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

 

 

401

What Soft -- Cherubic Creatures --

These Gentlewomen are --

One would as soon assault a Plush --

Or violate a Star --

Such Dimity Convictions --

A Horror so refined

Of freckled Human Nature --

Of Deity -- ashamed --

It’s such a common -- Glory --

A Fisherman’s -- Degree --

Redemption -- Brittle Lady --

Be so -- ashamed of Thee --

 

 

402

I pay -- in Satin Cash --

You did not state -- your price --

A Petal, for a Paragraph

It near as I can guess --

 

 

403

The Winters are so short --

I’m hardly justified

In sending all the Birds away --

And moving into Pod --

Myself -- for scarcely settled --

The Phoebes have begun --

And then -- it’s time to strike my Tent --

And open House -- again --

It’s mostly, interruptions --

My Summer -- is despoiled --

Because there was a Winter -- once --

And al the Cattle -- starved --

And so there was a Deluge --

And swept the World away --

But Ararat’s a Legend -- now --

And no one credits Noah --

 

 

404

How many Flowers fail in Wood --

Or perish from the Hill --

Without the privilege to know

That they are Beautiful --

How many cast a nameless Pod

Upon the nearest Breeze --

Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight --

It bear to Other Eyes --

 

 

405

It might be lonelier

Without the Loneliness --

I’m so accustomed to my Fate --

Perhaps the Other -- Peace --

Would interrupt the Dark --

And crowd the little Room --

Too scant -- by Cubits -- to contain

The Sacrament -- of Him --

I am not used to Hope --

It might intrude upon --

Its sweet parade -- blaspheme the place --

Ordained to Suffering --

It might be easier

To fail -- with Land in Sight --

Than gain -- My Blue Peninsula --

To perish -- of Delight --

 

 

406

Some -- Work for Immortality --

The Chiefer part, for Time --

He -- Compensates -- immediately --

The former -- Checks -- on Fame --

Slow Gold -- but Everlasting --

The Bullion of Today --

Contrasted with the Currency

Of Immortality --

A Beggar -- Here and There --

Is gifted to discern

Beyond the Broker’s insight --

One’s -- Money -- One’s -- the Mine -

 

 

407

If What we could -- were what we would --

Criterion -- be small --

It is the Ultimate of Talk --

The Impotence to Tell --

 

 

408

Unit, like Death, for Whom?

True, like the Tomb,

Who tells no secret

Told to Him --

The Grave is strict --

Tickets admit

Just two -- the Bearer --

And the Borne --

And seat -- just One --

The Living -- tell --

The Dying -- but a Syllable --

The Coy Dead -- None --

No Chatter -- here -- no tea --

So Babbler, and Bohea -- stay there --

But Gravity -- and Expectation -- and Fear --

A tremor just, that All’s not sure.

 

 

409

They dropped like Flakes --

They dropped like Stars --

Like Petals from a Rose --

When suddenly across the June

A wind with fingers -- goes --

They perished in the Seamless Grass --

No eye could find the place --

But God can summon every face

Of his Repealless -- List.

 

 

410

The first Day’s Night had come --

And grateful that a thing

So terrible -- had been endured --

I told my Soul to sing --

She said her Strings were snapt --

Her Bow -- to Atoms blown --

And so to mend her -- gave me work

Until another Morn --

And then -- a Day as huge

As Yesterdays in pairs,

Unrolled its horror in my face --

Until it blocked my eyes --

My Brain -- begun to laugh --

I mumbled -- like a fool --

And tho’ ‘tis Years ago -- that Day --

My Brain keeps giggling -- still.

And Something’s odd -- within --

That person that I was --

And this One -- do not feel the same --

Could it be Madness -- this?

 

 

411

The Color of the Grave is Green --

The Outer Grave -- I mean --

You would not know it from the Field --

Except it own a Stone --

To help the fond -- to find it --

Too infinite asleep

To stop and tell them where it is --

But just a Daisy -- deep --

The Color of the Grave is white --

The outer Grave -- I mean --

You would not know it from the Drifts --

In Winter -- till the Sun --

Has furrowed out the Aisles --

Then -- higher than the Land

The little Dwelling Houses rise

Where each -- has left a friend --

The Color of the Grave within --

The Duplicate -- I mean --

Not all the Snows could make it white --

Not all the Summers -- Green --

You’ve seen the Color -- maybe --

Upon a Bonnet bound --

When that you met it with before --

The Ferret -- cannot find --

 

 

412

I read my sentence -- steadily --

Reviewed it with my eyes,

To see that I made no mistake

In its extremest clause --

The Date, and manner, of the shame --

And then the Pious Form

That "God have mercy" on the Soul

The Jury voted Him --

I made my soul familiar -- with her extremity --

That at the last, it should not be a novel Agony --

But she, and Death, acquainted --

Meet tranquilly, as friends --

Salute, and pass, without a Hint --

And there, the Matter ends --

 

 

413

I never felt at Home -- Below ---

And in the Handsome Skies

I shall not feel at Home -- I know --

I don’t like Paradise --

Because it’s Sunday -- all the time --

And Recess -- never comes --

And Eden’ll be so lonesome

Bright Wednesday Afternoons --

If God could make a visit --

Or ever took a Nap --

So not to see us -- but they say

Himself -- a Telescope

Perennial beholds us --

Myself would run away

From Him -- and Holy Ghost -- and All --

But there’s the "Judgement Day"!

 

 

414

‘Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch,

That nearer, every Day,

Kept narrowing its boiling Wheel

Until the Agony

Toyed coolly with the final inch

Of your delirious Hem --

And you dropt, lost,

When something broke --

And let you from a Dream --

As if a Goblin with a Gauge --

Kept measuring the Hours --

Until you felt your Second

Weigh, helpless, in his Paws --

And not a Sinew -- stirred -- could help,

And sense was setting numb --

When God -- remembered -- and the Fiend

Let go, then, Overcome --

As if your Sentence stood -- pronounced --

And you were frozen led

From Dungeon’s luxury of Doubt

To Gibbets, and the Dead --

And when the Film had stitched your eyes

A Creature gasped "Reprieve"!

Which Anguish was the utterest -- then --

To perish, or to live?

 

 

415

Sunset at Night -- is natural --

But Sunset on the Dawn

Reverses Nature -- Master --

So Midnight’s -- due -- at Noon.

Eclipses be -- predicted --

And Science bows them in --

But do one face us suddenly --

Jehovah’s Watch -- is wrong.

 

 

416

A Murmur in the Trees -- to note --

Not loud enough -- for Wind --

A Star -- not far enough to seek --

Nor near enough -- to find --

A long -- long Yellow -- on the Lawn --

A Hubbub -- as of feet --

Not audible -- as Ours -- to Us --

But dapperer -- More Sweet --

A Hurrying Home of little Men

To Houses unperceived --

All this -- and more -- if I should tell --

Would never be believed --

Of Robins in the Trundle bed

How many I espy

Whose Nightgowns could not hide the Wings --

Although I heard them try --

But then I promised ne’er to tell --

How could I break My Word?

So go your Way -- and I’ll go Mine --

No fear you’ll miss the Road.

 

 

417

Is it dead -- Find it --

Out of sound -- Out of sight --

"Happy"? Which is wiser --

You, or the Wind?

"Conscious"? Won’t you ask that --

Of the low Ground?

"Homesick"? Many met it --

Even through them -- This

Cannot testify --

Themself -- as dumb --

 

 

418

Not in this World to see his face --

Sounds long -- until I read the place

Where this -- is said to be

But just the Primer -- to a life --

Unopened -- rare -- Upon the Shelf --

Clasped yet -- to Him -- and Me --

And yet -- My Primer suits me so

I would not choose -- a Book to know

Than that -- be sweeter wise --

Might some one else -- so learned -- be --

And leave me -- just my A -- B -- C --

Himself -- could have the Skies --

 

 

419

We grow accustomed to the Dark --

When light is put away --

As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp

To witness her Goodbye --

A Moment -- We uncertain step

For newness of the night --

Then -- fit our Vision to the Dark --

And meet the Road -- erect --

And so of larger -- Darkness --

Those Evenings of the Brain --

When not a Moon disclose a sign --

Or Star -- come out -- within --

The Bravest -- grope a little --

And sometimes hit a Tree

Directly in the Forehead --

But as they learn to see --

Either the Darkness alters --

Or something in the sight

Adjusts itself to Midnight --

And Life steps almost straight.

 

 

420

You’ll know it -- as you know ‘tis Noon --

By Glory --

As you do the Sun --

By Glory --

As you will in Heaven --

Know God the Father -- and the Son.

By intuition, Mightiest Things

Assert themselves -- and not by terms --

"I’m Midnight" -- need the Midnight say --

"I’m Sunrise" -- Need the Majesty?

Omnipotence -- had not a Tongue --

His listp -- is Lightning -- and the Sun --

His Conversation -- with the Sea --

"How shall you know"?

Consult your Eye!

 

 

421

A Charm invests a face

Imperfectly beheld --

The Lady dare not lift her Veil

For fear it be dispelled --

But peers beyond her mesh --

And wishes -- and denies --

Lest Interview -- annul a want

That Image -- satisfies --

 

 

422

More Life -- went out -- when He went

Than Ordinary Breath --

Lit with a finer Phosphor --

Requiring in the Quench --

A Power of Renowned Cold,

The Climate of the Grave

A Temperature just adequate

So Anthracite, to live --

For some -- an Ampler Zero --

A Frost more needle keen

Is necessary, to reduce

The Ethiop within.

Others -- extinguish easier --

A Gnat’s minutest Fan

Sufficient to obliterate

A Tract of Citizen --

Whose Peat lift -- amply vivid --

Ignores the solemn News

That Popocatapel exists --

Or Etna’s Scarlets, Choose --

 

 

423

The Months have ends -- the Years -- a knot --

No Power can untie

To stretch a little further

A Skein of Misery --

The Earth lays back these tired lives

In her mysterious Drawers --

Too tenderly, that any doubt

An ultimate Repose --

The manner of the Children --

Who weary of the Day --

Themself -- the noisy Plaything

They cannot put away --

 

 

424

Removed from Accident of Loss

By Accident of Gain

Befalling not my simple Days --

Myself had just to earn --

Of Riches -- as unconscious

As is the Brown Malay

Of Pearls in Eastern Waters,

Marked His -- What Holiday

Would stir his slow conception --

Had he the power to dream

That put the Dower’s fraction --

Awaited even -- Him --

 

 

425

Good Morning -- Midnight --

I’m coming Home --

Day -- got tired of Me --

How could I -- of Him?

Sunshine was a sweet place --

I liked to stay --

But Morn -- didn’t want me -- now --

So -- Goodnight -- Day!

I can look -- can’t I --

When the East is Red?

The Hills -- have a way -- then --

That puts the Heart -- abroad --

You -- are not so fair -- Midnight --

I chose -- Day --

But -- please take a little Girl --

He turned away!

 

 

426

It don’t sound so terrible -- quite -- as it did --

I run it over -- "Dead", Brain, "Dead."

Put it in Latin -- left of my school --

Seems it don’t shriek so -- under rule.

Turn it, a little -- full in the face

A Trouble looks bitterest --

Shift it -- just --

Say "When Tomorrow comes this way --

I shall have waded down one Day."

I suppose it will interrupt me some

Till I get accustomed -- but then the Tomb

Like other new Things -- shows largest -- then --

And smaller, by Habit --

It’s shrewder then

Put the Thought in advance -- a Year --

How like "a fit" -- then --

Murder -- wear!

 

 

427

I’ll clutch -- and clutch --

Next -- One -- Might be the golden touch --

Could take it --

Diamonds -- Wait --

I’m diving -- just a little late --

But stars -- go slow -- for night --

I’ll string you -- in fine Necklace --

Tiaras -- make -- of some --

Wear you on Hem --

Loop up a Countess -- with you --

Make -- a Diadem -- and mend my old One --

Count -- Hoard -- then lose --

And doubt that you are mine --

To have the joy of feeling it -- again --

I’ll show you at the Court --

Bear you -- for Ornament

Where Women breathe --

That every sigh -- may lift you

Just as high -- as I --

And -- when I die --

In meek array -- display you --

Still to show -- how rich I go --

Lest Skies impeach a wealth so wonderful --

And banish me --

 

 

428

Taking up the fair Ideal,

Just to cast her down

When a fracture -- we discover --

Or a splintered Crown --

Makes the Heavens portable --

And the Gods -- a lie --

Doubtless -- "Adam" -- scowled at Eden --

For his perjury!

Cherishing -- our pool Ideal --

Till in purer dress --

We behold her -- glorified --

Comforts -- search -- like this --

Till the broken creatures --

We adored -- for whole --

Stains -- all washed --

Transfigured -- mended --

Meet us -- with a smile --

 

 

429

The Moon is distant from the Sea --

And yet, with Amber Hands --

She leads Him -- docile as a Boy --

Along appointed Sands --

He never misses a Degree --

Obedient to Her Eye

He comes just so far -- toward the Town --

Just so far -- goes away --

Oh, Signor, Thine, the Amber Hand --

And mine -- the distant Sea --

Obedient to the least command

Thine eye impose on me --

 

 

430

It would never be Common -- more -- I said --

Difference -- had begun --

Many a bitterness -- had been --

But that old sort -- was done --

Or -- if it sometime -- showed -- as ‘twill --

Upon the Downiest -- Morn --

Such bliss -- had I -- for all the years --

‘Twould give an Easier -- pain --

I’d so much joy -- I told it -- Red --

Upon my simple Cheek --

I felt it publish -- in my Eye --

‘Twas needless -- any speak --

I walked -- as wings -- my body bore --

The feet -- I former used --

Unnecessary -- now to me --

As boots -- would be -- to Birds --

I put my pleasure all abroad --

I dealth a word of Gold

To every Creature -- that I met --

And Dowered -- all the World --

When -- suddenly -- my Riches shrank --

A Goblin -- drank my Dew --

My Palaces -- dropped tenantless --

Myself -- was beggared -- too --

I clutched at sounds --

I groped at shapes --

I touched the tops of Films --

I felt the Wilderness roll back

Along my Golden lines --

The Sackcloth -- hangs upon the nail --

The Frock I used to wear --

But where my moment of Brocade --

My -- drop -- of India?

 

 

431

Me -- come! My dazzled face

In such a shining place!

Me -- hear! My foreign Ear

The sounds of Welcome -- there!

The Saints forget

Our bashful feet --

My Holiday, shall be

That They -- remember me --

My Paradise -- the fame

That They -- pronounce my name --

 

 

432

Do People moulder equally,

They bury, in the Grave?

I do believe a Species

As positively live

As I, who testify it

Deny that I -- am dead --

And fill my Lungs, for Witness --

From Tanks -- above my Head --

I say to you, said Jesus --

That there be standing here --

A Sort, that shall not taste of Death --

If Jesus was sincere --

I need no further Argue --

That statement of the Lord

Is not a controvertible --

He told me, Death was dead --

 

 

433

Knows how to forget!

But could It teach it?

Easiest of Arts, they say

When one learn how

Dull Hearts have died

In the Acquisition

Sacrificed for Science

Is common, though, now --

I went to School

But was not wiser

Globe did not teach it

Nor Logarithm Show

"How to forget"!

Say -- some -- Philosopher!

Ah, to be erudite

Enough to know!

Is it in a Book?

So, I could buy it --

Is it like a Planet?

Telescopes would know --

If it be invention

It must have a Patent.

Rabbi of the Wise Book

Don’t you know?

 

 

434

To love thee Year by Year --

May less appear

Than sacrifice, and cease --

However, dear,

Forever might be short, I thought to show --

And so I pieced it, with a flower, now.

 

 

435

Much Madness is divinest Sense --

To a discerning Eye --

Much Sense -- the starkest Madness --

‘Tis the Majority

In this, as All, prevail --

Assent -- and you are sane --

Demur -- you’re straightway dangerous --

And handled with a Chain --

 

 

436

The Wind -- tapped like a tired Man --

And like a Host -- "Come in"

I boldly answered -- entered then

My Residence within

A Rapid -- footless Guest --

To offer whom a Chair

Were as impossible as hand

A Sofa to the Air --

No Bone had He to bind Him --

His Speech was like the Push

Of numerous Humming Birds at once

From a superior Bush --

His Countenance -- a Billow --

His Fingers, as He passed

Let go a music -- as of tunes

Blown tremulous in Glass --

He visited -- still flitting --

Then like a timid Man

Again, He tapped -- ‘twas flurriedly --

And I became alone --

 

 

437

Prayer is the little implement

Through which Men reach

Where Presence -- is denied them.

They fling their Speech

By means of it -- in God’s Ear --

If then He hear --

This sums the Apparatus

Comprised in Prayer --

 

 

438

Forget! The lady with the Amulet

Forget she wore it at her Heart

Because she breathed against

Was Treason twixt?

Deny! Did Rose her Bee --

For Privilege of Play

Or Wile of Butterfly

Or Opportunity -- Her Lord away?

The lady with the Amulet -- will face --

The Bee -- in Mausoleum laid --

Discard his Bride --

But longer than the little Rill --

That cooled the Forehead of the Hill --

While Other -- went the Sea to fill --

And Other -- went to turn the Mill --

I’ll do thy Will --

 

 

439

Undue Significance a starving man attaches

To Food --

Far off -- He sighs -- and therefore -- Hopeless --

And therefore -- Good --

Partaken -- it relieves -- indeed --

But proves us

That Spices fly

In the Receipt -- It was the Distance --

Was Savory --

 

 

440

‘Tis customary as we part

A trinket -- to confer --

It helps to stimulate the faith

When Lovers be afar --

‘Tis various -- as the various taste --

Clematis -- journeying far --

Presents me with a single Curl

Of her Electric Hair --

 

 

441

This is my letter to the World

That never wrote to Me --

The simple News that Nature told --

With tender Majesty

Her Message is committed

To Hands I cannot see --

For love of Her -- Sweet -- countrymen --

Judge tenderly -- of Me

 

 

442

God made a little Gentian --

It tried -- to be a Rose --

And failed -- and all the Summer laughed --

But just before the Snows

There rose a Purple Creature --

That ravished all the Hill --

And Summer hid her Forehead --

And Mockery -- was still --

The Frosts were her condition --

The Tyrian would not come

Until the North -- invoke it --

Creator -- Shall I -- bloom?

 

 

443

I tie my Hat -- I crease my Shawl --

Life’s little duties do -- precisely --

As the very least

Were infinite -- to me --

I put new Blossoms in the Glass --

And throw the old -- away --

I push a petal from my gown

That anchored there -- I weigh

The time ‘twill be till six o’clock

I have so much to do --

And yet -- Existence -- some way back --

Stopped -- struck -- my tickling -- through --

We cannot put Ourself away

As a completed Man

Or Woman -- When the Errand’s done

We came to Flesh -- upon --

There may be -- Miles on Miles of Nought --

Of Action -- sicker far --

To simulate -- is stinging work --

To cover what we are

From Science -- and from Surgery --

Too Telescopic Eyes

To bear on us unshaded --

For their -- sake -- not for Ours --

‘Twould start them --

We -- could tremble --

But since we got a Bomb --

And held it in our Bosom --

Nay -- Hold it -- it is calm --

Therefore -- we do life’s labor --

Though life’s Reward -- be done --

With scrupulous exactness --

To hold our Senses -- on --

 

 

444

It feels a shame to be Alive --

When Men so brave -- are dead --

One envies the Distinguished Dust --

Permitted -- such a Head --

The Stone -- that tells defending Whom

This Spartan put away

What little of Him we -- possessed

In Pawn for Liberty --

The price is great -- Sublimely paid --

Do we deserve -- a Thing --

That lives -- like Dollars -- must be piled

Before we may obtain?

Are we that wait -- sufficient worth --

That such Enormous Pearl

As life -- dissolved be -- for Us --

In Battle’s -- horrid Bowl?

It may be -- a Renown to live --

I think the Man who die --

Those unsustained -- Saviors --

Present Divinity --

 

 

445

‘Twas just this time, last year, I died.

I know I heard the Corn,

When I was carried by the Farms --

It had the Tassels on --

I thought how yellow it would look --

When Richard went to mill --

And then, I wanted to get out,

But something held my will.

I thought just how Red -- Apples wedged

The Stubble’s joints between --

And the Carts stooping round the fields

To take the Pumpkins in --

I wondered which would miss me, least,

And when Thanksgiving, came,

If Father’d multiply the plates --

To make an even Sum --

And would it blur the Christmas glee

My Stocking hang too high

For any Santa Claus to reach

The Altitude of me --

But this sort, grieved myself,

And so, I thought the other way,

How just this time, some perfect year --

Themself, should come to me --

 

 

446

I showed her Heights she never saw --

"Would’st Climb," I said?

She said -- "Not so" --

"With me --" I said -- With me?

I showed her Secrets -- Morning’s Nest --

The Rope the Nights were put across --

And now -- "Would’st have me for a Guest?"

She could not find her Yes --

And then, I brake my life -- And Lo,

A Light, for her, did solemn glow,

The larger, as her face withdrew --

And could she, further, "No"?

 

 

447

Could -- I do more -- for Thee --

Wert Thou a Bumble Bee --

Since for the Queen, have I --

Nought but Bouquet?

 

 

448

This was a Poet -- It is That

Distills amazing sense

From ordinary Meanings --

And Attar so immense

From the familiar species

That perished by the Door --

We wonder it was not Ourselves

Arrested it -- before --

Of Pictures, the Discloser --

The Poet -- it is He --

Entitles Us -- by Contrast --

To ceaseless Poverty --

Of portion -- so unconscious --

The Robbing -- could not harm --

Himself -- to Him -- a Fortune --

Exterior -- to Time --

 

 

449

I died for Beauty -- but was scarce

Adjusted in the Tomb

When One who died for Truth, was lain

In an adjoining room --

He questioned softly "Why I failed"?

"For Beauty", I replied --

"And I -- for Truth -- Themself are One --

We Brethren, are", He said --

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night --

We talked between the Rooms --

Until the Moss had reached our lips --

And covered up -- our names --

 

 

450

Dreams -- are well -- but Waking’s better,

If One wake at morn --

If One wake at Midnight -- better --

Dreaming -- of the Dawn --

Sweeter -- the Surmising Robins --

Never gladdened Tree --

Than a Solid Dawn -- confronting --

Leading to no Day --

 

 

451

The Outer -- from the Inner

Derives its Magnitude --

‘Tis Duke, or Dwarf, according

As is the Central Mood --

The fine -- unvarying Axis

That regulates the Wheel --

Though Spokes -- spin -- more conspicuous

And fling a dust -- the while.

The Inner -- paints the Outer --

The Brush without the Hand --

Its Picture publishes -- precise --

As is the inner Brand --

On fine -- Arterial Canvas --

A Cheek -- perchance a Brow --

The Star’s whole Secret -- in the Lake --

Eyes were not meant to know.

 

 

452

The Malay -- took the Pearl --

Not -- I -- the Earl --

I -- feared the Sea -- too much

Unsanctified -- to touch --

Praying that I might be

Worthy -- the Destiny --

The Swarthy fellow swam --

And bore my Jewel -- Home --

Home to the Hut! What lot

Had I -- the Jewel -- got --

Borne on a Dusky Breasty --

I had not deemed a Vest

Of Amber -- fit --

The Negro never knew

I -- wooed it -- too --

To gain, or be undone --

Alike to Him -- One --

 

 

453

Love -- thou art high --

I cannot climb thee --

But, were it Two --

Who know but we --

Taking turns -- at the Chimborazo --

Ducal -- at last -- stand up by thee --

Love -- thou are deep --

I cannot cross thee --

But, were there Two

Instead of One --

Rower, and Yacht -- some sovereign Summer --

Who knows -- but we’d reach the Sun?

Love -- thou are Veiled --

A few -- behold thee --

Smile -- and alter -- and prattle -- and die --

Bliss -- were an Oddity -- without thee --

Nicknamed by God --

Eternity --

 

 

454

It was given to me by the Gods --

When I was a little Girl --

They given us Presents most -- you know --

When we are new -- and small.

I kept it in my Hand --

I never put it down --

I did not dare to eat -- or sleep --

For fear it would be gone --

I heard such words as "Rich" --

When hurrying to school --

From lips at Corners of the Streets --

And wrestled with a smile.

Rich! ‘Twas Myself -- was rich --

To take the name of Gold --

And Gold to own -- in solid Bars --

The Difference -- made me bold --

 

 

455

Triumph -- may be of several kinds --

There’s Triumph in the Room

When that Old Imperator -- Death --

By Faith

 

 

456

So well that I can live without --

I love thee -- then How well is that?

As well as Jesus?

Prove it me

That He -- loved Men --

As I -- love thee --

 

 

457

Sweet -- safe -- Houses --

Glad -- gay -- Houses --

Sealed so stately tight --

Lids of Steel -- on Lids of Marble --

Locking Bare feet out --

Brooks of Plush -- in Banks of Satin

Not so softly fall

As the laughter -- and the whisper --

From their People Pearl --

No Bald Death -- affront their Parlors --

No Bold Sickness come

To deface their Stately Treasures --

Anguish -- and the Tomb --

Hum by -- in Muffled Coaches --

Lest they -- wonder Why --

Any -- for the Press of Smiling --

Interrupt -- to die --

 

 

458

Like eyes that looked on Wastes --

Incredulous of Ought

But Blank -- and steady Wilderness --

Diversified by Night --

Just Infinites of Nought --

As far as it could see --

So looked the face I looked upon --

So looked itself -- on Me --

I offered it no Help --

Because the Cause was Mine --

The Misery a Compact

As hopeless -- as divine --

Neither -- would be absolved --

Neither would be a Queen

Without the Other -- Therefore --

We perish -- tho’ We reign --

 

 

459

A Tooth upon Our Peace

The Peace cannot deface --

Then Wherefore be the Tooth?

To vitalize the Grace --

The Heaven hath a Hell --

Itself to signalize --

And every sign before the Place

Is Gilt with Sacrifice --

 

 

460

I know where Wells grow -- Droughtless Wells --

Deep dug -- for Summer days --

Where Mosses go no more away --

And Pebble -- safely plays --

It’s made of Fathoms -- and a Belt --

A Belt of jagged Stone --

Inlaid with Emerald -- half way down --

And Diamonds -- jumbled on --

It has no Bucket -- Were I rich

A Bucket I would buy --

I’m often thirsty -- but my lips

Are so high up -- You see --

I read in an Old fashioned Book

That People "thirst no more" --

The Wells have Buckets to them there --

It must mean that -- I’m sure --

Shall We remember Parching -- then?

Those Waters sound so grand --

I think a little Well -- like Mine --

Dearer to understand --

 

 

461

A Wife -- at daybreak I shall be --

Sunrise -- Hast thou a Flag for me?

At Midnight, I am but a Maid,

How short it takes to make a Bride --

Then -- Midnight, I have passed from thee

Unto the East, and Victory --

Midnight -- Good Night! I hear them call,

The Angels bustle in the Hall --

Softly my Future climbs the Stair,

I fumble at my Childhood’s prayer

So soon to be a Child no more --

Eternity, I’m coming -- Sire,

Savior -- I’ve seen the face -- before!

 

 

462

Why make it doubt -- it hurts it so --

So sick -- to guess --

So strong -- to know --

So brave -- upon its little Bed

To tell the very last They said

Unto Itself -- and smile -- And shake --

For that dear -- distant -- dangerous -- Sake --

But -- the Instead -- the Pinching fear

That Something -- it did do -- or dare --

Offend the Vision -- and it flee --

And They no more remember me --

Nor ever turn to tell me why --

Oh, Master, This is Misery --

 

 

463

I live with Him -- I see His face --

I go no more away

For Visitor -- or Sundown --

Death’s single privacy

The Only One -- forestalling Mine --

And that -- by Right that He

Presents a Claim invisible --

No wedlock -- granted Me --

I live with Him -- I hear His Voice --

I stand alive -- Today --

To witness to the Certainty

Of Immortality --

Taught Me -- by Time -- the lower Way --

Conviction -- Every day --

That Life like This -- is stopless --

Be Judgment -- what it may --

 

 

464

The power to be true to You,

Until upon my face

The Judgment push his Picture --

Presumptuous of Your Place --

Of This -- Could Man deprive Me --

Himself -- the Heaven excel --

Whose invitation -- Yours reduced

Until it showed too small --

 

 

465

I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died --

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air --

Between the Heaves of Storm --

The Eyes around -- had wrung them dry --

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset -- when the King

Be witnessed -- in the Room --

I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed away

What portion of me be

Assignable -- and then it was

There interposed a Fly --

With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz --

Between the light -- and me --

And then the Windows failed -- and then

I could not see to see --

 

 

466

‘Tis little I -- could care for Pearls --

Who own the ample sea --

Or Brooches -- when the Emperor --

With Rubies -- pelteth me --

Or Gold -- who am the Prince of Mines --

Or Diamonds -- when have I

A Diadem to fit a Dom --

Continual upon me --

 

 

467

We do not play on Graves --

Because there isn’t Room --

Besides -- it isn’t even -- it slants

And People come --

And put a Flower on it --

And hang their faces so --

We’re fearing that their Hearts will drop --

And crush our pretty play --

And so we move as far

As Enemies -- away --

Just looking round to see how far

It is -- Occasionally --

 

 

468

The Manner of its Death

When Certain it must die --

‘Tis deemed a privilege to choose --

‘Twas Major Andre’s Way --

When Choice of Life -- is past --

There yet remains a Love

Its little Fate to stipulate --

How small in those who live --

The Miracle to tease

With Bable of the styles --

How "they are Dying mostly -- now" --

And Customs at "St. James"!

 

 

469

The Red -- Blaze -- is the Morning --

The Violet -- is Noon --

The Yellow -- Day -- is falling --

And after that -- is none --

But Miles of Sparks -- at Evening --

Reveal the Width that burned --

The Territory Argent -- that

Never yet -- consumed --

 

 

470

I am alive -- I guess --

The Branches on my Hand

Are full of Morning Glory --

And at my finger’s end --

The Carmine -- tingles warm --

And if I hold a Glass

Across my Mouth -- it blurs it --

Physician’s -- proof of Breath --

I am alive -- because

I am not in a Room --

The Parlor -- Commonly -- it is --

So Visitors may come --

And lean -- and view it sidewise --

And add "How cold -- it grew" --

And "Was it conscious -- when it stepped

In Immortality?"

I am alive -- because

I do not own a House --

Entitled to myself -- precise --

And fitting no one else --

And marked my Girlhood’s name --

So Visitors may know

Which Door is mine -- and not

 

 

471

A Night -- there lay the Days between --

The Day that was Before --

And Day that was Behind -- were one --

And now -- ‘twas Night -- was here --

Slow -- Night -- that must be watched away --

As Grains upon a shore --

Too imperceptible to note --

Till it be night -- no more --

 

 

472

Except the Heaven had come so near --

So seemed to choose My Door --

The Distance would not haunt me so --

I had not hoped -- before --

But just to hear the Grace depart --

I never thought to see --

Afflicts me with a Double loss --

‘Tis lost -- and lost to me --

 

 

473

I am ashamed -- I hide --

What right have I -- to be a Bride --

So late a Dowerless Girl --

Nowhere to hide my dazzled Face --

No one to teach me that new Grace --

Nor introduce -- my Soul --

Me to adorn -- How -- tell --

Trinket -- to make Me beautiful --

Fabrics of Cashmere --

Never a Gown of Dun -- more --

Raiment instead -- of Pompadour --

For Me -- My soul -- to wear --

Fingers -- to frame my Round Hair

Oval -- as Feudal Ladies wore --

Far Fashions -- Fair --

Skill to hold my Brow like an Earl --

Plead -- like a Whippoorwill --

Prove -- like a Pearl --

Then, for Character --

Fashion My Spirit quaint -- white --

Quick -- like a Liquor --

Gay -- like Light --

Bring Me my best Pride --

No more ashamed --

No more to hide --

Meek -- let it be -- too proud -- for Pride --

Baptized -- this Day -- a Bride --

 

 

474

They put Us far apart --

As separate as Sea

And Her unsown Peninsula --

We signified "These see" --

They took away our Eyes --

They thwarted Us with Guns --

"I see Thee" each responded straight

Through Telegraphic Signs --

With Dungeons -- They devised --

But through their thickest skill --

And their opaquest Adamant --

Our Souls saw -- just as well --

They summoned Us to die --

With sweet alacrity

We stood upon our stapled feet --

Condemned -- but just -- to see --

Permission to recant --

Permission to forget --

We turned our backs upon the Sun

For perjury of that --

Not Either -- noticed Death --

Of Paradise -- aware --

Each other’s Face -- was all the Disc

Each other’s setting -- saw --

 

 

475

Doom is the House without the Door --

‘Tis entered from the Sun --

And then the Ladder’s thrown away,

Because Escape -- is done --

‘Tis varied by the Dream

Of what they do outside --

Where Squirrels play -- and Berries die --

And Hemlocks -- bow -- to God --

 

 

476

I meant to have but modest needs --

Such as Content -- and Heaven --

Within my income -- these could lie

And Life and I -- keep even --

But since the last -- included both --

It would suffice my Prayer

But just for One -- to stipulate --

And Grace would grant the Pair --

And so -- upon this wise -- I prayed --

Great Spirit -- Give to me

A Heaven not so large as Yours,

But large enough -- for me --

A Smile suffused Jehovah’s face --

The Cherubim -- withdrew --

Grave Saints stole out to look at me --

And showed their dimples -- too --

I left the Place, with all my might --

I threw my Prayer away --

The Quiet Ages picked it up --

And Judgment -- twinkled -- too --

Tat one so honest -- be extant --

It take the Tale for true --

That "Whatsoever Ye shall ask --

Itself be given You" --

But I, grown shrewder -- scan the Skies

With a suspicious Air --

As Children -- swindled for the first

All Swindlers -- be -- infer --

 

 

477

No Man can compass a Despair --

As round a Goalless Road

No faster than a Mile at once

The Traveller proceed --

Unconscious of the Width --

Unconscious that the Sun

Be setting on His progress --

So accurate the One

At estimating Pain --

Whose own -- has just begun --

His ignorance -- the Angel

That pilot Him along --

 

 

478

I had no time to Hate --

Because

The Grave would hinder Me --

And Life was not so

Ample I

Could finish -- Enmity --

Nor had I time to Love --

But since

Some Industry must be --

The little Toil of Love --

I thought

Be large enough for Me --

 

 

479

She dealt her pretty words like Blades --

How glittering they shone --

And every One unbared a Nerve

Or wantoned with a Bone --

She never deemed -- she hurt --

That -- is not Steel’s Affair --

A vulgar grimace in the Flesh --

How ill the Creatures bear --

To Ache is human -- not polite --

The Film upon the eye

Mortality’s old Custom --

Just locking up -- to Die.

 

 

480

"Why do I love" You, Sir?

Because --

The Wind does not require the Grass

To answer -- Wherefore when He pass

She cannot keep Her place.

Because He knows -- and

Do not You --

And We know not --

Enough for Us

The Wisdom it be so --

The Lightning -- never asked an Eye

Wherefore it shut -- when He was by --

Because He knows it cannot speak --

And reasons not contained --

-- Of Talk --

There be -- preferred by Daintier Folk --

The Sunrise -- Sire -- compelleth Me --

Because He’s Sunrise -- and I see --

Therefore -- Then --

I love Thee --

 

 

481

The Himmaleh was known to stoop

Unto the Daisy low --

Transported with Compassion

That such a Doll should grow

Where Tent by Tent -- Her Universe

Hung out its Flags of Snow --

 

 

482

We Cover Thee -- Sweet Face --

Not that We tire of Thee --

But that Thyself fatigue of Us --

Remember -- as Thou go --

We follow Thee until

Thou notice Us -- no more --

And then -- reluctant -- turn away

To Con Thee o’er and o’er --

And blame the scanty love

We were Content to show --

Augmented -- Sweet -- a Hundred fold --

If Thou would’st take it -- now --

 

 

483

A Solemn thing within the Soul

To feel itself get ripe --

And golden hang -- while farther up --

The Maker’s Ladders stop --

And in the Orchard far below --

You hear a Being -- drop --

A Wonderful -- to feel the Sun

Still toiling at the Cheek

You thought was finished --

Cool of eye, and critical of Work --

He shifts the stem -- a little --

To give your Core -- a look --

But solemnest -- to know

Your chance in Harvest moves

A little nearer -- Every Sun

The Single -- to some lives.

 

 

484

My Garden -- like the Beach --

Denotes there be -- a Sea --

That’s Summer --

Such as These -- the Pearls

She fetches -- such as Me

 

 

485

To make One’s Toilette -- after Death

Has made the Toilette cool

Of only Taste we cared to please

Is difficult, and still --

That’s easier -- than Braid the Hair --

And make the Bodice gay --

When eyes that fondled it are wrenched

By Decalogues -- away --

 

 

486

I was the slightest in the House --

I took the smallest Room --

At night, my little Lamp, and Book --

And one Geranium --

So stationed I could catch the Mint

That never ceased to fall --

And just my Basket --

Let me think -- I’m sure --

That this was all --

I never spoke -- unless addressed --

And then, ‘twas brief and low --

I could not bear to live -- aloud --

The Racket shamed me so --

And if it had not been so far --

And any one I knew

Were going -- I had often thought

How noteless -- I could die --

 

 

487

You love the Lord -- you cannot see --

You write Him -- every day --

A little note -- when you awake --

And further in the Day.

An Ample Letter -- How you miss --

And would delight to see --

But then His House -- is but a Step --

And Mine’s -- in Heaven -- You see.

 

 

488

Myself was formed -- a Carpenter --

An unpretending time

My Plane -- and I, together wrought

Before a Builder came --

To measure our attainments --

Had we the Art of Boards

Sufficiently developed -- He’d hire us

At Halves --

My Tools took Human -- Faces --

The Bench, where we had toiled --

Against the Man -- persuaded --

We -- Temples build -- I said --

 

 

489

We pray -- to Heaven --

We prate -- of Heaven --

Relate -- when Neighbors die --

At what o’clock to heaven -- they fled --

Who saw them -- Wherefore fly?

Is Heaven a Place -- a Sky -- a Tree?

Location’s narrow way is for Ourselves --

Unto the Dead

There’s no Geography --

But State -- Endowal -- Focus --

Where -- Omnipresence -- fly?

 

 

490

To One denied the drink

To tell what Water is

Would be acuter, would it not

Than letting Him surmise?

To lead Him to the Well

And let Him hear it drip

Remind Him, would it not, somewhat

Of His condemned lip?

 

 

491

While it is alive

Until Death touches it

While it and I lap one Air

Dwell in one Blood

Under one Sacrament

Show me Division can split or pare --

Love is like Life -- merely longer

Love is like Death, during the Grave

Love is the Fellow of the Resurrection

Scooping up the Dust and chanting "Live"!

 

 

492

Civilization -- spurns -- the Leopard!

Was the Leopard -- bold?

Deserts -- never rebuked her Satin --

Ethiop -- her Gold --

Tawny -- her Customs --

She was Conscious --

Spotted -- her Dun Gown --

This was the Leopard’s nature -- Signor --

Need -- a keeper -- frown?

Pity -- the Pard -- that left her Asia --

Memories -- of Palm --

Cannot be stifled -- with Narcotic --

Nor suppressed -- with Balm --

 

 

493

The World -- stands -- solemner -- to me --

Since I was wed -- to Him --

A modesty befits the soul

That bears another’s -- name --

A doubt -- if it be fair -- indeed --

To wear that perfect -- pearl --

The Man -- upon the Woman -- binds --

To clasp her soul -- for all --

A prayer, that it more angel -- prove --

A whiter Gift -- within --

To that munificence, that chose --

So unadorned -- a Queen --

A Gratitude -- that such be true --

It had esteemed the Dream --

Too beautiful -- for Shape to prove --

Or posture -- to redeem!

 

 

494

Going to Him! Happy letter!

Tell Him --

Tell Him the page I didn’t write --

Tell Him -- I only said the Syntax --

And left the Verb and the pronoun out --

Tell Him just how the fingers hurried --

Then -- how they waded -- slow -- slow --

And then you wished you had eyes in your pages --

So you could see what moved them so --

Tell Him -- it wasn’t a Practised Writer --

You guessed -- from the way the sentence toiled --

You could hear the Bodice tug, behind you --

As if it held but the might of a child --

You almost pitied it -- you -- it worked so --

Tell Him -- no -- you may quibble there --

For it would split His Heart, to know it --

And then you and I, were silenter.

Tell Him -- Night finished -- before we finished --

And the Old Clock kept neighing "Day"!

And you -- got sleepy -- and begged to be ended --

What could it hinder so -- to say?

Tell Him -- just how she sealed you -- Cautious!

But -- if He ask where you are hid

Until tomorrow -- Happy letter!

Gesture Coquette -- and shake your Head!

 

 

495

It’s thoughts -- and just One Heart --

And Old Sunshine -- about --

Make frugal -- Ones -- Content --

And two or three -- for Company --

Upon a Holiday --

Crowded -- as Sacrament --

Books -- when the Unit --

Spare the Tenant -- long eno’ --

A Picture -- if it Care --

Itself -- a Gallery too rare --

For needing more --

Flowers -- to keep the Eyes -- from going awkward --

When it snows --

A Bird -- if they -- prefer --

Though Winter fire -- sing clear as Plover --

To our -- ear --

A Landscape -- not so great

To suffocate the Eye --

A Hill -- perhaps --

Perhaps -- the profile of a Mill

Turned by the Wind --

Tho’ such -- are luxuries --

It’s thoughts -- and just two Heart --

And Heaven -- about --

At least -- a Counterfeit --

We would not have Correct --

And Immortality -- can be almost --

Not quite -- Content --

 

 

496

As far from pity, as complaint --

As cool to speech -- as stone --

As numb to Revelation

As if my Trade were Bone --

As far from time -- as History --

As near yourself -- Today --

As Children, to the Rainbow’s scarf --

Or Sunset’s Yellow play

To eyelids in the Sepulchre --

How dumb the Dancer lies --

While Color’s Revelations break --

And blaze -- the Butterflies!

 

 

497

He strained my faith --

Did he find it supple?

Shook my strong trust --

Did it then -- yield?

Hurled my belief --

But -- did he shatter -- it?

Racked -- with suspense --

Not a nerve failed!

Wrung me -- with Anguish --

But I never doubted him --

‘Tho’ for what wrong

He did never say --

Stabbed -- while I sued

His sweet forgiveness --

Jesus -- it’s your little "John"!

Don’t you know -- me?

 

 

498

I envy Seas, whereon He rides --

I envy Spokes of Wheels

Of Chariots, that Him convey --

I envy Crooked Hills

That gaze upon His journey --

How easy All can see

What is forbidden utterly

As Heaven -- unto me!

I envy Nests of Sparrows --

That dot His distant Eaves --

The wealthy Fly, upon His Pane --

The happy -- happy Leaves --

That just abroad His Window

Have Summer’s leave to play --

The Ear Rings of Pizarro

Could not obtain for me --

I envy Light -- that wakes Him --

And Bells -- that boldly ring

To tell Him it is Noon, abroad --

Myself -- be Noon to Him --

Yet interdict -- my Blossom --

And abrogate -- my Bee --

Lest Noon in Everlasting Night --

Drop Gabriel -- and Me --

 

 

499

Those fair -- fictitious People --

The Women -- plucked away

From our familiar Lifetime --

The Men of Ivory --

Those Boys and Girls, in Canvas --

Who stay upon the Wall

In Everlasting Keepsake --

Can Anybody tell?

We trust -- in places perfecter --

Inheriting Delight

Beyond our faint Conjecture --

Our dizzy Estimate --

Remembering ourselves, we trust --

Yet Blesseder -- than We --

Through Knowing -- where We only hope --

Receiving -- where we -- pray --

Of Expectation -- also --

Anticipating us

With transport, that would be a pain

Except for Holiness --

Esteeming us -- as Exile --

Themself -- admitted Home --

Through easy Miracle of Death --

The Way ourself, must come --

 

500

Within my Garden, rides a Bird

Upon a single Wheel --

Whose spokes a dizzy Music make

As ‘twere a travelling Mill --

He never stops, but slackens

Above the Ripest Rose --

Partakes without alighting

And praises as he goes,

Till every spice is tasted --

And then his Fairy Gig

Reels in remoter atmospheres --

And I rejoin my Dog,

And He and I, perplex us

If positive, ‘twere we --

Or bore the Garden in the Brain

This Curiosity --

But He, the best Logician,

Refers my clumsy eye --

To just vibrating Blossoms!

An Exquisite Reply!

 

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