PAL: Perspectives in American Literature - A Research and Reference Guide

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Johnson, Thomas H., ed. Complete Poems. Boston: Llittle, Brown, 1960. PS1541 .A1

 

1001

The Stimulus, beyond the Grave

His Countenance to see

Supports me like imperial Drams

Afforded Day by Day.

 

 

1002

Aurora is the effort

Of the Celestial Face

Unconsciousness of Perfectness

To simulate, to Us.

 

 

1003

Dying at my music!

Bubble! Bubble!

Hold me till the Octave’s run!

Quick! Burst the Windows!

Ritardando!

Phials left, and the Sun!

 

 

1004

There is no Silence in the Earth -- so silent

As that endured

Which uttered, would discourage Nature

And haunt the World.

 

 

1005

Bind me -- I still can sing --

Banish -- my mandolin

Strikes true within --

Slay -- and my Soul shall rise

Chanting to Paradise --

Still thine.

 

 

1006

The first We knew of Him was Death --

The second -- was -- Renown --

Except the first had justified

The second had not been.

 

 

1007

Falsehood of Thee could I suppose

‘Twould undermine the Sill

To which my Faith pinned Block by Block

Her Cedar Citadel.

 

 

1008

How still the Bells in Steeples stand

Till swollen with the Sky

They leap upon their silver Feet

In frantic Melody!

 

 

1009

I was a Phoebe -- nothing more --

A Phoebe -- nothing less --

The little note that others dropt

I fitted into place --

I dwelt too low that any seek --

Too shy, that any blame --

A Phoebe makes a little print

Upon the Floors of Fame --

 

 

1010

Up Life’s Hill with my my little Bundle

If I prove it steep --

If a Discouragement withhold me --

If my newest step

Older feel than the Hope that prompted --

Spotless be from blame

Heart that proposed as Heart that accepted

Homelessness, for Home --

 

 

1011

She rose as high as His Occasion

Then sought the Dust --

And lower lay in low Westminster

For Her brief Crest --

 

 

1012

Which is best? Heaven --

Or only Heaven to come

With that old Codicil of Doubt?

I cannot help esteem

The "Bird within the Hand"

Superior to the one

The "Bush" may yield me

Or may not

Too late to choose again.

 

 

1013

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.

 

 

1014

Did We abolish Frost

The Summer would not cease --

If Seasons perish or prevail

Is optional with Us --

 

 

1015

Were it but Me that gained the Height --

Were it but They, that failed!

How many things the Dying play

Might they but live, they would!

 

 

1016

The Hills in Purple syllables

The Day’s Adventures tell

To little Groups of Continents

Just going Home from School.

 

 

1017

To die -- without the Dying

And live -- without the Life

This is the hardest Miracle

Propounded to Belief.

 

 

1018

Who saw no Sunrise cannot say

The Countenance ‘twould be.

Who guess at seeing, guess at loss

Of the Ability.

The Emigrant of Light, it is

Afflicted for the Day.

The Blindness that beheld and blest --

And could not find its Eye.

 

 

1019

My Season’s furthest Flower --

I tenderer commend

Because I found Her Kinsmanless,

A Grace without a Friend.

 

 

1020

Trudging to Eden, looking backward,

I met Somebody’s little Boy

Asked him his name -- He lisped me "Trotwood" --

Lady, did He belong to thee?

Would it comfort -- to know I met him --

And that He didn’t look afraid?

I couldn’t weep -- for so many smiling

New Acquaintance -- this Baby made --

 

 

1021

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.

 

 

1022

I knew that I had gained

And yet I knew not how

By Diminution it was not

But Discipline unto

A Rigor unrelieved

Except by the Content

Another bear its Duplicate

In other Continent.

 

 

1023

It rises -- passes -- on our South

Inscribes a simple Noon --

Cajoles a Moment with the Spires

And infinite is gone --

 

 

1024

So large my Will

The little that I may

Embarrasses

Like gentle infamy --

Affront to Him

For whom the Whole were small

Affront to me

Who know His Meed of all.

Earth at the best

Is but a scanty Toy --

Bought, carried Home

To Immortality.

It looks so small

We chiefly wonder then

At our Conceit

In purchasing.

 

 

1025

The Products of my Farm are these

Sufficient for my Own

And here and there a Benefit

Unto a Neighbor’s Bin.

With Us, ‘tis Harvest all the Year

For when the Frosts begin

We just reverse the Zodiac

And fetch the Acres in.

 

 

1026

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 Certainty that one

No color in the Rainbow

Perceive, when you are gone.

 

 

1027

My Heart upon a little Plate

Her Palate to delight

A Berry or a Bun, would be,

Might it an Apricot!

 

 

1028

‘Twas my one Glory --

Let it be

Remembered

I was owned of Thee --

 

 

1029

Nor Mountain hinder Me

Nor Sea --

Who’s Baltic --

Who’s Cordillera?

 

 

1030

That Such have died enable Us

The tranquiller to die --

That Such have lived,

Certificate for Immortality.

 

 

1031

Fate slew Him, but He did not drop --

She felled -- He did not fall --

Impaled Him on Her fiercest stakes --

He neutralized them all --

She stung Him -- sapped His firm Advance --

But when Her Worst was done

And He -- unmoved regarded Her --

Acknowledged Him a Man.

 

 

1032

Who is the East?

The Yellow Man

Who may be Purple if He can

That carries in the Sun.

Who is the West?

The Purple Man

Who may be Yellow if He can

That lets Him out again.

 

 

1033

Said Death to Passion

"Give of thine an Acre unto me."

Said Passion, through contracting Breaths

"A Thousand Times Thee Nay."

Bore Death from Passion

All His East

He -- sovereign as the Sun

Resituated in the West

And the Debate was done.

 

 

1034

His Bill an Auger is

His Head, a Cap and Frill

He laboreth at every Tree

A Worm, His utmost Goal.

 

 

1035

Bee! I’m expecting you!

Was saying Yesterday

To Somebody you know

That you were due --

The Frogs got Home last Week --

Are settled, and at work --

Birds, mostly back --

The Clover warm and thick --

You’ll get my Letter by

The seventeenth; Reply

Or better, be with me --

Yours, Fly.

 

 

1036

Satisfaction -- is the Agent

Of Satiety --

Want -- a quiet Commissary

For Infinity.

To possess, is past the instant

We achieve the Joy --

Immortality contented

Were Anomaly.

 

 

1037

Here, where the Daisies fit my Head

‘Tis easiest to lie

And every Grass that plays outside

Is sorry, some, for me.

Where I am not afraid to go

I may confide my Flower --

Who was not Enemy of Me

Will gentle be, to Her.

Nor separate, Herself and Me

By Distances become --

A single Bloom we constitute

Departed, or at Home --

 

 

1038

Her little Parasol to lift

And once to let it down

Her whole Responsibility --

To imitate be Mine.

A Summer further I must wear,

Content if Nature’s Drawer

Present me from sepulchral Crease

As blemishless, as Her.

 

 

1039

I heard, as if I had no Ear

Until a Vital Word

Came all the way from Life to me

And then I knew I heard.

I saw, as if my Eye were on

Another, till a Thing

And now I know ‘twas Light, because

It fitted them, came in.

I dwelt, as if Myself, were out,

My Body but within

Until a Might detected me

And set my kernel in.

And Spirit turned unto the Dust

"Old Friend, thou knowest me,"

And Time went out to tell the News

And met Eternity.

 

 

1040

Not so the infinite Relations -- Below

Division is Adhesion’s forfeit -- On High

Affliction but a Speculation -- And Woe

A Fallacy, a Figment, We knew --

 

 

1041

Somewhat, to hope for,

Be it ne’er so far

Is Capital against Despair --

Somewhat, to suffer,

Be it ne’er so keen --

If terminable, may be borne.

 

 

1042

Spring comes on the World --

I sight the Aprils --

Hueless to me until thou come

As, till the Bee

Blossoms stand negative,

Touched to Conditions

By a Hum.

 

 

1043

Lest this be Heaven indeed

An Obstacle is given

That always gauges a Degree

Between Ourself and Heaven.

 

 

1044

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.

 

 

1045

Nature rarer uses Yellow

Than another Hue.

Saves she all of that for Sunsets

Prodigal of Blue

Spending Scarlet, like a Woman

Yellow she affords

Only scantly and selectly

Like a Lover’s Words.

 

 

1046

I’ve dropped my Brain -- My Soul is numb --

The Veins that used to run

Stop palsied -- ‘tis Paralysis

Done perfecter on stone

Vitality is Carved and cool.

My nerve in Marble lies --

A Breathing Woman

Yesterday -- Endowed with Paradise.

Not dumb -- I had a sort that moved --

A Sense that smote and stirred --

Instincts for Dance -- a caper part --

An Aptitude for Bird --

Who wrought Carrara in me

And chiselled all my tune

Were it a Witchcraft -- were it Death --

I’ve still a chance to strain

To Being, somewhere -- Motion -- Breath --

Though Centuries beyond,

And every limit a Decade --

I’ll shiver, satisfied.

 

 

1047

The Opening and the Close

Of Being, are alike

Or differ, if they do,

As Bloom upon a Stalk.

That from an equal Seed

Unto an equal Bud

Go parallel, perfected

In that they have decayed.

 

 

1048

Reportless Subjects, to the Quick

Continual addressed --

But foreign as the Dialect

Of Danes, unto the rest.

Reportless Measures, to the Ear

Susceptive -- stimulus --

But like an Oriental Tale

To others, fabulous --

 

 

1049

Pain has but one Acquaintance

And that is Death --

Each one unto the other

Society enough.

Pain is the Junior Party

By just a Second’s right --

Death tenderly assists Him

And then absconds from Sight.

 

 

1050

As willing lid o’er weary eye

The Evening on the Day leans

Till of all our nature’s House

Remains but Balcony

 

 

1051

I cannot meet the Spring unmoved --

I feel the old desire --

A Hurry with a lingering, mixed,

A Warrant to be fair --

A Competition in my sense

With something hid in Her --

And as she vanishes, Remorse

I saw no more of Her.

 

 

1052

I never saw a Moor --

I never saw the Sea --

Yet know I how the Heather looks

And what a Billow be.

I never spoke with God

Nor visited in Heaven --

Yet certain am I of the spot

As if the Checks were given --

 

 

1053

It was a quiet way --

He asked if I was his --

I made no answer of the Tongue

But answer of the Eyes --

And then He bore me on

Before this mortal noise

With swiftness, as of Chariots

And distance, as of Wheels.

This World did drop away

As Acres from the feet

Of one that leaneth from Balloon

Upon an Ether street.

The Gulf behind was not,

The Continents were new --

Eternity it was before

Eternity was due.

No Seasons were to us --

It was not Night nor Morn --

But Sunrise stopped upon the place

And fastened it in Dawn.

 

 

1054

Not to discover weakness is

The Artifice of strength --

Impregnability inheres

As much through Consciousness

Of faith of others in itself

As Pyramidal Nerve

Behind the most unconscious clock

What skilful Pointers move --

 

 

1055

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 have slid

The Bolt unto the Door --

To search for the accomplished Guest,

Her Visitor, no more --

 

 

1056

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.

 

 

1057

I had a daily Bliss

I half indifferent viewed

Till sudden I perceived it stir --

It grew as I pursued

Till when around a Height

It wasted from my sight

Increased beyond my utmost scope

I learned to estimate.

 

 

1058

Bloom -- is Result -- to meet a Flower

And casually glance

Would scarcely cause one to suspect

The minor Circumstance

Assisting in the Bright Affair

So intricately done

Then offered as a Butterfly

To the Meridian --

To pack the Bud -- oppose the Worm --

Obtain its right of Dew --

Adjust the Heat -- elude the Wind --

Escape the prowling Bee

Great Nature not to disappoint

Awaiting Her that Day --

To be a Flower, is profound

Responsibility --

 

 

1059

Sang from the Heart, Sire,

Dipped my Beak in it,

If the Tune drip too much

Have a tint too Red

Pardon the Cochineal --

Suffer the Vermillion --

Death is the Wealth

Of the Poorest Bird.

Bear with the Ballad --

Awkward -- faltering --

Death twists the strings --

‘Twasn’t my blame --

Pause in your Liturgies --

Wait your Chorals --

While I repeat your

Hallowed name --

 

 

1060

Air has no Residence, no Neighbor,

No Ear, no Door,

No Apprehension of Another

Oh, Happy Air!

Ethereal Guest at e’en an Outcast’s Pillow --

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

Later than Light thy Consciousness accost me

Till it depart, persuading Mine --

 

 

1061

Three Weeks passed since I had seen Her --

Some Disease had vext

‘Twas 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 Parties

Which be out of sight?

 

 

1062

He scanned it -- staggered --

Dropped the Loop

To Past or Period --

Caught helpless at a sense as if

His Mind were going blind --

Groped up, to see if God was there --

Groped backward at Himself

Caressed a Trigger absently

And wandered out of Life.

 

 

1063

Ashes denote that Fire was --

Revere the Grayest Pile

For the Departed Creature’s sake

That hovered there awhile --

Fire exists the first in light

And then consolidates

Only the Chemist can disclose

Into what Carbonates.

 

 

1064

To help our Bleaker Parts

Salubrious Hours are given

Which if they do not fir for Earth

Drill silently for Heaven --

 

 

1065

Let down the Bars, Oh Death --

The tired Flocks come in

Whose bleating ceases to repeat

Whose wandering is done --

Thine is the stillest night

Thine the securest Fold

Too near Thou art for seeking Thee

Too tender, to be told.

 

 

1066

Fame’s Boys and Girls, who never die

And are too seldom born --

 

 

1067

Except the smaller size

No lives are round --

These -- hurry to a sphere

And show and end --

The larger -- slower grow

And later hang --

The Summers of Hesperides

Are long.

 

 

1068

Further in Summer than the Birds

Pathetic from the Grass

A minor Nation celebrates

Its 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

 

 

1069

Paradise is of the option.

Whosoever will

Own in Eden notwithstanding

Adam and Repeal.

 

 

1070

To undertake is to achieve

Be Undertaking blent

With fortitude of obstacle

And toward encouragement

That fine Suspicion, Natures must

Permitted to revere

Departed Standards and the few

Criterion Sources here

 

 

1071

Perception of an object costs

Precise the Object’s loss --

Perception in itself a Gain

Replying to its Price --

The Object Absolute -- is nought --

Perception sets it fair

And then upbraids a Perfectness

That situates so far --

 

 

1072

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 Garnet --

Gold -- to Gold --

Born -- Bridalled -- Shrouded --

In a Day --

Tri Victory

"My Husband" -- women say --

Stroking the Melody --

Is this -- the way?

 

 

1073

Experiment to me

Is every one I meet

If it contain a Kernel?

The Figure of a Nut

Presents upon a Tree

Equally plausibly,

But Meat within, is requisite

To Squirrels, and to Me.

 

 

1074

Count not that far that can be had,

Though sunset lie between --

Nor that adjacent, that beside,

Is further than the sun.

 

 

1075

The Sky is low -- the Clouds are mean.

A Travelling Flake of Snow

Across a Barn or through a Rut

Debates if it will go --

A Narrow Wind complains all Day

How some one treated him

Nature, like Us is sometimes caught

Without her Diadem.

 

 

1076

Just Once! Oh least Request!

Could Adamant refuse

So small a Grace

So scanty put,

Such agonizing terms?

Would not a God of Flint

Be conscious of a sigh

As down His Heaven dropt remote

"Just Once" Sweet Deity?

 

 

1077

These are the Signs to Nature’s Inns --

Her invitation broad

To Whosoever famishing

To taste her mystic Bread --

These are the rites of Nature’s House --

The Hospitality

That opens with an equal width

To Beggar and to Bee

For Sureties of her staunch Estate

Her undecaying Cheer

The Purple in the East is set

And in the North, the Star --

 

 

1078

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon Earth --

The Sweeping up the Heart

And putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity.

 

 

1079

The Sun went down -- no Man looked on --

The Earth and I, alone,

Were present at the Majesty --

He triumphed, and went on --

The Sun went up -- no Man looked on --

The Earth and I and One

A nameless Bird -- a Stranger

Were Witness for the Crown --

 

 

1080

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 --

 

 

1081

Superiority to Fate

Is difficult to gain

‘Tis not conferred of Any

But possible to earn

A pittance at a time

Until to Her surprise

The Soul with strict economy

Subsist till Paradise.

 

 

1082

Revolution is the Pod

Systems rattle from

When the Winds of Will are stirred

Excellent is Bloom

But except its Russet Base

Every Summer be

The Entomber of itself,

So of Liberty --

Left inactive on the Stalk

All its Purple fled

Revolution shakes it for

Test if it be dead.

 

 

1083

We learn it in 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 --

 

 

1084

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.

 

 

1085

If Nature smiles -- the Mother must

I’m sure, at many a whim

Of Her eccentric Family --

Is She so much to blame?

 

 

1086

What Twigs We held by --

Oh the View

When Life’s swift River striven through

We pause before a further plunge

To take Momentum --

As the Fringe

Upon a former Garment shows

The Garment cast,

Our Props disclose

So scant, so eminently small

Of Might to help, so pitiful

To sink, if We had labored, fond

The diligence were not more blind

How scant, by everlasting Light

The Discs that satisfied Our Sight --

How dimmer than a Saturn’s Bar

The Things esteemed, for Things that are!

 

 

1087

We miss a Kinsman more

When warranted to see

Than when withheld of Oceans

From possibility

A Furlong than a League

Inflicts a pricklier pain,

Till We, who smiled at Pyrenees --

Of Parishes, complain.

 

 

1088

Ended, ere it begun --

The Title was scarcely told

When the Preface perished from Consciousness

The Story, unrevealed --

Had it been mine, to print!

Had it been yours, to read!

That it was not Our privilege

The interdict of God --

 

 

1089

Myself can read the Telegrams

A Letter chief to me

The Stock’s advance and Retrograde

And what the Markets say

The Weather -- how the Rains

In Counties have begun.

‘Tis News as null as nothing,

But sweeter so -- than none.

 

 

1090

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.

 

 

1091

The Well upon the Brook

Were foolish to depend --

Let Brooks -- renew of Brooks --

But Wells -- of failless Ground!

 

 

1092

It was not Saint -- it was too large --

Nor Snow -- it was too small --

It only held itself aloof

Like something spiritual --

 

 

1093

Because ‘twas Riches I could own,

Myself had earned it -- Me,

I knew the Dollars by their names --

It feels like Poverty

An Earldom out of sight to hold,

An Income in the Air,

Possession -- has a sweeter chink

Unto a Miser’s Ear --

 

 

1094

Themself are all I have --

Myself a freckled -- be --

I thought you’d choose a Velvet Cheek

Or one of Ivory --

Would you -- instead of Me?

 

 

1095

To Whom the Mornings stand for Nights,

What must the Midnights -- be!

 

 

1096

These Strangers, in a foreign World,

Protection asked of me --

Befriend them, lest Yourself in Heaven

Be found a Refugee --

 

 

1097

Dew -- is the Freshet in the Grass --

‘Tis many a tiny Mill

Turns unperceived beneath our feet

And Artisan lies still --

We spy the Forests and the Hills

The Tents to Nature’s Show

Mistake the Outside for the in

And mention what we saw.

Could Commentators on the Sign

Of Nature’s Caravan

Obtain "Admission" as a Child

Some Wednesday Afternoon.

 

 

1098

Of the Heart that goes in, and closes the Door

Shall the Playfellow Heart complain

Though the Ring is unwhole, and the Company broke

Can never be fitted again?

 

 

1099

My Cocoon tightens -- Colors tease --

I’m feeling for the Air --

A dim capacity for Wings

Demeans the Dress I wear --

A power of Butterfly must be --

The Aptitude to fly

Meadows of Majesty implies

And easy Sweeps of Sky --

So I must baffle at the Hint

And cipher at the Sign

And make much blunder, if at least

I take the clue divine --

 

 

1100

The last Night that She lived

It was a Common Night

Except the Dying -- this to Us

Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things --

Things overlooked before

By this great light upon our Minds

Italicized -- as ‘twere.

As We went out and in

Between Her final Room

And Rooms where Those to be alive

Tomorrow were, a Blame

That Others could exist

While She must finish quite

A Jealousy for Her arose

So nearly infinite --

We waited while She passed --

It was a narrow time --

Too jostled were Our Souls to speak

At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot --

Then lightly as a Reed

Bent to the Water, struggled scarce --

Consented, and was dead --

And We -- We placed the Hair --

And drew the Head erect --

And then an awful leisure was

Belief to regulate --

 

 

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