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




This World is not Conclusion.

A Species stands beyond --

Invisible, as Music --

But positive, as Sound --

It beckons, and it baffles --

Philosophy -- don’t know --

And through a Riddle, at the last --

Sagacity, must go --

To guess it, puzzles scholars --

To gain it, Men have borne

Contempt of Generations

And Crucifixion, shown --

Faith slips -- and laughs, and rallies --

Blushes, if any see --

Plucks at a twig of Evidence --

And asks a Vane, the way --

Much Gesture, from the Pulpit --

Strong Hallelujahs roll --

Narcotics cannot still the Tooth

That nibbles at the soul --




At least -- to pray -- is left -- is left --

Oh Jesus -- in the Air --

I know not which thy chamber is --

I’m knocking -- everywhere --

Thou settest Earthquake in the South --

And Maelstrom, in the Sea --

Say, Jesus Christ of Nazareth --

Hast thou no Arm for Me?




Better -- than Music! For I -- who heard it --

I was used -- to the Birds -- before --

This -- was different -- ‘Twas Translation --

Of all tunes I knew -- and more --

‘Twasn’t contained -- like other stanza --

No one could play it -- the second time --

But the Composer -- perfect Mozart --

Perish with him -- that Keyless Rhyme!

So -- Children -- told how Brooks in Eden --

Bubbled a better -- Melody --

Quaintly infer -- Eve’s great surrender --

Urging the feet -- that would -- not -- fly --

Children -- matured -- are wiser -- mostly --

Eden -- a legend -- dimly told --

Eve -- and the Anguish -- Grandame’s story --

But -- I was telling a tune -- I heard --

Not such a strain -- the Church -- baptizes --

When the last Saint -- goes up the Aisles --

Not such a stanza splits the silence --

When the Redemption strikes her Bells --

Let me not spill -- its smallest cadence --

Humming -- for promise -- when alone --

Humming -- until my faint Rehearsal --

Drop into tune -- around the Throne --




You know that Portrait in the Moon --

So tell me who ‘tis like --

The very Brow -- the stooping eyes --

A fog for -- Say -- Whose Sake?

The very Pattern of the Cheek --

It varies -- in the Chin --

But -- Ishmael -- since we met -- ‘tis long --

And fashions -- intervene --

When Moon’s at full -- ‘Tis Thou -- I say --

My lips just hold the name --

When crescent -- Thou art worn -- I note --

But -- there -- the Golden Same --

And when -- Some Night -- Bold -- slashing Clouds

Cut Thee away from Me --

That’s easier -- than the other film

That glazes Holiday --




I would not paint -- a picture --

I’d rather be the One

Its bright impossibility

To dwell -- delicious -- on --

And wonder how the fingers feel

Whose rare -- celestial -- stir --

Evokes so sweet a Torment --

Such sumptuous -- Despair --

I would not talk, like Cornets --

I’d rather be the One

Raised softly to the Ceilings --

And out, and easy on --

Through Villages of Ether --

Myself endued Balloon

By but a lip of Metal --

The pier to my Pontoon --

Nor would I be a Poet --

It’s finer -- own the Ear --

Enamored -- impotent -- content --

The License to revere,

A privilege so awful

What would the Dower be,

Had I the Art to stun myself

With Bolts of Melody!




He touched me, so I live to know

That such a day, permitted so,

I groped upon his breast --

It was a boundless place to me

And silenced, as the awful sea

Puts minor streams to rest.

And now, I’m different from before,

As if I breathed superior air --

Or brushed a Royal Gown --

My feet, too, that had wandered so --

My Gypsy face -- transfigured now --

To tenderer Renown --

Into this Port, if I might come,

Rebecca, to Jerusalem,

Would not so ravished turn --

Nor Persian, baffled at her shrine

Lift such a Crucifixial sign

To her imperial Sun.




She sights a Bird -- she chuckles --

She flattens -- then she crawls --

She runs without the look of feet --

Her eyes increase to Balls --

Her Jaws stir -- twitching -- hungry --

Her Teeth can hardly stand --

She leaps, but Robin leaped the first --

Ah, Pussy, of the Sand,

The Hopes so juicy ripening --

You almost bather your Tongue --

When Bliss disclosed a hundred Toes --

And fled with every one --




I’m ceded -- I’ve stopped being Theirs --

The name They dropped upon my face

With water, in the country church

Is finished using, now,

And They can put it with my Dolls,

My childhood, and the string of spools,

I’ve finished threading -- too --

Baptized, before, without the choice,

But this time, consciously, of Grace --

Unto supremest name --

Called to my Full -- The Crescent dropped --

Existence’s whole Arc, filled up,

With one small Diadem.

My second Rank -- too small the first --

Crowned -- Crowing -- on my Father’s breast --

A half unconscious Queen --

But this time -- Adequate -- Erect,

With Will to choose, or to reject,

And I choose, just a Crown --




If anybody’s friend be dead

It’s sharpest of the theme

The thinking how they walked alive --

At such and such a time --

Their costume, of a Sunday,

Some manner of the Hair --

A prank nobody knew but them

Lost, in the Sepulchre --

How warm, they were, on such a day,

You almost feel the date --

So short way off it seems --

And now -- they’re Centuries from that --

How pleased they were, at what you said --

You try to touch the smile

And dip your fingers in the frost --

When was it -- Can you tell --

You asked the Company to tea --

Acquaintance -- just a few --

And chatted close with this Grand Thing

That don’t remember you --

Past Bows, and Invitations --

Past Interview, and Vow --

Past what Ourself can estimate --

That -- makes the Quick of Woe!




It was not Death, for I stood up,

And all the Dead, lie down --

It was not Night, for all the Bells

Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh

I felt Siroccos -- crawl --

Nor Fire -- for just my Marble feet

Could keep a Chancel, cool --

And yet, it tasted, like them all,

The Figures I have seen

Set orderly, for Burial,

Reminded me, of mine --

As if my life were shaven,

And fitted to a frame,

And could not breathe without a key,

And ‘twas like Midnight, some -

When everything that ticked -- has stopped --

And Space stares all around --

Or Grisly frosts -- first Autumn morns,

Repeal the Beating Ground --

But, most, like Chaos - Stopless -- cool --

Without a Change, or Spar --

Or even a Report of Land --

To justify -- Despair.




If you were coming in the Fall,

I’d brush the Summer by

With half a smile, and half a spurn,

As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year,

I’d wind the months in balls --

And put them each in separate Drawers,

For fear the numbers fuse --

If only Centuries, delayed,

I’d count them on my Hand,

Subtracting, till my fingers dropped

Into Van Dieman’s Land.

If certain, when this life was out --

That yours and mine, should be

I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind,

And take Eternity --

But, now, uncertain of the length

Of this, that is between,

It goads me, like the Goblin Bee --

That will not state -- its sting.




The Soul has Bandaged moments --

When too appalled to stir --

She feels some ghastly Fright come up

And stop to look at her --

Salute her -- with long fingers --

Caress her freezing hair --

Sip, Goblin, from the very lips

The Lover -- hovered -- o’er --

Unworthy, that a thought so mean

Accost a Theme -- so -- fair --

The soul has moments of Escape --

When bursting all the doors --

She dances like a Bomb, abroad,

And swings upon the Hours,

As do the Bee -- delirious borne --

Long Dungeoned from his Rose --

Touch Liberty -- then know no more,

But Noon, and Paradise --

The Soul’s retaken moments --

When, Felon led along,

With shackles on the plumed feet,

And staples, in the Song,

The Horror welcomes her, again,

These, are not brayed of Tongue --




Like Flowers, that heard the news of Dews,

But never deemed the dripping prize

Awaited their -- low Brows --

Or Bees -- that thought the Summer’s name

Some rumor of Delirium,

No Summer -- could -- for Them --

Or Arctic Creatures, dimly stirred --

By Tropic Hint -- some Travelled Bird

Imported to the Wood --

Or Wind’s bright signal to the Ear --

Making that homely, and severe,

Contented, known, before --

The Heaven -- unexpected come,

To Lives that thought the Worshipping

A too presumptuous Psalm --




Her smile was shaped like other smiles --

The Dimples ran along --

And still it hurt you, as some Bird

Did hoist herself, to sing,

Then recollect a Ball, she got --

And hold upon the Twig,

Convulsive, while the Music broke --

Like Beads -- among the Bog --




No Crowd that has occurred

Exhibit -- I suppose

That General Attendance

That Resurrection -- does --

Circumference be full --

The long restricted Grave

Assert her Vital Privilege --

The Dust -- connect -- and live --

On Atoms -- features place --

All Multitudes that were

Efface in the Comparison --

As Suns -- dissolve a star --

Solemnity -- prevail --

Its Individual Doom

Possess each separate Consciousness --

August -- Absorbed -- Numb --

What Duplicate -- exist --

What Parallel can be --

Of the Significance of This --

To Universe -- and Me?




Beauty -- be not caused -- It Is --

Chase it, and it ceases --

Chase it not, and it abides --

Overtake the Creases

In the Meadow -- when the Wind

Runs his fingers thro’ it --

Deity will see to it

That You never do it --




He parts Himself -- like Leaves --

And then -- He closes up --

Then stands upon the Bonnet

Of Any Buttercup --

And then He runs against

And oversets a Rose --

And then does Nothing --

Then away upon a Jib -- He goes --

And dangles like a Mote

Suspended in the Noon --

Uncertain -- to return Below --

Or settle in the Moon --

What come of Him -- at Night --

The privilege to say

Be limited by Ignorance --

What come of Him -- That Day --

The Frost -- possess the World --

In Cabinets -- be shown --

A Sepulchre of quaintest Floss --

An Abbey -- a Cocoon --




Her sweet Weight on my Heart a Night

Had scarcely deigned to lie --

When, stirring, for Belief’s delight,

My Bride had slipped away --

If ‘twas a Dream -- made solid -- just

The Heaven to confirm --

Or if Myself were dreamed of Her --

The power to presume --

With Him remain -- who unto Me --

Gave -- even as to All --

A Fiction superseding Faith --

By so much -- as ‘twas real --




‘Twas warm -- at first -- like Us --

Until there crept upon

A Chill -- like frost upon a Glass --

Till all the scene -- be gone.

The Forehead copied Stone --

The Fingers grew too cold

To ache -- and like a Skater’s Brook --

The busy eyes -- congealed --

It straightened -- that was all --

It crowded Cold to Cold --

It multiplied indifference --

As Pride were all it could --

And even when with Cords --

‘Twas lowered, like a Weight --

It made no Signal, nor demurred,

But dropped like Adamant.




I started Early -- Took my Dog --

And visited the Sea --

The Mermaids in the Basement

Came out to look at me --

And Frigates -- in the Upper Floor

Extended Hempen Hands --

Presuming Me to be a Mouse --

Aground -- upon the Sands --

But no Man moved Me -- till the Tide

Went past my simple Shoe --

And past my Apron -- and my Belt --

And past my Bodice -- too --

And made as He would eat me up --

As wholly as a Dew

Upon a Dandelion’s Sleeve --

And then -- I started -- too --

And He -- He followed -- close behind --

I felt his Silver Heel

Upon my Ankle -- Then my Shoes

Would overflow with Pearl --

Until We met the Solid Town --

No One He seemed to know --

And bowing -- with a Might look --

At me -- The Sea withdrew --




Endow the Living -- with the Tears --

You squander on the Dead,

And They were Men and Women -- now,

Around Your Fireside --

Instead of Passive Creatures,

Denied the Cherishing

Till They -- the Cherishing deny --

With Death’s Ethereal Scron --




Had I presumed to hope --

The loss had been to Me

A Value -- for the Greatness’ Sake --

As Giants -- gone away --

Had I presumed to gain

A Favor so remote --

The failure but confirm the Grace

In further Infinite --

‘Tis failure -- not of Hope --

But Confident Despair --

Advancing on Celestial Lists --

With faint -- Terrestial power --

‘Tis Honor -- though I die --

For That no Man obtain

Till He be justified by Death --

This -- is the Second Gain --




Sweet -- You forgot -- but I remembered

Every time -- for Two --

So that the Sum be never hindered

Through Decay of You --

Say if I erred? Accuse my Farthings --

Blame the little Hand

Happy it be for You -- a Beggar’s --

Seeking More -- to spend --

Just to be Rich -- to waste my Guineas

On so Best a Heart --

Just to be Poor -- for Barefoot Vision

You -- Sweet -- Shut me out --




Departed -- to the Judgment --

A Mighty Afternoon --

Great Clouds -- like Ushers -- learning --

Creation -- looking on --

The Flesh -- Surrendered -- Cancelled --

The Bodiless -- begun --

Two Worlds -- like Audiences -- disperse --

And leave the Soul -- alone --




I think the Hemlock likes to stand

Upon a Marge of Snow --

It suits his own Austerity --

And satisfies an awe

That men, must slake in Wilderness --

And in the Desert -- cloy --

An instinct for the Hoar, the Bald --

Lapland’s -- necessity --

The Hemlock’s nature thrives -- on cold --

The Gnash of Northern winds

Is sweetest nutriment -- to him --

His best Norwegian Wines --

To satin Races -- he is nought --

But Children on the Don,

Beneath his Tabernacles, play,

And Dnieper Wrestlers, run.




To hear an Oriole sing

May be a common thing --

Or only a divine.

It is not of the Bird

Who sings the same, unheard,

As unto Crowd --

The Fashion of the Ear

Attireth that it hear

In Dun, or fair --

So whether it be Rune,

Or whether it be none

Is of within.

The "Tune is in the Tree --"

The Skeptic -- showeth me --

"No Sir! In Thee!"




To put this World down, like a Bundle --

And walk steady, away,

Requires Energy -- possibly Agony --

‘Tis the Scarlet way

Trodden with straight renunciation

By the Son of God --

Later, his faint Confederates

Justify the Road --

Flavors of that old Crucifixion --

Filaments of Bloom, Pontius Pilate sowed --

Strong Clusters, from Barabbas’ Tomb --

Sacrament, Saints partook before us --

Patent, every drop,

With the Brand of the Gentile Drinker

Who indorsed the Cup --




Mine -- by the Right of the White Election!

Mine -- by the Royal Seal!

Mine -- by the Sign in the Scarlet prison --

Bars -- cannot conceal!

Mine -- here -- in Vision -- and in Veto!

Mine -- by the Grave’s Repeal --

Tilted -- Confirmed --

Delirious Charter!

Mine -- long as Ages steal!




I’m sorry for the Dead -- Today --

It’s such congenial times

Old Neighbors have at fences --

It’s time o’ year for Hay.

And Broad -- Sunburned Acquaintance

Discourse between the Toil --

And laugh, a homely species

That makes the Fences smile --

It seems so straight to lie away

From all of the noise of Fields --

The Busy Carts -- the fragrant Cocks --

The Mower’s Metre -- Steals --

A Trouble lest they’re homesick --

Those Farmers -- and their Wives --

Set separate from the Farming --

And all the Neighbors’ lives --

A Wonder if the Sepulchre

Don’t feel a lonesome way --

When Men -- and Boys -- and Carts -- and June,

Go down the Fields to "Hay" --




You cannot put a Fire out --

A Thing that can ignite

Can go, itself, without a Fan --

Upon the slowest Night --

You cannot fold a Flood --

And put it in a Drawer --

Because the Winds would find it out --

And tell your Cedar Floor --




We dream -- it is good we are dreaming --

It would hurt us -- were we awake --

But since it is playing -- kill us,

And we are playing -- shriek --

What harm? Men die -- externally --

It is a truth -- of Blood --

But we -- are dying in Drama --

And Drama -- is never dead --

Cautious -- We jar each other --

And either -- open the eyes --

Lest the Phantasm -- prove the Mistake --

And the livid Surprise

Cool us to Shafts of Granite --

With just an Age -- and Name --

And perhaps a phrase in Egyptian --

It’s prudenter -- to dream --




I tried to think a lonelier Thing

Than any I had seen --

Some Polar Expiation -- An Omen in the Bone

Of Death’s tremendous nearness --

I probed Retrieverless things

My Duplicate -- to borrow --

A Haggard Comfort springs

From the belief that Somewhere --

Within the Clutch of Thought --

There dwells one other Creature

Of Heavenly Love -- forgot --

I plucked at our Partition

As One should pry the Walls --

Between Himself -- and Horror’s Twin --

Within Opposing Cells --

I almost strove to clasp his Hand,

Such Luxury -- it grew --

That as Myself -- could pity Him --

Perhaps he -- pitied me --




Two butterflies went out at Noon --

And waltzed upon a Farm --

Then stepped straight through the Firmament

And rested, on a Beam --

And then -- together bore away

Upon a shining Sea --

Though never yet, in any Port --

Their coming, mentioned -- be --

If spoken by the distant Bird --

If met in Ether Sea

By Frigate, or by Merchantman --

No notice -- was -- to me --




We see -- Comparatively --

The Thing so towering high

We could not grasp its segment

Unaided -- Yesterday --

This Morning’s finer Verdict --

Makes scarcely worth the toil --

A furrow -- Our Cordillera --

Our Apennine -- a Knoll --

Perhaps ‘tis kindly -- done us --

The Anguish -- and the loss --

The wrenching -- for His Firmament

The Thing belonged to us --

To spare these Striding Spirits

Some Morning of Chagrin --

The waking in a Gnat’s -- embrace --

Our Giants -- further on --




She’s happy, with a new Content --

That feels to her -- like Sacrament --

She’s busy -- with an altered Care --

As just apprenticed to the Air --

She’s tearful -- if she weep at all --

For blissful Causes -- Most of all

That Heaven permit so meek as her --

To such a Fate -- to Minister.




The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --

And then -- Excuse from Pain --

And then -- those little Anodyness

That deaden suffering --

And then -- to go to sleep --

And then -- if it should be

The will of its Inquisitor

The privilege to die --




Me prove it now -- Whoever doubt

Me stop to prove it -- now --

Make haste -- the Scruple! Death be scant

For Opportunity --

The River reaches to my feet --

As yet -- My Heart be dry --

Oh Lover -- Life could not convince --

Might Death -- enable Thee --

The River reaches to My Breast --

Still -- still -- My Hands above

Proclaim with their remaining Might --

Dost recognize the Love?

The River reaches to my Mouth --

Remember -- when the Sea

Swept by my searching eyes -- the last --

Themselves were quick -- with Thee!




‘Tis true -- They shut me in the Cold --

But then -- Themselves were warm

And could not know the feeling ‘twas --

Forget it -- Lord -- of Them --

Let not my Witness hinder Them

In Heavenly esteem --

No Paradise could be -- Conferred

Through Their beloved Blame --

The Harm They did -- was short -- And since

Myself -- who bore it -- do --

Forgive Them -- Even as Myself --

Or else -- forgive not me --




The Province of the Saved

Should be the Art -- To save --

Through Skill obtained in Themselves --

The Science of the Grave

No Man can understand

But He that hath endured

The Dissolution -- in Himself --

That Man -- be qualified

To qualify Despair

To Those who failing new --

Mistake Defeat for Death -- Each time --

Till acclimated -- to --




I took my Power in my Hand --

And went against the World --

‘Twas not so much as David -- had --

But I -- was twice as bold --

I aimed by Pebble -- but Myself

Was all the one that fell --

Was it Goliath -- was too large --

Or was myself -- too small?




Some such Butterfly be seen

On Brazilian Pampas --

Just at noon -- no later -- Sweet --

Then -- the License closes --

Some such Spice -- express and pass --

Subject to Your Plucking --

As the Stars -- You knew last Night --

Foreigners -- This Morning --




I had no Cause to be awake --

My Best -- was gone to sleep --

And Morn a new politeness took --

And failed to wake them up --

But called the others -- clear --

And passed their Curtains by --

Sweet Morning -- when I oversleep --

Knock -- Recollect -- to Me --

I looked at Sunrise -- Once --

And then I looked at Them --

And wishfulness in me arose --

For Circumstance the same --

‘Twas such an Ample Peace --

It could not hold a Sigh --

‘Twas Sabbath -- with the Bells divorced --

‘Twas Sunset -- all the Day --

So choosing but a Gown --

And taking but a Prayer --

The only Raiment I should need --

I struggled -- and was There --




I fear a Man of frugal Speech --

I fear a Silent Man --

Haranguer -- I can overtake --

Or Babbler -- entertain --

But He who weigheth -- While the Rest --

Expend their furthest pound --

Of this Man -- I am wary --

I fear that He is Grand --




The Martyr Poets -- did not tell --

But wrought their Pang in syllable --

That when their mortal name be numb --

Their mortal fate -- encourage Some --

The Martyr Painters -- never spoke --

Bequeathing -- rather -- to their Work --

That when their conscious fingers cease --

Some seek in Art -- the Art of Peace --




‘Tis One by One -- the Father counts --

And then a Tract between

Set Cypherless -- to teach the Eye

The Value of its Ten --

Until the peevish Student

Acquire the Quick of Skill --

Then Numerals are dowered back --

Adorning all the Rule --

‘Tis mostly Slate and Pencil --

And Darkness on the School

Distracts the Children’s fingers --

Still the Eternal Rule

Regards least Cypherer alike

With Leader of the Band --

And every separate Urchin’s Sum --

Is fashioned for his hand --




To fill a Gap

Insert the Thing that caused it --

Block it up

With Other -- and ‘twill yawn the more --

You cannot solder an Abyss

With Air.




I’ve seen a Dying Eye

Run round and round a Room --

In search of Something -- as it seemed --

Then Cloudier become --

And then -- obscure with Fog --

And then -- be soldered down

Without disclosing what it be

‘Twere blessed to have seen --




Death is potential to that Man

Who dies -- and to his friend --

Beyond that -- unconspicuous

To Anyone but God --

Of these Two -- God remembers

The longest -- for the friend --

Is integral -- and therefore

Itself dissolved -- of God --




That I did always love

I bring thee Proof

That till I loved

I never lived -- Enough --

That I shall love alway --

I argue thee

That love is life --

And life hath Immortality --

This -- dost thou doubt -- Sweet --

Then have I

Nothing to show

But Calvary --




I cross till I am weary

A Mountain -- in my mind --

More Mountains -- then a Sea --

More Seas -- And then

A Desert -- find --

And My Horizon blocks

With steady -- drifting -- Grains

Of unconjectured quantity --

As Asiatic Rains --

Nor this -- defeat my Pace --

It hinder from the West

But as an Enemy’s Salute

One hurrying to Rest --

What merit had the Goal --

Except there intervene

Faint Doubt -- and far Competitor --

To jeopardize the Gain?

At last -- the Grace in sight --

I shout unto my feet --

I offer them the Whole of Heaven

The instant that we meet --

They strive -- and yet delay --

They perish -- Do we die --

Or is this Death’s Experiment --

Reversed -- in Victory?




There is a Shame of Nobleness --

Confronting Sudden Pelf --

A finer Shame of Ecstasy --

Convicted of Itself --

A best Disgrace -- a Brave Man feels --

Acknowledged -- of the Brave --

One More -- "Ye Blessed" -- to be told --

But that’s -- Behind the Grave --




An ignorance a Sunset

Confer upon the Eye --

Of Territory -- Color --

Circumference -- Decay --

Its Amber Revelation

Exhilirate -- Debase --

Omnipotence’ inspection

Of Our inferior face --

And when the solemn features

Confirm -- in Victory --

We start -- as if detected

In Immortality --




One Crucifixion is recorded -- only --

How many be

Is not affirmed of Mathematics --

Or History --

One Calvary -- exhibited to Stranger --

As many be

As persons -- or Peninsulas --

Gethsemane --

Is but a Province -- in the Being’s Centre --

Judea --

For Journey -- or Crusade’s Achieving --

Too near --

Our Lord -- indeed -- made Compound Witness --

And yet --

There’s newer -- nearer Crucifixion

Than That --




The Black Berry -- wears a Thorn in his side --

But no Man heard Him cry --

He offers His Berry, just the same

To Partridge -- and to Boy --

He sometimes holds upon the Fence --

Or struggles to a Tree --

Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands --

But not for Sympathy --

We -- tell a Hurt -- to cool it --

This Mourner -- to the Sky

A little further reaches -- instead --

Brave Black Berry --




Trust in the Unexpected --

By this -- was William Kidd

Persuaded of the Buried Gold --

As One had testified --

Through this -- the old Philosopher --

His Talismanic Stone

Discerned -- still withholden

To effort undivine --

‘Twas this -- allured Columbus --

When Genoa -- withdrew

Before an Apparition

Baptized America --

The Same -- afflicted Thomas --

When Deity assured

‘Twas better -- the perceiving not --

Provided it believed --




The Brain, within its Groove

Runs evenly -- and true --

But let a Splinter swerve --

‘Twere easier for You --

To put a Current back --

When Floods have slit the Hills --

And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves --

And trodden out the Mills --




She hideth Her the last --

And is the first, to rise --

Her Night doth hardly recompense

The Closing of Her eyes --

She doth Her Purple Work --

And putteth Her away

In low Apartments in the Sod -

As worthily as We.

To imitate her life

As impotent would be

As make of Our imperfect Mints,

The Julep -- of the Bee --




But little Carmine hath her face --

Of Emerald scant -- her Gown --

Her Beauty -- is the love she doth --

Itself -- exhibit -- Mine --




It knew no Medicine --

It was not Sickness -- then --

Nor any need of Surgery --

And therefore -- ‘twas not Pain --

It moved away the Cheeks --

A Dimple at a time --

And left the Profile -- plainer --

And in the place of Bloom

It left the little Tint

That never had a Name --

You’ve seen it on a Cast’s face --

Was Paradise -- to blame --

If momently ajar --

Temerity -- drew near --

And sickened -- ever afterward

For Somewhat that it saw?




It knew no lapse, nor Diminuation --

But large -- serene --

Burned on -- until through Dissolution --

It failed from Men --

I could not deem these Planetary forces

Annulled --

But suffered an Exchange of Territory --

Or World --




I measure every Grief I meet

With narrow, probing, Eyes --

I wonder if It weighs like Mine --

Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long --

Or did it just begin --

I could not tell the Date of Mine --

It feels so old a pain --

I wonder if it hurts to live --

And if They have to try --

And whether -- could They choose between --

It would not be -- to die --

I note that Some -- gone patient long --

At length, renew their smile --

An imitation of a Light

That has so little Oil --

I wonder if when Years have piled --

Some Thousands -- on the Harm --

That hurt them early -- such a lapse

Could give them any Balm --

Or would they go on aching still

Through Centuries of Nerve --

Enlightened to a larger Pain -

In Contrast with the Love --

The Grieved -- are many -- I am told --

There is the various Cause --

Death -- is but one -- and comes but once --

And only nails the eyes --

There’s Grief of Want -- and Grief of Cold --

A sort they call "Despair" --

There’s Banishment from native Eyes --

In sight of Native Air --

And though I may not guess the kind --

Correctly -- yet to me

A piercing Comfort it affords

In passing Calvary --

To note the fashions -- of the Cross --

And how they’re mostly worn --

Still fascinated to presume

That Some -- are like My Own --




Conjecturing a Climate

Of unsuspended Suns --

Adds poignancy to Winter --

The Shivering Fancy turns

To a fictitious Country

To palliate a Cold --

Not obviated of Degree --

Nor erased -- of Latitude --




I could not prove the Years had feet --

Yet confident they run

Am I, from symptoms that are past

And Series that are done --

I find my feet have further Goals --

I smile upon the Aims

That felt so ample -- Yesterday --

Today’s -- have vaster claims --

I do not doubt the self I was

Was competent to me --

But something awkward in the fit --

Proves that -- outgrown -- I see --




My period had come for Prayer --

No other Art -- would do --

My Tactics missed a rudiment --

Creator -- Was it you?

God grows above -- so those who pray

Horizons -- must ascend --

And so I stepped upon the North

To see this Curious Friend --

His House was not -- no sign had He --

By Chimney -- nor by Door

Could I infer his Residence --

Vast Prairies of Air

Unbroken by a Settler --

Were all that I could see --

Infinitude -- Had’st Thou no Face

That I might look on Thee?

The Silence condescended --

Creation stopped -- for Me --

But awed beyond my errand --

I worshipped -- did not "pray" --




One Anguish -- in a Crowd --

A Minor thing -- it sounds --

And yet, unto the single Doe

Attempted of the Hounds

‘Tis Terror as consummate

As Legions of Alarm

Did leap, full flanked, upon the Host --

‘Tis Units -- make the Swarm --

A Small Leech -- on the Vitals --

The sliver, in the Lung --

The Bung out -- of an Artery --

Are scarce accounted -- Harms --

Yet might -- by relation

To that Repealless thing --

A Being -- impotent to end --

When once it has begun --




A Dying Tiger -- moaned for Drink --

I hunted all the Sand --

I caught the Dripping of a Rock

And bore it in my Hand --

His Mighty Balls -- in death were thick --

But searching -- I could see

A Vision on the Retina

Of Water -- and of me --

‘Twas not my blame -- who sped too slow --

‘Twas not his blame -- who died

While I was reaching him --

But ‘twas -- the fact that He was dead --




He gave away his Life --

To Us -- Gigantic Sum --

A trifle -- in his own esteem --

But magnified -- by Fame --

Until it burst the Hearts

That fancied they could hold --

When swift it slipped its limit --

And on the Heavens -- unrolled --

‘Tis Ours -- to wince -- and weep --

And wonder -- and decay

By Blossoms gradual process --

He chose -- Maturity --

And quickening -- as we sowed --

Just obviated Bud --

And when We turned to note the Growth --

Broke -- perfect -- from the Pod --




We learned the Whole of Love --

The Alphabet -- the Words --

A Chapter -- then the mighty Book --

Then -- Revelation closed --

But in Each Other’s eyes

An Ignorance beheld --

Diviner than the Childhood’s --

And each to each, a Child --

Attempted to expound

What Neither -- understood --

Alas, that Wisdom is so large --

And Truth -- so manifold!




I reckon -- when I count it all --

First -- Poets -- Then the Sun --

Then Summer -- Then the Heaven of God --

And then -- the List is done --

But, looking back -- the First so seems

To Comprehend the Whole --

The Others look a needless Show --

So I write -- Poets -- All --

Their Summer -- lasts a Solid Year --

They can afford a Sun

The East -- would deem extravagant --

And if the Further Heaven --

Be Beautiful as they prepare

For Those who worship Them --

It is too difficult a Grace --

To justify the Dream --




I could die -- to know --

‘Tis a trifling knowledge --

News-Boys salute the Door --

Carts -- joggle by --

Morning’s bold face -- stares in the window --

Were but mine -- the Charter of the least Fly --

Houses hunch the House

With their Brick Shoulders --

Coals -- from a Rolling Load -- rattle -- how -- near --

To the very Square -- His foot is passing --

Possibly, this moment --

While I -- dream -- Here --




Must be a Woe --

A loss or so --

To bend the eye

Best Beauty’s way --

But -- once aslant

It notes Delight

As difficult

As Stalactite

A Common Bliss

Were had for less --

The price -- is

Even as the Grace --

Our lord -- thought no


To pay -- a Cross --




Delight -- becomes pictorial --

When viewed through Pain --

More fair -- because impossible

Than any gain --

The Mountain -- at a given distance --

In Amber -- lies --

Approached -- the Amber flits -- a little --

And That’s -- the Skies --




The Test of Love -- is Death --

Our Lord -- "so loved" -- it saith --

What Largest Lover -- hath

Another -- doth --

If smaller Patience -- be --

Through less Infinity --

If Bravo, sometimes swerve --

Through fainter Nerve --

Accept its Most --

And overlook -- the Dust --

Last -- Least --

The Cross’ -- Request --




My first well Day -- since many ill --

I asked to go abroad,

And take the Sunshine in my hands,

And see the things in Pod --

A ‘blossom just when I went in

To take my Chance with pain --

Uncertain if myself, or He,

Should prove the strongest One.

The Summer deepened, while we strove --

She put some flowers away --

And Redder cheeked Ones -- in their stead --

A fond -- illusive way --

To cheat Herself, it seemed she tried --

As if before a child

To fade -- Tomorrow -- Rainbows held

The Sepulchre, could hide.

She dealt a fashion to the Nut --

She tied the Hoods to Seeds --

She dropped bright scraps of Tint, about --

And left Brazilian Threads

On every shoulder that she met --

Then both her Hands of Haze

Put up -- to hide her parting Grace

From our unfitted eyes.

My loss, by sickness -- Was it Loss?

Or that Ethereal Gain

One earns by measuring the Grave --

Then -- measuring the Sun --




"Heaven" has different Signs -- to me --

Sometimes, I think that Noon

Is but a symbol of the Place --

And when again, at Dawn,

A mighty look runs round the World

And settles in the Hills --

An Awe if it should be like that

Upon the Ignorance steals --

The Orchard, when the Sun is on --

The Triumph of the Birds

When they together Victory make --

Some Carnivals of Clouds --

The Rapture of a finished Day --

Returning to the West --

All these -- remind us of the place

That Men call "paradise" --

Itself be fairer -- we suppose --

But how Ourself, shall be

Adorned, for a Superior Grace --

Not yet, our eyes can see --




I prayed, at first, a little Girl,

Because they told me to --

But stopped, when qualified to guess

How prayer would feel -- to me --

If I believed God looked around,

Each time my Childish eye

Fixed full, and steady, on his own

In Childish honesty --

And told him what I’d like, today,

And parts of his far plan

That baffled me --

The mingled side

Of his Divinity --

And often since, in Danger,

I count the force ‘twould be

To have a God so strong as that

To hold my life for me

Till I could take the Balance

That tips so frequent, now,

It takes me all the while to poise --

And then -- it doesn’t stay --




If I may have it, when it’s dead,

I’ll be contented -- so --

If just as soon as Breath is out

It shall belong to me --

Until they lock it in the Grave,

‘Tis Bliss I cannot weigh --

For tho’ they lock Thee in the Grave,

Myself -- can own the key --

Think of it Lover! I and Thee

Permitted -- face to face to be --

After a Life -- a Death -- We’ll say --

For Death was That --

And this -- is Thee --

I’ll tell Thee All -- how Bald it grew --

How Midnight felt, at first -- to me --

How all the Clocks stopped in the World --

And Sunshine pinched me -- ‘Twas so cold --

Then how the Grief got sleepy -- some --

As if my Soul were deaf and dumb --

Just making signs -- across -- to Thee --

That this way -- thou could’st notice me --

I’ll tell you how I tried to keep

A smile, to show you, when this Deep

All Waded -- We look back for Play,

At those Old Times -- in Calvary,

Forgive me, if the Grave come slow --

For Coveting to look at Thee --

Forgive me, if to stroke thy frost

Outvisions Paradise!




The Body grows without --

The more convenient way --

That if the Spirit -- like to hide

Its Temple stands, alway,

Ajar -- secure -- inviting --

It never did betray

The Soul that asked its shelter

In solemn honesty




I had been hungry, all the Years --

My Noon had Come -- to dine --

I trembling drew the Table near --

And touched the Curious Wine --

‘Twas this on Tables I had seen --

When turning, hungry, Home

I looked in Windows, for the Wealth

I could not hope -- for Mine --

I did not know the ample Bread --

‘Twas so unlike the Crumb

The Birds and I, had often shared

In Nature’s -- Dining Room --

The Plenty hurt me -- ‘twas so new --

Myself felt ill -- and odd --

As Berry -- of a Mountain Bush --

Transplanted -- to a Road --

Nor was I hungry -- so I found

That Hunger -- was a way

Of Persons outside Windows --

The Entering -- takes away --




I gave myself to Him --

And took Himself, for Pay,

The solemn contract of a Life

Was ratified, this way --

The Wealth might disappoint --

Myself a poorer prove

Than this great Purchaser suspect,

The Daily Own -- of Love

Depreciate the Vision --

But till the Merchant buy --

Still Fable -- in the Isles of Spice --

The subtle Cargoes -- lie --

At least -- ‘tis Mutual -- Risk --

Some -- found it -- Mutual Gain --

Sweet Debt of Life -- Each Night to owe --

Insolvent -- every Noon --




I found the words to every thought

I ever had -- but One --

And that -- defies me --

As a Hand did try to chalk the Sun

To Races -- nurtured in the Dark --

How would your own -- begin?

Can Blaze be shown in Cochineal --

Or Noon -- in Mazarin?




Inconceivably solemn!

Things go gay

Pierce -- by the very Press

Of Imagery --

Their far Parades -- order on the eye

With a mute Pomp --

A pleading Pageantry --

Flags, are a brave sight --

But no true Eye

Ever went by One --

Steadily --

Music’s triumphant --

But the fine Ear

Winces with delight

Are Drums too near --




A Toad, can die of Light --

Death is the Common Right

Of Toads and Men --

Of Earl and Midge

The privilege --

Why swagger, then?

The Gnat’s supremacy is large as Thine --

Life -- is a different Thing --

So measure Wine --

Naked of Flask -- Naked of Cask --

Bare Rhine --

Which Ruby’s mine?




It ceased to hurt me, though so slow

I could not feel the Anguish go --

But only knew by looking back --

That something -- had benumbed the Track --

Nor when it altered, I could say,

For I had worn it, every day,

As constant as the Childish frock --

I hung upon the Peg, at night.

But not the Grief -- that nestled close

As needles -- ladies softly press

To Cushions Cheeks --

To keep their place --

Nor what consoled it, I could trace --

Except, whereas ‘twas Wilderness --

It’s better -- almost Peace --




I like to see it lap the Miles --

And lick the Valleys up --

And stop to feed itself at Tanks --

And then -- prodigious step

Around a Pile of Mountains --

And supercilious peer

In Shanties -- by the sides of Roads --

And then a Quarry pare

To fit its Ribs

And crawl between

Complaining all the while

In horrid -- hooting stanza --

Then chase itself down Hill --

And neigh like Boanerges --

Then -- punctual as a Star

Stop -- docile and omnipotent

At its own stable door --




We talked as Girls do --

Fond, and late --

We speculated fair, on every subject, but the Grave --

Of ours, none affair --

We handled Destinies, as cool --

As we -- Disposers -- be --

And God, a Quiet Party

To our Authority --

But fondest, dwelt upon Ourself

As we eventual -- be --

When Girls to Women, softly raised

We -- occupy -- Degree --

We parted with a contract

To cherish, and to write

But Heaven made both, impossible

Before another night.




Empty my Heart, of Thee --

Its single Artery --

Begin, and leave Thee out --

Simply Extinction’s Date --

Much Billow hath the Sea --

One Baltic -- They --

Subtract Thyself, in play,

And not enough of me

Is left -- to put away --

"Myself" meanth Thee --

Erase the Root -- no Tree --

Thee -- then -- no me --

The Heavens stripped --

Eternity’s vast pocket, picked --




I cried at Pity -- not at Pain --

I heard a Woman say

"Poor Child" -- and something in her voice

Convicted me -- of me --

So long I fainted, to myself

It seemed the common way,

And Health, and Laughter, Curious things --

To look at, like a Toy --

To sometimes hear "Rich people" buy

And see the Parcel rolled --

And carried, I supposed -- to Heaven,

For children, made of Gold --

But not to touch, or wish for,

Or think of, with a sigh --

And so and so -- had been to me,

Had God willed differently.

I wish I knew that Woman’s name --

So when she comes this way,

To hold my life, and hold my ears

For fear I hear her say

She’s "sorry I am dead" -- again --

Just when the Grave and I --

Have sobbed ourselves almost to sleep,

Our only Lullaby --




The Night was wide, and furnished scant

With but a single Star --

That often as a Cloud it met --

Blew out itself -- for fear --

The Wind pursued the little Bush --

And drove away the Leaves

November left -- then clambered up

And fretted in the Eaves --

No Squirrel went abroad --

A Dog’s belated feet

Like intermittent Plush, he heard

Adown the empty Street --

To feel if Blinds be fast --

And closer to the fire --

Her little Rocking Chair to draw --

And shiver for the Poor --

The Housewife’s gentle Task --

How pleasanter -- said she

Unto the Sofa opposite --

The Sleet -- than May, no Thee --




Did you ever stand in a Cavern’s Mouth --

Widths out of the Sun --

And look -- and shudder, and block your breath --

And deem to be alone

In such a place, what horror,

How Goblin it would be --

And fly, as ‘twere pursuing you?

Then Loneliness -- looks so --

Did you ever look in a Cannon’s face --

Between whose Yellow eye --

And yours -- the Judgment intervened --

The Question of "To die" --

Extemporizing in your ear

As cool as Satyr’s Drums --

If you remember, and were saved --

It’s liker so -- it seems --




To interrupt His Yellow Plan

The Sun does not allow

Caprices of the Atmosphere --

And even when the Snow

Heaves Balls of Specks, like Vicious Boy

Directly in His Eye --

Does not so much as turn His Head

Busy with Majesty --

‘Tis His to stimulate the Earth --

And magnetize the Sea --

And bind Astronomy, in place,

Yet Any passing by

Would deem Ourselves -- the busier

As the Minutest Bee

That rides -- emits a Thunder --

A Bomb -- to justify --




What care the Dead, for Chanticleer --

What care the Dead for Day?

‘Tis late your Sunrise vex their face --

And Purple Ribaldry -- of Morning

Pour as blank on them

As on the Tier of Wall

The Mason builded, yesterday,

And equally as cool --

What care the Dead for Summer?

The Solstice had no Sun

Could waste the Snow before their Gate --

And knew One Bird a Tune --

Could thrill their Mortised Ear

Of all the Birds that be --

This One -- beloved of Mankind

Henceforward cherished be --

What care the Dead for Winter?

Themselves as easy freeze --

June Noon -- as January Night --

As soon the South -- her Breeze

Of Sycamore -- or Cinnamon --

Deposit in a Stone

And put a Stone to keep it Warm --

Give Spices -- unto Men --




I think I was enchanted

When first a sombre Girl --

I read that Foreign Lady --

The Dark -- felt beautiful --

And whether it was noon at night --

Or only Heaven -- at Noon --

For very Lunacy of Light

I had not power to tell --

The Bees -- became as Butterflies --

The Butterflies -- as Swans --

Approached -- and spurned the narrow Grass --

And just the meanest Tunes

That Nature murmured to herself

To keep herself in Cheer --

I took for Giants -- practising

Titanic Opera --

The Days -- to Mighty Metres stept --

The Homeliest -- adorned

As if unto a Jubilee

‘Twere suddenly confirmed --

I could not have defined the change --

Conversion of the Mind

Like Sanctifying in the Soul --

Is witnessed -- not explained --

‘Twas a Divine Insanity --

The Danger to be Sane

Should I again experience --

‘Tis Antidote to turn --

To Tomes of solid Witchcraft --

Magicians be asleep --

But Magic -- hath an Element

Like Deity -- to keep --




The Battle fought between the Soul

And No Man -- is the One

Of all the Battles prevalent --

By far the Greater One --

No News of it is had abroad --

Its Bodiless Campaign

Establishes, and terminates --

Invisible -- Unknown --

Nor History -- record it --

As Legions of a Night

The Sunrise scatters -- These endure --

Enact -- and terminate --




Like Mighty Foot Lights -- burned the Red

At Bases of the Trees --

The far Theatricals of Day

Exhibiting -- to These --

‘Twas Universe -- that did applaud --

While Chiefest -- of the Crowd --

Enabled by his Royal Dress --

Myself distinguished God --




When I was small, a Woman died --

Today -- her Only Boy

Went up from the Potomac --

His face all Victory

To look at her -- How slowly

The Seasons must have turned

Till Bullets clipt an Angle

And He passed quickly round --

If pride shall be in Paradise --

Ourself cannot decide --

Of their imperial Conduct --

No person testified --

But, proud in Apparition --

That Woman and her Boy

Pass back and forth, before my Brain

As even in the sky --

I’m confident that Bravoes --

Perpetual break abroad

For Braveries, remote as this

In Scarlet Maryland --




It always felt to me -- a wrong

To that Old Moses -- done --

To let him see -- the Canaan --

Without the entering --

And tho’ in soberer moments --

No Moses there can be

I’m satisfied -- the Romance

In point of injury --

Surpasses sharper stated --

Of Stephen -- or of Paul --

For these -- were only put to death --

While God’s adroiter will

On Moses -- seemed to fasten

With tantalizing Play

As Boy -- should deal with lesser Boy --

To prove ability.

The fault -- was doubtless Israel’s --

Myself -- had banned the Tribes --

And ushered Grand Old Moses

In Pentateuchal Robes

Upon the Broad Possession

‘Twas little -- But titled Him -- to see --

Old Man on Nebo! Late as this --

My justice bleeds -- for Thee!




Three times -- we parted -- Breath -- and I --

Three times -- He would not go --

But strove to stir the lifeless Fan

The Waters -- strove to stay.

Three Times -- the Billows tossed me up --

Then caught me -- like a Ball --

Then made Blue faces in my face --

And pushed away a sail

That crawled Leagues off -- I liked to see --

For thinking -- while I die --

How pleasant to behold a Thing

Where Human faces -- be --

The Waves grew sleepy -- Breath -- did not --

The Winds -- like Children -- lulled --

Then Sunrise kissed my Chrysalis --

And I stood up -- and lived --




There is a pain -- so utter --

It swallows substance up --

Then covers the Abyss with Trance --

So Memory can step

Around -- across -- upon it --

As one within a Swoon --

Goes safely -- where an open eye --

Would drop Him -- Bone by Bone.




It troubled me as once I was --

For I was once a Child --

Concluding how an Atom -- fell --

And yet the Heavens -- held --

The Heavens weighed the most -- by far --

Yet Blue -- and solid -- stood --

Without a Bolt -- that I could prove --

Would Giants -- understand?

Life set me larger -- problems --

Some I shall keep -- to solve

Till Algebra is easier --

Or simpler proved -- above --

Then -- too -- be comprehended --

What sorer -- puzzled me --

Why Heaven did not break away --

And tumble -- Blue -- on me --


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