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

 

301

I reason, Earth is short --

And Anguish -- absolute --

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

I reason, we could die --

The best Vitality

Cannot excel Decay,

But, what of that?

I reason, that in Heaven --

Somehow, it will be even --

Some new Equation, given --

But, what of that?

 

 

302

Like Some Old fashioned Miracle

When Summertime is done --

Seems Summer’s Recollection

And the Affairs of June

As infinite Tradition

As Cinderella’s Bays --

Or Little John -- of Lincoln Green --

Or Blue Beard’s Galleries --

Her Bees have a fictitious Hum --

Her Blossoms, like a Dream --

Elate us -- till we almost weep --

So plausible -- they seem --

Her Memories like Strains -- Review --

When Orchestra is dumb --

The Violin in Baize replaced --

And Ear -- and Heaven -- numb --

 

 

303

The Soul selects her own Society --

Then -- shuts the Door --

To her divine Majority --

Present no more --

Unmoved -- she notes the Chariots -- pausing --

At her low Gate --

Unmoved -- an Emperor be kneeling

Upon her Mat --

I’ve known her -- from an ample nation --

Choose One --

Then -- close the Valves of her attention --

Like Stone --

 

 

304

The Day came slow -- till Five o’clock --

Then sprang before the Hills

Like Hindered Rubies -- or the Light

A Sudden Musket -- spills --

The Purple could not keep the East --

The Sunrise shook abroad

Like Breadths of Topaz -- packed a Night --

The Lady just unrolled --

The Happy Winds -- their Timbrels took --

The Birds -- in docile Rows

Arranged themselves around their Prince

The Wind -- is Prince of Those --

The Orchard sparkled like a Jew --

How mighty ‘twas -- to be

A Guest in this stupendous place --

The Parlor -- of the Day --

 

 

305

The difference between Despair

And Fear -- is like the One

Between the instant of a Wreck

And when the Wreck has been --

The Mind is smooth -- no Motion --

Contented as the Eye

Upon the Forehead of a Bust --

That knows -- it cannot see --

 

 

306

The Soul’s Superior instants

Occur to Her -- alone --

When friend -- and Earth’s occasion

Have infinite withdrawn --

Or She -- Herself -- ascended

To too remote a Height

For lower Recognition

Than Her Omnipotent --

This Mortal Abolition

Is seldom -- but as fair

As Apparition -- subject

To Autocratic Air --

Eternity’s disclosure

To favorites -- a few --

Of the Colossal substance

Of Immortality

 

 

307

The One who could repeat the Summer day --

Were greater than itself -- though He

Minutest of Mankind should be --

And He -- could reproduce the Sun --

At period of going down --

The Lingering -- and the Stain -- I mean --

When Orient have been outgrown

And Occident -- become Unknown --

His Name -- remain --

 

 

308

I send Two Sunsets --

Day and I -- in competition ran --

I finished Two -- and several Stars --

While He -- was making One --

His own was ampler -- but as I

Was saying to a friend --

Mine -- is the more convenient

To Carry in the Hand --

 

 

309

For largest Woman’s Hearth I knew --

‘Tis little I can do --

And yet the largest Woman’s Heart

Could hold an Arrow -- too --

And so, instructed by my own,

I tenderer, turn Me to.

 

 

310

Give little Anguish --

Lives will fret --

Give Avalanches --

And they’ll slant --

Straighten -- look cautious for their Breath --

But make no syllable -- like Death --

Who only shows the Marble Disc --

Sublimer sort -- than Speech --

 

 

311

It sifts from Leaden Sieves --

It powders all the Wood.

It fills with Alabaster Wool

The Wrinkles of the Road --

It makes an Even Face

Of Mountain, and of Plain --

Unbroken Forehead from the East

Unto the East again --

It reaches to the Fence --

It wraps it Rail by Rail

Till it is lost in Fleeces --

It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack -- and Stem --

A Summer’s empty Room --

Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,

Recordless, but for them--

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts

As Ankles of a Queen --

Then stills its Artisans -- like Ghosts --

Denying they have been --

 

 

312

Her -- "last Poems" --

Poets -- ended --

Silver -- perished -- with her Tongue --

Not on Record -- bubbled other,

Flute -- or Woman --

So divine --

Not unto its Summer -- Morning

Robin -- uttered Half the Tune --

Gushed too free for the Adoring --

From the Anglo-Florentine --

Late -- the Praise --

‘Tis dull -- conferring

On the Head too High to Crown --

Diadem -- or Ducal Showing --

Be its Grave -- sufficient sign --

Nought -- that We -- No Poet’s Kinsman --

Suffocate -- with easy woe --

What, and if, Ourself a Bridegroom --

Put Her down -- in Italy?

 

 

313

I should have been too glad, I see --

Too lifted -- for the scant degree

Of Life’s penurious Round --

My little Circuit would have shamed

This new Circumference -- have blamed --

The homelier time behind.

I should have been too saved -- I see --

Too rescued -- Fear too dim to me

That I could spell the Prayer

I knew so perfect -- yesterday --

That Scalding One -- Sabachthani --

Recited fluent -- here --

Earth would have been too much -- I see --

And Heaven -- not enough for me --

I should have had the Joy

Without the Fear -- to justify --

The Palm -- without the Calvary --

So Savior -- Crucify --

Defeat -- whets Victory -- they say --

The Reefs -- in old Gethsemane --

Endear the Coast -- beyond!

‘Tis Beggars -- Banquets -- can define --

‘Tis Parching -- vitalizes Wine --

"Faith" bleats -- to understand!

 

 

314

Nature -- sometimes sears a Sapling --

Sometimes -- scalps a Tree --

Her Green People recollect it

When they do not die --

Fainter Leaves -- to Further Seasons --

Dumbly testify --

We -- who have the Souls --

Die oftener -- Not so vitally --

 

 

315

He fumbles at your Soul

As Players at the Keys

Before they drop full Music on --

He stuns you by degrees --

Prepares your brittle Nature

For the Ethereal Blow

By fainter Hammers -- further heard --

Then nearer -- Then so slow

Your Breath has time to straighten --

Your Brain -- to bubble Cool --

Deals -- One -- imperial -- Thunderbolt --

That scalps your naked Soul --

When Winds take Forests in the Paws --

The Universe -- is still --

 

 

316

The Wind didn’t come from the Orchard -- today --

Further than that --

Nor stop to play with the Hay --

Nor joggle a Hat --

He’s a transitive fellow -- very --

Rely on that --

If He leave a Bur at the door

We know He has climbed a Fir --

But the Fir is Where -- Declare --

Were you ever there?

If He brings Odors of Clovers --

And that is His business -- not Ours --

Then He has been with the Mowers --

Whetting away the Hours

To sweet pauses of Hay --

His Way -- of a June Day --

If He fling Sand, and Pebble --

Little Boys Hats -- and Stubble --

With an occasional Steeple --

And a hoarse "Get out of the way, I say,"

Who’d be the fool to stay?

Would you -- Say --

Would you be the fool to stay?

 

 

317

Just so -- Jesus -- raps --

He -- doesn’t weary --

Last -- at the Knocker --

And first -- at the Bell.

Then -- on divinest tiptoe -- standing --

Might He but spy the lady’s soul --

When He -- retires --

Chilled -- or weary --

It will be ample time for -- me --

Patient -- upon the steps -- until then --

Hears! I am knocking -- low at thee.

 

 

318

I’ll tell you how the Sun rose --

A Ribbon at a time --

The Steeples swam in Amethyst --

The news, like Squirrels, ran --

The Hills untied their Bonnets --

The Bobolinks -- begun --

Then I said softly to myself --

"That must have been the Sun"!

But how he set -- I know not --

There seemed a purple stile

That little Yellow boys and girls

Were climbing all the while --

Till when they reached the other side,

A Dominie in Gray --

Put gently up the evening Bars --

And led the flock away --

 

 

319

The nearest Dream recedes -- unrealized --

The Heaven we chase,

Like the June Bee -- before the School Boy,

Invites the Race --

Stoops -- to an easy Clover --

Dips -- evades -- teases -- deploys --

Then -- to the Royal Clouds

Lifts his light Pinnace --

Heedless of the Boy --

Staring -- bewildered -- at the mocking sky --

Homesick for steadfast Honey --

Ah, the Bee flies not

That brews that rare variety!

 

 

320

We play at Paste --

Till qualified, for Pearl --

Then, drop the Paste --

And deem ourself a fool --

The Shapes -- though -- were similar --

And our new Hands

Learned Gem-Tactics --

Practicing Sands --

 

 

321

Of all the Sounds despatched abroad,

There’s not a Charge to me

Like that old measure in the Boughs --

That phraseless Melody --

The Wind does -- working like a Hand,

Whose fingers Comb the Sky --

Then quiver down -- with tufts of Tune --

Permitted Gods, and me --

Inheritance, it is, to us --

Beyond the Art to Earn --

Beyond the trait to take away

By Robber, since the Gain

Is gotten not of fingers --

And inner than the Bone --

Hid golden, for the whole of Days,

And even in the Urn,

I cannot vouch the merry Dust

Do not arise and play

In some odd fashion of its own,

Some quainter Holiday,

When Winds go round and round in Bands --

And thrum upon the door,

And Birds take places, overhead,

To bear them Orchestra.

I crave Him grace of Summer Boughs,

If such an Outcast be --

Who never heard that fleshless Chant --

Rise -- solemn -- on the Tree,

As if some Caravan of Sound

Off Deserts, in the Sky,

Had parted Rank,

Then knit, and swept --

In Seamless Company --

 

 

322

There came a Day at Summer’s full,

Entirely for me --

I thought that such were for the Saints,

Where Resurrections -- be --

The Sun, as common, went abroad,

The flowers, accustomed, blew,

As if no soul the solstice passed

That maketh all things new --

The time was scarce profaned, by speech --

The symbol of a word

Was needless, as at Sacrament,

The Wardrobe -- of our Lord --

Each was to each The Sealed Church,

Permitted to commune this -- time --

Lest we too awkward show

At Supper of the Lamb.

The Hours slid fast -- as Hours will,

Clutched tight, by greedy hands --

So faces on two Decks, look back,

Bound to opposing lands --

And so when all the time had leaked,

Without external sound

Each bound the Other’s Crucifix --

We gave no other Bond --

Sufficient troth, that we shall rise --

Deposed -- at length, the Grave --

To that new Marriage,

Justified -- through Calvaries of Love --

 

 

323

As if I asked a common Alms,

And in my wondering hand

A Stranger pressed a Kingdom,

And I, bewildered, stand --

As if I asked the Orient

Had it for me a Morn --

And it should lift its purple Dikes,

And shatter me with Dawn!

 

 

324

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church --

I keep it, staying at Home --

With a Bobolink for a Chorister --

And an Orchard, for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --

I just wear my Wings --

And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,

Our little Sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --

And the sermon is never long,

So instead of getting to Heaven, at least --

I’m going, all along.

 

 

325

Of Tribulation, these are They,

Denoted by the White --

The Spangled Gowns, a lesser Rank

Of Victors -- designate --

All these -- did conquer --

But the ones who overcame most times --

Wear nothing commoner than Snow --

No Ornament, but Palms --

Surrender -- is a sort unknown --

On this superior soil --

Defeat -- an outgrown Anguish --

Remembered, as the Mile

Our panting Ankle barely passed --

When Night devoured the Road --

But we -- stood whispering in the House --

And all we said -- was "Saved"!

 

 

326

I cannot dance upon my Toes --

No Man instructed me --

But oftentimes, among my mind,

A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge --

Would put itself abroad

In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe --

Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze --

No Ringlet, to my Hair,

Nor hopped to Audiences -- like Birds,

One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,

Nor rolled on wheels of snow

Till I was out of sight, in sound,

The House encore me so --

Nor any know I know the Art

I mention -- easy -- Here --

Nor any Placard boast me --

It’s full as Opera --

 

 

327

Before I got my eye put out

I liked as well to see --

As other Creatures, that have Eyes

And know no other way --

But were it told to me -- Today --

That I might have the sky

For mine -- I tell you that my Heart

Would split, for size of me --

The Meadows -- mine --

The Mountains -- mine --

All Forests -- Stintless Stars --

As much of Noon as I could take

Between my finite eyes --

The Motions of the Dipping Birds --

The Morning’s Amber Road --

For mine -- to look at when I liked --

The News would strike me dead --

So safer -- guess -- with just my soul

Upon the Window pane --

Where other Creatures put their eyes --

Incautious -- of the Sun --

 

 

328

A Bird came down the Walk --

He did not know I saw --

He bit an Angleworm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew

From a convenient Grass --

And then hopped sidewise to the Wall

To let a Beetle pass --

He glanced with rapid eyes

That hurried all around --

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought --

He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,

I offered him a Crumb

And he unrolled his feathers

And rowed him softer home --

Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam --

Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon

Leap, plashless as they swim.

 

 

329

So glad we are -- a Stranger’d deem

‘Twas sorry, that we were --

For where the Holiday should be

There publishes a Tear --

Nor how Ourselves be justified --

Since Grief and Joy are done

So similar -- An Optizan

Could not decide between --

 

 

330

The Juggler’s Hat her Country is --

The Mountain Gorse -- the Bee’s!

 

 

331

While Asters --

On the Hill --

Their Everlasting fashions -- set --

And Covenant Gentians -- Frill!

 

 

332

There are two Ripenings -- one -- of sight --

Whose forces Spheric wind

Until the Velvet product

Drop spicy to the ground --

A homelier maturing --

A process in the Bur --

That teeth of Frosts alone disclose

In far October Air.

 

 

333

The Grass so little has to do --

A Sphere of simple Green --

With only Butterflies to brood

And Bees to entertain --

And stir all day to pretty Tunes

The Breezes fetch along --

And hold the Sunshine in its lap

And bow to everything --

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls --

And make itself so fine

A Duchess were too common

For such a noticing --

And even when it dies -- to pass

In Odors so divine --

Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep --

Or Spikenards, perishing --

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell --

And dream the Days away,

The Grass so little has to do

I wish I were a Hay --

 

 

334

All the letters I can write

Are not fair as this --

Syllables of Velvet --

Sentences of Plush,

Depths of Ruby, undrained,

Hid, Lip, for Thee --

Play it were a Humming Bird --

And just sipped -- me --

 

 

335

‘Tis not that Dying hurts us so --

‘Tis Living -- hurts us more --

But Dying -- is a different way --

A Kind behind the Door --

The Southern Custom -- of the Bird --

That ere the Frosts are due --

Accepts a better Latitude --

We -- are the Birds -- that stay.

The Shrivers round Farmers’ doors --

For whose reluctant Crumb --

We stipulate -- till pitying Snows

Persuade our Feathers Home.

 

 

336

The face I carry with me -- last --

When I go out of Time --

To take my Rank -- by -- in the West --

That face -- will just be thine --

I’ll hand it to the Angel --

That -- Sir -- was my Degree --

In Kingdoms -- you have heard the Raised --

Refer to -- possibly.

He’ll take it -- scan it -- step aside --

Return -- with such a crown

As Gabriel -- never capered at --

And beg me put it on --

And then -- he’ll turn me round and round --

To an admiring sky --

As one that bore her Master’s name --

Sufficient Royalty!

 

 

337

I know a place where Summer strives

With such a practised Frost --

She -- each year -- leads her Daisies back --

Recording briefly -- "Lost" --

But when the South Wind stirs the Pools

And struggles in the lanes --

Her Heart misgives Her, for Her Vow --

And she pours soft Refrains

Into the lap of Adamant --

And spices -- and the Dew --

That stiffens quietly to Quartz --

Upon her Amber Shoe --

 

 

338

I know that He exists.

Somewhere -- in Silence --

He has hid his rare life

From our gross eyes.

‘Tis an instant’s play.

‘Tis a fond Ambush --

Just to make Bliss

Earn her own surprise!

But -- should the play

Prove piercing earnest --

Should the glee -- glaze --

In Death’s -- stiff -- stare --

Would not the fun

Look too expensive!

Would not the jest --

Have crawled too far!

 

 

339

I tend my flowers for thee --

Bright Absentee!

My Fuchsia’s Coral Seams

Rip -- while the Sower -- dreams --

Geraniums -- tint -- and spot --

Low Daisies -- dot --

My Cactus -- splits her Beard

To show her throat --

Carnations -- tip their spice --

And Bees -- pick up --

A Hyacinth -- I hid --

Puts out a Ruffled Head --

And odors fall

From flasks -- so small --

You marvel how they held --

Globe Roses -- break their satin glake --

Upon my Garden floor --

Yet -- thou -- not there --

I had as lief they bore

No Crimson -- more --

Thy flower -- be gay --

Her Lord -- away!

It ill becometh me --

I’ll dwell in Calyx -- Gray --

How modestly -- alway --

Thy Daisy --

Draped for thee!

 

 

340

Is Bliss then, such Abyss,

I must not put my foot amiss

For fear I spoil my shoe?

I’d rather suit my foot

Than save my Boot --

For yet to buy another Pair

Is possible,

At any store --

But Bliss, is sold just once.

The Patent lost

None buy it any more --

Say, Foot, decide the point --

The Lady cross, or not?

Verdict for Boot!

 

341

After great pain, a formal feeling comes --

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs --

The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,

And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round --

Of Ground, or Air, or Ought --

A Wooden way

Regardless grown,

A Quartz contentment, like a stone --

This is the Hour of Lead --

Remembered, if outlived,

As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow --

First -- Chill -- then Stupor -- then the letting go --

 

 

342

It will be Summer -- eventually.

Ladies -- with parasols --

Sauntering Gentlemen -- with Canes --

And little Girls -- with Dolls --

Will tint the pallid landscape --

As ‘twere a bright Bouquet --

Thro’ drifted deep, in Parian --

The Village lies -- today --

The Lilacs -- bending many a year --

Will sway with purple load --

The Bees -- will not despise the tune --

Their Forefathers -- have hummed --

The Wild Rose -- redden in the Bog --

The Aster -- on the Hill

Her everlasting fashion -- set --

And Covenant Gentians -- frill --

Till Summer folds her miracle --

As Women -- do -- their Gown --

Of Priests -- adjust the Symbols --

When Sacrament -- is done --

 

 

343

My Reward for Being, was This.

My premium -- My Bliss --

An Admiralty, less --

A Sceptre -- penniless --

And Realms -- just Dross --

When Thrones accost my Hands --

With "Me, Miss, Me" --

I’ll unroll Thee --

Dominions dowerless -- beside this Grace --

Election -- Vote --

The Ballots of Eternity, will show just that.

 

 

344

‘Twas the old -- road -- through pain --

That unfrequented -- one --

With many a turn -- and thorn --

That stops -- at Heaven --

This -- was the Town -- she passed --

There -- where she -- rested -- last --

Then -- stepped more fast --

The little tracks -- close prest --

Then -- not so swift --

Slow -- slow -- as feet did weary -- grow --

Then -- stopped -- no other track!

Wait! Look! Her little Book --

The leaf -- at love -- turned back --

Her very Hat --

And this worn shoe just fits the track --

Herself -- though -- fled!

Another bed -- a short one --

Women make -- tonight --

In Chambers bright --

Too out of sight -- though --

For our hoarse Good Night --

To touch her Head!

 

 

345

Funny -- to be a Century --

And see the People -- going by --

I -- should die of the Oddity --

But then -- I’m not so staid -- as He --

He keeps His Secrets safely -- very --

Were He to tell -- extremely sorry

This Bashful Globe of Ours would be --

So dainty of Publicity --

 

 

346

Not probable -- The barest Chance --

A smile too few -- a word too much

And far from Heaven as the Rest --

The Soul so close on Paradise --

What if the Bird from journey far --

Confused by Sweets -- as Mortals -- are --

Forget the secret of His wing

And perish -- but a Bough between --

Oh, Groping feet --

Oh Phantom Queen!

 

 

347

When Night is almost done --

And Sunrise grows so near

That we can touch the Spaces --

It’s time to smooth the Hair --

And get the Dimples ready --

And wonder we could care

For that old -- faded Midnight --

That frightened -- but an Hour --

 

 

348

I dreaded that first Robin, so,

But He is mastered, now,

I’m accustomed to Him grown,

He hurts a little, though --

I thought If I could only live

Till that first Shout got by --

Not all Pianos in the Woods

Had power to mangle me --

I dared not meet the Daffodils --

For fear their Yellow Gown

Would pierce me with a fashion

So foreign to my own --

I wished the Grass would hurry --

So -- when ‘twas time to see --

He’d be too tall, the tallest one

Could stretch -- to look at me --

I could not bear the Bees should come,

I wished they’d stay away

In those dim countries where they go,

What word had they, for me?

They’re here, though; not a creature failed --

No Blossom stayed away

In gentle deference to me --

The Queen of Calvary --

Each one salutes me, as he goes,

And I, my childish Plumes,

Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment

Of their unthinking Drums --

 

 

349

I had the Glory -- that will do --

An Honor, Thought can turn her to

When lesser Fames invite --

With one long "Nay" --

Bliss’ early shape

Deforming -- Dwindling -- Gulfing up --

Time’s possibility.

 

 

350

They leave us with the Infinite.

But He -- is not a man --

His fingers are the size of fists --

His fists, the size of men --

And whom he foundeth, with his Arm

As Himmaleh, shall stand --

Gibraltar’s Everlasting Shoe

Poised lightly on his Hand,

So trust him, Comrade --

You for you, and I, for you and me

Eternity is ample,

And quick enough, if true.

 

 

351

I felt my life with both my hands

To see if it was there --

I held my spirit to the Glass,

To prove it possibler --

I turned my Being round and round

And paused at every pound

To ask the Owner’s name --

For doubt, that I should know the Sound --

I judged my features -- jarred my hair --

I pushed my dimples by, and waited --

If they -- twinkled back --

Conviction might, of me --

I told myself, "Take Courage, Friend --

That -- was a former time --

But we might learn to like the Heaven,

As well as our Old Home!"

 

 

352

Perhaps I asked too large --

I take -- no less than skies --

For Earths, grow thick as

Berries, in my native town --

My Basked holds -- just -- Firmaments --

Those -- dangle easy -- on my arm,

But smaller bundles -- Cram.

 

 

353

A happy lip -- breaks sudden --

It doesn’t state you how

It contemplated -- smiling --

Just consummated -- now --

But this one, wears its merriment

So patient -- like a pain --

Fresh gilded -- to elude the eyes

Unqualified, to scan --

 

 

354

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly

As Lady from her Door

Emerged -- a Summer Afternoon --

Repairing Everywhere --

Without Design -- that I could trace

Except to stray abroad

On Miscellaneous Enterprise

The Clovers -- understood --

Her pretty Parasol be seen

Contracting in a Field

Where Men made Hay --

Then struggling hard

With an opposing Cloud --

Where Parties -- Phantom as Herself --

To Nowhere -- seemed to go

In purposeless Circumference --

As ‘twere a Tropic Show --

And notwithstanding Bee -- that worked --

And Flower -- that zealous blew --

This Audience of Idleness

Disdained them, from the Sky --

Till Sundown crept -- a steady Tide --

And Men that made the Hay --

And Afternoon -- and Butterfly --

Extinguished -- in the Sea --

 

 

355

‘Tis Opposites -- entice --

Deformed Men -- ponder Grace --

Bright fires -- the Blanketless --

The Lost -- Day’s face --

The Blind -- esteem it be

Enough Estate -- to see --

The Captive -- strangles new --

For deeming -- Beggars -- play --

To lack -- enamor Thee --

Tho’ the Divinity --

Be only

Me --

 

 

356

The Day that I was crowned

Was like the other Days --

Until the Coronation came --

And then -- ‘twas Otherwise --

As Carbon in the Coal

And Carbon in the Gem

Are One -- and yet the former

Were dull for Diadem --

I rose, and all was plain --

But when the Day declined

Myself and It, in Majesty

Were equally -- adorned --

The Grace that I -- was chose --

To Me -- surpassed the Crown

That was the Witness for the Grace --

‘Twas even that ‘twas Mine --

 

 

357

God is a distant -- stately Lover --

Woos, as He states us -- by His Son --

Verily, a Vicarious Courtship --

"Miles", and "Priscilla", were such an One --

But, lest the Soul -- like fair "Priscilla"

Choose the Envoy -- and spurn the Groom --

Vouches, with hyperbolic archness --

"Miles", and "John Alden" were Synonym --

 

 

358

If any sink, assure that this, now standing --

Failed like Themselves -- and conscious that it rose --

Grew by the Fact, and not the Understanding

How Weakness passed -- or Force -- arose --

Tell that the Worst, is easy in a Moment --

Dread, but the Whizzing, before the Ball --

When the Ball enters, enters Silence --

Dying -- annuls the power to kill.

 

 

359

I gained it so --

By Climbing slow --

By Catching at the Twigs that grow

Between the Bliss -- and me --

It hung so high

As well the Sky

Attempt by Strategy --

I said I gained it --

This -- was all --

Look, how I clutch it

Lest it fall --

And I a Pauper go --

Unfitted by an instant’s Grace

For the Contented -- Beggar’s face

I wore -- an hour ago --

 

 

360

Death sets a Thing significant

The Eye had hurried by

Except a perished Creature

Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little Workmanships

In Crayon, or in Wool,

With "This was last Her fingers did" --

Industrious until --

The Thimble weighed too heavy --

The stitches stopped -- by themselves --

And then ‘twas put among the Dust

Upon the Closet shelves --

A Book I have -- a friend gave --

Whose Pencil -- here and there --

Had notched the place that pleased Him --

At Rest -- His fingers are --

Now -- when I read -- I read not --

For interrupting Tears --

Obliterate the Etchings

Too Costly for Repairs.

 

 

361

What I can do -- I will --

Though it be little as a Daffodil --

That I cannot -- must be

Unknown to possibility --

 

 

362

It struck me -- every Day --

The Lightning was as new

As if the Cloud that instant slit

And let the Fire through --

It burned Me -- in the Night --

It Blistered to My Dream --

It sickened fresh upon my sight --

With every Morn that came --

I though that Storm -- was brief --

The Maddest -- quickest by --

But Nature lost the Date of This --

And left it in the Sky --

 

 

363

I went to thank Her --

But She Slept --

Her Bed -- a funneled Stone --

With Nosegays at the Head and Foot --

That Travellers -- had thrown --

Who went to thank Her --

But She Slept --

‘Twas Short -- to cross the Sea --

To look upon Her like -- alive --

But turning back -- ‘twas slow --

 

 

364

The Morning after Woe --

‘Tis frequently the Way --

Surpasses all that rose before --

For utter Jubilee --

As Nature did not care --

And piled her Blossoms on --

And further to parade a Joy

Her Victim stared upon --

The Birds declaim their Tunes --

Pronouncing every word

Like Hammers -- Did they know they fell

Like Litanies of Lead --

On here and there -- a creature --

They’d modify the Glee

To fit some Crucifixal Clef --

Some Key of Calvary --

 

 

365

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?

Then crouch within the door --

Red -- is the Fire’s common tint --

But when the vivid Ore

Has vanquished Flame’s conditions,

It quivers from the Forge

Without a color, but the light

Of unanointed Blaze.

Least Village has its Blacksmith

Whose Anvil’s even ring

Stands symbol for the finer Forge

That soundless tugs -- within --

Refining these impatient Ores

With Hammer, and with Blaze

Until the Designated Light

Repudiate the Forge --

 

 

366

Although I put away his life --

An Ornament too grand

For Forehead low as mine, to wear,

This might have been the Hand

That sowed the flower, he preferred --

Or smoothed a homely pain,

Or pushed the pebble from his path --

Or played his chosen tune --

On Lute the least -- the latest --

But just his Ear could know

That whatsoe’er delighted it,

I never would let go --

The foot to bear his errand --

A little Boot I know --

Would leap abroad like Antelope --

With just the grant to do --

His weariest Commandment --

A sweeter to obey,

Than "Hide and Seek" --

Or skip to Flutes --

Or all Day, chase the Bee --

Your Servant, Sir, will weary --

The Surgeon, will not come --

The World, will have its own -- to do --

The Dust, will vex your Fame --

The Cold will force your tightest door

Some February Day,

But say my apron bring the sticks

To make your Cottage gay --

That I may take that promise

To Paradise, with me --

To teach the Angels, avarice,

You, Sir, taught first -- to me.

 

 

367

Over and over, like a Tune --

The Recollection plays --

Drums off the Phantom Battlements

Cornets of Paradise --

Snatches, from Baptized Generations --

Cadences too grand

But for the Justified Processions

At the Lord’s Right hand.

 

 

368

How sick -- to wait -- in any place -- but thine --

I knew last night -- when someone tried to twine --

Thinking -- perhaps -- that I looked tired -- or alone --

Or breaking -- almost -- with unspoken pain --

And I turned -- ducal --

That right -- was thine --

One port -- suffices -- for a Brig -- like mine --

Ours be the tossing -- wild though the sea --

Rather than a Mooring -- unshared by thee.

Ours be the Cargo -- unladed -- here --

Rather than the "spicy isles --"

And thou -- not there --

 

 

369

She lay as if at play

Her life had leaped away --

Intending to return --

But not so soon --

Her merry Arms, half dropt --

As if for lull of sport --

An instant had forgot --

The Trick to start --

Her dancing Eyes -- ajar --

As if their Owner were

Still sparkling through

For fun -- at you --

Her Morning at the door --

Devising, I am sure --

To force her sleep --

So light -- so deep --

 

 

370

Heaven is so far of the Mind

That were the Mind dissolved --

The Site -- of it -- by Architect

Could not again be proved --

‘Tis vast -- as our Capacity --

As fair -- as our idea --

To Him of adequate desire

No further ‘tis, than Here --

 

 

371

A precious -- mouldering pleasure -- ‘tis --

To meet an Antique Book --

In just the Dress his Century wore --

A privilege -- I think --

His venerable Hand to take --

And warming in our own --

A passage back -- or two -- to make --

To Times when he -- was young --

His quaint opinions -- to inspect --

His thought to ascertain

On Themes concern our mutual mind --

The Literature of Man --

What interested Scholars -- most --

What Competitions ran --

When Plato -- was a Certainty --

And Sophocles -- a Man --

When Sappho -- was a living Girl --

And Beatrice wore

The Gown that Dante -- deified --

Facts Centuries before

He traverses -- familiar --

As One should come to Town --

And tell you all your Dreams -- were true --

He lived -- where Dreams were born --

His presence is Enchantment --

You beg him not to go --

Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads

And tantalize -- just so --

 

 

372

I know lives, I could miss

Without a Misery --

Others -- whose instant’s wanting --

Would be Eternity --

The last -- a scanty Number --

‘Twould scarcely fill a Two --

The first -- a Gnat’s Horizon

Could easily outgrow --

 

 

373

I’m saying every day

"If I should be a Queen, tomorrow" --

I’d do this way --

And so I deck, a little,

If it be, I wake a Bourbon,

None on me, bend supercilious --

With "This was she --

Begged in the Market place --

Yesterday."

Court is a stately place --

I’ve heard men say --

So I loop my apron, against the Majesty

With bright Pins of Buttercup --

That not too plain --

Rank -- overtake me --

And perch my Tongue

On Twigs of singing -- rather high --

But this, might be my brief Term

To qualify --

Put from my simple speech all plain word --

Take other accents, as such I heard

Though but for the Cricket -- just,

And but for the Bee --

Not in all the Meadow --

One accost me --

Better to be ready --

Than did next morn

Meet me in Aragon --

My old Gown -- on --

And the surprised Air

Rustics -- wear --

Summoned -- unexpectedly --

To Exeter --

 

 

374

I went to Heaven --

‘Twas a small Town --

Lit -- with a Ruby --

Lathed -- with Down --

Stiller -- than the fields

At the full Dew --

Beautiful -- as Pictures --

No Man drew.

People -- like the Moth --

Of Mechlin -- frames --

Duties -- of Gossamer --

And Eider -- names --

Almost -- contented --

I -- could be --

‘Mong such unique

Society --

 

 

375

The Angle of a Landscape --

That every time I wake --

Between my Curtain and the Wall

Upon an ample Crack --

Like a Venetian -- waiting --

Accosts my open eye --

Is just a Bough of Apples --

Held slanting, in the Sky --

The Pattern of a Chimney --

The Forehead of a Hill --

Sometimes -- a Vane’s Forefinger --

But that’s -- Occasional --

The Seasons -- shift -- my Picture --

Upon my Emerald Bough,

I wake -- to find no -- Emeralds --

Then -- Diamonds -- which the Snow

From Polar Caskets -- fetched me --

The Chimney -- and the Hill --

And just the Steeple’s finger --

These -- never stir at all --

 

 

376

Of Course -- I prayed --

And did God Care?

He cared as much as on the Air

A Bird -- had stamped her foot --

And cried "Give Me" --

My Reason -- Life --

I had not had -- but for Yourself --

‘Twere better Charity

To leave me in the Atom’s Tomb --

Merry, and Nought, and gay, and numb --

Than this smart Misery.

 

 

377

To lose one’s faith -- surpass

The loss of an Estate --

Because Estates can be

Replenished -- faith cannot --

Inherited with Life --

Belief -- but once -- can be --

Annihilate a single clause --

And Being’s -- Beggary --

 

 

378

I saw no Way -- The Heavens were stitched --

I felt the Columns close --

The Earth reversed her Hemispheres --

I touched the Universe --

And back it slid -- and I alone --

A Speck upon a Ball --

Went out upon Circumference --

Beyond the Dip of Bell --

 

 

379

Rehearsal to Ourselves

Of a Withdrawn Delight --

Affords a Bliss like Murder --

Omnipotent -- Acute --

We will not drop the Dirk --

Because We love the Wound

The Dirk Commemorate -- Itself

Remind Us that we died.

 

 

380

There is a flower that Bees prefer --

And Butterflies -- desire --

To gain the Purple Democrat

The Humming Bird -- aspire --

And Whatsoever Insect pass --

A Honey bear away

Proportioned to his several dearth

And her -- capacity --

Her face be rounder than the Moon

And ruddier than the Gown

Or Orchis in the Pasture --

Or Rhododendron -- worn --

She doth not wait for June --

Before the World be Green --

Her sturdy little Countenance

Against the Wind -- be seen --

Contending with the Grass --

Near Kinsman to Herself --

For Privilege of Sod and Sun --

Sweet Litigants for Life --

And when the Hills be full --

And newer fashions blow --

Doth not retract a single spice

For pang of jealousy --

Her Public -- be the Noon --

Her Providence -- the Sun --

Her Progress -- by the Bee -- proclaimed --

In sovereign -- Swerveless Tune --

The Bravest -- of the Host --

Surrendering -- the last --

Nor even of Defeat -- aware --

What cancelled by the Frost --

 

 

381

A Secret told --

Ceases to be a Secret -- then --

A Secret -- kept --

That -- can appal but One --

Better of it -- continual be afraid --

Than it --

And Whom you told it to -- beside --

 

 

382

For Death -- or rather

For the Things ‘twould buy --

This -- put away

Life’s Opportunity --

The Things that Death will buy

Are Room --

Escape from Circumstances --

And a Name --

With Gifts of Life

How Death’s Gifts may compare --

We know not --

For the Rates -- lie Here --

 

 

383

Exhilaration -- is within --

There can no Outer Wine

So royally intoxicate

As that diviner Brand

The Soul achieves -- Herself --

To drink -- or set away

For Visitor -- Or Sacrament --

‘Tis not of Holiday

To stimulate a Man

Who hath the Ample Rhine

Within his Closet -- Best you can

Exhale in offering.

 

 

384

No Rack can torture me --

My Soul -- at Liberty --

Behind this mortal Bone

There knits a bolder One --

You cannot prick with saw --

Nor pierce with Scimitar --

Two Bodies -- therefore be --

Bind One -- The Other fly --

The Eagle of his Nest

No easier divest --

And gain the Sky

Than mayest Thou --

Except Thyself may be

Thine Enemy --

Captivity is Consciousness --

So’s Liberty.

 

 

385

Smiling back from Coronation

May be Luxury --

On the Heads that started with us --

Being’s Peasantry --

Recognizing in Procession

Ones We former knew --

When Ourselves were also dusty --

Centuries ago --

Had the Triumph no Conviction

Of how many be --

Stimulated -- by the Contrast --

Unto Misery --

 

 

386

Answer July --

Where is the Bee --

Where is the Blush --

Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July --

Where is the Seed --

Where is the Bud --

Where is the May --

Answer Thee -- Me --

Nay -- said the May --

Show me the Snow --

Show me the Bells --

Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay --

Where be the Maize --

Where be the Haze --

Where be the Bur?

Here -- said the Year --

 

 

387

The sweetest Heresy received

That Man and Woman know --

Each Other’s Convert --

Though the Faith accommodate but Two --

The Churches are so frequent --

The Ritual -- so small --

The Grace so unavoidable --

To fail -- is Infidel --

 

 

388

Take your Heaven further on --

This -- to Heaven divine Has gone --

Had You earlier blundered in

Possibly, e’en You had seen

An Eternity -- put on --

Now -- to ring a Door beyond

Is the utmost of Your Hand --

To the Skies -- apologize --

Nearer to Your Courtesies

Than this Sufferer polite --

Dressed to meet You --

See -- in White!

 

 

389

There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House,

As lately as Today --

I know it, by the numb look

Such Houses have -- alway --

The Neighbors rustle in and out --

The Doctor -- drives away --

A Window opens like a Pod --

Abrupt -- mechanically --

Somebody flings a Mattress out --

The Children hurry by --

They wonder if it died -- on that --

I used to -- when a Boy --

The Minister -- goes stiffly in --

As if the House were His --

And He owned all the Mourners -- now --

And little Boys -- besides --

And then the Milliner -- and the Man

Of the Appalling Trade --

To take the measure of the House --

There’ll be that Dark Parade --

Of Tassels -- and of Coaches -- soon --

It’s easy as a Sign --

The Intuition of the News --

In just a Country Town --

 

 

390

It’s coming -- the postponeless Creature --

It gains the Block -- and now -- it gains the Door --

Chooses its latch, from all the other fastenings --

Enters -- with a "You know Me -- Sir"?

Simple Salute -- and certain Recognition --

Bold -- were it Enemy -- Brief -- were it friend --

Dresses each House in Crape, and Icicle --

And carries one -- out of it -- to God --

 

 

391

A Visitor in Marl --

Who influences Flowers --

Till they are orderly as Busts --

And Elegant -- as Glass --

Who visits in the Night --

And just before the Sun --

Concludes his glistening interview --

Caresses -- and is gone --

But whom his fingers touched --

And where his feet have run --

And whatsoever Mouth be kissed --

Is as it had not been --

 

 

392

Through the Dark Sod -- as Education --

The Lily passes sure --

Feels her white foot -- no trepidation --

Her faith -- no fear --

Afterward -- in the Meadow --

Swinging her Beryl Bell --

The Mold-life -- all forgotten -- now --

In Ecstasy -- and Dell --

 

 

393

Did Our Best Moment last --

‘Twould supersede the Heaven --

A few -- and they by Risk -- procure --

So this Sort -- are not given --

Except as stimulants -- in

Cases of Despair --

Or Stupor -- The Reserve --

These Heavenly Moments are --

A Grant of the Divine --

That Certain as it Comes --

Withdraws -- and leaves the dazzled Soul

In her unfurnished Rooms

 

 

394

‘Twas Love -- not me --

Oh punish -- pray --

The Real one died for Thee --

Just Him -- not me --

Such Guilt -- to love Thee -- most!

Doom it beyond the Rest --

Forgive it -- last --

‘Twas base as Jesus -- most!

Let Justice not mistake --

We Two -- looked so alike --

Which was the Guilty Sake --

‘Twas Love’s -- Now Strike!

 

 

395

Reverse cannot befall

That fine Prosperity

Whose Sources are interior --

As soon -- Adversity

A Diamond -- overtake

In far -- Bolivian Ground --

Misfortune hath no implement

Could mar it -- if it found --

 

 

396

There is a Languor of the Life

More imminent than Pain --

‘Tis Pain’s Successor -- When the Soul

Has suffered all it can --

A Drowsiness -- diffuses --

A Dimness like a Fog

Envelops Consciousness --

As Mists -- obliterate a Crag.

The Surgeon -- does not blanch -- at pain

His Habit -- is severe --

But tell him that it ceased to feel --

The Creature lying there --

And he will tell you -- skill is late --

A Mightier than He --

Has ministered before Him --

There’s no Vitality.

 

 

397

When Diamonds are a Legend,

And Diadems -- a Tale --

I Brooch and Earrings for Myself,

Do sow, and Raise for sale --

And tho’ I’m scarce accounted,

My Art, a Summer Day -- had Patrons --

Once -- it was a Queen --

And once -- a Butterfly --

 

 

398

I had not minded -- Walls --

Were Universe -- one Rock --

And fr I heard his silver Call

The other side the Block --

I’d tunnel -- till my Groove

Pushed sudden thro’ to his --

Then my face take her Recompense --

The looking in his Eyes --

But ‘tis a single Hair --

A filament -- a law --

A Cobweb -- wove in Adamant --

A Battlement -- of Straw --

A limit like the Veil

Unto the Lady’s face --

But every Mesh -- a Citadel --

And Dragons -- in the Crease --

 

 

399

A House upon the Height --

That Wagon never reached --

No Dead, were ever carried down --

No Peddler’s Cart -- approached --

Whose Chimney never smoked --

Whose Windows -- Night and Morn --

Caught Sunrise first -- and Sunset -- last --

Then -- held an Empty Pane --

Whose fate -- Conjecture knew --

No other neighbor -- did --

And what it was -- we never lisped --

Because He -- never told --

 

 

400

A Tongue -- to tell Him I am true!

Its fee -- to be of Gold --

Had Nature -- in Her monstrous House

A single Ragged Child --

To earn a Mine -- would run

That Interdicted Way,

And tell Him -- Charge thee speak it plain --

That so far -- Truth is True?

And answer What I do --

Beginning with the Day

That Night -- begun --

Nay -- Midnight -- ‘twas --

Since Midnight -- happened -- say --

If once more -- Pardon -- Boy --

The Magnitude thou may

Enlarge my Message -- If too vast

Another Lad -- help thee --

Thy Pay -- in Diamonds -- be --

And His -- in solid Gold --

Say Rubies -- if He hesitate --

My Message -- must be told --

Say -- last I said -- was This --

That when the Hills -- come down --

And hold no higher than the Plain --

My Bond -- have just begun --

And when the Heavens -- disband --

And Deity conclude --

Then -- look for me. Be sure you say --

Least Figure -- on the Road --

 

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