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



Will there really be a "Morning"?

Is there such a thing as "Day"?

Could I see it from the mountains

If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like Water lilies?

Has it feathers like a Bird?

Is it brought from famous countries

Of which I have never heard?

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!

Oh some Wise Men from the skies!

Please to tell a little Pilgrim

Where the place called "Morning" lies!


Great Caesar! Condescend

The Daisy, to receive,

Gathered by Cato’s Daughter,

With your majestic leave!


I have a King, who does not speak --

So -- wondering -- thro’ the hours meek

I trudge the day away --

Half glad when it is night, and sleep,

If, haply, thro’ a dream, to peep

In parlors, shut by day.

And if I do -- when morning comes --

It is as if a hundred drums

Did round my pillow roll,

And shouts fill all my Childish sky,

And Bells keep saying "Victory"

From steeples in my soul!

And if I don’t -- the little Bird

Within the Orchard, is not heard,

And I omit to pray

"Father, thy will be done" today

For my will goes the other way,

And it were perjury!


Where I have lost, I softer tread --

I sow sweet flower from garden bed --

I pause above that vanished head

And mourn.

Whom I have lost, I pious guard

From accent harsh, or ruthless word --

Feeling as if their pillow heard,

Though stone!

When I have lost, you’ll know by this --

A Bonnet black -- A dusk surplice --

A little tremor in my voice Like this!

Why, I have lost, the people know

Who dressed in flocks of purest snow

Went home a century ago

Next Bliss!


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!


The Daisy follows soft the Sun --

And when his golden walk is done --

Sits shyly at his feet --

He -- waking -- finds the flower there --

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!

Enamored of the parting West --

The peace -- the flight -- the Amethyst --

Night’s possibility!


‘Twas such a little -- little boat That toddled down the bay!

‘Twas such a gallant -- gallant sea

That beckoned it away!

‘Twas such a greedy, greedy wave

That licked it from the Coast --

Nor ever guessed the stately sails

My little craft was lost!


Surgeons must be very careful

When they take the knife!

Underneath their fine incisions

Stirs the Culprit -- Life!


By a flower -- By a letter --

By a nimble love --

If I weld the Rivet faster --

Final fast -- above --

Never mind my breathless Anvil!

Never mind Repose!

Never mind the sooty faces

Tugging at the Forge!


Artists wrestled here!

Lo, a tint Cashmere!

Lo, a Rose!

Student of the Year!

For the easel here

Say Repose!


The Bee is not afraid of me.

I know the Butterfly.

The pretty people in the Woods

Receive me cordially --

The Brooks laugh louder when I come --

The Breezes madder play;

Wherefore mine eye thy silver mists,

Wherefore, Oh Summer’s Day?


Where bells no more affright the morn --

Where scrabble never comes --

Where very nimble Gentlemen

Are forced to keep their rooms --

Where tired Children placid sleep

Thro’ Centuries of noon

This place is Bliss -- this town is Heaven --

Please, Pater, pretty soon!

"Oh could we climb where Moses stood,

And view the Landscape o’er"

Not Father’s bells -- nor Factories,

Could scare us any more!


Our share of night to bear --

Our share of morning --

Our blank in bliss to fill

Our blank in scorning --

Here a star, and there a star,

Some lose their way!

Here a mist, and there a mist,

Afterwards -- Day!


Good night, because we must,

How intricate the dust!

I would go, to know!

Oh incognito!

Saucy, Saucy Seraph

To elude me so!

Father! they won’t tell me,

Won’t you tell them to?


What Inn is this

Where for the night

Peculiar Traveller comes?

Who is the Landlord?

Where the maids?

Behold, what curious rooms!

No ruddy fires on the hearth --

No brimming Tankards flow --

Necromancer! Landlord!

Who are these below?


I had some things that I called mine --

And God, that he called his,

Till, recently a rival Claim

Disturbed these amities.

The property, my garden,

Which having sown with care,

He claims the pretty acre,

And sends a Bailiff there.

The station of the parties

Forbids publicity,

But Justice is sublimer

Than arms, or pedigree.

I’ll institute an "Action" --

I’ll vindicate the law --

Jove! Choose your counsel --

I retain "Shaw"!


In rags mysterious as these

The shining Courtiers go --

Veiling the purple, and the plumes --

Veiling the ermine so.

Smiling, as they request an alms --

At some imposing door!

Smiling when we walk barefoot

Upon their golden floor!


My friend attacks my friend!

Oh Battle picturesque!

Then I turn Soldier too,

And he turns Satirist!

How martial is this place!

Had I a mighty gun

I think I’d shoot the human race

And then to glory run!


Talk with prudence to a Beggar

Of "Potose," and the mines!

Reverently, to the Hungry

Of your viands, and your wines!

Cautious, hint to any Captive

You have passed enfranchised feet!

Anecdotes of air in Dungeons

Have sometimes proved deadly sweet!


If this is "fading"

Oh let me immediately "fade"!

If this is "dying"

Bury me, in such a shroud of red!

If this is "sleep,"

On such a night

How proud to shut the eye!

Good Evening, gentle Fellow men!

Peacock presumes to die!


As Watchers hang upon the East,

As Beggars revel at a feast

By savory Fancy spread --

As brooks in deserts babble sweet

On ear too far for the delight,

Heaven beguiles the tired.

As that same watcher, when the East

Opens the lid of Amethyst

And lets the morning go --

That Beggar, when an honored Guest,

Those thirsty lips to flagons pressed,

Heaven to us, if true.


A something in a summer’s Day

As slow her flambeaux burn away

Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon --

A depth -- an Azure -- a perfume --

Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night

A something so transporting bright

I clap my hands to see --

Then veil my too inspecting face

Lets such a subtle -- shimmering grace

Flutter too far for me --

The wizard fingers never rest --

The purple brook within the breast

Still chafes it 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!


Many cross the Rhine

In this cup of mine.

Sip old Frankfort air

From my brown Cigar.


In lands I never saw -- they say

Immortal Alps look down --

Whose Bonnets touch the firmament --

Whose Sandals touch the town --

Meek at whose everlasting feet

A Myriad Daisy play --

Which, Sir, are you and which am I

Upon an August day?


For each ecstatic instant

We must an anguish pay

In keen and quivering ration

To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour

Sharp pittances of years --

Bitter contested farthings --

And Coffers heaped with Tears!


To fight aloud, is very brave --

But gallanter, I know

Who charge within the bosom

The Cavalry of Woe --

Who win, and nations do not see --

Who fall -- and none observe --

Whose dying eyes, no Country

Regards with patriot love --

We trust, in plumed procession

For such, the Angels go --

Rank after Rank, with even feet --

And Uniforms of Snow.


"Houses" -- so the Wise Men tell me --

"Mansions"! Mansions must be warm!

Mansions cannot let the tears in,

Mansions must exclude the storm!

"Many Mansions," by "his Father,"

I don’t know him; snugly built!

Could the Children find the way there --

Some, would even trudge tonight!


Bring me the sunset in a cup,

Reckon the morning’s flagons up

And say how many Dew,

Tell me how far the morning leaps --

Tell me what time the weaver sleeps

Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be

In the new Robin’s ecstasy

Among astonished boughs --

How many trips the Tortoise makes --

How many cups the Bee partakes,

The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow’s piers,

Also, who leads the docile spheres

By withes of supple blue?

Whose fingers string the stalactite --

Who counts the wampum of the night

To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House

And shut the windows down so close

My spirit cannot see?

Who’ll let me out some gala day

With implements to fly away,

Passing Pomposity?


Cocoon above! Cocoon below!

Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so

What all the world suspect?

An hour, and gay on every tree

Your secret, perched in ecstasy

Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,

Then gay above receding grass

A Butterfly to go!

A moment to interrogate,

Then wiser than a "Surrogate,"

The Universe to know!


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.

Thy sacred emblems to partake --

They consecrated bread to take

And thine immortal wine!


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!


I bring an unaccustomed wine

To lips long parching

Next to mine,

And summon them to drink;

Crackling with fever, they Essay,

I turn my brimming eyes away,

And come next hour to look.

The hands still hug the tardy glass --

The lips I would have cooled, alas --

Are so superfluous Cold --

I would as soon attempt to warm

The bosoms where the frost has lain

Ages beneath the mould --

Some other thirsty there may be

To whom this would have pointed me

Had it remained to speak --

And so I always bear the cup

If, haply, mine may be the drop

Some pilgrim thirst to slake --

If, haply, any say to me

"Unto the little, unto me,"

When I at last awake.


As Children bid the Guest "Good Night"

And then reluctant turn --

My flowers raise their pretty lips --

Then put their nightgowns on.

As children caper when they wake

Merry that it is Morn --

My flowers from a hundred cribs

Will peep, and prance again.


Perhaps you’d like to buy a flower,

But I could never sell --

If you would like to borrow,

Until the Daffodil

Unties her yellow Bonnet

Beneath the village door,

Until the Bees, from Clover rows

Their Hock, and Sherry, draw,

Why, I will lend until just then,

But not an hour more!


Water, is taught by thirst.

Land -- by the Oceans passed.

Transport -- by throe --

Peace -- by its battles told --

Love, by Memorial Mold --

Birds, by the Snow.


Have you got a Brook in your little heart,

Where bashful flowers blow,

And blushing birds go down to drink,

And shadows tremble so --

And nobody knows, so still it flows,

That any brook is there,

And yet your little draught of life

Is daily drunken there --

Why, look out for the little brook in March,

When the rivers overflow,

And the snows come hurrying from the fills,

And the bridges often go --

And later, in August it may be --

When the meadows parching lie,

Beware, lest this little brook of life,

Some burning noon go dry!


Flowers -- Well -- if anybody

Can the ecstasy define --

Half a transport -- half a trouble --

With which flowers humble men:

Anybody find the fountain

From which floods so contra flow --

I will give him all the Daisies

Which upon the hillside blow.

Too much pathos in their faces

For a simple breast like mine --

Butterflies from St. Domingo

Cruising round the purple line --

Have a system of aesthetics --

Far superior to mine.


Pigmy seraphs -- gone astray --

Velvet people from Vevay --

Balles from some lost summer day --

Bees exclusive Coterie --

Paris could not lay the fold

Belted down with Emerald --

Venice could not show a check

Of a tint so lustrous meek --

Never such an Ambuscade

As of briar and leaf displayed

For my little damask maid --

I had rather wear her grace

Than an Earl’s distinguished face --

I had rather dwell like her

Than be "Duke of Exeter" --

Royalty enough for me

To subdue the Bumblebee.


Soul, Wilt thou toss again?

By just such a hazard

Hundreds have lost indeed --

But tens have won an all --

Angel’s breathless ballot

Lingers to record thee --

Imps in eager Caucus

Raffle for my Soul!


An altered look about the hills --

A Tyrian light the village fills --

A wider sunrise in the morn --

A deeper twilight on the lawn --

A print of a vermillion foot --

A purple finger on the slope --

A flippant fly upon the pane --

A spider at his trade again --

An added strut in Chanticleer --

A flower expected everywhere --

An axe shrill singing in the woods --

Fern odors on untravelled roads --

All this and more I cannot tell --

A furtive look you know as well --

And Nicodemus’ Mystery

Receives its annual reply!


Some, too fragile for winter winds

The thoughtful grave encloses --

Tenderly tucking them in from frost

Before their feet are cold.

Never the treasures in her nest

The cautious grave exposes,

Building where schoolboy dare not look,

And sportsman is not bold.

This covert have all the children

Early aged, and often cold,

Sparrow, unnoticed by the Father --

Lambs for whom time had not a fold.


Whose are the little beds, I asked

Which in the valleys lie?

Some shook their heads, and others smiled --

And no one made reply.

Perhaps they did not hear, I said,

I will inquire again --

Whose are the beds -- the tiny beds

So thick upon the plain?

‘Tis Daisy, in the shortest --

A little further on --

Nearest the door -- to wake the Ist --

Little Leontoden.

‘Tis Iris, Sir, and Aster --

Anemone, and Bell --

Bartsia, in the blanket red --

And chubby Daffodil.

Meanwhile, at many cradles

Her busy foot she plied --

Humming the quaintest lullaby

That ever rocked a child.

Hush! Epigea wakens!

The Crocus stirs her lids --

Rhodora’s cheek is crimson,

She’s dreaming of the woods!

Then turning from them reverent --

Their bedtime ‘tis, she said --

The Bumble bees will wake them

When April woods are red.


For every Bird a Nest --

Wherefore in timid quest

Some little Wren goes seeking round --

Wherefore when boughs are free --

Households in every tree --

Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high --

Ah Aristocracy!

The little Wren desires --

Perhaps of twig so fine --

Of twine e’en superfine,

Her pride aspires --

The Lark is not ashamed

To build upon the ground

Her modest house --

Yet who of all the throng

Dancing around the sun

Does so rejoice?


She bore it till the simple veins

Traced azure on her hand --

Til pleading, round her quiet eyes

The purple Crayons stand.

Till Daffodils had come and gone

I cannot tell the sum,

And then she ceased to bear it --

And with the Saints sat down.

No more her patient figure

At twilight soft to meet --

No more her timid bonnet

Upon the village street --

But Crowns instead, and Courtiers --

And in the midst so fair,

Whose but her shy -- immortal face

Of whom we’re whispering here?


This heart that broke so long --

These feet that never flagged --

This faith that watched for star in vain,

Give gently to the dead --

Hound cannot overtake the Hare

That fluttered panting, here --

Nor any schoolboy rob the nest

Tenderness builded there.


On such a night, or such a night,

Would anybody care

If such a little figure

Slipped quiet from its chair --

So quiet -- Oh how quiet,

That nobody might know

But that the little figure

Rocked softer -- to and fro --

On such a dawn, or such a dawn --

Would anybody sigh

That such a little figure

Too sound asleep did lie

For Chanticleer to wake it --

Or stirring house below --

Or giddy bird in orchard --

Or early task to do?

There was a little figure plump

For every little knoll --

Busy needles, and spools of thread --

And trudging feet from school --

Playmates, and holidays, and nuts --

And visions vast and small --

Strange that the feet so precious charged

Should reach so small a goal!


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!


All overgrown by cunning moss,

All interspersed with weed,

The little cage of "Currer Bell"

In quiet "Haworth" laid.

Gathered from many wanderings --

Gethsemane can tell

Thro’ what transporting anguish

She reached the Asphodel!

Soft falls the sounds of Eden

Upon her puzzled ear --

Oh what an afternoon for Heaven,

When "Bronte" entered there!


She went as quiet as the Dew

From an Accustomed flower.

Not like the Dew, did she return

At the Accustomed hour!

She dropt as softly as a star

From out my summer’s Eve --

Less skillful than Le Verriere

It’s sorer to believe!


She died -- this was the way she died.

And when her breath was done

Took up her simple wardrobe

And started for the sun.

Her little figure at the gate

The Angels must have spied,

Since I could never find her

Upon the mortal side.


Mute thy Coronation --

Meek my Vive le roi,

Fold a tiny courtier

In thine Ermine, Sir,

There to rest revering

Till the pageant by,

I can murmur broken,

Master, It was I --


The Sun kept stooping -- stooping -- low!

The Hills to meet him rose!

On his side, what Transaction!

On their side, what Repose!

Deeper and deeper grew the stain

Upon the window pane --

Thicker and thicker stood the feet

Until the Tyrian

Was crowded dense with Armies --

So gay, so Brigadier --

That I felt martial stirrings

Who once the Cockade wore --

Charged from my chimney corner --

But Nobody was there!


Dust is the only Secret --

Death, the only One

You cannot find out all about

In his "native town."

Nobody know "his Father" --

Never was a Boy --

Hadn’t any playmates,

Or "Early history" --

Industrious! Laconic!

Punctual! Sedate!

Bold as a Brigand!

Stiller than a Fleet!

Builds, like a Bird, too!

Christ robs the Nest --

Robin after Robin

Smuggled to Rest!


Except to Heaven, she is nought.

Except for Angels -- lone.

Except to some wide-wandering Bee

A flower superfluous blown.

Except for winds -- provincial.

Except by Butterflies

Unnoticed as a single dew

That on the Acre lies.

The smallest Housewife in the grass,

Yet take her from the Lawn

And somebody has lost the face

That made Existence -- Home!


The Murmur of a Bee

A Witchcraft -- yieldeth me --

If any ask me why --

‘Twere easier to die --

Than tell --

The Red upon the Hill

Taketh away my will --

If anybody sneer --

Take care -- for God is here --

That’s all.

The Breaking of the Day

Addeth to my Degree --

If any ask me how --

Artist -- who drew me so --

Must tell!


You love me -- you are sure --

I shall not fear mistake --

I shall not cheated wake --

Some grinning morn --

To find the Sunrise left --

And Orchards -- unbereft --

And Dollie -- gone!

I need not start -- you’re sure --

That night will never be --

When frightened -- home to Thee I run --

To find the windows dark --

And no more Dollie -- mark --

Quite none?

Be sure you’re sure -- you know --

I’ll bear it better now --

If you’ll just tell me so --

Than when -- a little dull Balm grown --

Over this pain of mine --

You sting -- again!


Musicians wrestle everywhere --

All day -- among the crowded air

I hear the silver strife --

And -- walking -- long before the morn --

Such transport breaks upon the town

I think it that "New Life"!

If is not Bird -- it has no nest --

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

Nor Tamborin -- nor Man --

It is not Hymn from pulpit read --

The "Morning Stars" the Treble led

On Time’s first Afternoon!

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

Some say that bright Majority

Of vanished Dames -- and Men!

Some -- think it service in the place

Where we -- with late -- celestial face --

Please God -- shall Ascertain!


Dying! Dying in the night!

Won’t somebody bring the light

So I can see which way to go

Into the everlasting snow?

And "Jesus"! Where is Jesus gone?

They said that Jesus -- always came --

Perhaps he doesn’t know the House --

This way, Jesus, Let him pass!

Somebody run to the great gate

And see if Dollie’s coming! Wait!

I hear her feet upon the stair!

Death won’t hurt -- now Dollie’s here!


A little bread -- a crust -- a crumb --

A little trust -- a demijohn --

Can keep the soul alive --

Not portly, mind! but breathing -- warm --

Conscious -- as old Napoleon,

The night before the Crown!

A modest lot -- A fame petite --

A brief Campaign of sting and sweet

Is plenty! Is enough!

A Sailor’s business is the shore!

A Soldier’s -- balls! Who asketh more,

Must seek the neighboring life!


Just lost, when I was saved!

Just felt the world go by!

Just girt me for the onset with Eternity,

When breath blew back,

And on the other side

I heard recede the disappointed tide!

Therefore, as One returned, I feel

Odd secrets of the line to tell!

Some Sailor, skirting foreign shores --

Some pale Reporter, from the awful doors

Before the Seal!

Next time, to stay!

Next time, the things to see

By Ear unheard,

Unscrutinized by Eye --

Next time, to tarry,

While the Ages steal --

Slow tramp the Centuries,

And the Cycles wheel!


A feather from the Whippoorwill

That everlasting -- sings!

Whose galleries -- are Sunrise --

Whose Opera -- the Springs --

Whose Emerald Nest the Ages spin

Of mellow -- murmuring thread --

Whose Beryl Egg, what Schoolboys hunt

In "Recess" -- Overhead!


My River runs to thee --

Blue Sea! Wilt welcome me?

My River wait reply --

Oh Sea -- look graciously --

I’ll fetch thee Brooks

From spotted nooks --

Say -- Sea -- Take Me!


Tho’ my destiny be Fustian --

Hers be damask fine --

Tho’ she wear a silver apron --

I, a less divine --

Still, my little Gypsy being

I would far prefer,

Still, my little sunburnt bosom

To her Rosier,

For, when Frosts, their punctual fingers

On her forehead lay,

You and I, and Dr. Holland,

Bloom Eternally!

Roses of a steadfast summer

In a steadfast land,

Where no Autumn lifts her pencil --

And no Reapers stand!


Mama never forgets her birds,

Though in another tree --

She looks down just as often

And just as tenderly

As when her little mortal nest

With cunning care she wove --

If either of her "sparrows fall,"

She "notices," above.


A Wounded Deer -- leaps highest --

I’ve heard the Hunter tell --

‘Tis but the Ecstasy of death --

And then the Brake is still!

The Smitten Rock that gushes!

The trampled Steel that springs!

A Cheek is always redder

Just where the Hectic stings!

Mirth is the Mail of Anguish

In which it Cautious Arm,

Lest anybody spy the blood

And "you’re hurt" exclaim!


I met a King this afternoon!

He had not on a Crown indeed,

A little Palmleaf Hat was all,

And he was barefoot, I’m afraid!

But sure I am he Ermine wore

Beneath his faded Jacket’s blue --

And sure I am, the crest he bore

Within that Jacket’s pocket too!

For ‘twas too stately for an Earl --

A Marquis would not go so grand!

‘Twas possibly a Czar petite --

A Pope, or something of that kind!

If I must tell you, of a Horse

My freckled Monarch held the rein --

Doubtless an estimable Beast,

But not at all disposed to run!

And such a wagon! While I live

Dare I presume to see

Another such a vehicle

As then transported me!

Two other ragged Princes

His royal state partook!

Doubtless the first excursion

These sovereigns ever took!

I question if the Royal Coach

Round which the Footmen wait

Has the significance, on high,

Of this Barefoot Estate!


To learn the Transport by the Pain

As Blind Men learn the sun!

To die of thirst -- suspecting

That Brooks in Meadows run!

To stay the homesick -- homesick feet

Upon a foreign shore --

Haunted by native lands, the while --

And blue -- beloved air!

This is the Sovereign Anguish!

This -- the signal woe!

These are the patient "Laureates"

Whose voices -- trained -- below --

Ascend in ceaseless Carol --

Inaudible, indeed,

To us -- the duller scholars

Of the Mysterious Bard!


If the foolish, call them "flowers" --

Need the wiser, tell?

If the Savants "Classify" them

It is just as well!

Those who read the "Revelations"

Must not criticize

Those who read the same Edition --

With beclouded Eyes!

Could we stand with that Old "Moses" --

"Canaan" denied --

Scan like him, the stately landscape

On the other side --

Doubtless, we should deem superfluous

Many Sciences,

Not pursued by learned Angels

In scholastic skies!

Low amid that glad Belles lettres

Grant that we may stand,

Stars, amid profound Galaxies --

At that grand "Right hand"!


In Ebon Box, when years have flown

To reverently peer,

Wiping away the velvet dust

Summers have sprinkled there!

To hold a letter to the light --

Grown Tawny now, with time --

To con the faded syllables

That quickened us like Wine!

Perhaps a Flower’s shrivelled check

Among its stores to find --

Plucked far away, some morning --

By gallant -- mouldering hand!

A curl, perhaps, from foreheads

Our Constancy forgot --

Perhaps, an Antique trinket --

In vanished fashions set!

And then to lay them quiet back --

And go about its care --

As if the little Ebon Box

Were none of our affair!


Portraits are to daily faces

As an Evening West,

To a fine, pedantic sunshine --

In a satin Vest!


Wait till the Majesty of Death

Invests so mean a brow!

Almost a powdered Footman

Might dare to touch it now!

Wait till in Everlasting Robes

That Democrat is dressed,

Then prate about "Preferment" --

And "Station," and the rest!

Around this quiet Courtier

Obsequious Angels wait!

Full royal is his Retinue!

Full purple is his state!

A Lord, might dare to lift the Hat

To such a Modest Clay

Since that My Lord, "the Lord of Lords"

Receives unblushingly!


‘Tis so much joy! ‘Tis so much joy!

If I should fail, what poverty!

And yet, as poor as I,

Have ventured all upon a throw!

Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so --

This side the Victory!

Life is but Life! And Death, but Death!

Bliss is, but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!

And if indeed I fail,

At least, to know the worst, is sweet!

Defeat means nothing but Defeat,

No drearier, can befall!

And if I gain! Oh Gun at Sea!

Oh Bells, that in the Steeples be!

At first, repeat it slow!

For Heaven is a different thing,

Conjectured, and waked sudden in --

And might extinguish me!


A fuzzy fellow, without feet,

Yet doth exceeding run!

Of velvet, is his Countenance,

And his Complexion, dun!

Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass!

Sometime, upon a bough,

From which he doth descend in plush

Upon the Passer-by!

All this in summer.

But when winds alarm the Forest Folk,

He taketh Damask Residence --

And struts in sewing silk!

Then, finer than a Lady,

Emerges in the spring!

A Feather on each shoulder!

You’d scarce recognize him!

By Men, yclept Caterpillar!

By me! But who am I,

To tell the pretty secret

Of the Butterfly!


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!


I have never seen "Volcanoes" --

But, when Travellers tell

How those old -- phlegmatic mountains

Usually so still --

Bear within -- appalling Ordnance,

Fire, and smoke, and gun,

Taking Villages for breakfast,

And appalling Men --

If the stillness is Volcanic

In the human face

When upon a pain Titanic

Features keep their place --

If at length the smouldering anguish

Will not overcome --

And the palpitating Vineyard

In the dust, be thrown?

If some loving Antiquary,

On Resumption Morn,

Will not cry with joy "Pompeii"!

To the Hills return!


I’m the little "Heart’s Ease"!

I don’t care for pouting skies!

If the Butterfly delay

Can I, therefore, stay away?

If the Coward Bumble Bee

In his chimney corner stay,

I, must resoluter be!

Who’ll apologize for me?

Dear, Old fashioned, little flower!

Eden is old fashioned, too!

Birds are antiquated fellows!

Heaven does not change her blue.

Nor will I, the little Heart’s Ease --

Ever be induced to do!


Ah, Necromancy Sweet!

Ah, Wizard erudite!

Teach me the skill,

That I instil the pain

Surgeons assuage in vain,

Nor Herb of all the plain

Can Heal!


I cautious, scanned my little life --

I winnowed what would fade

From what would last till Heads like mine

Should be a-dreaming laid.

I put the latter in a Barn --

The former, blew away.

I went one winter morning

And lo - my priceless Hay

Was not upon the "Scaffold" --

Was not upon the "Beam" --

And from a thriving Farmer --

A Cynic, I became.

Whether a Thief did it --

Whether it was the wind --

Whether Deity’s guiltless --

My business is, to find!

So I begin to ransack!

How is it Hearts, with Thee?

Art thou within the little Barn

Love provided Thee?


If I could bribe them by a Rose

I’d bring them every flower that grows

From Amherst to Cashmere!

I would not stop for night, or storm --

Or frost, or death, or anyone --

My business were so dear!

If they would linger for a Bird

My Tambourin were soonest heard

Among the April Woods!

Unwearied, all the summer long,

Only to break in wilder song

When Winter shook the boughs!

What if they hear me!

Who shall say

That such an importunity

May not at last avail?

That, weary of this Beggar’s face --

They may not finally say, Yes --

To drive her from the Hall?


As if some little Arctic flower

Upon the polar hem --

Went wandering down the Latitudes

Until it puzzled came

To continents of summer --

To firmaments of sun --

To strange, bright crowds of flowers --

And birds, of foreign tongue!

I say, As if this little flower

To Eden, wandered in --

What then? Why nothing,

Only, your inference therefrom!


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!


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!


I’ve heard an Organ talk, sometimes

In a Cathedral Aisle,

And understood no word it said --

Yet held my breath, the while --

And risen up -- and gone away,

A more Berdardine Girl --

Yet -- know not what was done to me

In that old Chapel Aisle.


A transport one cannot contain

May yet a transport be --

Though God forbid it lift the lid --

Unto its Ecstasy!

A Diagram -- of Rapture!

A sixpence at a Show --

With Holy Ghosts in Cages!

The Universe would go!


"Faith" is a fine invention

When Gentlemen can see --

But Microscopes are prudent

In an Emergency.


What shall I do -- it whimpers so --

This little Hound within the Heart

All day and night with bark and start --

And yet, it will not go --

Would you untie it, were you me --

Would it stop whining -- if to Thee --

I sent it -- even now?

It should not tease you --

By your chair -- or, on the mat --

Or if it dare -- to climb your dizzy knee --

Or -- sometimes at your side to run --

When you were willing --

Shall it come?

Tell Carlo --

He’ll tell me!


How many times these low feet staggered --

Only the soldered mouth can tell --

Try -- can you stir the awful rivet --

Try -- can you lift the hasps of steel!

Stroke the cool forehead -- hot so often --

Lift -- if you care -- the listless hair --

Handle the adamantine fingers

Never a thimble -- more -- shall wear --

Buzz the dull flies -- on the chamber window --

Brave -- shines the sun through the freckled pane --

Fearless -- the cobweb swings from the ceiling --

Indolent Housewife -- in Daisies -- lain!


Make me a picture of the sun --

So I can hang it in my room --

And make believe I’m getting warm

When others call it "Day"!

Draw me a Robin -- on a stem --

So I am hearing him, I’ll dream,

And when the Orchards stop their tune --

Put my pretense -- away --

Say if it’s really -- warm at noon --

Whether it’s Buttercups -- that "skim" --

Or Butterflies -- that "bloom"?

Then -- skip -- the frost -- upon the lea --

And skip the Russet -- on the tree --

Let’s play those -- never come!


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!


He was weak, and I was strong -- then --

So He let me lead him in --

I was weak, and He was strong then --

So I let him lead me -- Home.

‘Twasn’t far -- the door was near --

‘Twasn’t dark -- for He went -- too --

‘Twasn’t loud, for He said nought --

That was all I cared to know.

Day knocked -- and we must part --

Neither -- was strongest -- now --

He strove -- and I strove -- too --

We didn’t do it -- tho’!


The Skies can’t keep their secret!

They tell it to the Hills --

The Hills just tell the Orchards --

And they -- the Daffodils!

A Bird -- by chance -- that goes that way --

Soft overhears the whole --

If I should bribe the little Bird --

Who knows but she would tell?

I think I won’t -- however --

It’s finer -- not to know --

If Summer were an Axiom --

What sorcery had Snow?

So keep your secret -- Father!

I would not -- if I could,

Know what the Sapphire Fellows, do,

In your new-fashioned world!


Poor little Heart!

Did they forget thee?

Then dinna care! Then dinna care!

Proud little Heart!

Did they forsake thee?

Be debonnaire! Be debonnaire!

Frail little Heart!

I would not break thee --

Could’st credit me? Could’st credit me?

Gay little Heart --

Like Morning Glory!

Wind and Sun -- wilt thee array!


I shall know why -- when Time is over --

And I have ceased to wonder why --

Christ will explain each separate anguish

In the fair schoolroom of the sky --

He will tell me what "Peter" promised --

And I -- for wonder at his woe --

I shall forget the drop of Anguish

That scalds me now -- that scalds me now!


On this long storm the Rainbow rose --

On this late Morn -- the Sun --

The clouds -- like listless Elephants --

Horizons -- straggled down --

The Birds rose smiling, in their nests --

The gales -- indeed -- were done --

Alas, how heedless were the eyes --

On whom the summer shone!

The quiet nonchalance of death --

No Daybreak -- can bestir --

The slow -- Archangel’s syllables

Must awaken her!


For this -- accepted Breath --

Through it -- compete with Death --

The fellow cannot touch this Crown --

By it -- my title take --

Ah, what a royal sake

To my necessity -- stooped down!

No Wilderness -- can be

Where this attendeth me --

No Desert Noon --

No fear of frost to come

Haunt the perennial bloom --

But Certain June!

Get Gabriel -- to tell -- the royal syllable --

Get Saints -- with new -- unsteady tongue --

To say what trance below

Most like their glory show --

Fittest the Crown!


We don’t cry -- Tim and I,

We are far too grand --

But we bolt the door tight

To prevent a friend --

Then we hide our brave face

Deep in our hand --

Not to cry -- Tim and I --

We are far too grand --

Nor to dream -- he and me --

Do we condescend --

We just shut our brown eye

To see to the end --

Tim -- see Cottages --

But, Oh, so high!

Then -- we shake -- Tim and I --

And lest I -- cry --

Tim -- reads a little Hymn --

And we both pray --

Please, Sir, I and Tim --

Always lost the way!

We must die -- by and by --

Clergymen say --

Tim -- shall -- if I -- do --

I -- too -- if he --

How shall we arrange it --

Tim -- was -- so -- shy?

Take us simultaneous -- Lord --

I -- "Tim" -- and Me!


Morning -- is the place for Dew --

Corn -- is made at Noon --

After dinner light -- for flowers --

Dukes -- for Setting Sun!


An awful Tempest mashed the air --

The clouds were gaunt, and few --

A Black -- as of a Spectre’s Cloak

Hid Heaven and Earth from view.

The creatures chuckled on the Roofs --

And whistled in the air --

And shook their fists --

And gnashed their teeth --

And swung their frenzied hair.

The morning lit -- the Birds arose --

The Monster’s faded eyes

Turned slowly to his native coast --

And peace -- was Paradise!


I’m "wife" -- I’ve finished that --

That other state --

I’m Czar -- I’m "Woman" now --

It’s safer so --

How odd the Girl’s life looks

Behind this soft Eclipse --

I think that Earth feels so

To folks in Heaven -- now --

This being comfort -- then

That other kind -- was pain --

But why compare?

I’m "Wife"! Stop there!


I stole them from a Bee --

Because -- Thee --

Sweet plea --

He pardoned me!


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