir his slow conception —

Had he the power to dream

That put the Dower's fraction —

Awaited even — Him —

Renunciation — is a piercing Virtue —

The letting go

A Presence — for an Expectation —

Not now —

The putting out of Eyes —

Just Sunrise —

Lest Day —

Day's Great Progenitor —


Renunciation — is the Choosing

Against itself —

Itself to justify

Unto itself —

When larger function —

Make that appear —

Smaller — that Covered Vision — Here —

Reportless Subjects, to the Quick

Continual addressed —

But foreign as the Dialect

Of Danes, unto the rest.

Reportless Measures, to the Ear

Susceptive — stimulus —

But like an Oriental Tale

To others, fabulous —

Rest at Night

The Sun from shining,

Nature — and some Men —

Rest at Noon — some Men —

While Nature

And the Sun — go on —

Reverse cannot befall

That fine Prosperity

Whose Sources are interior —

As soon — Adversity

A Diamond — overtake

In far — Bolivian Ground —

Misfortune hath no implement

Could mar it — if it found —

Revolution is the Pod

Systems rattle from

When the Winds of Will are stirred

Excellent is Bloom

But except its Russet Base

Every Summer be

The Entomber of itself,

So of Liberty —

Left inactive on the Stalk

All its Purple fled

Revolution shakes it for

Test if it be dead.

Ribbons of the Year —

Multitude Brocade —

Worn to Nature's Party once

Then, as flung aside

As a faded Bead

Or a Wrinkled Pearl

Who shall charge the Vanity

Of the Maker's Girl?

Risk is the Hair that holds the Tun

Seductive in the Air —

That Tun is hollow — but the Tun —

With Hundred Weights — to spare —

Too ponderous to suspect the snare

Espies that fickle chair

And seats itself to be let go

By that perfidious Hair —

The "foolish Tun" the Critics say —

While that delusive Hair

Persuasive as Perdition,

Decoys its Traveller.

Above: A lock of Emily Dickinson's auburn hair, alongside a silhouette of Emily that was created in 1845, when the Poet was 14.


Robbed by Death — but that was easy —

To the failing Eye

I could hold the latest Glowing —

Robbed by Liberty

For Her Jugular Defences —

This, too, I endured —

Hint of Glory — it afforded —

For the Brave Beloved —

Fraud of Distance — Fraud of Danger,

Fraud of Death — to bear —

It is Bounty — to Suspense's

Vague Calamity —

Stalking our entire Possession

On a Hair's result —

Then — seesawing — coolly — on it —

Trying if it split —

Safe Despair it is that raves —

Agony is frugal.

Puts itself severe away

For its own perusal.

Garrisoned no Soul can be

In the Front of Trouble —

Love is one, not aggregate —

Nor is Dying double —

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers —

Untouched by Morning

And untouched by Noon —

Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection —

Rafter of satin,

And Roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze

In her Castle above them —

Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,

Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence —

Ah, what sagacity perished here!

Grand go the years in the crescent above them;

Worlds scoop their arcs, and firmaments row,

Diadems drop and Doges surrender,

Soundless as dots on a disk of snow.

Said Death to Passion

"Give of thine an Acre unto me."

Said Passion, through contracting Breaths

"A Thousand Times Thee Nay."

Bore Death from Passion

All His East

He — sovereign as the Sun

Resituated in the West

And the Debate was done.

Sang from the Heart, Sire,

Dipped my Beak in it,

If the Tune drip too much

Have a tint too Red

Pardon the Cochineal —

Suffer the Vermillion —

Death is the Wealth

Of the Poorest Bird.

Bear with the Ballad —

Awkward — faltering —

Death twists the strings —

'Twasn't my blame —

Pause in your Liturgies —

Wait your Chorals —

While I repeat your

Hallowed name —

Satisfaction — is the Agent

Of Satiety —

Want — a quiet Commissary

For Infinity.

To possess, is past the instant

We achieve the Joy —

Immortality contented

Were Anomaly.

Savior! I've no one else to tell —

And so I trouble thee.

I am the one forgot thee so —

Dost thou remember me?

Nor, for myself, I came so far —

That were the little load —

I brought thee the imperial Heart

I had not strength to hold —

The Heart I carried in my own —

Till mine too heavy grew —

Yet — strangest — heavier since it went —

Is it too large for you?

"Secrets" is a daily word

Yet does not exist —

Muffled — it remits surmise —

Murmured — it has ceased —

Dungeoned in the Human Breast

Doubtless secrets lie —

But that Grate inviolate —

Goes nor comes away

Nothing with a Tongue or Ear —

Secrets stapled there

Will emerge but once — and dumb —

To the Sepulchre —

September's Baccalaureate

A combination is

Of Crickets — Crows — and Retrospects

And a dissembling Breeze

That hints without assuming —

An Innuendo sear

That makes the Heart put up its Fun

And turn Philosopher.


Severer Service of myself

I — hastened to demand

To fill the awful Vacuum

Your life had left behind —

I worried Nature with my Wheels

When Hers had ceased to run —

When she had put away Her Work

My own had just begun.

I strove to weary Brain and Bone —

To harass to fatigue

The glittering Retinue of nerves —

Vitality to clog

To some dull comfort Those obtain

Who put a Head away

They knew the Hair to —

And forget the color of the Day —

Affliction would not be appeased —

The Darkness braced as firm

As all my stratagem had been

The Midnight to confirm —

No Drug for Consciousness — can be —

Alternative to die

Is Nature's only Pharmacy

For Being's Malady —

Sexton! My Master's sleeping here.

Pray lead me to his bed!

I came to build the Bird's nest,

And sow the Early seed —

That when the snow creeps slowly

From off his chamber door —

Daisies point the way there —

And the Troubadour.

Shall I take thee, the Poet said

To the propounded word?

Be stationed with the Candidates

Till I have finer tried —

The Poet searched Philology

And when about to ring

For the suspended Candidate

There came unsummoned in —

That portion of the Vision

The Word applied to fill

Not unto nomination

The Cherubim reveal —

Shame is the shawl of Pink

In which we wrap the Soul

To keep it from infesting Eyes —

The elemental Veil

Which helpless Nature drops

When pushed upon a scene

Repugnant to her probity —

Shame is the tint divine.

She bore it till the simple veins

Traced azure on her hand —

Til pleading, round her quiet eyes

The purple Crayons stand.

Till Daffodils had come and gone

I cannot tell the sum,

And then she ceased to bear it —

And with the Saints sat down.

No more her patient figure

At twilight soft to meet —

No more her timid bonnet

Upon the village street —

But Crowns instead, and Courtiers —

And in the midst so fair,

Whose but her shy — immortal face

Of whom we're whispering here?

She could not live upon the Past

The Present did not know her

And so she sought this sweet at last

And nature gently owned her

The mother that has not a knell

for either Duke or Robin

She dealt her pretty words like Blades —

How glittering they shone —

And every One unbared a Nerve

Or wantoned with a Bone —

She never deemed — she hurt —

That — is not Steel's Affair —

A vulgar grimace in the Flesh —

How ill the Creatures bear —

To Ache is human — not polite —

The Film upon the eye

Mortality's old Custom —

Just locking up — to Die.

She died — this was the way she died.

And when her breath was done

Took up her simple wardrobe

And started for the sun.

Her little figure at the gate

The Angels must have spied,

Since I could never find her

Upon the mortal side.

She died at play,

Gambolled away

Her lease of spotted hours,

Then sank as gaily as a Turk

Upon a Couch of flowers.

Her ghost strolled softly o'er the hill

Yesterday, and Today,

Her vestments as the silver fleece —

Her countenance as spray.

She dwelleth in the Ground —

Where Daffodils — abide —

Her Maker — Her Metropolis —

The Universe — Her Maid —

To fetch Her Grace — and Hue —

And Fairness — and Renown —

The Firmament's — To Pluck Her —

And fetch Her Thee — be mine —

She hideth Her the last —

And is the first, to rise —

Her Night doth hardly recompense

The Closing of Her eyes —

She doth Her Purple Work —

And putteth Her away

In low Apartments in the Sod -

As worthily as We.

To imitate her life

As impotent would be

As make of Our imperfect Mints,

The Julep — of the Bee —

She laid her docile Crescent down

And this confiding Stone

Still states to Dates that have forgot

The News that she is gone —

So constant to its stolid trust,

The Shaft that never knew —

It shames the Constancy that fled

Before its emblem flew —

She lay as if at play

Her life had leaped away —

Intending to return —

But not so soon —

Her merry Arms, half dropt —

As if for lull of sport —

An instant had forgot —

The Trick to start —

Her dancing Eyes — ajar —

As if their Owner were

Still sparkling through

For fun — at you —

Her Morning at the door —

Devising, I am sure —

To force her sleep —

So light — so deep —

She rose as high as His Occasion

Then sought the Dust —

And lower lay in low Westminster

For Her brief Crest —

She rose to His Requirement — dropt

The Playthings of Her Life

To take the honorable Work

Of Woman, and of Wife —

If ought She missed in Her new Day,

Of Amplitude, or Awe —

Or first Prospective — Or the Gold

In using, wear away,

It lay unmentioned — as the Sea

Develop Pearl, and Weed,

But only to Himself — be known

The Fathoms they abide —

She sights a Bird — she chuckles —

She flattens — then she crawls —

She runs without the look of feet —

Her eyes increase to Balls —

Her Jaws stir — twitching — hungry —

Her Teeth can hardly stand —

She leaps, but Robin leaped the first —

Ah, Pussy, of the Sand,

The Hopes so juicy ripening —

You almost bathed your Tongue —

When Bliss disclosed a hundred Toes —

And fled with every one —

She slept beneath a tree —

Remembered but by me.

I touched her Cradle mute —

She recognized the foot —

Put on her carmine suit

And see!

She sped as Petals of a Rose

Offended by the Wind —

A frail Aristocrat of Time

Indemnity to find —

Leaving on nature — a Default

As Cricket or as Bee —

But Andes in the Bosoms where

She had begun to lie —

She staked her Feathers — Gained an Arc —

Debated — Rose again —

This time — beyond the estimate

Of Envy, or of Men —

And now, among Circumference —

Her steady Boat be seen —

At home — among the Billows — As

The Bough where she was born —

She sweeps with many-colored Brooms —

And leaves the Shreds behind —

Oh Housewife in the Evening West —

Come back, and dust the Pond!

You dropped a Purple Ravelling in —

You dropped an Amber thread —

And how you've littered all the East

With duds of Emerald!

And still, she plies her spotted Brooms,

And still the Aprons fly,

Till Brooms fade softly into stars —

And then I come away —

She went as quiet as the dew

From a familiar flower.

Not like the dew did she return

At the accustomed hour !

She dropt as softly as a star

From out my summer's eve ;

Less skilful than Leverrier

It's sorer to believe !

She's happy, with a new Content —

That feels to her — like Sacrament —

She's busy — with an altered Care —

As just apprenticed to the Air —

She's tearful — if she weep at all —

For blissful Causes — Most of all

That Heaven permit so meek as her —

To such a Fate — to Minister.

Shells from the Coast mistaking —

I cherished them for All —

Happening in After Ages

To entertain a Pearl —

Wherefore so late — I murmured —

My need of Thee — be done —

Therefore — the Pearl responded —

My Period begin

Should you but fail at — Sea —

In sight of me —

Or doomed lie —

Next Sun — to die —

Or rap — at Paradise — unheard

I'd harass God

Until he let you in!

Sic transit gloria mundi

"How doth the busy bee"

Dum vivamus vivamus

I stay mine enemy! —

Oh veni vidi vici!

Oh caput cap-a-pie!

And oh "memento mori"

When I am far from thee

Hurrah for Peter Parley

Hurrrah for Daniel Boone

Three cheers sir, for the gentleman

Who first observed the moon —

Peter put up the sunshine!

Pattie arrange the stars

Tell Luna, tea is waiting

And call your brother Mars —

Put down the apple Adam

And come away with me

So shall't thou have a pippin

From off my Father's tree!

I climb the "Hill of Science"

I "view the Landscape o'er"

Such transcendental prospect

I ne'er beheld before! —

Unto the Legislature

My country bids me go,

I'll take my india rubbers

In case the wind should blow.

During my education

It was announced to me

That gravitation stumbling

Fell from an apple tree —

The Earth opon it's axis

Was once supposed to turn

By way of a gymnastic

In honor to the sun —

It was the brave Columbus

A sailing o'er the tide

Who notified the nations

Of where I would reside

Mortality is fatal

Gentility is fine

Rascality, heroic

Insolvency, sublime

Our Fathers being weary

Laid down on Bunker Hill

And though full many a morn'g

Yet they are sleeping still

The trumpet sir, shall wake them

In streams I see them rise

Each with a solemn musket

A marching to the skies!

A coward will remain, Sir,

Until the fight is done;

But an immortal hero

Will take his hat and run.

Good bye Sir, I am going

My country calleth me

Allow me Sir, at parting

To wipe my weeping e'e

In token of our friendship

Accept this "Bonnie Doon"

And when the hand that pluck'd it

Hath passed beyond the moon

The memory of my ashes

Will consolation be

Then farewell Tuscarora

And farewell Sir, to thee.

Silence is all we dread.

There's Ransom in a Voice —

But Silence is Infinity.

Himself have not a face.

Size circumscribes — it has no room

For petty furniture —

The Giant tolerates no Gnat

For Ease of Gianture —

Repudiates it, all the more —

Because intrinsic size

Ignores the possibility

Of Calumnies — or Flies.

Sleep is supposed to be,

By souls of sanity,

The shutting of the eye.

Sleep is the station grand

Down which on either hand

The hosts of witness stand !

Morn is supposed to be,

By people of degree,

The breaking of the day.

Morning has not occurred !

That shall aurora be

East of eternity ;

One with the banner gay,

One in the red array, —

That is the break of day.

Smiling back from Coronation

May be Luxury —

On the Heads that started with us —

Being's Peasantry —

Recognizing in Procession

Ones We former knew —

When Ourselves were also dusty —

Centuries ago —

Had the Triumph no Conviction

Of how many be —

Stimulated — by the Contrast —

Unto Misery —

Snow beneath whose chilly softness

Some that never lay

Make their first Repose this Winter

I admonish Thee

Blanket Wealthier the Neighbor

We so new bestow

Than thine acclimated Creature

Wilt Thou, Austere Snow?

Snow flakes.

I counted till they danced so

Their slippers leaped the town,

And then I took a pencil

To note the rebels down.

And then they grew so jolly

I did resign the prig,

And ten of my once stately toes

Are marshalled for a jig!

So bashful when I spied her,

So pretty, so ashamed !

So hidden in her leaflets,

Lest anybody find ;

So breathless till I passed her,

So helpless when I turned

And bore her, struggling, blushing,

Her simple haunts beyond !

For whom I robbed the dingle,

For whom betrayed the dell,

Many will doubtless ask me,

But I shall never tell!

So from the mould

Scarlet and Gold

Many a Bulb will rise —

Hidden away, cunningly,

From sagacious eyes.

So from Cocoon

Many a Worm

Leap so Highland gay,

Peasants like me, Peasants like Thee,

Gaze perplexedly!

So gay a Flower

Bereaves the Mind

As if it were a Woe —

Is Beauty an Affliction — then?

Tradition ought to know —

So give me back to Death —

The Death I never feared

Except that it deprived of thee —

And now, by Life deprived,

In my own Grave I breathe

And estimate its size —

Its size is all that Hell can guess —

And all that Heaven was —

So glad we are — a Stranger'd deem

'Twas sorry, that we were —

For where the Holiday should be

There publishes a Tear —

Nor how Ourselves be justified —

Since Grief and Joy are done

So similar — An Optizan

Could not decide between —

So has a Daisy vanished

From the fields today —

So tiptoed many a slipper

To Paradise away —

Oozed so in crimson bubbles

Day's departing tide —

Blooming — tripping — flowing

Are ye then with God?

So I pull my Stockings off

Wading in the Water

For the Disobedience' Sake

Boy that lived for "or'ter"

Went to Heaven perhaps at Death

And perhaps he didn't

Moses wasn't fairly used —

Ananias wasn't —

So large my Will

The little that I may


Like gentle infamy —

Affront to Him

For whom the Whole were small

Affront to me

Who know His Meed of all.

Earth at the best

Is but a scanty Toy —

Bought, carried Home

To Immortality.

It looks so small

We chiefly wonder then

At our Conceit

In purchasing.

So much of Heaven has gone from Earth

That there must be a Heaven

If only to enclose the Saints

To Affidavit given.

The Missionary to the Mole

Must prove there is a Sky

Location doubtless he would plead

But what excuse have I?

Too much of Proof affronts Belief

The Turtle will not try

Unless you leave him — then return

And he has hauled away.

So much Summer

Me for showing

Illegitimate —

Would a Smile's minute bestowing

Too exorbitant

To the Lady

With the Guinea

Look — if She should know

Crumb of Mine

A Robin's Larder

Would suffice to stow —

So proud she was to die

It made us all ashamed

That what we cherished, so unknown

To her desire seemed —

So satisfied to go

Where none of us should be

Immediately — that Anguish stooped

Almost to Jealousy —

So set its Sun in Thee

What Day be dark to me —

What Distance — far —

So I the Ships may see

That touch — how seldomly —

Thy Shore?

So the Eyes accost — and sunder

In an Audience —

Stamped — occasionally — forever —

So may Countenance

Entertain — without addressing

Countenance of One

In a Neighboring Horizon —

Gone — as soon as known —

So well that I can live without —

I love thee — then How well is that?

As well as Jesus?

Prove it me

That He — loved Men —

As I — love thee —

Society for me my misery

Since Gift of Thee —

Soft as the massacre of Suns

By Evening's Sabres slain

Softened by Time's consummate plush,

How sleek the woe appears

That threatened childhood's citadel

And undermined the years.

Bisected now, by bleaker griefs,

We envy the despair

That devastated childhood's realm,

So easy to repair.

Soil of Flint, if steady tilled —

Will refund by Hand —

Seed of Palm, by Libyan Sun

Fructified in Sand —

Some — Work for Immortality —

The Chiefer part, for Time —

He — Compensates — immediately —

The former — Checks — on Fame —

Slow Gold — but Everlasting —

The Bullion of Today —

Contrasted with the Currency

Of Immortality —

A Beggar — Here and There —

Is gifted to discern

Beyond the Broker's insight —

One's — Money — One's — the Mine — 

Some Arrows slay but whom they strike —

But this slew all but him —

Who so appareled his Escape —

Too trackless for a Tomb —

Some Days retired from the rest

In soft distinction lie

The Day that a Companion came

Or was obliged to die

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —

I keep it, staying at Home —

With a Bobolink for a Chorister —

And an Orchard, for a Dome —

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —

I just wear my Wings —

And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,

Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman —

And the sermon is never long,

So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —

I'm going, all along.

Some one prepared this mighty show

To which without a Ticket go

The nations and the Days —

Displayed before the simplest Door

That all may witness it and more,

The pomp of summer Days.

Some Rainbow — coming from the Fair!

Some Vision of the World Cashmere —

I confidently see!

Or else a Peacock's purple Train

Feather by feather — on the plain

Fritters itself away!

The dreamy Butterflies bestir!

Lethargic pools resume the whir

Of last year's sundered tune!

From some old Fortress on the sun

Baronial Bees — march — one by one —

In murmuring platoon!

The Robins stand as thick today

As flakes of snow stood yesterday —

On fence — and Roof — and Twig!

The Orchis binds her feather on

For her old lover - Don the Sun!

Revisiting the Bog!

Without Commander! Countless! Still!

The Regiments of Wood and Hill

In bright detachment stand!

Behold! Whose Multitudes are these?

The children of whose turbaned seas —

Or what Circassian Land?

Some say goodnight — at night —

I say goodnight by day —

Good-bye — the Going utter me —

Goodnight, I still reply —

For parting, that is night,

And presence, simply dawn —

Itself, the purple on the height

Denominated morn.

Some such Butterfly be seen

On Brazilian Pampas —

Just at noon — no later — Sweet —

Then — the License closes —

Some such Spice — express and pass —

Subject to Your Plucking —

As the Stars — You knew last Night —

Foreigners — This Morning —

Some things that fly there be —

Birds — Hours — the Bumblebee —

Of these no Elegy.

Some things that stay there be —

Grief — Hills — Eternity —

Nor this behooveth me.

There are that resting, rise.

Can I expound the skies?

How still the Riddle lies!

Some we see no more, Tenements of Wonder

Occupy to us though perhaps to them

Simpler are the Days than the Supposition

Leave us to presume

That oblique Belief which we call Conjecture

Grapples with a Theme stubborn as Sublime

Able as the Dust to equip its feature

Adequate as Drums

To enlist the Tomb.

Some Wretched creature, savior take

Who would exult to die

And leave for thy sweet mercy's sake

Another Hour to me

Some, too fragile for winter winds

The thoughtful grave encloses —

Tenderly tucking them in from frost

Before their feet are cold.

Never the treasures in her nest

The cautious grave exposes,

Building where schoolboy dare not look,

And sportsman is not bold.

This covert have all the children

Early aged, and often cold,

Sparrow, unnoticed by the Father —

Lambs for whom time had not a fold.

Somehow myself survived the Night

And entered with the Day —

That it be saved the Saved suffice

Without the Formula.

Henceforth I take my living place

As one commuted led —

A Candidate for Morning Chance

But dated with the Dead.

Sometimes with the Heart

Seldom with the Soul

Scarcer once with the Might

Few — love at all.

Somewhat, to hope for,

Be it ne'er so far

Is Capital against Despair —

Somewhat, to suffer,

Be it ne'er so keen —

If terminable, may be borne.

Somewhere upon the general Earth

Itself exist Today —

The Magic passive but extant

That consecrated me —

Indifferent Seasons doubtless play

Where I for right to be —

Would pay each Atom that I am

But Immortality —

Reserving that but just to prove

Another Date of Thee —

Oh God of Width, do not for us

Curtail Eternity!

Soto! Explore thyself!

Therein thyself shalt find

The "Undiscovered Continent" —

No Settler had the Mind.

Soul, take thy risk.

With Death to be

Were better than be not

With thee

Soul, Wilt thou toss again?

By just such a hazard

Hundreds have lost indeed —

But tens have won an all —

Angel's breathless ballot

Lingers to record thee —

Imps in eager Caucus

Raffle for my Soul!

South Winds jostle them —

Bumblebees come —

Hover — hesitate —

Drink, and are gone —

Butterflies pause

On their passage Cashmere —

I — softly plucking,

Present them here!

"Sown in dishonor"!

Ah! Indeed!

May this "dishonor" be?

If I were half so fine myself

I'd notice nobody!

"Sown in corruption"!

Not so fast!

Apostle is askew!

Corinthians 1. 15. narrates

A Circumstance or two!

"Speech" — is a prank of Parliament —

"Tears" — is a trick of the nerve —

But the Heart with the heaviest freight on —

Doesn't — always — move —

Speech is one symptom of Affection

And Silence one —

The perfectest communication

Is heard of none —

Exists and its indorsement

Is had within —

Behold, said the Apostle,

Yet had not seen!

Split the Lark — and you'll find the Music —

Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled —

Scantilly dealt to the Summer Morning

Saved for your Ear when Lutes be old.

Loose the Flood — you shall find it patent —

Gush after Gush, reserved for you —

Scarlet Experiment! Sceptic Thomas!

Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?


Spring comes on the World —

I sight the Aprils —

Hueless to me until thou come

As, till the Bee

Blossoms stand negative,

Touched to Conditions

By a Hum.

Spring is the Period

Express from God.

Among the other seasons

Himself abide,

But during March and April

None stir abroad

Without a cordial interview

With God.

Spurn the temerity —

Rashness of Calvary —

Gay were Gethsemane

Knew we of Thee —

Step lightly on this narrow spot —

The broadest Land that grows

Is not so ample as the Breast

These Emerald Seams enclose.

Step lofty, for this name be told

As far as Cannon dwell

Or Flag subsist or Fame export

Her deathless Syllable.

Still own thee — still thou art

What surgeons call alive —

Though slipping — slipping I perceive

To thy reportless Grave —

Which question shall I clutch —

What answer wrest from thee

Before thou dost exude away

In the recallless sea?

Strong Draughts of Their Refreshing Minds

To drink — enables Mine

Through Desert or the Wilderness

As bore it Sealed Wine —

To go elastic — Or as One

The Camel's trait — attained —

How powerful the Stimulus

Of an Hermetic Mind —

Struck, was I, not yet by Lightning —

Lightning — lets away

Power to perceive His Process

With Vitality.

Maimed — was I — yet not by Venture —

Stone of stolid Boy —

Nor a Sportsman's Peradventure —

Who mine Enemy?

Robbed — was I — intact to Bandit —

All my Mansion torn —

Sun — withdrawn to Recognition —

Furthest shining — done —

Yet was not the foe — of any —

Not the smallest Bird

In the nearest Orchard dwelling

Be of Me — afraid.

Most — I love the Cause that slew Me.

Often as I die

Its beloved Recognition

Holds a Sun on Me —

Best — at Setting — as is Nature's —

Neither witnessed Rise

Till the infinite Aurora

In the other's eyes.

Success is counted sweetest 

By those who ne'er succeed. 

To comprehend a nectar 

Requires sorest need. 

Not one of all the purple host 

Who took the flag to-day 

Can tell the definition, 

So clear, of victory, 

As he, defeated, dying, 

On whose forbidden ear 

The distant strains of triumph 

Break, agonized and clear.

above image:

Such are the inlets of the mind —

His outlets — would you see

Ascend with me the eminence

Of immortality —

Such is the Force of Happiness —

The Least — can lift a Ton

Assisted by its stimulus —

Who Misery — sustain —

No Sinew can afford —

The Cargo of Themselves —

Too infinite for Consciousness'

Slow capabilities.

Summer — we all have seen —

A few of us — believed —

A few — the more aspiring

Unquestionably loved —

But Summer does not care —

She goes her spacious way

As eligible as the moon

To our Temerity —

The Doom to be adored —

The Affluence conferred —

Unknown as to an Ecstasy

The Embryo endowed —

Summer begins to have the look

Peruser of enchanting Book

Reluctantly but sure perceives

A gain upon the backward leaves —

Autumn begins to be inferred

By millinery of the cloud

Or deeper color in the shawl

That wraps the everlasting hill.

The eye begins its avarice

A meditation chastens speech

Some Dyer of a distant tree

Resumes his gaudy industry.

Conclusion is the course of All

At most to be perennial

And then elude stability

Recalls to immortality.

Summer for thee, grant I may be

When Summer days are flown!

Thy music still, when Whippoorwill

And Oriole — are done!

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb

And row my blossoms o'er!

Pray gather me —

        Anemone —

Thy flower — forevermore!

Summer has two Beginnings —

Beginning once in June —

Beginning in October

Affectingly again —

Without, perhaps, the Riot

But graphicker for Grace —

As finer is a going

Than a remaining Face —

Departing then — forever —

Forever — until May —

Forever is deciduous

Except to those who die —

Summer is shorter than any one —

Life is shorter than Summer —

Seventy Years is spent as quick

As an only Dollar —

Sorrow — now — is polite — and stays —

See how well we spurn him —

Equally to abhor Delight —

Equally retain him —

Summer laid her simple Hat

On its boundless Shelf —

Unobserved — a Ribbon slipt,

Snatch it for yourself.

Summer laid her supple Glove

In its sylvan Drawer —

Wheresoe'er, or was she —

The demand of Awe?

Sunset at Night — is natural —

But Sunset on the Dawn

Reverses Nature — Master —

So Midnight's — due — at Noon.

Eclipses be — predicted —

And Science bows them in —

But do one face us suddenly —

Jehovah's Watch — is wrong.

Sunset that screens, reveals —

Enhancing what we see

By menaces of Amethyst

And Moats of Mystery. 

Superfluous were the Sun

When Excellence be dead

He were superfluous every Day

For every Day be said

That syllable whose Faith

Just saves it from Despair

And whose "I'll meet You" hesitates

If Love inquire "Where"?

Upon His dateless Fame

Our Periods may lie

As Stars that drop anonymous

From an abundant sky.

Superiority to Fate

Is difficult to gain

'Tis not conferred of Any

But possible to earn

A pittance at a time

Until to Her surprise

The Soul with strict economy

Subsist till Paradise.

Surgeons must be very careful

When they take the knife!

Underneath their fine incisions

Stirs the Culprit — Life!

Surprise is like a thrilling — pungent —

Upon a tasteless meat

Alone — too acrid — but combined

An edible Delight.

Suspense — is Hostiler than Death —

Death — tho'soever Broad,

Is Just Death, and cannot increase —

Suspense — does not conclude —

But perishes — to live anew —

But just anew to die —

Annihilation — plated fresh

With Immortality —

Sweet — safe — Houses —

Glad — gay — Houses —

Sealed so stately tight —

Lids of Steel — on Lids of Marble —

Locking Bare feet out —

Brooks of Plush — in Banks of Satin

Not so softly fall

As the laughter — and the whisper —

From their People Pearl —

No Bald Death — affront their Parlors —

No Bold Sickness come

To deface their Stately Treasures —

Anguish — and the Tomb —

Hum by — in Muffled Coaches —

Lest they — wonder Why —

Any — for the Press of Smiling —

Interrupt — to die —

Sweet — You forgot — but I remembered

Every time — for Two —

So that the Sum be never hindered

Through Decay of You —

Say if I erred? Accuse my Farthings —

Blame the little Hand

Happy it be for You — a Beggar's —

Seeking More — to spend —

Just to be Rich — to waste my Guineas

On so Best a Heart —

Just to be Poor — for Barefoot Vision

You — Sweet — Shut me out —

Sweet hours have perished here —

This is a mighty room —

Within its precincts hopes have played, 

Now shadows in the tomb. 

Sweet is the swamp with its secrets,

Until we meet a snake;

'Tis then we sigh for houses,

And our departure take

At that enthralling gallop

That only childhood knows.

A snake is summer's treason,

And guile is where it goes.

Sweet Mountains — Ye tell Me no lie —

Never deny Me — Never fly —

Those same unvarying Eyes

Turn on Me — when I fail — or feign,

Or take the Royal names in vain —

Their far — slow — Violet Gaze —

My Strong Madonnas — Cherish still —

The Wayward Nun — beneath the Hill —

Whose service — is to You —

Her latest Worship — When the Day

Fades from the Firmament away —

To lift Her Brows on You —

Sweet Pirate of the heart,

Not Pirate of the Sea,

What wrecketh thee?

Some spice's Mutiny —

Some Attar's perfidy?

Confide in me.

Sweet Skepticism of the Heart —

That knows — and does not know —

And tosses like a Fleet of Balm —

Affronted by the snow —

Invites and then retards the Truth

Lest Certainty be sere

Compared with the delicious throe

Of transport thrilled with Fear —

Sweet, to have had them lost

For news that they be saved —

The nearer they departed Us

The nearer they, restored,

Shall stand to Our Right Hand —

Most precious and the Dead —

Next precious

Those that rose to go —

Then thought of Us, and stayed.

Take all away —

The only thing worth larceny

Is left — the Immortality —

Take all away from me, but leave me Ecstasy,

And I am richer then than all my Fellow Men —

Ill it becometh me to dwell so wealthily

When at my very Door are those possessing more,

In abject poverty —

Take your Heaven further on —

This — to Heaven divine Has gone —

Had You earlier blundered in

Possibly, e'en You had seen

An Eternity — put on —

Now — to ring a Door beyond

Is the utmost of Your Hand —

To the Skies — apologize —

Nearer to Your Courtesies

Than this Sufferer polite —

Dressed to meet You —

See — in White!

Taken from men — this morning —

Carried by men today —

Met by the Gods with banners —

Who marshalled her away —

One little maid — from playmates —

One little mind from school —

There must be guests in Eden —

All the rooms are full —

Far — as the East from Even —

Dim — as the border star —

Courtiers quaint, in Kingdoms

Our departed are.

Taking up the fair Ideal,

Just to cast her down

When a fracture — we discover —

Or a splintered Crown —

Makes the Heavens portable —

And the Gods — a lie —

Doubtless — "Adam" — scowled at Eden —

For his perjury!

Cherishing — our pool Ideal —

Till in purer dress —

We behold her — glorified —

Comforts — search — like this —

Till the broken creatures —

We adored — for whole —

Stains — all washed —

Transfigured — mended —

Meet us — with a smile —

Talk not to me of Summer Trees

The foliage of the mind

A Tabernacle is for Birds

Of no corporeal kind

And winds do go that way at noon

To their Ethereal Homes

Whose Bugles call the least of us

To undepicted Realms 

Talk with prudence to a Beggar

Of "Potose," and the mines!

Reverently, to the Hungry

Of your viands, and your wines!

Cautious, hint to any Captive

You have passed enfranchised feet!

Anecdotes of air in Dungeons

Have sometimes proved deadly sweet! 

Teach Him — When He makes the names —

Such an one — to say —

On his babbling — Berry — lips —

As should sound — to me —

Were my Ear — as near his nest —

As my thought — today —

As should sound —

"Forbid us not" —

Some like “Emily."

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bold for our infirm Delight

The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —

above image:

Tell as a Marksman — were forgotten

Tell — this Day endures

Ruddy as that coeval Apple

The Tradition bears —

Fresh as Mankind that humble story

Though a statelier Tale

Grown in the Repetition hoary

Scarcely would prevail —

Tell had a son — The ones that knew it

Need not linger here —

Those who did not to Human Nature

Will subscribe a Tear —

Tell would not bare his Head

In Presence

Of the Ducal Hat —

Threatened for that with Death — by Gessler —

Tyranny bethought

Make of his only Boy a Target

That surpasses Death —

Stolid to Love's supreme entreaty

Not forsook of Faith —

Mercy of the Almighty begging —

Tell his Arrow sent —

God it is said replies in Person

When the cry is meant —

Than Heaven more remote,

For Heaven is the root,

But these the flitted seed.

More flown indeed

Than ones that never were,

Or those that hide, and are.

What madness, by their side,

A vision to provide

Of future days

They cannot praise.

My soul, to find them, come,

They cannot call, they're dumb,

Nor prove, nor woo,

But that they have abode

Is absolute as God,

And instant, too.

That after Horror — that 'twas us —

That passed the mouldering Pier —

Just as the Granite Crumb let go —

Our Savior, by a Hair —

A second more, had dropped too deep

For Fisherman to plumb —

The very profile of the Thought

Puts Recollection numb —

The possibility — to pass

Without a Moment's Bell —

Into Conjecture's presence —

Is like a Face of Steel —

That suddenly looks into ours

With a metallic grin —

The Cordiality of Death —

Who drills his Welcome in —

That Distance was between Us

That is not of Mile or Main —

The Will it is that situates —

Equator — never can —

That first Day, when you praised Me, Sweet,

And said that I was strong —

And could be mighty, if I liked —

That Day — the Days among —

Glows Central — like a Jewel

Between Diverging Golds —

The Minor One — that gleamed behind —

And Vaster — of the World’s.

That I did always love

I bring thee Proof

That till I loved

I never lived — Enough —

That I shall love alway —

I argue thee

That love is life —

And life hath Immortality —

This — dost thou doubt — Sweet —

Then have I

Nothing to show

But Calvary —

That is solemn we have ended

Be it but a Play

Or a Glee among the Garret

Or a Holiday

Or a leaving Home, or later,

Parting with a World

We have understood for better

Still to be explained.

That it will never come again

Is what makes life so sweet.

Believing what we don't believe

Does not exhilarate.

That if it be, it be at best

An ablative estate —

This instigates an appetite

Precisely opposite.

That Love is all there is,

Is all we know of Love;

It is enough, the freight should be

Proportioned to the groove.

That odd old man is dead a year —

We miss his stated Hat.

'Twas such an evening bright and stiff

His faded lamp went out.

Who miss his antiquated Wick —

Are any hoar for him?

Waits any indurated mate

His wrinkled coming Home?

Oh Life, begun in fluent Blood

And consummated dull!

Achievement contemplating thee —

Feels transitive and cool.

That sacred Closet when you sweep —

Entitled "Memory" —

Select a reverential Broom —

And do it silently.

'Twill be a Labor of surprise —

Besides Identity

Of other Interlocutors

A probability —

August the Dust of that Domain —

Unchallenged — let it lie —

You cannot supersede itself

But it can silence you —

That she forgot me was the least

I felt it second pain

That I was worthy to forget

Was most I thought upon.

Faithful was all that I could boast

But Constancy became

To her, by her innominate,

A something like a shame.

That short — potential stir

That each can make but once —

That Bustle so illustrious

'Tis almost Consequence —

Is the eclat of Death —

Oh, thou unknown Renown

That not a Beggar would accept

Had he the power to spurn —

That Such have died enable Us

The tranquiller to die —

That Such have lived,

Certificate for Immortality.

That this should feel the need of Death

The same as those that lived

Is such a Feat of Irony

As never was — achieved —

Not satisfied to ape the Great

In his simplicity

The small must die, as well as He —

Oh the Audacity —

The Admirations — and Contempts — of time —

Show justest — through an Open Tomb —

The Dying — as it were a Height

Reorganizes Estimate

And what We saw not

We distinguish clear —

And mostly — see not

What We saw before —

'Tis Compound Vision —

Light — enabling Light —

The Finite — furnished

With the Infinite —

Convex — and Concave Witness —

Back — toward Time —

And forward —

Toward the God of Him —

The Angle of a Landscape —

That every time I wake —

Between my Curtain and the Wall

Upon an ample Crack —

Like a Venetian — waiting —

Accosts my open eye —

Is just a Bough of Apples —

Held slanting, in the Sky —

The Pattern of a Chimney —

The Forehead of a Hill —

Sometimes — a Vane's Forefinger —

But that's — Occasional —

The Seasons — shift — my Picture —

Upon my Emerald Bough,

I wake — to find no — Emeralds —

Then — Diamonds — which the Snow

From Polar Caskets — fetched me —

The Chimney — and the Hill —

And just the Steeple's finger —

These — never stir at all —

The Auctioneer of Parting

His "Going, going, gone"

Shouts even from the Crucifix,

And brings his Hammer down —

He only sells the Wilderness,

The prices of Despair

Range from a single human Heart

To Two — not any more —

The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings —

Like fallow Article —

And not a song pervade his Lips —

Or none perceptible.

His small Umbrella quaintly halved

Describing in the Air

An Arc alike inscrutable

Elate Philosopher.

Deputed from what Firmament —

Of what Astute Abode —

Empowered with what Malignity

Auspiciously withheld —

To his adroit Creator

Ascribe no less the praise —

Beneficent, believe me,

His Eccentricities —

The Battle fought between the Soul

And No Man — is the One

Of all the Battles prevalent —

By far the Greater One —

No News of it is had abroad —

Its Bodiless Campaign

Establishes, and terminates —

Invisible — Unknown —

Nor History — record it —

As Legions of a Night

The Sunrise scatters — These endure —

Enact — and terminate —

The bee is not afraid of me,

I know the butterfly —

The pretty people in the woods

Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,

The breezes madder play.

Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?

Wherefore, O summer's day?

The Beggar at the Door of Fame

Were easily supplied

But Bread is that Diviner thing

Disclosed to be denied

The Beggar Lad — dies early —

It's Somewhat in the Cold —

And Somewhat in the Trudging feet —

And haply, in the World —

The Cruel — smiling — bowing World —

That took its Cambric Way —

Nor heard the timid cry for "Bread" —

"Sweet Lady — Charity" —

Among Redeemed Children

If Trudging feet may stand

The Barefoot time forgotten — so —

The Sleet — the bitter Wind —

The Childish Hands that teased for Pence

Lifted adoring — them —

To Him whom never Ragged — Coat

Did supplicate in vain —

The Bible is an antique Volume —

Written by faded men

At the suggestion of Holy Spectres —

Subjects — Bethlehem —

Eden — the ancient Homestead —

Satan — the Brigadier —

Judas — the Great Defaulter —

David — the Troubador —

Sin — a distinguished Precipice

Others must resist —

Boys that "believe" are very lonesome —

Other Boys are "lost" —

Had but the Tale a warbling Teller —

All the Boys would come —

Orpheus' Sermon captivated —

It did not condemn —

The Bird did prance — the Bee did play —

The Sun ran miles away

So blind with joy he could not choose

Between his Holiday

The morn was up — the meadows out

The Fences all but ran,

Republic of Delight, I thought

Where each is Citizen —

From Heavy laden Lands to thee

Were seas to cross to come

A Caspian were crowded — 

Too near thou art for Fame —

The Bird her punctual music brings

And lays it in its place —

Its place is in the Human Heart

And in the Heavenly Grace —

What respite from her thrilling toil

Did Beauty ever take —

But Work might be electric Rest

To those that Magic make —

The Bird must sing to earn the Crumb

What merit have the Tune

No Breakfast if it guaranty

The Rose content may bloom

To gain renown of Lady's Drawer

But if the Lady come

But once a Century, the Rose

Superfluous become —

The Birds begun at Four o'clock —

Their period for Dawn —

A Music numerous as space —

But neighboring as Noon —

I could not count their Force —

Their Voices did expend

As Brook by Brook bestows itself

To multiply the Pond.

Their Witnesses were not —

Except occasional man —

In homely industry arrayed —

To overtake the Morn —

Nor was it for applause —

That I could ascertain —

But independent Ecstasy

Of Deity and Men —

By Six, the Flood had done —

No Tumult there had been

Of Dressing, or Departure —

And yet the Band was gone —

The Sun engrossed the East —

The Day controlled the World —

The Miracle that introduced

Forgotten, as fulfilled.

The Birds reported from the South —

A News express to Me —

A spicy Charge, My little Posts —

But I am deaf — Today —

The Flowers — appealed — a timid Throng —

I reinforced the Door —

Go blossom for the Bees — I said —

And trouble Me — no More —

The Summer Grace, for Notice strove —

Remote — Her best Array —

The Heart — to stimulate the Eye

Refused too utterly —

At length, a Mourner, like Myself,

She drew away austere —

Her frosts to ponder — then it was

I recollected Her —

She suffered Me, for I had mourned —

I offered Her no word —

My Witness — was the Crape I bore —

Her — Witness — was Her Dead —

Thenceforward — We — together dwelt —

I never questioned Her —

Our Contract

A Wiser Sympathy

The Black Berry — wears a Thorn in his side —

But no Man heard Him cry —

He offers His Berry, just the same

To Partridge — and to Boy —

He sometimes holds upon the Fence —

Or struggles to a Tree —

Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands —

But not for Sympathy —

We — tell a Hurt — to cool it —

This Mourner — to the Sky

A little further reaches — instead —

Brave Black Berry —

The Blood is more showy than the Breath 

But cannot dance as well. 

The Blunder is in estimate.

Eternity is there

We say, as of a Station —

Meanwhile he is so near

He joins me in my Ramble —

Divides abode with me —

No Friend have I that so persists

As this Eternity.

The Bobolink is gone —

The Rowdy of the Meadow —

And no one swaggers now but me —

The Presbyterian Birds

Can now resume the Meeting

He boldly interrupted that overflowing Day

When supplicating mercy

In a portentous way

He swung upon the Decalogue

And shouted let us pray —

The Body grows without —

The more convenient way —

That if the Spirit — like to hide

Its Temple stands, alway,

Ajar — secure — inviting —

It never did betray

The Soul that asked its shelter

In solemn honesty

The Bone that has no Marrow,

What Ultimate for that?

It is not fit for Table

For Beggar or for Cat.

A Bone has obligations —

A Being has the same —

A Marrowless Assembly

Is culpabler than shame.

But how shall finished Creatures

A function fresh obtain?

Old Nicodemus' Phantom

Confronting us again!

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —

For — put them side by side —

The one the other will contain

With ease — and You — beside —

The Brain is deeper than the sea —

For — hold them — Blue to Blue —

The one the other will absorb —

As Sponges — Buckets — do —

The Brain is just the weight of God —

For — Heft them — Pound for Pound —

And they will differ — if they do —

As Syllable from Sound —


The Brain, within its Groove

Runs evenly — and true —

But let a Splinter swerve —

'Twere easier for You —

To put a Current back —

When Floods have slit the Hills —

And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves —

And trodden out the Mills —

The bustle in a house

The morning after death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon earth, —

The sweeping up the heart,

And putting love away

We shall not want to use again

Until eternity.

The Butterfly in honored Dust

Assuredly will lie

But none will pass the Catacomb

So chastened as the Fly —

The butterfly obtains

But little sympathy

Though favorably mentioned

In Entomology —

Because he travels freely

And wears a proper coat

The circumspect are certain

That he is dissolute —

Had he the homely scutcheon

Of modest Industry

'Twere fitter certifying

For Immortality —

The Butterfly upon the Sky,

That doesn't know its Name

And hasn't any tax to pay

And hasn't any Home

Is just as high as you and I,

And higher, I believe,

So soar away and never sigh

And that's the way to grieve —

The Butterfly's Assumption Gown

In Chrysoprase Apartments hung

  Icicles upon the Sun

How Condescending to Descend

And be of butter-cups the friend

  In a New England town!

Above Left: A page of (probably) original handwritten verse by Emily Dickinson. Each poem is signed with Emily's initial. 

Above Right: Appears like an attempt to forge Emily Dickinson's handwriting. Possibly not authentic, for the following reasons:

  1. Line 3 on the left seems vastly inferior to line 3 on the right.
  2. The poem on the right is unsigned. 
  3. The page on the right does not show the usual signs of yellowing with age. 
  4. The page on the left contains not one, but two of Emily Dickinson's verses. 

It is possible that the poem on the right is an earlier version of the poem on the left, although it is hard to imagine Emily Dickinson writing a line of poetry as weak and silly as "This afternoon put on.

image above left:

image above right:

The Butterfly's Numidian Gown

With spots of Burnish roasted on

Is proof against the Sun

Yet prone to shut its spotted Fan

And panting on a Clover lean

As if it were undone —

The Chemical conviction

That Nought be lost

Enable in Disaster

My fractured Trust —

The Faces of the Atoms

If I shall see

How more the Finished Creatures

Departed me!

The Child's faith is new —

Whole — like His Principle —

Wide — like the Sunrise

On fresh Eyes —

Never had a Doubt —

Laughs — at a Scruple —

Believes all sham

But Paradise —

Credits the World —

Deems His Dominion

Broadest of Sovereignties —

And Caesar — mean —

In the Comparison —

Baseless Emperor —

Ruler of Nought —

Yet swaying all —

Grown bye and bye

To hold mistaken

His pretty estimates

Of Prickly Things

He gains the skill

Sorrowful — as certain —

Men — to anticipate

Instead of Kings —

The Clock strikes one that just struck two —

Some schism in the Sum —

A Vagabond for Genesis

Has wrecked the Pendulum —

The Clouds their Backs together laid

The North begun to push

The Forests galloped till they fell

The Lightning played like mice

The Thunder crumbled like a stuff

How good to be in Tombs

Where Nature's Temper cannot reach

Nor vengance ever comes

The Clover's simple Fame

Remembered of the Cow —

Is better than enameled Realms

Of notability.

Renown perceives itself

And that degrades the Flower —

The Daisy that has looked behind

Has compromised its power —