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

 

1501

Its little Ether Hood

Doth sit upon its Head --

The millinery supple

Of the sagacious God --

Till when it slip away

A nothing at a time --

And Dandelion’s Drama

Expires in a stem.

 

 

1502

I saw the wind within her

I knew it blew for me --

But she must buy my shelter

I asked Humility

 

 

1503

More than the Grave is closed to me --

The Grave and that Eternity

To which the Grave adheres --

I cling to nowhere till I fall --

The Crash of nothing, yet of all --

How similar appears --

 

 

1504

Of whom so dear

The name to hear

Illumines with a Glow

As intimate -- as fugitive

As Sunset on the snow --

 

 

1505

She could not live upon the Past

The Present did not know her

And so she sought this sweet at last

And nature gently owned her

The mother that has not a knell

for either Duke or Robin

 

 

1506

Summer is shorter than any one --

Life is shorter than Summer --

Seventy Years is spent as quick

As an only Dollar --

Sorrow -- now -- is polite -- and stays --

See how well we spurn him --

Equally to abhor Delight --

Equally retain him --

 

 

1507

The Pile of Years is not so high

As when you came before

But it is rising every Day

From recollection’s Floor

And while by standing on my Heart

I still can reach the top

Efface the mountain with your face

And catch me ere I drop

 

 

1508

You cannot make Remembrance grow

When it has lost its Root --

The tightening the Soil around

And setting it upright

Deceives perhaps the Universe

But not retrieves the Plant --

Real Memory, like Cedar Feet

Is shod with Adamant --

Nor can you cut Remembrance down

When it shall once have grown --

Its Iron Buds will sprout anew

However overthrown --

 

 

1509

Mine Enemy is growing old --

I have at last Revenge --

The Palate of the Hate departs --

If any would avenge

Let him be quick -- the Viand flits --

It is a faded Meat --

Anger as soon as fed is dead --

‘Tis starving makes it fat --

 

 

1510

How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn’t care about Careers

And Exigencies never fears --

Whose Coat of elemental Brown

A passing Universe put on,

And independent as the Sun

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute Decree

In casual simplicity --

 

 

1511

My country need not change her gown,

Her triple suit as sweet

As when ‘twas cut at Lexington,

And first pronounced "a fit."

Great Britain disapproves, "the stars";

Disparagement discreet, --

There’s something in their attitude

That taunts her bayonet.

 

 

1512

All things swept sole away

This -- is immensity --

 

 

1513

"Go travelling with us!"

Her travels daily be

By routes of ecstasy

To Evening’s Sea --

 

 

1514

An Antiquated Tree

Is cherished of the Crow

Because that Junior Foliage is disrespectful now

To venerable Birds

Whose Corporation Coat

Would decorate Oblivion’s

Remotest Consulate.

 

 

1515

The Things that never can come back, are several --

Childhood -- some forms of Hope -- the Dead --

Though Joys -- like Men -- may sometimes make a

Journey --

And still abide --

We do not mourn for Traveler, or Sailor,

Their Routes are fair --

But think enlarged of all that they will tell us

Returning here --

"Here!" There are typic "Heres" --

Foretold Locations --

The Spirit does not stand --

Himself -- at whatsoever Fathom

His Native Land --

 

 

1516

No Autumn’s intercepting Chill

Appalls this Tropic Breast --

But African Exuberance

And Asiatic rest.

 

 

1517

How much of Source escapes with thee --

How chief thy sessions be --

For thou hast borne a universe

Entirely away.

 

 

1518

Not seeing, still we know --

Not knowing, guess --

Not guessing, smile and hide

And half caress --

And quake -- and turn away,

Seraphic fear --

Is Eden’s innuendo

"If you dare"?

 

 

1519

The Dandelion’s pallid tube

Astonishes the Grass,

And Winter instantly becomes

An infinite Alas --

The tube uplifts a signal Bud

And then a shouting Flower, --

The Proclamation of the Suns

That sepulture is o’er.

 

 

1520

The stem of a departed Flower

Has still a silent rank.

The Bearer from an Emerald Court

Of a Despatch of Pink.

 

 

1521

The Butterfly upon the Sky,

That doesn’t know its Name

And hasn’t any tax to pay

And hasn’t any Home

Is just as high as you and I,

And higher, I believe,

So soar away and never sigh

And that’s the way to grieve --

 

 

1522

His little Hearse like Figure

Unto itself a Dirge

To a delusive Lilac

The vanity divulge

Of Industry and Morals

And every righteous thing

For the divine Perdition

Of Idleness and Spring --

 

 

1523

We never know we go when we are going --

We jest and shut the Door --

Fate -- following -- behind us bolts it --

And we accost no more --

 

 

1524

A faded Boy -- in sallow Clothes

Who drove a lonesome Cow

To pastures of Oblivion --

A statesman’s Embryo --

The Boys that whistled are extinct --

The Cows that fed and thanked

Remanded to a Ballad’s Barn

Or Clover’s Retrospect --

 

 

1525

He lived the Life of Ambush

And went the way of Dusk

And now against his subtle name

There stands an Asterisk

As confident of him as we --

Impregnable we are --

The whole of Immortality intrenched

Within a star --

 

 

1526

His oriental heresies

Exhilarate the Bee,

And filling all the Earth and Air

With gay apostasy

Fatigued at last, a Clover plain

Allures his jaded eye

That lowly Breast where Butterflies

Have felt it meet to die --

 

 

1527

Oh give it Motion -- deck it sweet

With Artery and Vein --

Upon its fastened Lips lay words --

Affiance it again

To that Pink stranger we call Dust --

Acquainted more with that

Than with this horizontal one

That will not lift its Hat --

 

 

1528

The Moon upon her fluent Route

Defiant of a Road --

The Star’s Etruscan Argument

Substantiate a God --

If Aims impel these Astral Ones

The ones allowed to know

Know that which makes them as forgot

As Dawn forgets them -- now --

 

 

1529

‘Tis Seasons since the Dimpled War

In which we each were Conqueror

And each of us were slain

And Centuries ‘twill be and more

Another Massacre before

So modest and so vain --

Without a Formula we fought

Each was to each the Pink Redoubt --

 

 

1530

A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring

In contrast with the things that sing

Not Birds entirely -- but Minds --

Minute Effulgencies and Winds --

When what they sung for is undone

Who cares about a Blue Bird’s Tune --

Why, Resurrection had to wait

Till they had moved a Stone --

 

 

1531

Above Oblivion’s Tide there is a Pier

And an effaceless "Few" are lifted there --

Nay -- lift themselves -- Fame has no Arms --

And but one smile -- that meagres Balms --

 

 

1532

From all the Jails the Boys and Girls

Ecstatically leap --

Beloved only Afternoon

That Prison doesn’t keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,

A Mob of solid Bliss --

Alas -- that Frowns should lie in wait

For such a Foe as this --

 

 

1533

On that specific Pillow

Our projects flit away --

The Night’s tremendous Morrow

And whether sleep will stay

Or usher us -- a stranger --

To situations new

The effort to comprise it

Is all the soul can do.

 

 

1534

Society for me my misery

Since Gift of Thee --

 

 

1535

The Life that tied too tight escapes

Will ever after run

With a prudential look behind

And spectres of the Rein --

The Horse that scents the living Grass

And sees the Pastures smile

Will be retaken with a shot

If he is caught at all --

 

 

1536

There comes a warning like a spy

A shorter breath of Day

A stealing that is not a stealth

And Summers are away --

 

 

1537

Candor -- my tepid friend --

Come not to play with me --

The Myrrhs, and Mochas, of the Mind

Are its iniquity --

 

 

1538

Follow wise Orion

Till you waste your Eye --

Dazzlingly decamping

He is just as high --

 

 

1539

Now I lay thee down to Sleep --

I pray the Lord thy Dust to keep --

And if thou live before thou wake --

I pray the Lord thy Soul to make --

 

 

1540

As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away --

Too imperceptible at last

To seem like Perfidy --

A Quietness distilled

As Twilight long begun,

Or Nature spending with herself

Sequestered Afternoon --

The Dusk drew earlier in --

The Morning foreign shone --

A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,

As Guest, that would be gone --

And thus, without a Wing

Or service of a Keel

Our Summer made her light escape

Into the Beautiful.

 

 

1541

No matter where the Saints abide,

They make their Circuit fair

Behold how great a Firmament

Accompanies a Star.

 

 

1542

Come show thy Durham Breast

To her who loves thee best,

Delicious Robin --

And if it be not me

At least within my Tree

Do the avowing --

Thy Nuptial so minute

Perhaps is more astute

Than vaster suing --

For so to soar away

Is our propensity

The Day ensuing --

 

 

1543

Obtaining but our own Extent

In whatsoever Realm --

‘Twas Christ’s own personal Expanse

That bore him from the Tomb --

 

 

1544

Who has not found the Heaven -- below --

Will fail of it above --

For Angels rent the House next ours,

Wherever we remove --

 

 

1545

The Bible is an antique Volume --

Written by faded men

At the suggestion of Holy Spectres --

Subjects -- Bethlehem --

Eden -- the ancient Homestead --

Satan -- the Brigadier --

Judas -- the Great Defaulter --

David -- the Troubador --

Sin -- a distinguished Precipice

Others must resist --

Boys that "believe" are very lonesome --

Other Boys are "lost" --

Had but the Tale a warbling Teller --

All the Boys would come --

Orpheus’ Sermon captivated --

It did not condemn --

 

 

1546

Sweet Pirate of the heart,

Not Pirate of the Sea,

What wrecketh thee?

Some spice’s Mutiny --

Some Attar’s perfidy?

Confide in me.

 

 

1547

Hope is a subtle Glutton --

He feeds upon the Fair --

And yet -- inspected closely

What Abstinence is there --

His is the Halcyon Table --

That never seats but One --

And whatsoever is consumed

The same amount remain --

 

 

1548

Meeting by Accident,

We hovered by design --

As often as a Century

An error so divine

Is ratified by Destiny,

But Destiny is old

And economical of Bliss

As Midas is of Gold --

 

 

1549

My Wars are laid away in Books --

I have one Battle more --

A Foe whom I have never seen

But oft has scanned me o’er --

And hesitated me between

And others at my side,

But chose the best -- Neglecting me -- till

All the rest, have died --

How sweet if I am not forgot

By Chums that passed away --

Since Playmates at threescore and ten

Are such a scarcity --

 

 

1550

The pattern of the sun

Can fit but him alone

For sheen must have a Disk

To be a sun --

 

 

1551

Those -- dying then,

Knew where they went --

They went to God’s Right Hand --

That Hand is amputated now

And God cannot be found --

The abdication of Belief

Makes the Behavior small --

Better an ignis fatuus

Than no illume at all --

 

 

1552

Within thy Grave!

Oh no, but on some other flight --

Thou only camest to mankind

To rend it with Good night --

 

 

1553

Bliss is the plaything of the child --

The secret of the man

The sacred stealth of Boy and Girl

Rebuke it if we can

 

 

1554

"Go tell it" -- What a Message --

To whom -- is specified --

Not murmur -- not endearment --

But simply -- we -- obeyed --

Obeyed -- a Lure -- a Longing?

Oh Nature -- none of this --

To Law -- said sweet Thermopylae

I give my dying Kiss --

 

 

1555

I groped for him before I knew

With solemn nameless need

All other bounty sudden chaff

For this foreshadowed Food

Which others taste and spurn and sneer --

Though I within suppose

That consecrated it could be

The only Food that grows

 

 

1556

Image of Light, Adieu --

Thanks for the interview --

So long -- so short --

Preceptor of the whole --

Coeval Cardinal --

Impart -- Depart --

 

 

1557

Lives he in any other world

My faith cannot reply

Before it was imperative

‘Twas all distinct to me --

 

 

1558

Of Death I try to think like this --

The Well in which they lay us

Is but the Likeness of the Brook

That menaced not to slay us,

But to invite by that Dismay

Which is the Zest of sweetness

To the same Flower Hesperian,

Decoying but to greet us --

I do remember when a Child

With bolder Playmates straying

To where a Brook that seemed a Sea

Withheld us by its roaring

From just the Purple Flower beyond

Until constrained to clutch it

If Doom itself were the result,

The boldest leaped, and clutched it --

 

 

1559

Tried always and Condemned by thee

Permit me this reprieve

That dying I may earn the look

For which I cease to live --

 

 

1560

To be forgot by thee

Surpasses Memory

Of other minds

The Heart cannot forget

Unless it contemplate

What it declines

I was regarded then

Raised from oblivion

A single time

To be remembered what --

Worthy to be forgot

Is my renown

 

 

1561

No Brigadier throughout the Year

So civic as the Jay --

A Neighbor and a Warrior too

With shrill felicity

Pursuing Winds that censure us

A February Day,

The Brother of the Universe

Was never blown away --

The Snow and he are intimate --

I’ve often seem them play

When Heaven looked upon us all

With such severity

I felt apology were due

To an insulted sky

Whose pompous frown was Nutriment

To their Temerity --

The Pillow of this daring Head

Is pungent Evergreens --

His Larder -- terse and Militant --

Unknown -- refreshing things --

His Character -- a Tonic --

His future -- a Dispute --

Unfair an Immortality

That leaves this Neighbor out --

 

 

1562

Her Losses make our Gains ashamed --

She bore Life’s empty Pack

As gallantly as if the East

Were swinging at her Back.

Life’s empty Pack is heaviest,

As every Porter knows --

In vain to punish Honey --

It only sweeter grows.

 

 

1563

By homely gift and hindered Words

The human heart is told

Of Nothing --

"Nothing" is the force

That renovates the World --

 

 

1564

Pass to they Rendezvous of Light,

Pangless except for us --

Who slowly for the Mystery

Which thou hast leaped across!

 

 

1565

Some Arrows slay but whom they strike --

But this slew all but him --

Who so appareled his Escape --

Too trackless for a Tomb --

 

 

1566

Climbing to reach the costly Hearts

To which he gave the worth,

He broke them, fearing punishment

He ran away from Earth --

 

 

1567

The Heart has many Doors --

I can but knock --

For any sweet "Come in"

Impelled to hark --

Not saddened by repulse,

Repast to me

That somewhere, there exists,

Supremacy --

 

 

1568

To see her is a Picture --

To hear her is a Tune --

To know her an Intemperance

As innocent as June --

To know her not -- Affliction --

To own her for a Friend

A warmth as near as if the Sun

Were shining in your Hand.

 

 

1569

The Clock strikes one that just struck two --

Some schism in the Sum --

A Vagabond for Genesis

Has wrecked the Pendulum --

 

 

1570

Forever honored by the Tree

Whose Apple Winterworn

Enticed to Breakfast from the Sky

Two Gabriels Yestermorn.

They registered in Nature’s Book

As Robins -- Sire and Son --

But Angels have that modest way

To screen them from Renown.

 

 

1571

How slow the Wind --

how slow the sea --

how late their Fathers be!

 

 

1572

We wear our sober Dresses when we die,

But Summer, frilled as for a Holiday

Adjourns her sigh --

 

 

1573

To the bright east she flies,

Brothers of Paradise

Remit her home,

Without a change of wings,

Or Love’s convenient things,

Enticed to come.

Fashioning what she is,

Fathoming what she was,

We deem we dream --

And that dissolves the days

Through which existence strays

Homeless at home.

 

 

1574

No ladder needs the bird but skies

To situate its wings,

Nor any leader’s grim baton

Arraigns it as it sings.

The implements of bliss are few --

As Jesus says of Him,

"Come unto me" the moiety

That wafts the cherubim.

 

 

1575

The Bat is dun, with wrinkled Wings --

Like fallow Article --

And not a song pervade his Lips --

Or none perceptible.

His small Umbrella quaintly halved

Describing in the Air

An Arc alike inscrutable

Elate Philosopher.

Deputed from what Firmament --

Of what Astute Abode --

Empowered with what Malignity

Auspiciously withheld --

To his adroit Creator

Acribe no less the praise --

Beneficent, believe me,

His Eccentricities --

 

 

1576

The Spirit lasts -- but in what mode --

Below, the Body speaks,

But as the Spirit furnishes --

Apart, it never talks --

The Music in the Violin

Does not emerge alone

But Arm in Arm with Touch, yet Touch

Alone -- is not a Tune --

The Spirit lurks within the Flesh

Like Tides within the Sea

That make the Water live, estranged

What would the Either be?

Does that know -- now -- or does it cease --

That which to this is done,

Resuming at a mutual date

With every future one?

Instinct pursues the Adamant,

Exacting this Reply --

Adversity if it may be, or

Wild Prosperity,

The Rumor’s Gate was shut so tight

Before my Mind was sown,

Not even a Prognostic’s Push

Could make a Dent thereon --

 

 

1577

Morning is due to all --

To some -- the Night --

To an imperial few --

The Auroral light.

 

 

1578

Blossoms will run away,

Cakes reign but a Day,

But Memory like Melody

Is pink Eternally.

 

 

1579

It would not know if it were spurned,

This gallant little flower --

How therefore safe to be a flower

If one would tamper there.

To enter, it would not aspire --

But may it not despair

That it is not a Cavalier,

To dare and perish there?

 

 

1580

We shun it ere it comes,

Afraid of Joy,

Then sue it to delay

And lest it fly,

Beguile it more and more --

May not this be

Old Suitor Heaven,

Like our dismay at thee?

 

 

1581

The farthest Thunder that I heard

Was nearer than the Sky

And rumbles still, though torrid Noons

Have lain their missiles by --

The Lightning that preceded it

Struck no one but myself --

But I would not exchange the Bolt

For all the rest of Life --

Indebtedness to Oxygen

The Happy may repay,

But not the obligation

To Electricity --

It founds the Homes and decks the Days

And every clamor bright

Is but the gleam concomitant

Of that waylaying Light --

The Thought is quiet as a Flake --

A Crash without a Sound,

How Life’s reverberation

Its Explanation found --

 

 

1582

Where Roses would not dare to go,

What Heart would risk the way --

And so I send my Crimson Scouts

To sound the Enemy --

 

 

1583

Witchcraft was hung, in History,

But History and I

Find all the Witchcraft that we need

Around us, every Day --

 

 

1584

Expanse cannot be lost --

Not Joy, but a Decree

Is Deity --

His Scene, Infinity --

Whose rumor’s Gate was shut so tight

Before my Beam was sown,

Not even a Prognostic’s push

Could make a Dent thereon --

The World that thou hast opened

Shuts for thee,

But not alone,

We all have followed thee --

Escape more slowly

To thy Tracts of Sheen --

The Tent is listening,

But the Troops are gone!

 

 

1585

The Bird her punctual music brings

And lays it in its place --

Its place is in the Human Heart

And in the Heavenly Grace --

What respite from her thrilling toil

Did Beauty ever take --

But Work might be electric Rest

To those that Magic make --

 

 

1586

To her derided Home

A Weed of Summer came --

She did not know her station low

Nor Ignominy’s Name --

Bestowed a summer long

Upon a frameless flower --

Then swept as lightly from disdain

As Lady from her Bower --

Of Bliss the Codes are few --

As Jesus cites of Him --

"Come unto me" the moiety

That wafts the Seraphim --

 

 

1587

He ate and drank the precious Words --

His Spirit grew robust --

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was Dust --

He danced along the dingy Days

And this Bequest of Wings

Was but a Book -- What Liberty

A loosened spirit brings --

 

 

1588

This Me -- that walks and works -- must die,

Some fair or stormy Day,

Adversity if it may be

Or wild prosperity

The Rumor’s Gate was shut so tight

Before my mind was born

Not even a Prognostic’s push

Can make a Dent thereon --

 

 

1589

Cosmopolities without a plea

Alight in every Land

The compliments of Paradise

From those within my Hand

Their dappled Journey to themselves

A compensation fair

Knock and it shall be opened

Is their Theology

 

 

1590

Not at Home to Callers

Says the Naked Tree --

Bonnet due in April --

Wishing you Good Day --

 

 

1591

The Bobolink is gone --

The Rowdy of the Meadow --

And no one swaggers now but me --

The Presbyterian Birds

Can now resume the Meeting

He boldly interrupted that overflowing Day

When supplicating mercy

In a portentous way

He swung upon the Decalogue

And shouted let us pray --

 

 

1592

The Lassitudes of Contemplation

Beget a force

They are the spirit’s still vacation

That him refresh --

The Dreams consolidate in action --

What mettle fair

 

 

1593

There came a Wind like a Bugle --

It quivered through the Grass

And a Green Chill upon the Heat

So ominous did pass

We barred the Windows and the Doors

As from an Emerald Ghost --

The Doom’s electric Moccasin

That very instant passed --

On a strange Mob of panting Trees

And Fences fled away

And Rivers where the Houses ran

Those looked that lived -- that Day --

The Bell within the steeple wild

The flying tidings told --

How much can come

And much can go,

And yet abide the World!

 

 

1594

Immured in Heaven!

What a Cell!

Let every Bondage be,

Thou sweetest of the Universe,

Like that which ravished thee!

 

 

1595

Declaiming Waters none may dread --

But Waters that are still

Are so for that most fatal cause

In Nature -- they are full --

 

 

1596

Few, yet enough,

Enough is One --

To that ethereal throng

Have not each one of us the right

To stealthily belong?

 

 

1597

‘Tis not the swaying frame we miss,

It is the steadfast Heart,

That had it beat a thousand years,

With Love alone had bent,

Its fervor the electric Oar,

That bore it through the Tomb,

Ourselves, denied the privilege,

Consolelessly presume --

 

 

1598

Who is it seeks my Pillow Nights --

With plain inspecting face --

"Did you" or "Did you not," to ask --

‘Tis "Conscience" -- Childhood’s Nurse --

With Martial Hand she strokes the Hair

Upon my wincing Head --

"All" Rogues "shall have their part in" what --

The Phosphorous of God --

 

 

1599

Though the great Waters sleep,

That they are still the Deep,

We cannot doubt --

No vacillating God

Ignited this Abode

To put it out --

 

 

1600

Upon his Saddle sprung a Bird

And crossed a thousand Trees

Before a Fence without a Fare

His Fantasy did please

And then he lifted up his Throat

And squandered such a Note

A Universe that overheard

Is stricken by it yet --

 

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