<<< overview  undated poems >>>

B  I  B  L  I  O  T  H  E  C  A    A  U  G  U  S  T  A  N  A




Emily Dickinson
1830 - 1886



P o e m s  1850-1886


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!


There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!


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!


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
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown -
Learneth beyond the sea
Melody new for me
And will return.

Fast is a safer hand
Held in a truer Land
Are mine -
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 a distant tree
Bright melody for me

(c. 1858)

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!

(c. 1858)

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!

(c. 1858)

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!

(c. 1858)

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?

(c. 1858)

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?


Could live - did live -
Could die - did die -
Could smile upon the whole
T[h]rough 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!

(c. 1858)

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!

(c. 1859)

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'ev succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated - dying -
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

(c. 1859)

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 night
A something so transporting bright,
I clap my hands to see;

Then veil my too inspecting face,
Lest 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.

(c. 1859)

These are the days when Birds come back -
A very few - a Bird or two -
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies resume
The old - old sophistries of June -
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee -
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear -
And softly thro' the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze -
Permit a child to join.

(c. 1859)

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!

(c. 1860)

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!

(c. 1860)

If I shouldn't be alive
When the Robins come,
Give the one in Red Cravat,
A Memorial crumb.

If I couldn't thank you,
Being fast asleep,
You will know I'm trying
Why my Granite lip!

(c. 1860)

Come slowly - Eden!
Lips unused to Thee -
Bashful - sip thy Jessamines -
As the fainting Bee -

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums -
Counts his nectars -
Enters - and is lost in Balms.

(c. 1860)

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 - thro 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 -


Safe in their Alabaster Chambers --
Untouched my 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!


Safe in their Alabaster Chambers -
Untouched by Morning -
And untouched by Noon -
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection -
Rafter of Satin - and Roof of Stone!

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 Disc of Snow -

(c. 1861/66)

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

(c. 1861)

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 -


(c. 1861)

Wild Nights - Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the Winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor - Tonight -
In Thee!

(c. 1861)

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 -

(c. 1861)

You see I cannot see - your lifetime -
I must guess -
How many times it ache for me - today - Confess -
How many times for my far sake
The brave eyes film -
But I guess guessing hurts -
Mine - got so dim!

Too vague - the face -
My own - so patient - covers -
Too far - the strength -
My timidness enfolds -
Haunting the Heart -
Like her translated faces -
Teasing the want -
It - only - can suffice!

(c. 1861)

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 -

(c. 1861)

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!

(c. 1861)

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"!

(c. 1861)

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, Saxton!
Hush - Only to me!

(c. 1861)

The Drop, that wrestles in the Sea -
Forgets her own locality -
As I - toward Thee -

She knows herself an incense small -
Yet small - she sighs - if All - is All -
How larger - be?

The Ocean - smiles - at her Conceit -
But she, forgetting Amphitrite -
Pleads - "Me"?

(c. 1861)

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!

(c. 1861)

Of Bronze - and Blaze -
The North - Tonight -
So adequate - it forms -
So preconcerted with itself -
So distant - to alarms -
And 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 Completeless Show
Will entertain the Centuries
When I, am long ago,
An Island in dishonored Grass -
Whom none but Beetles - know.

(c. 1861)

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 -

(c. 1861)

The nearest Dream recedes - unrealized -
The Heaven we chase,
Like the June Bee - before the School Boy,
Invites the Race -
Stoops - to an easy Clover -
Dips - evades - teases - deploys -
Then - to the Royal Clouds
Lifts his light Pinnace -
Heedless of the Boy -
Staring - bewildered - at the mocking sky -

Homesick for steadfast Honey -
Ah, the Bee flies not
That brews that rare variety!

(c. 1862)

The Soul selects her own Society -
Then - shuts the Door -
To her divine Majority -
Present no more -

Unmoved - she notes the Chariots - pausing -
At her low Gate -
Unmoved - an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat -

I've known her - from an ample nation -
Choose One -
Then - close the Valves of her attention -
Like Stone -

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

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, plashless as they swim.

(c. 1862)

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 Tunes
The Breezes fetch along --
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything --

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls --
And make itself so fine
A Duchess were too common
For such a noticing --

And even when it dies -- to pass
In Odors so divine --
Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep --
Or Spikenards, perishing --

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell --
And dream the Days away,
The Grass so little has to do
I wish I were a Hay --


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 -


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!

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

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 --

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

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!


This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me -
The simple News that Nature told -
With tender Majesty

Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see -
For love of Her - Sweet - countrymen -
Judge tenderly - of Me

(c. 1862)

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"?


He showed me Heights I never saw -
"Would'st Climb" - He said?
I said, "Not so" -
"With me" - He said -" With me?"

He showed me secrets - Morning's nest -
The Rope the Nights were put across -
"And now, Would'st have me for a Guest?"
I could not find my Yes -

And then, He brake His life -and lo,
[A Light, for me, did solemn glow,
The larger, as my face withdrew -
And could I, further, "No"?]

[The text of the three final lines is a reconstruction]

(c. 1862)

This was a Poet - It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings -
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door -
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it - before -

Of Pictures, the Discloser -
The Poet - it is He -
Entitles Us - by Contrast -
To ceaseless Poverty -

Of portion - so unconscious -
The Robbing - could not harm -
Himself - to Him - a Fortune -
Exterior - to Time -

(c. 1862)

The Outer - from the Inner
Derives its Magnitude -
'Tis Duke, or Dwarf, according
As is the Central Mood -

The fine - unvarying Axis
That regulates the Wheel -
Though Spokes - spin - more conspicuous
And fling a dust - the while.

The Inner - paints the Outer -
The Brush without the Hand -
Its Picture publishes - precise -
As is the inner Brand -

On fine - Arterial Canvas -
A Cheek - perchance a Brow -
The Star's whole Secret - in the Lake -
Eyes were not meant to know.

(c. 1862)

Why make it doubt - it hurts it so -
So sick - to guess -
So strong - to know -
So brave - upon its little Bed
To tell the very last They said
Unto Itself - and smile - And shake -
For that dear - distant - dangerous - Sake -
But - the Instead - the Pinching fear
That Something - it did do - or dare -
Offend the Vision - and it flee -
And They no more remember me -
Nor ever turn to tell me why -
Oh, Master, This is Misery -

(c. 1862)

The Red - Blaze - is the Morning -
The Violet - is Noon -
The Yellow - Day - is falling -
And after that - is none -

But Miles of Sparks - at Evening -
Reveal the Width that burned -
The Territory Argent - that
Never yet - consumed -

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond -
Invisible, as Music -
But positive, as Sound -
It beckons, and it baffles -
Philosophy - don't know -
And through a Riddle, at the last -
Sagacity, must go -
To guess it, puzzles scholars -
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown -
Faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
Blushes, if any see -
Plucks at a twig of Evidence -
And asks a Vane, the way -
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit -
Strong Hallelujahs roll -
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul -

(c. 1862)

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!

(c. 1862)

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 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 aRoyal Gown -
My fee, too, that had wandered so -
My Gipsy face - transfigured now -
To tenderer Renown.

(c. 1862)

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,
For fear the numbers fuse -

If only Centuries, delayed,
I'd count them on my Hand,
Subtracting, till my fingers dropped
Into Van Dieman's Land.

If certain, when this life was out -
That yours and mine, should be
I'd toss it yonder, like a Rind,
And take Eternity -

But, now, uncertain of the length
Of this, that is between,
It goads me, like the Goblin Bee -
That will not state - its sting.

(c. 1862)

To hear an Oriole sing
May be a common thing -
Or only a divine.

It is not of the Bird
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto Crowd -

The Fashion of the Ear
Attireth that it hear
In Dun, or fair -

So whether it be Rune,
Or whether it be none
Is of within.

The "Tune is in the Tree -"
The Skeptic - showeth me -
"No Sir!In Thee!"

(c. 1862)

We learned the Whole of Love -
The Alphabet - the Words -
A Chapter - then the mighty Book -
Then - Revelation closed -

But in Each Other's eyes
An Ignorance beheld -
Diviner than the Childhood's -
And each to each, a Child -

Attempted to expound
What Neither - understood -
Alas, that Wisdom is so large -
And Truth - so manifold!

(c. 1862)

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!

(c. 1862)

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!

(c. 1862)

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?

(c. 1862)

They shut me up in Prose -
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet -
Because they liked me "still" -

Still!Could themself have peeped -
And seen my Brain - go round -
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason - in the Pound -

Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Abolish his Captivity -
And laugh - No more have I -

(c. 1862)

When Bells stop ringing - Church - begins
The Positive - of Bells -
When Cogs - stop - that's Circumference -
The Ultimate - of Wheels.

(c. 1862)

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 -

(c. 1862)

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 of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise -

(c. 1862)

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.

(c. 1862)

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!

(c. 1863)

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 -

(c. 1863)

Soil of Flint, if steady tilled -
Will refund by Hand -
Seed of Palm, by Libyan Sun
Fructified in Sand -


On the Bleakness of my Lot
Bloom I strove to raise -
Late - My Acre of a Rock
Yielded Grape - and Maise -

Soil of Flint, if steadfast tilled
Will reward the Hand -
Seed of Palm, by Lybian Sun
Fructified in Sand -

(c. 1863)

The Sunrise runs for Both -
The East - Her Purple Troth
Keeps with the Hill -
The Noon unwinds Her Blue
Till One Breadth cover Two -
Remotest - still -

Nor does the Night forget
A Lamp for Each - to set -
Wicks wide away -
The North - Her blazing Sign
Erects in Iodine -
Till Both - can see -

The Midnight's Dusky Arms
Clasp Hemispheres, and Homes
And so
Upon Her Bosom - One -
And One upon Her Hem -
Both lie -

(c. 1863)

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 -

(c. 1863)

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 -

(c. 1863)

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 -

(c. 1863)

Presentiment - is that long Shadow - on the Lawn -
Indicatives that Suns go down -

The Notice to the startled Grass
That Darkness - is about to pass -

(c. 1864)

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.

(c. 1864)

This quiet Dust was Gentleman and Ladies
And Lads and Girls -
Was laughter and ability and Sighing
And Frocks and Curls.

This Passive Place a Summer's nimble mansion
Where Bloom and Bees
Exists an Oriental Circuit
Then cease, like these -

(c. 1864)

This Consciousness that is aware
Of Neighbors and the Sun
Will be the one aware of Death
And that itself alone

Is traversing the interval
Experience between
And most profound experiment
Appointed unto Men -

How adequate unto itself
Its properties shall be
Itself unto itself and none
Shall make discovery.

Adventure most unto itself
The Soul condemned to be -
Attended by a single Hound
Its own identity.

(c. 1864)

Truth - is as old as God -
His Twin identity
And will endure as long as He
A Co-Eternity -

And perish on the Day
Himself is borne away
From Mansion of the Universe
A lifeless Deity.

(c. 1864)

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 -

(c. 1864)

What I see not, I better see -
Through Faith - my Hazel Eye
Has periods of shutting -
But, No lid has Memory -

For frequent, all my sense obscured
I equally behold
As someone held a light unto
The Features so beloved -

And I arise - and in my Dream -
Do Thee distinguished Grace -
Till jealous Daylight interrupt -
and mar thy perfectness -

(c. 1864)

Under the Light, yet under,
Under the Grass and the Dirt,
Under the Beetle's Cellar
Under the Clover's Root,

Further than Arm could stretch
Were it Giant long,
Further than Sunshine could
Were the Day Year long,

Over the Light, yet over,
Over the Arc of the Bird -
Over the Comet's chimney -
Over the Cubit's Head,

Further than Guess can gallop
Further than Riddle ride -
Oh for a Disc to the Distance
Between Ourselves and the Dead!

(c. 1865)

Aurora is the effort
Of the Celestial Face
Unconsciousness of Perfectness
To simulate, to Us.

(c. 1865)

Too scanty 'twas to die for you,
The merest Greek could that.
The living, Sweet, is costlier -
I offer even that -

The Dying, is a trifle, past,
But living, this include
The dying multifold - without
The Respite to be dead.

(c. 1865)

As willing lid o'er weary eye
The Evening on the Day leans
Till of all our nature's House
Remains but Balcony

(c. 1865)

There is a Zone whose even Years
No Solstice interrupt -
Whose Sun constructs perpetual Noon
Whose perfect Seasons wait -

Whose Summer set in Summer, till
The Centuries of June
And Centuries of August cease
And Consciousness - is Noon.

(c. 1865)

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 -
'Twas'nt my blame -

Pause in your Liturgies -
Wait your Chorals -
While I repeat your
Hallowed name -

(c. 1866)

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 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

(c. 1862/66)

Title divine - is mine!
The Wife - without the Sign!
Acute Degree - conferred on me -
Empress of Calvary!
Royal - all but the Crown!
Betrothed - without the swoon
God sends us Women
When you - hold - Garnet to Gamet -
Gold - to Gold -
Born - Bridalled - Shrouded -
In a Day -
Tri Victory -
"My Husband" - women say -
Stroking the Melody -
Is this - the way?

(c. 1866)

When they come back - if Blossoms do -
I always feel a doubt
If Blossoms can be born again
When once the Art is out -

When they begin, if Robins may,
I always had a fear
I did not tell, it was their last Experiment
Last Year -

When it is May, if May return,
Had nobody a pang
Lest in a Face so beautiful
He might not look again?

If I am there - One does not know
What Party - One may be
Tomorrow, but if I am there
I take back all I say -

(c. 1866)

Revolution is the Pod
Systems rattle from
When the Winds of Will are stirred
Excellent is Bloom

But except it's Russet Base
Every Summer be
The Entomber of itself,
So of Liberty -

Left inactive on the Stalk
All it's Purple fled
Revolution shakes it for
Test if it be dead.

(c. 1866)

We learn in the Retreating
How vast an one
Was recently among us -
A Perished Sun

Endear in the departure
How doubly more
Than all the Golden presence
It was - before -

(c. 1866)

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.

(c. 1866)

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.

(c. 1866)

The Crickets 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, or Name,
A Peace, as Hemispheres at Home
And so the Night became.

(c. 1871)

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 -

(c. 1871)

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

(c. 1872/78)

We like March - his shoes are Purple.
He is new and high -
Makes he Mud for Dog and Peddler -
Makes he Forests Dry -
Knows the Adders Tongue his coming
And begets her spot -
Stands the Sun so close and mighty -
That our Minds are hot.
News is he of all the others -
Bold it were to die
With the Blue Birds buccaneering
On his British sky -

(c. 1873)

White is an Indian Pipe
Red as a Cardinal Flower
Fabulous as a Moon at Noon
February Hour -

(c. 1873)

Yesterday is History,
'Tis so far away -
Yesterday is Poetry -
'Tis Philosophy -
Yesterday is mystery -
Where it is Today
While we shrewdly speculate
Flutter both away

(c. 1875)

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!

(c. 1876)

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 -

(c. 1877)

Lay this Laurel on the One
Too intrinsic for Renown -
Laurel - vail your deathless tree -
Him to chasten, that is He!

(c. 1877)

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.

(c. 1877?)

What mystery pervades a well!
The water lives so far -
A neighbor from another world
Residing in a jar

Whose limit none have ever seen,
But just his lid of glass -
Like looking every time you please
In an abyss' s face!

The grass does not appear afraid,
I often wonder he
Can stand so close and look so bold
At what is awe to me.

Related somehow they may be,
The sedge stands next the sea -
Where he is floorless
And does no timidity betray

But nature is a stranger yet;
The ones that cite her most
Have never passed her haunted house,
Nor simplified her ghost.

To pity those that know her not
Is helped by the regret
That those who know her, know her less
The nearer her they get.

(c. 1877)

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.

(c. 1877)

Could mortal lip divine
The undeveloped Freight
Of a delivered syllable
'Twould crumble with the weight.

(c. 1878)

The Road was lit with Moon and star -
The Trees were bright and still -
Descried I - by the distant Light
A Traveller on a Hill -
To magic Perpendiculars
Ascending, though Terrene -
Unknown his shimmering ultimate -
But he indorsed the sheen -

(c. 1878)

Your thoughts dont have words every day
hey come a single time
Like signal esoteric sips
Of the communion Wine
Which while you taste so native seems
So easy so to be
You cannot comprehend its price
Nor it's infrequency

(c. 1878)

Let my first Knowing be of thee
With morning's warming Light -
And my first Fearing, lest Unknowns
Engulph thee in the night -

(c. 1879)

Those not live yet
Who doubt to live again -
"Again" is of a twice
But this - is one -
The Ship beneath the Draw
Aground - is he?
Death - so - the Hyphen of the Sea -
Deep is the Schedule
Of the Disk to be -
Costumeless Consciousness -
That is he -

(c. 1879)

So gay a Flower
Bereaves the Mind
As if it were a Woe -
Is Beauty an Affliction - then?
Tradition ought to know -

(c. 1879)

A Route of Evanescence
With a revolving Wheel -
A Resonance of Emerald -
A Rush of Cochineal -
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts it's tumbled Head -
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy Morning's Ride -

(c. 1880)

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 -

(c. 1881)

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 -

(c. 1882)

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 -

(c. 1882)

Those - dying then,
Knew where they went -
They went to God's Right Hand -
That Hand is amputated now
And God cannot be found-

The abdication of Belief
Makes the Behavior small -
Better an ignis fatuus
Than no illume at all -

(c. 1883)

Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light
Pangless except for us -
Who slowly ford the Mystery
Which thou hast leaped across!

(c. 1883)

There came a Wind like a Bugle -
It quivered through the Grass
And a Green Chill upon the Heat
So ominous did pass
We barred the Windows and the Doors
As from an Emerald Ghost -
The Doom's electric Moccasin
That very instant passed -
On a strange Mob of panting Trees
And Fences fled away
And Rivers where the Houses ran
Those looked that lived - that Day -
The Bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings told -
How much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the World!

(c. 1884)

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.

(c. 1884)

We send the Wave to find the Wave -
An Errand so divine,
The Messenger enamored too,
Forgetting to return,
We make the wise distinction still,
Soever made in vain,
The sagest time to dam the sea is when the sea is gone

(c. 1884)

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 siegle human Heart
To Two - not any more -

(c. 1884)

Though the great Waters sleep,
That they are still the Deep,
We cannot doubt
No vacillating God
Ignited this Abode
To put it out -

(c. 1884)

Apparently with no surprise
To any happy Flower
The Frost beheads it at it's play -
In accidental power -
The blonde Assassin passes on -
The Sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another Day
For an Approving God.

(c. 1885)

The Ditch is dear to the Drunken man
for is it not his Bed -
his Advocate - his Edifice -
How safe his fallen Head
In her disheveled Sanctity -
Above him is the sky -
Oblivion bending over him
And Honor leagues away


[In memory of Helen Hunt Jackson]

Of Glory not a Beam is left
But her Eternal House -
The Asterisk is for the Dead,
The Living, for the Stars -


[In memory of Helen Hunt Jackson]

The immortality she gave
We borrowed at her Grave -
For just one Plaudit famishing,
The Might of Human love -
<<< overview  undated poems >>>