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



I cannot want it more --

I cannot want it less --

My Human Nature’s fullest force

Expends itself on this.

And yet it nothing is

To him who easy owns --

Is Worth itself or Distance

He fathoms who obtains.




I think that the Root of the Wind is Water --

It would not sound so deep

Were it a Firmamental Product --

Airs no Oceans keep --

Mediterranean intonations --

To a Current’s Ear --

There is a maritime conviction

In the Atmosphere --




Not One by Heaven defrauded stay --

Although he seem to steal

He restitutes in some sweet way

Secreted in his will --




Not with a Club, the Heart is broken

Nor with a Stone --

A Whip so small you could not see it

I’ve known

To lash the Magic Creature

Till it fell,

Yet that Whip’s Name

Too noble then to tell.

Magnanimous as Bird

By Boy descried --

Singing unto the Stone

Of which it died --

Shame need not crouch

In such an Earth as Ours --

Shame -- stand erect --

The Universe is yours.




Recollect the Face of me

When in thy Felicity,

Due in Paradise today

Guest of mine assuredly --

Other Courtesies have been --

Other Courtesy may be --

We commend ourselves to thee

Paragon of Chivalry.




Surprise is like a thrilling -- pungent --

Upon a tasteless meat

Alone -- too acrid -- but combined

An edible Delight.




That short -- potential stir

That each can make but once --

That Bustle so illustrious

‘Tis almost Consequence --

Is the eclat of Death --

Oh, thou unknown Renown

That not a Beggar would accept

Had he the power to spurn --




The Day she goes

Or Day she stays

Are equally supreme --

Existence has a stated width

Departed, or at Home --




The Infinite a sudden Guest

Has been assumed to be --

But how can that stupendous come

Which never went away?




The Notice that is called the Spring

Is but a month from here --

Put up my Heart thy Hoary work

And take a Rosy Chair.

Not any House the Flowers keep --

The Birds enamor Care --

Our salary the longest Day

Is nothing but a Bier.




This dirty -- little -- Heart

Is freely mine.

I won it with a Bun --

A Freckled shrine --

But eligibly fair

To him who sees

The Visage of the Soul

And not the knees.




To break so vast a Heart

Required a Blow as vast --

No Zephyr felled this Cedar straight --

‘Twas undeserved Blast --




Warm in her Hand these accents lie

While faithful and afar

The Grace so awkward for her sake

Its fond subjection wear --




When a Lover is a Beggar

Abject is his Knee --

When a Lover is an Owner

Different is he --

What he begged is then the Beggar --

Oh disparity --

Bread of Heaven resents bestowal

Like an obloquy --




Which is the best -- the Moon or the Crescent?

Neither -- said the Moon --

That is best which is not -- Achieve it --

You efface the Sheen.

Not of detention is Fruition --

Shudder to attain.

Transport’s decomposition follows --

He is Prism born.




Winter is good -- his Hoar Delights

Italic flavor yield

To Intellects inebriate

With Summer, or the World --

Generic as a Quarry

And hearty -- as a Rose --

Invited with Asperity

But welcome when he goes.




Abraham to kill him --

Was distinctly told --

Isaac was an Urchin --

Abraham was old --

Not a hesitation --

Abraham complied --

Flattered by Obeisance

Tyranny demurred --

Isaac -- to his children

Lived to tell the tale --

Moral -- with a Mastiff

Manners may prevail.




Frigid and sweet Her parting Face --

Frigid and fleet my Feet --

Alien and vain whatever Clime

Acrid whatever Fate.

Given to me without the Suit

Riches and Name and Realm --

Who was She to withhold from me

Penury and Home?




How News must feel when travelling

If News have any Heart

Alighting at the Dwelling

‘Twill enter like a Dart!

What News must think when pondering

If News have any Thought

Concerning the stupendousness

Of its perceiveless freight!

What News will do when every Man

Shall comprehend as one

And not in all the Universe

A thing to tell remain?




Dear March -- Come in --

How glad I am --

I hoped for you before --

Put down your Hat --

You must have walked --

How out of Breath you are --

Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me --

I have so much to tell --

I got your Letter, and the Birds --

The Maples never knew that you were coming -- till I


I declare -- how Red their Faces grew --

But March, forgive me -- and

All those Hills you left for me to Hue --

There was no Purple suitable --

You took it all with you --

Who knocks? That April.

Lock the Door --

I will not be pursued --

He stayed away a Year to call

When I am occupied --

But trifles look so trivial

As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise

And Praise as mere as Blame --




Elizabeth told Essex

That she could not forgive

The clemency of Deity

However -- might survive --

That secondary succor

We trust that she partook

When suing -- like her Essex

For a reprieving Look --




Floss won’t save you from an Abyss

But a Rope will --

Notwithstanding a Rope for a Souvenir

Is not beautiful --

But I tell you every step is a Trough --

And every stop a Well --

Now will you have the Rope or the Floss?

Prices reasonable --




I never hear that one is dead

Without the chance of Life

Afresh annihilating me

That mightiest Belief,

Too mighty for the Daily mind

That tilling its abyss,

Had Madness, had it once or twice

The yawning Consciousness,

Beliefs are Bandaged, like the Tongue

When Terror were it told

In any Tone commensurate

Would strike us instant Dead

I do not know the man so bold

He dare in lonely Place

That awful stranger Consciousness

Deliberately face --




I send you a decrepit flower

That nature sent to me

At parting -- she was going south

And I designed to stay --

Her motive for the souvenir

If sentiment for me

Or circumstances prudential

Withheld invincibly --




Knock with tremor --

These are Caesars --

Should they be at Home

Flee as if you trod unthinking

On the Foot of Doom --

These receded to accostal

Centuries ago --

Should they rend you with "How are you"

What have you to show?




Our little secrets slink away --

Beside God’s shall not tell --

He kept his word a Trillion years

And might we not as well --

But for the niggardly delight

To make each other stare

Is there no sweet beneath the sun

With this that may compare --




The Symptom of the Gale --

The Second of Dismay --

Between its Rumor and its Face --

Is almost Revelry --

The Houses firmer root --

The Heavens cannot be found --

The Upper Surfaces of things

Take covert in the Ground --

The Mem’ry of the Sun

Not Any can recall --

Although by Nature’s sterling Watch

So scant an interval --

And when the Noise is caught

And Nature looks around --

"We dreamed it"? She interrogates --

"Good Morning" -- We propound?




The vastest earthly Day

Is shrunken small

By one Defaulting Face

Behind a Pall --




Whether they have forgotten

Or are forgetting now

Or never remembered --

Safer not to know --

Miseries of conjecture

Are a softer woe

Than a Fact of Iron

Hardened with I know --




Without a smile -- Without a Throe

A Summer’s soft Assemblies go

To their entrancing end

Unknown -- for all the times we met --

Estranged, however intimate --

What a dissembling Friend --




Wonder -- is not precisely Knowing

And not precisely Knowing not --

A beautiful but bleak condition

He has not lived who has not felt --

Suspense -- is his maturer Sister --

Whether Adult Delight is Pain

Or of itself a new misgiving --

This is the Gnat that mangles men --




Pink -- small -- and punctual --

Aromatic -- low --

Covert -- in April --

Candid -- in May --

Dear to the Moss --

Known to the Knoll --

Next to the Robin

In every human Soul --

Bold little Beauty

Bedecked with thee

Nature forswears

Antiquity --




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!




How soft this Prison is

How sweet these sullen bars

No Despot but the King of Down

Invented this repose

Of Fate if this is All

Has he no added Realm

A Dungeon but a Kinsman is

Incarceration -- Home.




Let me not mar that perfect Dream

By an Auroral stain

But so adjust my daily Night

That it will come again.

Not when we know, the Power accosts --

The Garment of Surprise

Was all our timid Mother wore

At Home -- in Paradise.




Nature assigns the Sun --

That -- is Astronomy --

Nature cannot enact a Friend --

That -- is Astrology.




Upon a Lilac Sea

To toss incessantly

His Plush Alarm

Who fleeing from the Spring

The Spring avenging fling

To Dooms of Balm




What tenements of clover

Are fitting for the bee,

What edifices azure

For butterflies and me --

What residences nimble

Arise and evanesce

Without a rhythmic rumor

Or an assaulting guess.




A Bee his burnished Carriage

Drove boldly to a Rose --

Combinedly alighting --

Himself -- his Carriage was --

The Rose received his visit

With frank tranquillity

Withholding not a Crescent

To his Cupidity --

Their Moment consummated --

Remained for him -- to flee --

Remained for her -- of rapture

But the humility.




A Rat surrendered here

A brief career of Cheer

And Fraud and Fear.

Of Ignominy’s due

Let all addicted to


The most obliging Trap

Its tendency to snap

Cannot resist --

Temptation is the Friend

Repugnantly resigned

At last.




Unto the Whole -- how add?

Has "All" a further realm --

Or Utmost an Ulterior?

Oh, Subsidy of Balm!




"Was not" was all the Statement.

The Unpretension stuns --

Perhaps -- the Comprehension --

They wore no Lexicons --

But lest our Speculation

In inanition die

Because "God took him" mention --

That was Philology --




A single Clover Plank

Was all that saved a Bee

A Bee I personally knew

From sinking in the sky --

‘Twixt Firmament above

And Firmament below

The Billows of Circumference

Were sweeping him away --

The idly swaying Plank

Responsible to nought

A sudden Freight of Wind assumed

And Bumble Bee was not --

This harrowing event

Transpiring in the Grass

Did not so much as wring from him

A wandering "Alas" --




Not any more to be lacked --

Not any more to be known --

Denizen of Significance

For a span so worn --

Even Nature herself

Has forgot it is there --

Sedulous of her Multitudes

Notwithstanding Despair --

Of the Ones that pursued it

Suing it not to go

Some have solaced the longing

To accompany --

Some -- rescinded the Wrench --

Others -- Shall I say

Plated the residue of Adz

With Monotony.




An antiquated Grace

Becomes that cherished Face

As well as prime

Enjoining us to part

We and our pouting Heart

Good friends with time




As Summer into Autumn slips

And yet we sooner say

"The Summer" than "the Autumn," lest

We turn the sun away,

And almost count it an Affront

The presence to concede

Of one however lovely, not

The one that we have loved --

So we evade the charge of Years

On one attempting shy

The Circumvention of the Shaft

Of Life’s Declivity.




Escape is such a thankful Word

I often in the Night

Consider it unto myself

No spectacle in sight

Escape -- it is the Basket

In which the Heart is caught

When down some awful Battlement

The rest of Life is dropt --

‘Tis not to sight the savior --

It is to be the saved --

And that is why I lay my Head

Upon this trusty word --




Lift it -- with the Feathers

Not alone we fly --

Launch it -- the aquatic

Not the only sea --

Advocate the Azure

To the lower Eyes --

He has obligation

Who has Paradise --




I’d rather recollect a setting

Than own a rising sun

Though one is beautiful forgetting --

And true the other one.

Because in going is a Drama

Staying cannot confer

To die divinely once a Twilight --

Than wane is easier --




Luck is not chance --

It’s Toil --

Fortune’s expensive smile

Is earned --

The Father of the Mine

Is that old-fashioned Coin

We spurned --




You cannot take itself

From any Human soul --

That indestructible estate

Enable him to dwell --

Impregnable as Light

That every man behold

But take away as difficult

As undiscovered Gold --




To his simplicity

To die -- was little Fate --

If Duty live -- contented

But her Confederate.




The last of Summer is Delight --

Deterred by Retrospect.

‘Tis Ecstasy’s revealed Review --

Enchantment’s Syndicate.

To meet it -- nameless as it is --

Without celestial Mail --

Audacious as without a Knock

To walk within the Veil.




The Heart is the Capital of the Mind --

The Mind is a single State --

The Heart and the Mind together make

A single Continent --

One -- is the Population --

Numerous enough --

This ecstatic Nation

Seek -- it is Yourself.




The Mind lives on the Heart

Like any Parasite --

If that is full of Meat

The Mind is fat.

But if the Heart omit

Emaciate the Wit --

The Aliment of it

So absolute.




The Rat is the concisest Tenant.

He pays no Rent.

Repudiates the Obligation --

On Schemes intent

Balking our Wit

To sound or circumvent --

Hate cannot harm

A Foe so reticent --

Neither Decree prohibit him --

Lawful as Equilibrium.




"Faithful to the end" Amended

From the Heavenly Clause --

Constancy with a Proviso

Constancy abhors --

"Crowns of Life" are servile Prizes

To the stately Heart,

Given for the Giving, solely,

No Emolument.


"Faithful to the end" Amended

From the Heavenly clause --

Lucrative indeed the offer

But the Heart withdraws --

"I will give" the base Proviso --

Spare Your "Crown of Life" --

Those it fits, too fair to wear it --

Try it on Yourself --




The Treason of an accent

Might Ecstasy transfer --

Of her effacing Fathom

Is no Recoverer --


The Treason of an Accent

Might vilify the Joy --

To breathe -- corrode the rapture

Of Sanctity to be --




The long sigh of the Frog

Upon a Summer’s Day

Enacts intoxication

Upon the Revery --

But his receding Swell

Substantiates a Peace

That makes the Ear inordinate

For corporal release --




I sued the News -- yet feared -- the News

That such a Realm could be --

"The House not made with Hands" it was --

Thrown open wide to me --




The Flake the Wind exasperate

More eloquently lie

Than if escorted to its Down

By Arm of Chivalry.




Of their peculiar light

I keep one ray

To clarify the Sight

To seek them by --




Summer laid her simple Hat

On its boundless Shelf --

Unobserved -- a Ribbon slipt,

Snatch it for yourself.

Summer laid her supple Glove

In its sylvan Drawer --

Wheresoe’er, or was she --

The demand of Awe?




How know it from a Summer’s Day?

Its Fervors are as firm --

And nothing in the Countenance

But scintillates the same --

Yet Birds examine it and flee --

And Vans without a name

Inspect the Admonition

And sunder as they came --




Take all away --

The only thing worth larceny

Is left -- the Immortality --




Brother of Ingots -- Ah Peru --

Empty the Hearts that purchased you --


Sister of Ophir --

Ah, Peru --

Subtle the Sum

That purchase you --


Brother of Ophir

Bright Adieu,

Honor, the shortest route

To you.




"Tomorrow" -- whose location

The Wise deceives

Though its hallucination

Is last that leaves --

Tomorrow -- thou Retriever

Of every tare --

Of Alibi art thou

Or ownest where?




Love’s stricken "why"

Is all that love can speak --

Built of but just a syllable

The hugest hearts that break.




Trusty as the stars

Who quit their shining working

Prompt as when I lit them

In Genesis’ new house,

Durable as dawn

Whose antiquated blossom

Makes a world’s suspense

Perish and rejoice.




Gathered into the Earth,

And out of story --

Gathered so that strange Fame --

That lonesome Glory

That hath no omen here -- but Awe --




How fits his Umber Coat

The Tailor of the Nut?

Combined without a seam

Like Raiment of a Dream --

Who spun the Auburn Cloth?

Computed how the girth?

The Chestnut aged grows

In those primeval Clothes --

We know that we are wise --

Accomplished in Surprise --

Yet by this Countryman --

This nature -- how undone!




The Sun is one -- and on the Tare

He doth as punctual call

As on the conscientious Flower

And estimates them all --




The worthlessness of Earthly things

The Ditty is that Nature Sings --

And then -- enforces their delight

Till Synods are inordinate --




A Saucer holds a Cup

In sordid human Life

But in a Squirrel’s estimate

A Saucer hold a Loaf.

A Table of a Tree

Demands the little King

And every Breeze that run along

His Dining Room do swing.

His Cutlery -- he keeps

Within his Russer Lips --

To see it flashing when he dines

Do Birmingham eclipse --

Convicted -- could we be

Of our Minutiae

The smallest Citizen that flies

Is heartier than we --




Death warrants are supposed to be

An enginery of equity

A merciful mistake

A pencil in an Idol’s Hand

A Devotee has oft consigned

To Crucifix or Block




Dreams are the subtle Dower

That make us rich an Hour --

Then fling us poor

Out of the purple Door

Into the Precinct raw

Possessed before --




Forbidden Fruit a flavor has

That lawful Orchards mocks --

How luscious lies within the Pod

The Pea that Duty locks --




His Heart was darker than the starless night

For that there is a morn

But in this black Receptacle

Can be no Bode of Dawn




His Mansion in the Pool

The Frog forsakes --

He rises on a Log

And statements makes --

His Auditors two Worlds

Deducting me --

The Orator of April

Is hoarse Today --

His Mittens at his Feet

No Hand hath he --

His eloquence a Bubble

As Fame should be --

Applaud him to discover

To your chagrin

Demosthenes has vanished

In Waters Green --




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 --




I suppose the time will come

Aid it in the coming

When the Bird will crowd the Tree

And the Bee be booming.

I suppose the time will come

Hinder it a little

When the Corn in Silk will dress

And in Chintz the Apple

I believe the Day will be

When the Jay will giggle

At his new white House the Earth

That, too, halt a little --




In many and reportless places

We feel a Joy --

Reportless, also, but sincere as Nature

Or Deity --

It comes, without a consternation --

Dissolves -- the same --

But leaves a sumptuous Destitution --

Without a Name --

Profane it by a search -- we cannot

It has no home --

Nor we who having once inhaled it --

Thereafter roam.




Long Years apart -- can make no

Breach a second cannot fill --

The absence of the Witch does not

Invalidate the spell --

The embers of a Thousand Years

Uncovered by the Hand

That fondled them when they were Fire

Will stir and understand --




Praise it -- ‘tis dead --

It cannot glow --

Warm this inclement Ear

With the encomium it earned

Since it was gathered here --

Invest this alabaster Zest

In the Delights of Dust --

Remitted -- since it flitted it

In recusance august.




"Secrets" is a daily word

Yet does not exist --

Muffled -- it remits surmise --

Murmured -- it has ceased --

Dungeoned in the Human Breast

Doubtless secrets lie --

But that Grate inviolate --

Goes nor comes away

Nothing with a Tongue or Ear --

Secrets stapled there

Will emerge but once -- and dumb --

To the Sepulchre --




Summer -- we all have seen --

A few of us -- believed --

A few -- the more aspiring

Unquestionably loved --

But Summer does not care --

She goes her spacious way

As eligible as the moon

To our Temerity --

The Doom to be adored --

The Affluence conferred --

Unknown as to an Ecstasy

The Embryo endowed --




The Butterfly’s Numidian Gown

With spots of Burnish roasted on

Is proof against the Sun

Yet prone to shut its spotted Fan

And panting on a Clover lean

As if it were undone --




Those cattle smaller than a Bee

That herd upon the eye --

Whose tillage is the passing Crumb --

Those Cattle are the Fly --

Of Barns for Winter -- blameless --

Extemporaneous stalls

They found to our objection --

On eligible walls --

Reserving the presumption

To suddenly descend

And gallop on the Furniture --

Or odiouser offend --

Of their peculiar calling

Unqualified to judge

To Nature we remand them

To justify or scourge --




Touch lightly Nature’s sweet Guitar

Unless thou know’st the Tune

Or every Bird will point at thee

Because a Bard too soon --




These held their Wick above the West --

Till when the Red declined --

Or how the Amber aided it --

Defied to be defined --

Then waned without disparagement

In a dissembling Hue

That would not let the Eye decide

Did it abide or no --




They might not need me -- yet they might --

I’ll let my Heart be just in sight --

A smile so small as mine might be

Precisely their necessity --




Hope is a strange invention --

A Patent of the Heart --

In unremitting action

Yet never wearing out --

Of this electric Adjunct

Not anything is known

But its unique momentum

Embellish all we own --




Lay this Laurel on the One

Too intrinsic for Renown --

Laurel -- veil your deathless tree --

Him you chasten, that is He!




Whose Pink career may have a close

Portentous as our own, who knows?

To imitate these Neighbors fleet

In awe and innocence, were meet.




After all Birds have been investigated and laid aside --

Nature imparts the little Blue-Bird -- assured

Her conscientious Voice will soar unmoved

Above ostensible Vicissitude.

First at the March -- competing with the Wind --

Her panting note exalts us -- like a friend --

Last to adhere when Summer cleaves away --

Elegy of Integrity.




She laid her docile Crescent down

And this confiding Stone

Still states to Dates that have forgot

The News that she is gone --

So constant to its stolid trust,

The Shaft that never knew --

It shames the Constancy that fled

Before its emblem flew --




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.




I have no Life but this --

To lead it here --

Nor any Death -- but lest

Dispelled from there --

Nor tie to Earths to come --

Nor Action new --

Except through this extent --

The Realm of you --




Perhaps they do not go so far

As we who stay, suppose --

Perhaps come closer, for the lapse

Of their corporeal clothes --

It may be know so certainly

How short we have to fear

That comprehension antedates

And estimates us there --




What mystery pervades a well!

That 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.


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