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

 

1401

To own a Susan of my own

Is of itself a Bliss --

Whatever Realm I forfeit, Lord,

Continue me in this!

 

 

1402

To the stanch Dust

We safe commit thee --

Tongue if it hath,

Inviolate to thee --

Silence -- denote --

And Sanctity -- enforce thee --

Passenger -- of Infinity --

 

 

1403

My Maker -- let me be

Enamored most of thee --

But nearer this

I more should miss --

 

 

1404

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.

 

 

1405

Bees are Black, with Gilt Surcingles --

Buccaneers of Buzz.

Ride abroad in ostentation

And subsist on Fuzz.

Fuzz ordained -- not Fuzz contingent --

Marrows of the Hill.

Jugs -- a Universe’s fracture

Could not jar or spill.

 

 

1406

No Passenger was known to flee --

That lodged a night in memory --

That wily -- subterranean Inn

Contrives that none go out again --

 

 

1407

A Field of Stubble, lying sere

Beneath the second Sun --

Its Toils to Brindled People thrust --

Its Triumphs -- to the Bin --

Accosted by a timid Bird

Irresolute of Alms --

Is often seen -- but seldom felt,

On our New England Farms --

 

 

1408

The Fact that Earth is Heaven --

Whether Heaven is Heaven or not

If not an Affidavit

Of that specific Spot

Not only must confirm us

That it is not for us

But that it would affront us

To dwell in such a place --

 

 

1409

Could mortal lip divine

The undeveloped Freight

Of a delivered syllable

‘Twould crumble with the weight.

 

 

1410

I shall not murmur if at last

The ones I loved below

Permission have to understand

For what I shunned them so --

Divulging it would rest my Heart

But it would ravage theirs --

Why, Katie, Treason has a Voice --

But mine -- dispels -- in Tears.

 

 

1411

Of Paradise’ existence

All we know

Is the uncertain certainty --

But its vicinity infer,

By its Bisecting

Messenger --

 

 

1412

Shame is the shawl of Pink

In which we wrap the Soul

To keep it from infesting Eyes --

The elemental Veil

Which helpless Nature drops

When pushed upon a scene

Repugnant to her probity --

Shame is the tint divine.

 

 

1413

Sweet Skepticism of the Heart --

That knows -- and does not know --

And tosses like a Fleet of Balm --

Affronted by the snow --

Invites and then retards the Truth

Lest Certainty be sere

Compared with the delicious throe

Of transport thrilled with Fear --

 

 

1414

Unworthy of her Breast

Though by that scathing test

What Soul survive?

By her exacting light

How counterfeit the white

We chiefly have!

 

 

1415

A wild Blue sky abreast of Winds

That threatened it -- did run

And crouched behind his Yellow Door

Was the defiant sun --

Some conflict with those upper friends

So genial in the main

That we deplore peculiarly

Their arrogant campaign --

 

 

1416

Crisis is sweet and yet the Heart

Upon the hither side

Has Dowers of Prospective

To Denizens denied

Inquire of the closing Rose

Which rapture she preferred

And she will point you sighing

To her rescinded Bud.

 

 

1417

How Human Nature dotes

On what it can’t detect.

The moment that a Plot is plumbed

Prospective is extinct --

Prospective is the friend

Reserved for us to know

When Constancy is clarified

Of Curiosity --

Of subjects that resist

Redoubtablest is this

Where go we --

Go we anywhere

Creation after this?

 

 

1418

How lonesome the Wind must feel Nights --

When people have put out the Lights

And everything that has an Inn

Closes the shutter and goes in --

How pompous the Wind must feel Noons

Stepping to incorporeal Tunes

Correcting errors of the sky

And clarifying scenery

How mighty the Wind must feel Morns

Encamping on a thousand dawns

Espousing each and spurning all

Then soaring to his Temple Tall --

 

 

1419

It was a quiet seeming Day --

There was no harm in earth or sky --

Till with the closing sun

There strayed an accidental Red

A Strolling Hue, one would have said

To westward of the Town --

But when the Earth began to jar

And Houses vanished with a roar

And Human Nature hid

We comprehended by the Awe

As those that Dissolution saw

The Poppy in the Cloud

 

 

1420

One Joy of so much anguish

Sweet nature has for me

I shun it as I do Despair

Or dear iniquity --

Why Birds, a Summer morning

Before the Quick of Day

Should stab my ravished spirit

With Dirks of Melody

Is part of an inquiry

That will receive reply

When Flesh and Spirit sunder

In Death’s Immediately --

 

 

1421

Such are the inlets of the mind --

His outlets -- would you see

Ascend with me the eminence

Of immortality --

 

 

1422

Summer has two Beginnings --

Beginning once in June --

Beginning in October

Affectingly again --

Without, perhaps, the Riot

But graphicker for Grace --

As finer is a going

Than a remaining Face --

Departing then -- forever --

Forever -- until May --

Forever is deciduous

Except to those who die --

 

 

1423

The fairest Home I ever knew

Was founded in an Hour

By Parties also that I knew

A spider and a Flower --

A manse of mechlin and of Floes --

 

 

1424

The Gentian has a parched Corolla --

Like azure dried

‘Tis Nature’s buoyant juices

Beatified --

Without a vaunt or sheen

As casual as Rain

And as benign --

When most is part -- it comes --

Nor isolate it seems

Its Bond its Friend --

To fill its Fringed career

And aid an aged Year

Abundant end --

Its lot -- were it forgot --

This Truth endear --

Fidelity is gain

Creation is o’er --

 

 

1425

The inundation of the Spring

Enlarges every soul --

It sweeps the tenement away

But leaves the Water whole --

In which the soul at first estranged --

Seeks faintly for its shore

But acclimated -- pines no more

For that Peninsula --

 

 

1426

The pretty Rain from those sweet Eaves

Her unintending Eyes --

Took her own Heart, including ours,

By innocent Surprise --

The wrestle in her simple Throat

To hold the feeling down

That vanquished her -- defeated Feat --

Was Fervor’s sudden Crown --

 

 

1427

To earn it by disdaining it

Is Fame’s consummate Fee --

He loves what spurns him --

Look behind -- He is pursuing thee.

So let us gather -- every Day --

The Aggregate of

Life’s Bouquet

Be Honor and not shame --

 

 

1428

Water makes many Beds

For those averse to sleep --

Its awful chamber open stands --

Its Curtains blandly sweep --

Abhorrent is the Rest

In undulating Rooms

Whose Amplitude no end invades --

Whose Axis never comes.

 

 

1429

We shun because we prize her Face

Lest sight’s ineffable disgrace

Our Adoration stain

 

 

1430

Who never wanted -- maddest Joy

Remains to him unknown --

The Banquet of Abstemiousness

Defaces that of Wine --

Within its reach, though yet ungrasped

Desire’s perfect Goal --

No nearer -- lest the Actual --

Should disentrall thy soul --

 

 

1431

With Pinions of Disdain

The soul can farther fly

Than any feather specified

in Ornithology --

It wafts this sordid Flesh

Beyond its dull -- control

And during its electric gale --

The body is a soul --

instructing by the same --

How little work it be --

To put off filaments like this

for immortality

 

 

1432

Spurn the temerity --

Rashness of Calvary --

Gay were Gethsemane

Knew we of Thee --

 

 

1433

How brittle are the Piers

On which our Faith doth tread --

No Bridge below doth totter so --

Yet none hath such a Crowd.

It is as old as God --

Indeed -- ‘twas built by him --

He sent his Son to test the Plank,

And he pronounced it firm.

 

 

1434

Go not too near a House of Rose --

The depredation of a Breeze --

Or inundation of a Dew

Alarms its walls away --

Nor try to tie the Butterfly,

Nor climb the Bars of Ecstasy,

In insecurity to lie

Is Joy’s insuring quality.

 

 

1435

Not that he goes -- we love him more

Who led us while he stayed.

Beyond earth’s trafficking frontier,

For what he moved, he made.

 

 

1436

Than Heaven more remote,

For Heaven is the root,

But these the flitted seed.

More flown indeed

Than ones that never were,

Or those that hide, and are.

What madness, by their side,

A vision to provide

Of future days

They cannot praise.

My soul, to find them, come,

They cannot call, they’re dumb,

Nor prove, nor woo,

But that they have abode

Is absolute as God,

And instant, too.

 

 

1437

A Dew sufficed itself --

And satisfied a Leaf

And felt "how vast a destiny" --

"How trivial is Life!"

The Sun went out to work --

The Day went out to play

And not again that Dew be seen

By Physiognomy

Whether by Day Abducted

Or emptied by the Sun

Into the Sea in passing

Eternally unknown

Attested to this Day

That awful Tragedy

By Transport’s instability

And Doom’s celerity.

 

 

1438

Behold this little Bane --

The Boon of all alive --

As common as it is unknown

The name of it is Love --

To lack of it is Woe --

To own of it is Wound --

Not elsewhere -- if in Paradise

Its Tantamount be found --

 

 

1439

How ruthless are the gentle --

How cruel are the kind --

God broke his contract to his Lamb

To qualify the Wind --

 

 

1440

The healed Heart shows its shallow scar

With confidential moan --

Not mended by Mortality

Are Fabrics truly torn --

To go its convalescent way

So shameless is to see

More genuine were Perfidy

Than such Fidelity.

 

 

1441

These Fevered Days -- to take them to the Forest

Where Waters cool around the mosses crawl --

And shade is all that devastates the stillness

Seems it sometimes this would be all --

 

 

1442

To mend each tattered Faith

There is a needle fair

Though no appearance indicate --

‘Tis threaded in the Air --

And though it do not wear

As if it never Tore

‘Tis very comfortable indeed

And spacious as before --

 

 

1443

A chilly Peace infests the Grass

The Sun respectful lies --

Not any Trance of industry

These shadows scrutinize --

Whose Allies go no more astray

For service or for Glee --

But all mankind deliver here

From whatsoever sea --

 

 

1444

A little Snow was here and there

Disseminated in her Hair --

Since she and I had met and played

Decade had gathered to Decade --

But Time had added not obtained

Impregnable the Rose

For summer too indelible

Too obdurate for Snows --

 

 

1445

Death is the supple Suitor

That wins at last --

It is a stealthy Wooing

Conducted first

By pallid innuendoes

And dim approach

But brave at last with Bugles

And a bisected Coach

It bears away in triumph

To Troth unknown

And Kindred as responsive

As Porcelain.

 

 

1446

His Mind like Fabrics of the East

Displayed to the despair

Of everyone but here and there

An humble Purchaser --

For though his price was not of Gold --

More arduous there is --

That one should comprehend the worth

Was all the price there was --

 

 

1447

How good his Lava Bed,

To this laborious Boy --

Who must be up to call the World

And dress the sleepy Day --

 

 

1448

How soft a Caterpillar steps --

I fond one on my Hand

From such a velvet world it comes

Such plushes at command

Its soundless travels just arrest

My slow -- terrestrial eye

Intent upon its own career

What use has it for me --

 

 

1449

I thought the Train would never come --

How slow the whistle sang --

I don’t believe a peevish Bird

So whimpered for the Spring --

I taught my Heart a hundred times

Precisely what to say --

Provoking Lover, when you came

Its Treatise flew away

To hide my strategy too late

To wiser be too soon --

For miseries so halcyon

The happiness atone --

 

 

1450

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 --

 

 

1451

Whoever disenchants

A single Human soul

By failure of irreverence

Is guilty of the whole.

As guileless as a Bird

As graphic as a star

Till the suggestion sinister

Things are not what they are --

 

 

1452

Your thoughts don’t have words every day

They 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 its infrequency

 

 

1453

A Counterfeit -- a Plated Person --

I would not be --

Whatever strata of Iniquity

My Nature underlie --

Truth is good Health -- and Safety, and the Sky.

How meagre, what an Exile -- is a Lie,

And Vocal -- when we die --

 

 

1454

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 --

 

 

1455

Opinion is a flitting thing,

But Truth, outlasts the Sun --

If then we cannot own them both --

Possess the oldest one --

 

 

1456

So gay a Flower

Bereaves the Mind

As if it were a Woe --

Is Beauty an Affliction -- then?

Tradition ought to know --

 

 

1457

It stole along so stealthy

Suspicion it was done

Was dim as to the wealthy

Beginning not to own --

 

 

1458

Time’s wily Chargers will not wait

At any Gate but Woe’s --

But there -- so gloat to hesitate

They will not stir for blows --

 

 

1459

Belshazzar had a Letter --

He never had but one --

Belshazzar’s Correspondent

Concluded and begun

In that immortal Copy

The Conscience of us all

Can read without its Glasses

On Revelation’s Wall --

 

 

1460

His Cheek is his Biographer --

As long as he can blush

Perdition is Opprobrium --

Past that, he sins in peace --

 

 

1461

"Heavenly Father" -- take to thee

The supreme iniquity

Fashioned by thy candid Hand

In a moment contraband --

Though to trust us -- seems to us

More respectful -- "We are Dust" --

We apologize to thee

For thine own Duplicity --

 

 

1462

We knew not that we were to live --

Nor when -- we are to die --

Our ignorance -- our cuirass is --

We wear Mortality

As lightly as an Option Gown

Till asked to take it off --

By his intrusion, God is known --

It is the same with Life --

 

 

1463

A Route of Evanescence

With a revolving Wheel --

A Resonance of Emerald --

A Rush of Cochineal --

And every Blossom on the Bush

Adjusts its tumbled Head --

The mail from Tunis, probably,

An easy Morning’s Ride --

 

 

1464

One thing of it we borrow

And promise to return --

The Booty and the Sorrow

Its Sweetness to have known --

One thing of it we covet --

The power to forget --

The Anguish of the Avarice

Defrays the Dross of it --

 

 

1465

Before you thought of Spring

Except as a Surmise

You see -- God bless his suddenness --

A Fellow in the Skies

Of independent Hues

A little weather worn

Inspiriting habiliments

Of Indigo and Brown --

With specimens of Song

As if for you to choose --

Discretion in the interval

With gay delays he goes

To some superior Tree

Without a single Leaf

And shouts for joy to Nobody

But his seraphic self --

 

 

1466

One of the ones that Midas touched

Who failed to touch us all

Was that confiding Prodigal

The reeling Oriole --

So drunk he disavows it

With badinage divine --

So dazzling we mistake him

For an alighting Mine --

A Pleader -- a Dissembler --

An Epicure -- a Thief --

Betimes an Oratorio --

An Ecstasy in chief --

The Jesuit of Orchards

He cheats as he enchants

Of an entire Attar

For his decamping wants --

The splendor of a Burmah

The Meteor of Birds,

Departing like a Pageant

Of Ballads and of Bards --

I never thought that Jason sought

For any Golden Fleece

But then I am a rural man

With thoughts that make for Peace --

But if there were a Jason,

Tradition bear with me

Behold his lost Aggrandizement

Upon the Apple Tree --

 

 

1467

A little overflowing word

That any, hearing, had inferred

For Ardor or for Tears,

Though Generations pass away,

Traditions ripen and decay,

As eloquent appears --

 

 

1468

A winged spark doth soar about --

I never met it near

For Lightning it is oft mistook

When nights are hot and sere --

Its twinkling Travels it pursues

Above the Haunts of men --

A speck of Rapture -- first perceived

By feeling it is gone --

Rekindled by some action quaint

 

 

1469

If wrecked upon the Shoal of Thought

How is it with the Sea?

The only Vessel that is shunned

Is safe -- Simplicity --

 

 

1470

The Sweets of Pillage, can be known

To no one but the Thief --

Compassion for Integrity

Is his divinest Grief --

 

 

1471

Their Barricade against the Sky

The martial Trees withdraw

And with a Flag at every turn

Their Armies are no more.

What Russet Halts in Nature’s March

They indicate or cause

An inference of Mexico

Effaces the Surmise --

Recurrent to the After Mind

That Massacre of Air --

The Wound that was not Wound nor Scar

But Holidays of War

 

 

1472

To see the Summer Sky

Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie --

True Poems flee --

 

 

1473

We talked with each other about each other

Though neither of us spoke --

We were listening to the seconds’ Races

And the Hoofs of the Clock --

Pausing in Front of our Palsied Faces

Time compassion took --

Arks of Reprieve he offered to us --

Ararats -- we took --

 

 

1474

Estranged from Beauty -- none can be --

For Beauty is Infinity --

And power to be finite ceased

Before Identity was leased.

 

 

1475

Fame is the one that does not stay --

Its occupant must die

Or out of sight of estimate

Ascend incessantly --

Or be that most insolvent thing

A Lightning in the Germ --

Electrical the embryo

But we demand the Flame

 

 

1476

His voice decrepit was with Joy --

Her words did totter so

How old the News of Love must be

To make Lips elderly

That purled a moment since with Glee --

Is it Delight or Woe --

Or Terror -- that do decorate

This livid interview --

 

 

1477

How destitute is he

Whose Gold is firm

Who finds it every time

The small stale Sum --

When Love with but a Pence

Will so display

As is a disrespect

To India.

 

 

1478

Look back on Time, with kindly eyes --

He doubtless did his best --

How softly sinks that trembling sun

In Human Nature’s West --

 

 

1479

The Devil -- had he fidelity

Would be the best friend --

Because he has ability --

But Devils cannot mend --

Perfidy is the virtue

That would but he resign

The Devil -- without question

Were thoroughly divine

 

 

1480

The fascinating chill that music leaves

Is Earth’s corroboration

Of Ecstasy’s impediment --

‘Tis Rapture’s germination

In timid and tumultuous soil

A fine -- estranging creature --

To something upper wooing us

But not to our Creator --

 

 

1481

The way Hope builds his House

It is not with a sill --

Nor Rafter -- has that Edifice

But only Pinnacle --

Abode in as supreme

This superficies

As if it were of Ledges smit

Or mortised with the Laws --

 

 

1482

‘Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe --

‘Tis dimmer than a Lace --

No stature has it, like a Fog

When you approach the place --

Nor any voice imply it here

Or intimate it there

A spirit -- how doth it accost --

What function hat the Air?

This limitless Hyperbole

Each one of us shall be --

‘Tis Drama -- if Hypothesis

It be not Tragedy --

 

 

1483

The Robin is a Gabriel

In humble circumstances --

His Dress denotes him socially,

Of Transport’s Working Classes --

He has the punctuality

Of the New England Farmer --

The same oblique integrity,

A Vista vastly warmer --

A small but sturdy Residence

A self denying Household,

The Guests of Perspicacity

Are all that cross his Threshold --

As covert as a Fugitive,

Cajoling Consternation

By Ditties to the Enemy

And Sylvan Punctuation --

 

 

1484

We shall find the Cube of the Rainbow.

Of that, there is no doubt.

But the Arc of a Lover’s conjecture

Eludes the finding out.

 

 

1485

Love is done when Love’s begun,

Sages say,

But have Sages known?

Truth adjourn your Boon

Without Day.

 

 

1486

Her spirit rose to such a height

Her countenance it did inflate

Like one that fed on awe.

More prudent to assault the dawn

Than merit the ethereal scorn

That effervesced from her.

 

 

1487

The Savior must have been

A docile Gentleman --

To come so far so cold a Day

For little Fellowmen --

The Road to Bethlehem

Since He and I were Boys

Was leveled, but for that ‘twould be

A rugged billion Miles --

 

 

1488

Birthday of but a single pang

That there are less to come --

Afflictive is the Adjective

But affluent the doom --

 

 

1489

A Dimple in the Tomb

Makes that ferocious Room

A Home --

 

 

1490

The Face in evanescence lain

Is more distinct than ours --

And ours surrendered for its sake

As Capsules are for Flower’s --

Or is it the confiding sheen

Dissenting to enamor us

Of Detriment divine?

 

 

1491

The Road to Paradise is plain,

And holds scarce one.

Not that it is not firm

But we presume

A Dimpled Road

Is more preferred.

The Belles of Paradise are few --

Not me -- nor you --

But unsuspected things --

Mines have no Wings.

 

 

1492

"And with what body do they come?" --

Then they do come -- Rejoice!

What Door -- What Hour -- Run -- run -- My Soul!

Illuminate the House!

"Body!" Then real -- a Face and Eyes --

To know that it is them!

Paul knew the Man that knew the News --

He passed through Bethlehem --

 

 

1493

Could that sweet Darkness where they dwell

Be once disclosed to us

The clamor for their loveliness

Would burst the Loneliness --

 

 

1494

The competitions of the sky

Corrodeless ply.

 

 

1495

The Thrill came slowly like a Boom for

Centuries delayed

Its fitness growing like the Flood

In sumptuous solitude --

The desolations only missed

While Rapture changed its Dress

And stood amazed before the Change

In ravished Holiness --

 

 

1496

All that I do

Is in review

To his enamored mind

I know his eye

Where e’er I ply

Is pushing close behind

Not any Port

Nor any flight

But he doth there preside

What omnipresence lies in wait

For her to be a Bride

 

 

1497

Facts by our side are never sudden

Until they look around

And then they scare us like a spectre

Protruding from the Ground --

The height of our portentous Neighbor

We never know --

Till summoned to his recognition

By an Adieu --

Adieu for whence

The sage cannot conjecture

The bravest die

As ignorant of their resumption

As you or I --

 

 

1498

Glass was the Street -- in tinsel Peril

Tree and Traveller stood --

Filled was the Air with merry venture

Hearty with Boys the Road --

Shot the lithe Sleds like shod vibrations

Emphasized and gone

It is the Past’s supreme italic

Makes this Present mean --

 

 

1499

How firm Eternity must look

To crumbling men like me

The only Adamant Estate

In all Identity --

How mighty to the insecure

Thy Physiognomy

To whom not any Face cohere --

Unless concealed in thee

 

 

1500

It came his turn to beg --

The begging for the life

Is different from another Alms

‘Tis Penury in Chief --

I scanned his narrow realm

I gave him leave to live

Lest Gratitude revive the snake

Though smuggled his reprieve

 

 

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