223 Works of Emily Dickinson
No rack can torture me, My soul’s at liberty Behind this mortal bone There knits a bolder one You cannot prick with saw, Nor rend with scymitar. Two bodies therefore be; Bind one, and one will flee. The eagle of his nest No easier divest And gain the sky, Than mayest thou, Except thyself may […]
If I should n’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!
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 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 […]
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 […]
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!
‘T was just this time last year I died. I know I heard the corn, When I was carried by the farms, — It had the tassels on. I thought how yellow it would look When Richard went to mill; And then I wanted to get out, But something held my will. I thought just […]
A long, long sleep, a famous sleep That makes no show for dawn By stretch of limb or stir of lid, — An independent one. Was ever idleness like this? Within a hut of stone To bask the centuries away Nor once look up for noon?
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 silent west Many sails at rest, Their anchors fast; Thither I pilot thee, — Land, ho! Eternity! Ashore at last!
We never know we go, — when we are going We jest and shut the door; Fate following behind us bolts it, And we accost no more.
Water is taught by thirst; Land, by the oceans passed; Transport, by throe; Peace, by its battles told; Love, by memorial mould; Birds, by the snow.
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 in my dream; It sickened fresh upon my sight With every morning’s beam. I thought that storm was brief, — The maddest, quickest by; But […]
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, […]
We thirst at first, — ‘t is Nature’s act; And later, when we die, A little water supplicate Of fingers going by. It intimates the finer want, Whose adequate supply Is that great water in the west Termed immortality.
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.
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.
All overgrown by cunning moss, All interspersed with weed, The little cage of ‘Currer Bell,’ In quiet Haworth laid. This bird, observing others, When frosts too sharp became, Retire to other latitudes, Quietly did the same, But differed in returning; Since Yorkshire hills are green, Yet not in all the nests I meet Can nightingale […]
If tolling bell I ask the cause. ‘A soul has gone to God,’ I’m answered in a lonesome tone; Is heaven then so sad? That bells should joyful ring to tell A soul had gone to heaven, Would seem to me the proper way A good news should be given.
I wonder if the sepulchre Is not a lonesome way, When men and boys, and larks and June Go down the fields to hay!
I heard a fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form Was like the stillness in the air Between the heaves of storm. The eyes beside had wrung them dry, And breaths were gathering sure For that last onset, when the king Be witnessed in his power. I willed my keepsakes, signed away […]
Before the ice is in the pools, Before the skaters go, Or any cheek 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; […]
If I may have it when it’s dead I will contented be; If just as soon as breath is out It shall belong to me, Until they lock it in the grave, ‘T is bliss I cannot weigh, For though they lock thee in the grave, Myself can hold the key. Think of it, lover! […]
There’s been a death in the opposite house As lately as to-day. I know it by the numb look Such houses have alway. The neighbors rustle in and out, The doctor drives away. A window opens like a pod, Abrupt, mechanically; Somebody flings a mattress out, — The children hurry by; They wonder if It […]
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. But angels say, on yesterday, Just as the dawn was red, […]
Superfluous were the sun When excellence is dead; He were superfluous every day, For every day is 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.
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.
There’s something quieter than sleep Within this inner room! It wears a sprig upon its breast, And will not tell its name. Some touch it and some kiss it, Some chafe its idle hand; It has a simple gravity I do not understand! While simple-hearted neighbors Chat of the ‘early dead,’ We, prone to periphrasis, […]
The dying need but little, dear, — A glass of water’s all, A flower’s unobtrusive face To punctuate the wall, A fan, perhaps, a friend’s regret, And certainly that one No color in the rainbow Perceives when you are gone.
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.
Three weeks passed since I had seen her, — Some disease had vexed; ‘T was with text and village singing I beheld her next, And a company — our pleasure To discourse alone; Gracious now to me as any, Gracious unto none. Borne, without dissent of either, To the parish night; Of the separated people […]
The soul should always stand ajar, That if the heaven inquire, He will not be obliged to wait, Or shy of troubling her. Depart, before the host has slid The bolt upon the door, To seek for the accomplished guest, — Her visitor no more.
I breathed enough to learn 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 pantomime himself. How cool the bellows feels!
Sweet hours have perished here; This is a mighty room; Within its precincts hopes have played, — Now shadows in the tomb.
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.
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.
Me! Come! My dazzled face In such a shining place! Me! Hear! My foreign ear The sounds of welcome near! The saints shall meet Our bashful feet. My holiday shall be That they remember me; My paradise, the fame That they pronounce my name.
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 […]
Bereaved of all, I went abroad, No less bereaved to be 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 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 sang To keep the dark away.
I meant to find her when I came; Death had the same design; But the success was his, it seems, And the discomfit 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 hearkened him. To wander now is my […]
‘T is whiter than an Indian pipe, ‘T is dimmer than a lace; No stature has it, like a fog, When you approach the place. Not any voice denotes it here, Or intimates it there; A spirit, how doth it accost? What customs hath the air? This limitless hyperbole Each one of us shall be; […]
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 to-day As children to the rainbow’s scarf, Or sunset’s yellow play To eyelids in the sepulchre. How still the dancer lies, While color’s revelations […]
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 By summer’s gracious mien.
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.
She laid her docile crescent down, And this mechanic 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.
Where every bird is bold to go, And bees abashless play, The foreigner before he knocks Must thrust the tears away.
Immortal is an ample word When what we need is by, But when it leaves us for a time, ‘T is a necessity. Of heaven above the firmest proof We fundamental know, Except for its marauding hand, It had been heaven below.
This was in the white of the year, That was in the green, Drifts were as difficult then to think As daisies now to be seen. Looking back is best that is left, Or if it be before, Retrospection is prospect’s half, Sometimes almost more.
The grave my little cottage is, Where, keeping house for thee, I make my parlor orderly, And lay the marble tea, For two divided, briefly, A cycle, it may be, Till everlasting life unite In strong society.
That such have died enables us The tranquiller to die; That such have lived, certificate For immortality.
The distance that the dead have gone Does not at first appear; Their coming back seems possible For many an ardent year. And then, that we have followed them We more than half suspect, So intimate have we become With their dear retrospect.
They won’t frown always, — some sweet day When I forget to tease, They’ll recollect how cold I looked, And how I just said ‘please.’ Then they will hasten to the door To call the little child, Who cannot thank them, for the ice That on her lisping piled.
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 knife, Baffle, if it cost you Everything in life. Then, if it have burrowed Out of reach of skill, Ring the tree and leave it, — ‘T is the vermin’s […]
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, […]
Each that we lose takes part of us; A crescent still abides, Which like the moon, some turbid night, Is summoned by the tides.
‘T is sunrise, little maid, hast thou No station in the day? ‘T was not thy wont to hinder so, — Retrieve thine industry. ‘T is noon, my little maid, alas! And art thou sleeping yet? The lily waiting to be wed, The bee, dost thou forget? My little maid, ‘t is night; alas, That […]
We learn in the retreating How vast an one Was recently among us. A perished sun Endears in the departure How doubly more Than all the golden presence It was before!
This world is not conclusion; A sequel stands beyond, Invisible, as music, But positive, as sound. It beckons and it baffles; Philosophies don’t know, And through a riddle, at the last, Sagacity must go. To guess it puzzles scholars; To gain it, men have shown Contempt of generations, And crucifixion known.
How the old mountains drip with sunset, And the brake of dun! How the hemlocks are tipped in tinsel 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, […]
We cover thee, sweet face. Not that we tire of thee, But that thyself fatigue of us; Remember, as thou flee, We follow thee until Thou notice us no more, And then, reluctant, turn away To con thee o’er and o’er, And blame the scanty love We were content to show, Augmented, sweet, a hundred […]
They say that ‘time assuages,’ — Time never did assuage; An actual suffering strengthens, As sinews do, with age. Time is a test of trouble, But not a remedy. If such it prove, it prove too There was no malady.
The stimulus, beyond the grave His countenance to see, Supports me like imperial drams Afforded royally.
That is solemn we have ended, — Be it but a play, Or a glee among the garrets, Or a holiday, Or a leaving home; or later, Parting with a world We have understood, for better Still it be unfurled.
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 seal Conquers mortality.
Sweet is the swamp with its secrets, Until we meet a snake; ‘T is 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. br />
The cricket sang, And set the sun, And workmen finished, one by one, Their seam the day upon. The low grass loaded with the dew, The twilight stood as strangers do With hat in hand, polite and new, To stay as if, or go. A vastness, as a neighbor, came, — A wisdom without face […]
You’ve seen balloons set, haven’t you? So stately they ascend It is as swans discarded you For duties diamond. Their liquid feet go softly out Upon a sea of blond; They spurn the air as ‘t were too mean For creatures so renowned. Their ribbons just beyond the eye, They struggle some for breath, And […]
Could I but ride indefinite, As doth the meadow-bee, And visit only where I liked, And no man 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 me if I do, Till I should jump […]
A sloop of amber slips away Upon an ether sea, And wrecks in peace a purple tar, The son of ecstasy.
Drab habitation of whom? Tabernacle or tomb, Or dome of worm, Or porch of gnome, Or some elf’s catacomb?
Of bronze and blaze The north, to-night! So adequate its forms, So preconcerted with itself, So distant to alarms, — An unconcern so sovereign To universe, or me, It paints my simple spirit With tints of majesty, Till I take vaster attitudes, And strut upon my stem, Disdaining men and oxygen, For arrogance of them. […]
A sepal, petal, and a thorn Upon a common summer’s morn, A flash of dew, a bee or two, A breeze A caper in the trees, — And I’m a rose!
The spider as an artist Has never been employed Though his surpassing merit Is freely certified By every broom and Bridget Throughout a Christian land. Neglected son of genius, I take thee by the hand.
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, […]
It’s like the light, — A fashionless delight It’s like the bee, — A dateless melody. It’s like the woods, Private like breeze, Phraseless, yet it stirs The proudest trees. It’s like the morning, — Best when it’s done, — The everlasting clocks Chime noon.
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, — One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do If bees are few.
What mystery pervades a well! The water lives so far, Like neighbor from another world Residing in a jar. The grass does not appear afraid; I often wonder he Can stand so close and look so bold At what is dread to me. Related somehow they may be, — The sedge stands next the sea, […]
His bill an auger is, His head, a cap and frill. He laboreth at every tree, — A worm his utmost goal.
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, But not again that dew was seen By physiognomy. Whether by day abducted, Or emptied by the sun Into the sea, in passing, Eternally unknown.
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 hills That science cannot overtake, But human nature feels. It waits upon the lawn; It shows the furthest tree Upon the furthest slope we know; It almost speaks to me. […]
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!
Dear March, come in! How glad I am! I looked for you before. Put down your hat — You must have walked — How out of breath you are! Dear March, how are you? And the rest? Did you leave Nature well? Oh, March, come right upstairs with me, I have so much to tell! […]
A lady red upon 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, […]
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, […]
Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door; Or has it feathers like a bird, Or billows like a shore?
To my quick ear the leaves conferred; The bushes they were bells; I could not find a privacy From Nature’s sentinels. In cave if I presumed to hide, The walls began to tell; Creation seemed a mighty crack To make me visible.
Morning is the place for dew, Corn is made at noon, After dinner light for flowers, Dukes for setting sun!
We outgrow love like other things And put it in the drawer, Till it an antique fashion shows Like costumes grandsires wore.
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!
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 of bird By boy descried, To sing unto the stone Of which it died.
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 to-day To witness to the […]
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 […]
A solemn thing it was, I said, A woman white to be, And wear, if God should count me fit, Her hallowed mystery. A timid thing to drop a life Into the purple well, Too plummetless that it come back Eternity until.
I envy seas whereon he rides, I envy spokes of wheels Of chariots that him convey, I envy speechless 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 […]
The springtime’s pallid landscape Will glow like bright bouquet, Though drifted deep in parian The village lies to-day. The lilacs, bending many a year, With purple load will hang; The bees will not forget the tune Their old forefathers sang. The rose will redden in the bog, The aster on the hill Her everlasting fashion […]
Split the lark and you’ll find the music, Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled, Scantily 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?
Poor little heart! Did they forget thee? Then dinna care! Then dinna care! Proud little heart! Did they forsake thee? Be debonair! Be debonair! Frail little heart! I would not break thee: Could’st credit me? Could’st credit me? Gay little heart! Like morning glory Thou’ll wilted be; thou’ll wilted be!
To lose thee, sweeter than to gain All other hearts I knew. ‘T is true the drought is destitute, But then I had the dew! The Caspian has its realms of sand, Its other realm of sea; Without the sterile perquisite No Caspian could be. p>
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.
There is a word Which bears a sword Can pierce an armed man. It hurls its barbed syllables,– At once is mute again. But where it fell The saved will tell On patriotic day, Some epauletted brother Gave his breath away. Wherever runs the breathless sun, Wherever roams the day, There is its noiseless onset, […]
Heart, we will forget him! You and I, to-night! You may forget the warmth he gave, I will forget the light. When you have done, pray tell me, That I my thoughts may dim; Haste! lest while you’re lagging, I may remember him!
He fumbles at your spirit As players at the keys Before they drop full music on; He stuns you by degrees, Prepares your brittle substance 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 […]
Father, I bring thee not myself, — That were the little load; I bring thee the imperial heart I had not strength to hold. The heart I cherished in my own Till mine too heavy grew, Yet strangest, heavier since it went, Is it too large for you?
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 fair. But bliss is sold just once; The patent lost None buy it any more.
I stepped from plank to plank So slow and cautiously; 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.
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.
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 […]
My worthiness is all my doubt, His merit all my fear, Contrasting which, my qualities Do lowlier appear; Lest I should insufficient prove For his beloved need, The chiefest apprehension Within my loving creed. So I, the undivine abode Of his elect content, Conform my soul as ‘t were a church Unto her sacrament.
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.
When roses cease to bloom, dear, And violets are done, When bumble-bees in solemn flight Have passed beyond the sun, The hand that paused to gather Upon this summer’s day Will idle lie, in Auburn, — Then take my flower, pray!
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 […]
To help our bleaker parts Salubrious hours are given, Which if they do not fit for earth Drill silently for heaven.
Who never wanted, — maddest joy Remains to him unknown: The banquet of abstemiousness Surpasses that of wine. Within its hope, though yet ungrasped Desire’s perfect goal, No nearer, lest reality Should disenthrall thy soul.
What soft, cherubic creatures These gentlewomen are! One would as soon assault a plush Or violate a star. Such dimity convictions, A horror so refined Of freckled human nature, Of Deity ashamed, — It’s such a common glory, A fisherman’s degree! Redemption, brittle lady, Be so, ashamed of thee.
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!
It might be easier To fail with land in sight, Than gain my blue peninsula To perish of delight.
To hang our head ostensibly, And subsequent to find That such was not the posture Of our immortal mind, Affords the sly presumption That, in so dense a fuzz, You, too, take cobweb attitudes Upon a plane of gauze!
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!
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 include 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, […]
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.
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 […]
I measure every grief I meet With analytic 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 […]
To lose one’s faith surpasses The loss of an estate, Because estates can be Replenished, — faith cannot. Inherited with life, Belief but once can be; Annihilate a single clause, And Being’s beggary.
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 fractured, less Than I reviled myself For entertaining plated wares Upon my silver shelf.
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 had a daily bliss I half indifferent viewed, Till sudden I perceived it stir, — It grew as I pursued, Till when, around a crag, It wasted from my sight, Enlarged beyond my utmost scope, I learned its sweetness right.
Life, and Death, and Giants Such as these, are still. Minor apparatus, hopper of the mill, Beetle at the candle, Or a fife’s small fame, Maintain by accident That they proclaim.
Upon the gallows hung a wretch, Too sullied for the hell To which the law entitled him. As nature’s curtain fell The one who bore him tottered in, For this was woman’s son. ”T was all I had,’ she stricken gasped; Oh, what a livid boon!
I felt a clearing 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 reach Like balls upon a floor.
If recollecting were forgetting, Then I remember not; And if forgetting, recollecting, How near I had forgot! And if to miss were merry, And if to mourn were gay, How very blithe the fingers That gathered these to-day!
The reticent volcano keeps His never slumbering plan; Confided are his projects pink To no precarious man. If nature will not tell the tale Jehovah told to her, Can human nature not survive Without a listener? Admonished by her buckled lips Let every babbler be. The only secret people keep Is Immortality.
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 sudden shut, and I, I, lost, was passing by, — Lost doubly, but by contrast most, Enlightening misery.
On the bleakness of my lot Bloom I strove to raise. Late, my acre of a rock Yielded grape and maize. Soil of flint if steadfast tilled Will reward the hand; Seed of palm by Lybian sun Fructified in sand.
The farthest thunder that I heard Was nearer than the sky, And rumbles still, though torrid noons Have lain their missiles by. The lightning that preceded it Struck no one but myself, But I would not exchange the bolt For all the rest of life. Indebtedness to oxygen The chemist may repay, But not the […]
Ashes denote that fire was; Respect 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.
Are friends delight or pain? Could bounty but remain Riches were good. But if they only stay Bolder to fly away, Riches are sad.
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.
While I was fearing it, it came, But came with less of fear, Because that fearing it so long Had almost made it dear. There is a fitting a dismay, A fitting a despair. ‘Tis harder knowing it is due, Than knowing it is here. The trying on the utmost, The morning it is new, […]
We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies. The heroism we recite Would be a daily thing, Did not ourselves the cubits warp For fear to be a king.
I had a guinea golden; I lost it in the sand, And though 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 […]
Who has not found the heaven below Will fail of it above. God’s residence is next to mine, His furniture is love.
There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry. This traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of toll; How frugal is the chariot That bears a human soul!
Few get enough, — enough is one; To that ethereal throng Have not each one of us the right To stealthily belong?
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 could lie in wait For such a foe as this!
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 ground Behind the hill, the house behind, — There Paradise is found! p>
Forbidden fruit a flavor has That lawful orchards mocks; How luscious lies the pea within The pod that Duty locks!
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!
To venerate the simple days Which lead the seasons by, Needs but to remember That from you or me They may take the trifle Termed mortality! To invest existence with a stately air, Needs but to remember That the acorn there Is the egg of forests For the upper air!
A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.
How still the bells in steeples stand, Till, swollen with the sky, They leap upon their silver feet In frantic melody!
Drowning is not so pitiful As the attempt to rise. Three times, ‘t is 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, […]
Could mortal lip divine The undeveloped freight Of a delivered syllable, ‘T would crumble with the weight.
If the foolish call them ‘flowers,’ Need the wiser tell? If the savans ‘classify’ them, It is just as well! Those who read the Revelations Must not criticise 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 […]
‘T is little I could care for pearls Who own the ample sea; Or brooches, when the Emperor With rubies pelteth me; Or gold, who am the Prince of Mines; Or diamonds, when I see A diadem to fit a dome Continual crowning me.
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 amounts remain.
Superiority to fate Is difficult to learn. ‘T is not conferred by any, But possible to earn A pittance at a time, Until, to her surprise, The soul with strict economy Subsists till Paradise.
The daisy follows soft the sun,And when his golden walk is done,Sits shyly at his feet.He, waking, finds the flower near.“Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?”“Because, sir, love is sweet!” We are the flower, Thou the sun!Forgive us, if as days decline,We nearer steal to Thee, —Enamoured of the parting west,The peace, the flight, the amethyst,Night’s […]
Two swimmers wrestled on the sparUntil the morning sun,When one turned smiling to the land.O God, the other one! The stray ships passing spied a faceUpon the waters borne,With eyes in death still begging raised,And hands beseeching thrown.
Because I could not stop for Death,He kindly stopped for me;The carriage held but just ourselvesAnd Immortality. We slowly drove, he knew no haste,And I had put awayMy labor, and my leisure too,For his civility. We passed the school where children played,Their lessons scarcely done;We passed the fields of gazing grain,We passed the setting sun. […]
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 areBetween our feet and day!
She went as quiet as the dewFrom a familiar flower.Not like the dew did she returnAt the accustomed hour! She dropt as softly as a starFrom out my summer’s eve;Less skilful than LeverrierIt’s sorer to believe!
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 dewThat on the acre lies. The smallest housewife in the grass,Yet take her from the lawn,And somebody has lost the faceThat made existence home!
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 faceOf our old neighbor, God!
Death is a dialogue betweenThe 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.
When I was small, a woman died.To-day her only boyWent up from the Potomac,His face all victory, To look at her; how slowlyThe seasons must have turnedTill bullets clipt an angle,And he passed quickly round! If pride shall be in ParadiseI never can decide;Of their imperial conduct,No person testified. But proud in apparition,That woman and […]
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?Not death; for who is he?The porter of my father’s lodgeAs much abasheth me. Of life? ‘T were odd I fear a thingThat comprehendeth meIn one or more existencesAt Deity’s decree. Of resurrection? Is the eastAfraid to trust the mornWith her fastidious forehead?As soon impeach my crown!
The sun kept setting, setting still;No hue of afternoonUpon the village I perceived, —From house to house ‘t was noon. The dusk kept dropping, dropping still;No dew upon the grass,But only on my forehead stopped,And wandered in my face. My feet kept drowsing, drowsing still,My fingers were awake;Yet why so little sound myselfUnto my seeming […]
Come slowly, Eden!Lips unused to thee,Bashful, sip thy jasmines,As the fainting bee, Reaching late his flower,Round her chamber hums,Counts his nectars — enters,And is lost in balms!
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 looksBehind this soft eclipse!I think that earth seems soTo those in heaven now. This being comfort, thenThat other kind was pain;But why compare?I’m wife! stop there!
Not in this world to see his faceSounds long, until I read the placeWhere this is said to beBut just the primer to a lifeUnopened, rare, upon the shelf,Clasped yet to him and me. And yet, my primer suits me soI would not choose a book to knowThan that, be sweeter wise;Might some one else […]
The bustle in a houseThe morning after deathIs solemnest of industriesEnacted upon earth, — The sweeping up the heart,And putting love awayWe shall not want to use againUntil eternity.
I reason, earth is short,And anguish absolute,And many hurt;But what of that? I reason, we could die:The best vitalityCannot excel decay;But what of that? I reason that in heavenSomehow, it will be even,Some new equation given;But what of that?
Mine by the right of the white election!Mine by the royal seal!Mine by the sign in the scarlet prisonBars cannot conceal! Mine, here in vision and in veto!Mine, by the grave’s repealTitled, confirmed, — delirious charter!Mine, while the ages steal!
You left me, sweet, two legacies, —A legacy of loveA Heavenly Father would content,Had He the offer of; You left me boundaries of painCapacious as the sea,Between eternity and time,Your consciousness and me.
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 seaTo look upon her like, alive,But turning back ‘t was slow.
Alter? When the hills do.Falter? When the sunQuestion if his gloryBe the perfect one. Surfeit? When the daffodilDoth of the dew:Even as herself, O friend!I will of you!
I’ve seen a dying eyeRun round and round a roomIn 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.
The clouds their backs together laid,The north begun to push,The forests galloped till they fell,The lightning skipped like mice;The thunder crumbled like a stuff —How good to be safe in tombs,Where nature’s temper cannot reach,Nor vengeance ever comes!
I never saw a moor,I never saw the sea;Yet know I how the heather looks,And what a wave must be. I never spoke with God,Nor visited in heaven;Yet certain am I of the spotAs if the chart were given.
God permits industrious angelsAfternoons to play.I met one, — forgot my school-mates,All, for him, straightway. God calls home the angels promptlyAt the setting sun;I missed mine. How dreary marbles,After playing Crown!
To know just how he suffered would be dear;To know if any human eyes were nearTo whom he could intrust his wavering gaze,Until it settled firm on Paradise. To know if he was patient, part content,Was dying as he thought, or different;Was it a pleasant day to die,And did the sunshine face his way? What […]
The last night that she lived,It was a common night,Except the dying; this to usMade nature different. We noticed smallest things, —Things overlooked before,By this great light upon our mindsItalicized, as ‘t were. That others could existWhile she must finish quite,A jealousy for her aroseSo nearly infinite. We waited while she passed;It was a narrow […]
Exultation is the goingOf an inland soul to sea, —Past the houses, past the headlands,Into deep eternity! Bred as we, among the mountains,Can the sailor understandThe divine intoxicationOf the first league out from land?
Look back on time with kindly eyes,He doubtless did his best;How softly sinks his trembling sunIn human nature’s west!
A train went through a burial gate,A bird broke forth and sang,And trilled, and quivered, and shook his throatTill all the churchyard rang; And then adjusted his little notes,And bowed and sang again.Doubtless, he thought it meet of himTo say good-by to men.
I died for beauty, but was scarceAdjusted in the tomb,When one who died for truth was lainIn 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 […]
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 can, the listless hair;Handle the adamantine fingersNever a thimble more shall wear. Buzz the dull flies on the chamber window;Brave shines […]
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 feignThe beads upon the foreheadBy homely anguish strung.
That short, potential stirThat each can make but once,That bustle so illustrious‘T is almost consequence, Is the eclat of death.Oh, thou unknown renownThat not a beggar would accept,Had he the power to spurn!
There’s a certain slant of light,On winter afternoons,That oppresses, like the weightOf cathedral tunes. Heavenly hurt it gives us;We can find no scar,But internal differenceWhere the meanings are. None may teach it anything,‘ T is the seal, despair, —An imperial afflictionSent us of the air. When it comes, the landscape listens,Shadows hold their breath;When it […]
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 partingTheir hundred hats they raise! How pomp surpassing ermine,When simple you and IPresent our meek […]
Delayed till she had ceased to know,Delayed till in its vest of snowHer 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 gleeHave climbed the distant hill;Had not the bliss so slow a pace, […]
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, disperseAnd leave the soul alone.
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 of sunshine;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 […]
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 eyesOn whom the summer shone! The quiet nonchalance of deathNo daybreak can bestir;The slow archangel’s syllablesMust awaken her.
My cocoon tightens, colors tease,I’m feeling for the air;A dim capacity for wingsDegrades the dress I wear. A power of butterfly must beThe aptitude to fly,Meadows of majesty concedesAnd easy sweeps of sky. So I must baffle at the hintAnd cipher at the sign,And make much blunder, if at lastI take the clew divine.
Of all the sounds despatched abroad,There’s not a charge to meLike that old measure in the boughs,That phraseless melody The wind does, working like a handWhose fingers brush the sky,Then quiver down, with tufts of tunePermitted gods and me. When winds go round and round in bands,And thrum upon the door,And birds take places overhead,To […]
Apparently with no surpriseTo any happy flower,The frost beheads it at its playIn accidental power.The blond assassin passes on,The sun proceeds unmovedTo measure off another dayFor an approving God.
‘T WAS later when the summer wentThan when the cricket came,And yet we knew that gentle clockMeant nought but going home. ‘T was sooner when the cricket wentThan when the winter came,Yet that pathetic pendulumKeeps esoteric time.
The sky is low, the clouds are mean,A travelling flake of snowAcross a barn or through a rutDebates if it will go. A narrow wind complains all dayHow some one treated him;Nature, like us, is sometimes caughtWithout her diadem.
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 cribsWill peep, and prance again.
I think the hemlock likes to standUpon a marge of snow;It suits his own austerity,And satisfies an awe That men must slake in wilderness,Or 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 windsIs sweetest nutriment to him,His best Norwegian wines. To satin […]
Angels in the early morningMay be seen the dews among,Stooping, plucking, smiling, flying:Do the buds to them belong? Angels when the sun is hottestMay be seen the sands among,Stooping, plucking, sighing, flying;Parched the flowers they bear along.
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 turnedAnd 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!
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 brag all the day;No blackbird bates his jargoningFor passing Calvary. Auto-da-fe and judgmentAre nothing to the bee;His separation from his roseTo him seems misery.
The mountain sat upon the plainIn his eternal chair,His observation omnifold,His inquest everywhere. The seasons prayed around his knees,Like children round a sire:Grandfather of the days is he,Of dawn the ancestor.
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,‘T is that I cannot say;I only sigh, — no vehicleBears me along that way.
The butterfiy’s assumption-gown,In chrysoprase apartments hung,This afternoon put on. How condescending to descend,And be of buttercups the friendIn a New England town!
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 necklaces could be! The dust replaced in hoisted roads,The birds jocoser sung;The sunshine threw his hat away,The orchards […]
A something in a summer’s day,As sIow her flambeaux burn away,Which solemnizes me. A something in a summer’s noon, —An azure depth, a wordless tune,Transcending ecstasy. And still within a summer’s nightA something so transporting bright,I clap my hands to see; Then veil my too inspecting face,Lest such a subtle, shimmering graceFlutter too far for […]
This is the land the sunset washes,These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;Where it rose, or whither it rushes,These are the western mystery! Night after night her purple trafficStrews the landing with opal bales;Merchantmen poise upon horizons,Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.
There is a flower that bees prefer,And butterflies desire;To gain the purple democratThe humming-birds aspire. And whatsoever insect pass,A honey bears awayProportioned to his several dearthAnd her capacity. Her face is rounder than the moon,And ruddier than the gownOf orchis in the pasture,Or rhododendron worn. She doth not wait for June;Before the world is greenHer […]
Like trains of cars on tracks of plushI hear the level bee:A jar across the flowers goes,Their velvet masonry Withstands until the sweet assaultTheir chivalry consumes,While he, victorious, tilts awayTo vanquish other blooms. His feet are shod with gauze,His helmet is of gold;His breast, a single onyxWith chrysoprase, inlaid. His labor is a chant,His idleness […]
Perhaps you’d like to buy a flower?But I could never sell.If you would like to borrowUntil the daffodil Unties her yellow bonnetBeneath the village door,Until the bees, from clover rowsTheir hock and sherry draw, Why, I will lend until just then,But not an hour more!
Presentiment is that long shadow on the lawnIndicative that suns go down;The notice to the startled grassThat darkness is about to pass.
The pedigree of honeyDoes not concern the bee;A clover, any time, to himIs aristocracy.
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 […]
The bee is not afraid of me,I know the butterfly;The pretty people in the woodsReceive me cordially. The brooks laugh louder when I come,The breezes madder play.Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?Wherefore, O summer’s day?
Some rainbow coming from the fair!Some vision of the world CashmereI confidently see!Or else a peacock’s purple train,Feather by feather, on the plainFritters itself away! The dreamy butterflies bestir,Lethargic pools resume the whirOf last year’s sundered tune.From some old fortress on the sunBaronial bees march, one by one,In murmuring platoon! The robins stand as thick […]
The grass so little has to do, —A sphere of simple green,With only butterflies to brood,And bees to entertain, And stir all day to pretty tunesThe breezes fetch along,And hold the sunshine in its lapAnd bow to everything; And thread the dews all night, like pearls,And make itself so fine, —A duchess were too commonFor […]
New feet within my garden go,New fingers stir the sod;A troubadour upon the elmBetrays the solitude. New children play upon the green,New weary sleep below;And still the pensive spring returns,And still the punctual snow!
Pink, small, and punctual,Aromatic, low,Covert in April,Candid in May, Dear to the moss,Known by the knoll,Next to the robinIn every human soul. Bold little beauty,Bedecked with thee,Nature forswearsAntiquity.