Poems: Three Series, Complete
by Emily Dickinson
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The happy winds their timbrels took; The birds, in docile rows, Arranged themselves around their prince (The wind is prince of those).

The orchard sparkled like a Jew, — How mighty 't was, to stay A guest in this stupendous place, The parlor of the day!



The sun just touched the morning; The morning, happy thing, Supposed that he had come to dwell, And life would be all spring.

She felt herself supremer, — A raised, ethereal thing; Henceforth for her what holiday! Meanwhile, her wheeling king

Trailed slow along the orchards His haughty, spangled hems, Leaving a new necessity, — The want of diadems!

The morning fluttered, staggered, Felt feebly for her crown, — Her unanointed forehead Henceforth her only one.



The robin is the one That interrupts the morn With hurried, few, express reports When March is scarcely on.

The robin is the one That overflows the noon With her cherubic quantity, An April but begun.

The robin is the one That speechless from her nest Submits that home and certainty And sanctity are best.



From cocoon forth a butterfly As lady from her door Emerged — a summer afternoon — Repairing everywhere,

Without design, that I could trace, Except to stray abroad On miscellaneous enterprise The clovers understood.

Her pretty parasol was seen Contracting in a field Where men made hay, then struggling hard With an opposing cloud,

Where parties, phantom as herself, To Nowhere seemed to go In purposeless circumference, As 't were a tropic show.

And notwithstanding bee that worked, And flower that zealous blew, This audience of idleness Disdained them, from the sky,

Till sundown crept, a steady tide, And men that made the hay, And afternoon, and butterfly, Extinguished in its sea.



Before you thought of spring, Except as a surmise, You see, God bless his suddenness, A fellow in the skies Of independent hues, A little weather-worn, Inspiriting habiliments Of indigo and brown.

With specimens of song, As if for you to choose, Discretion in the interval, With gay delays he goes To some superior tree Without a single leaf, And shouts for joy to nobody But his seraphic self!



An altered look about the hills; A Tyrian light the village fills; A wider sunrise in the dawn; A deeper twilight on the lawn; A print of a vermilion foot; A purple finger on the slope; A flippant fly upon the pane; A spider at his trade again; An added strut in chanticleer; A flower expected everywhere; An axe shrill singing in the woods; Fern-odors on untravelled roads, — All this, and more I cannot tell, A furtive look you know as well, And Nicodemus' mystery Receives its annual reply.



"Whose are the little beds," I asked, "Which in the valleys lie?" Some shook their heads, and others smiled, And no one made reply.

"Perhaps they did not hear," I said; "I will inquire again. Whose are the beds, the tiny beds So thick upon the plain?"

"'T is daisy in the shortest; A little farther on, Nearest the door to wake the first, Little leontodon.

"'T is iris, sir, and aster, Anemone and bell, Batschia in the blanket red, And chubby daffodil."

Meanwhile at many cradles Her busy foot she plied, Humming the quaintest lullaby That ever rocked a child.

"Hush! Epigea wakens! — The crocus stirs her lids, Rhodora's cheek is crimson, — She's dreaming of the woods."

Then, turning from them, reverent, "Their bed-time 't is," she said; "The bumble-bees will wake them When April woods are red."



Pigmy seraphs gone astray, Velvet people from Vevay, Belles from some lost summer day, Bees' exclusive coterie. Paris could not lay the fold Belted down with emerald; Venice could not show a cheek Of a tint so lustrous meek. Never such an ambuscade As of brier and leaf displayed For my little damask maid. I had rather wear her grace Than an earl's distinguished face; I had rather dwell like her Than be Duke of Exeter Royalty enough for me To subdue the bumble-bee!



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 sceptic showeth me; "No, sir! In thee!"



One of the ones that Midas touched, Who failed to touch us all, Was that confiding prodigal, The blissful oriole.

So drunk, he disavows it With badinage divine; So dazzling, we mistake him For an alighting mine.

A pleader, a dissembler, An epicure, a thief, — Betimes an oratorio, An ecstasy in chief;

The Jesuit of orchards, He cheats as he enchants Of an entire attar For his decamping wants.

The splendor of a Burmah, The meteor of birds, Departing like a pageant Of ballads and of bards.

I never thought that Jason sought For any golden fleece; But then I am a rural man, With thoughts that make for peace.

But if there were a Jason, Tradition suffer me Behold his lost emolument Upon the apple-tree.



I dreaded that first robin so, But he is mastered now, And I 'm accustomed to him grown, — He hurts a little, though.

I thought if I could only live Till that first shout got by, Not all pianos in the woods Had power to mangle me.

I dared not meet the daffodils, For fear their yellow gown Would pierce me with a fashion So foreign to my own.

I wished the grass would hurry, So when 't was time to see, He 'd be too tall, the tallest one Could stretch to look at me.

I could not bear the bees should come, I wished they 'd stay away In those dim countries where they go: What word had they for me?

They 're here, though; not a creature failed, No blossom stayed away In gentle deference to me, The Queen of Calvary.

Each one salutes me as he goes, And I my childish plumes Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment Of their unthinking drums.



A route of evanescence With a revolving wheel; A resonance of emerald, A rush of cochineal; And every blossom on the bush Adjusts its tumbled head, — The mail from Tunis, probably, An easy morning's ride.



The skies can't keep their secret! They tell it to the hills — The hills just tell the orchards — And they the daffodils!

A bird, by chance, that goes that way Soft overheard the whole. If I should bribe the little bird, Who knows but she would tell?

I think I won't, however, It's finer not to know; If summer were an axiom, What sorcery had snow?

So keep your secret, Father! I would not, if I could, Know what the sapphire fellows do, In your new-fashioned world!


Who robbed the woods, The trusting woods? The unsuspecting trees Brought out their burrs and mosses His fantasy to please. He scanned their trinkets, curious, He grasped, he bore away. What will the solemn hemlock, What will the fir-tree say?



Two butterflies went out at noon And waltzed above a stream, 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, Report was not to me.



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 man he seemed to know; And bowing with a mighty look At me, the sea withdrew.



Arcturus is his other name, — I'd rather call him star! It's so unkind of science To go and interfere!

I pull a flower from the woods, — A monster with a glass Computes the stamens in a breath, And has her in a class.

Whereas I took the butterfly Aforetime in my hat, He sits erect in cabinets, The clover-bells forgot.

What once was heaven, is zenith now. Where I proposed to go When time's brief masquerade was done, Is mapped, and charted too!

What if the poles should frisk about And stand upon their heads! I hope I 'm ready for the worst, Whatever prank betides!

Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven 's changed! I hope the children there Won't be new-fashioned when I come, And laugh at me, and stare!

I hope the father in the skies Will lift his little girl, — Old-fashioned, naughty, everything, — Over the stile of pearl!



An awful tempest mashed the air, The clouds were gaunt and few; A black, as of a spectre's cloak, Hid heaven and earth from view.

The creatures chuckled on the roofs And whistled in the air, And shook their fists and gnashed their teeth. And swung their frenzied hair.

The morning lit, the birds arose; The monster's faded eyes Turned slowly to his native coast, And peace was Paradise!



An everywhere of silver, With ropes of sand To keep it from effacing The track called land.



A bird came down the walk: He did not know I saw; He bit an angle-worm in halves And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew From a convenient grass, And then hopped sidewise to the wall To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes That hurried all abroad, — They looked like frightened beads, I thought; He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious, I offered him a crumb, And he unrolled his feathers And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean, Too silver for a seam, Or butterflies, off banks of noon, Leap, plashless, as they swim.



A narrow fellow in the grass Occasionally rides; You may have met him, — did you not, His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb, A spotted shaft is seen; And then it closes at your feet And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre, A floor too cool for corn. Yet when a child, and barefoot, I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash Unbraiding in the sun, — When, stooping to secure it, It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people I know, and they know me; I feel for them a transport Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow, Attended or alone, Without a tighter breathing, And zero at the bone.



The mushroom is the elf of plants, At evening it is not; At morning in a truffled hut It stops upon a spot

As if it tarried always; And yet its whole career Is shorter than a snake's delay, And fleeter than a tare.

'T is vegetation's juggler, The germ of alibi; Doth like a bubble antedate, And like a bubble hie.

I feel as if the grass were pleased To have it intermit; The surreptitious scion Of summer's circumspect.

Had nature any outcast face, Could she a son contemn, Had nature an Iscariot, That mushroom, — it is him.



There came a wind like a bugle; It quivered through the grass, And a green chill upon the heat So ominous did pass We barred the windows and the doors As from an emerald ghost; The doom's electric moccason That very instant passed. On a strange mob of panting trees, And fences fled away, And rivers where the houses ran The living looked that day. The bell within the steeple wild The flying tidings whirled. How much can come And much can go, And yet abide the world!



A spider sewed at night Without a light Upon an arc of white. If ruff it was of dame Or shroud of gnome, Himself, himself inform. Of immortality His strategy Was physiognomy.


I know a place where summer strives With such a practised frost, She each year leads her daisies back, Recording briefly, "Lost."

But when the south wind stirs the pools And struggles in the lanes, Her heart misgives her for her vow, And she pours soft refrains

Into the lap of adamant, And spices, and the dew, That stiffens quietly to quartz, Upon her amber shoe.


The one that could repeat the summer day Were greater than itself, though he Minutest of mankind might be. And who could reproduce the sun, At period of going down — The lingering and the stain, I mean — When Orient has been outgrown, And Occident becomes unknown, His name remain.



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, if he pass, Let go a music, as of tunes Blown tremulous in glass.

He visited, still flitting; Then, like a timid man, Again he tapped — 't was flurriedly — And I became alone.


Nature rarer uses yellow Than another hue; Saves she all of that for sunsets, — Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman, Yellow she affords Only scantly and selectly, Like a lover's words.



The leaves, like women, interchange Sagacious confidence; Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of Portentous inference,

The parties in both cases Enjoining secrecy, — Inviolable compact To notoriety.



How happy is the little stone That rambles in the road alone, And doesn't care about careers, And exigencies never fears; Whose coat of elemental brown A passing universe put on; And independent as the sun, Associates or glows alone, Fulfilling absolute decree In casual simplicity.



It sounded as if the streets were running, And then the streets stood still. Eclipse was all we could see at the window, And awe was all we could feel.

By and by the boldest stole out of his covert, To see if time was there. Nature was in her beryl apron, Mixing fresher air.



The rat is the concisest tenant. He pays no rent, — Repudiates the obligation, On schemes intent.

Balking our wit To sound or circumvent, Hate cannot harm A foe so reticent.

Neither decree Prohibits him, Lawful as Equilibrium.


Frequently the woods are pink, Frequently are brown; Frequently the hills undress Behind my native town.

Oft a head is crested I was wont to see, And as oft a cranny Where it used to be.

And the earth, they tell me, On its axis turned, — Wonderful rotation By but twelve performed!



The wind begun to rock the grass With threatening tunes and low, — He flung a menace at the earth, A menace at the sky.

The leaves unhooked themselves from trees And started all abroad; The dust did scoop itself like hands And throw away the road.

The wagons quickened on the streets, The thunder hurried slow; The lightning showed a yellow beak, And then a livid claw.

The birds put up the bars to nests, The cattle fled to barns; There came one drop of giant rain, And then, as if the hands

That held the dams had parted hold, The waters wrecked the sky, But overlooked my father's house, Just quartering a tree.



South winds jostle them, Bumblebees come, Hover, hesitate, Drink, and are gone.

Butterflies pause On their passage Cashmere; I, softly plucking, Present them here!



Where ships of purple gently toss On seas of daffodil, Fantastic sailors mingle, And then — the wharf is still.


She sweeps with many-colored brooms, And leaves the shreds behind; Oh, housewife in the evening west, Come back, and dust the pond!

You dropped a purple ravelling in, You dropped an amber thread; And now you 've littered all the East With duds of emerald!

And still she plies her spotted brooms, And still the aprons fly, Till brooms fade softly into stars — And then I come away.


Like mighty footlights burned the red At bases of the trees, — The far theatricals of day Exhibiting to these.

'T was universe that did applaud While, chiefest of the crowd, Enabled by his royal dress, Myself distinguished God.



Bring me the sunset in a cup, Reckon the morning's flagons up, And say how many dew; Tell me how far the morning leaps, Tell me what time the weaver sleeps Who spun the breadths of blue!

Write me how many notes there be In the new robin's ecstasy Among astonished boughs; How many trips the tortoise makes, How many cups the bee partakes, — The debauchee of dews!

Also, who laid the rainbow's piers, Also, who leads the docile spheres By withes of supple blue? Whose fingers string the stalactite, Who counts the wampum of the night, To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban house And shut the windows down so close My spirit cannot see? Who 'll let me out some gala day, With implements to fly away, Passing pomposity?



Blazing in gold and quenching in purple, Leaping like leopards to the sky, Then at the feet of the old horizon Laying her spotted face, to die;

Stooping as low as the otter's window, Touching the roof and tinting the barn, Kissing her bonnet to the meadow, — And the juggler of day is gone!



Farther in summer than the birds, Pathetic from the grass, A minor nation celebrates Its unobtrusive mass.

No ordinance is seen, So gradual the grace, A pensive custom it becomes, Enlarging loneliness.

Antiquest felt at noon When August, burning low, Calls forth this spectral canticle, Repose to typify.

Remit as yet no grace, No furrow on the glow, Yet a druidic difference Enhances nature now.


As imperceptibly as grief The summer lapsed away, — Too imperceptible, at last, To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled, As twilight long begun, Or Nature, spending with herself Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in, The morning foreign shone, — A courteous, yet harrowing grace, As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing, Or service of a keel, Our summer made her light escape Into the beautiful.


It can't be summer, — that got through; It 's early yet for spring; There 's that long town of white to cross Before the blackbirds sing.

It can't be dying, — it's too rouge, — The dead shall go in white. So sunset shuts my question down With clasps of chrysolite.



The gentian weaves her fringes, The maple's loom is red. My departing blossoms Obviate parade.

A brief, but patient illness, An hour to prepare; And one, below this morning, Is where the angels are.

It was a short procession, — The bobolink was there, An aged bee addressed us, And then we knelt in prayer.

We trust that she was willing, — We ask that we may be. Summer, sister, seraph, Let us go with thee!

In the name of the bee And of the butterfly And of the breeze, amen!



God made a little gentian; It tried to be a rose And failed, and all the summer laughed. But just before the snows There came 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 evoked it. "Creator! shall I bloom?"



Besides the autumn poets sing, A few prosaic days A little this side of the snow And that side of the haze.

A few incisive mornings, A few ascetic eyes, — Gone Mr. Bryant's golden-rod, And Mr. Thomson's sheaves.

Still is the bustle in the brook, Sealed are the spicy valves; Mesmeric fingers softly touch The eyes of many elves.

Perhaps a squirrel may remain, My sentiments to share. Grant me, O Lord, a sunny mind, Thy windy will to bear!



It sifts from leaden sieves, It powders all the wood, It fills with alabaster wool The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face Of mountain and of plain, — Unbroken forehead from the east Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence, It wraps it, rail by rail, Till it is lost in fleeces; It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem, — The summer's empty room, Acres of seams where harvests were, Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts, As ankles of a queen, — Then stills its artisans like ghosts, Denying they have been.



No brigadier throughout the year So civic as the jay. A neighbor and a warrior too, With shrill felicity

Pursuing winds that censure us A February day, The brother of the universe Was never blown away.

The snow and he are intimate; I 've often seen them play When heaven looked upon us all With such severity,

I felt apology were due To an insulted sky, Whose pompous frown was nutriment To their temerity.

The pillow of this daring head Is pungent evergreens; His larder — terse and militant — Unknown, refreshing things;

His character a tonic, His future a dispute; Unfair an immortality That leaves this neighbor out.



Let down the bars, O Death! The tired flocks come in Whose bleating ceases to repeat, Whose wandering is done.

Thine is the stillest night, Thine the securest fold; Too near thou art for seeking thee, Too tender to be told.


Going to heaven! I don't know when, Pray do not ask me how, — Indeed, I 'm too astonished To think of answering you! Going to heaven! — How dim it sounds! And yet it will be done As sure as flocks go home at night Unto the shepherd's arm!

Perhaps you 're going too! Who knows? If you should get there first, Save just a little place for me Close to the two I lost!

The smallest "robe" will fit me, And just a bit of "crown;" For you know we do not mind our dress When we are going home.

I 'm glad I don't believe it, For it would stop my breath, And I 'd like to look a little more At such a curious earth! I am glad they did believe it Whom I have never found Since the mighty autumn afternoon I left them in the ground.


At least to pray is left, is left. O Jesus! in the air I know not which thy chamber is, — I 'm knocking everywhere.

Thou stirrest earthquake in the South, And maelstrom in the sea; Say, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Hast thou no arm for me?



Step lightly on this narrow spot! The broadest land that grows Is not so ample as the breast These emerald seams enclose.

Step lofty; for this name is told As far as cannon dwell, Or flag subsist, or fame export Her deathless syllable.


Morns like these we parted; Noons like these she rose, Fluttering first, then firmer, To her fair repose.

Never did she lisp it, And 't was not for me; She was mute from transport, I, from agony!

Till the evening, nearing, One the shutters drew — Quick! a sharper rustling! And this linnet flew!


A death-blow is a life-blow to some Who, till they died, did not alive become; Who, had they lived, had died, but when They died, vitality begun.


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.


I have not told my garden yet, Lest that should conquer me; I have not quite the strength now To break it to the bee.

I will not name it in the street, For shops would stare, that I, So shy, so very ignorant, Should have the face to die.

The hillsides must not know it, Where I have rambled so, Nor tell the loving forests The day that I shall go,

Nor lisp it at the table, Nor heedless by the way Hint that within the riddle One will walk to-day!



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 on his repealless list Can summon every face.


The only ghost I ever saw Was dressed in mechlin, — so; He wore no sandal on his foot, And stepped like flakes of snow. His gait was soundless, like the bird, But rapid, like the roe; His fashions quaint, mosaic, Or, haply, mistletoe.

His conversation seldom, His laughter like the breeze That dies away in dimples Among the pensive trees. Our interview was transient,— Of me, himself was shy; And God forbid I look behind Since that appalling day!


Some, too fragile for winter winds, The thoughtful grave encloses, — Tenderly tucking them in from frost Before their feet are cold.

Never the treasures in her nest The cautious grave exposes, Building where schoolboy dare not look And sportsman is not bold.

This covert have all the children Early aged, and often cold, — Sparrows unnoticed by the Father; Lambs for whom time had not a fold.


As by the dead we love to sit, Become so wondrous dear, As for the lost we grapple, Though all the rest are here, —

In broken mathematics We estimate our prize, Vast, in its fading ratio, To our penurious eyes!



Death sets a thing significant The eye had hurried by, Except a perished creature Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little workmanships In crayon or in wool, With "This was last her fingers did," Industrious until

The thimble weighed too heavy, The stitches stopped themselves, And then 't was put among the dust Upon the closet shelves.

A book I have, a friend gave, Whose pencil, here and there, Had notched the place that pleased him, — At rest his fingers are.

Now, when I read, I read not, For interrupting tears Obliterate the etchings Too costly for repairs.


I went to heaven, — 'T was a small town, Lit with a ruby, Lathed with down. Stiller than the fields At the full dew, Beautiful as pictures No man drew. People like the moth, Of mechlin, frames, Duties of gossamer, And eider names. Almost contented I could be 'Mong such unique Society.


Their height in heaven comforts not, Their glory nought to me; 'T was best imperfect, as it was; I 'm finite, I can't see.

The house of supposition, The glimmering frontier That skirts the acres of perhaps, To me shows insecure.

The wealth I had contented me; If 't was a meaner size, Then I had counted it until It pleased my narrow eyes

Better than larger values, However true their show; This timid life of evidence Keeps pleading, "I don't know."


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 this involves the grave.



Triumph may be of several kinds. There 's triumph in the room When that old imperator, Death, By faith is overcome.

There 's triumph of the finer mind When truth, affronted long, Advances calm to her supreme, Her God her only throng.

A triumph when temptation's bribe Is slowly handed back, One eye upon the heaven renounced And one upon the rack.

Severer triumph, by himself Experienced, who can pass Acquitted from that naked bar, Jehovah's countenance!


Pompless no life can pass away; The lowliest career To the same pageant wends its way As that exalted here. How cordial is the mystery! The hospitable pall A "this way" beckons spaciously, — A miracle for all!


I noticed people disappeared, When but a little child, — Supposed they visited remote, Or settled regions wild.

Now know I they both visited And settled regions wild, But did because they died, — a fact Withheld the little child!



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 over-sleep, Knock, recollect, for me!

I looked at sunrise once, And then I looked at them, And wishfulness in me arose For circumstance the same.

'T was such an ample peace, It could not hold a sigh, — 'T was Sabbath with the bells divorced, 'T was 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.


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 ourselves can estimate, — That makes the quick of woe!



Our journey had advanced; Our feet were almost come To that odd fork in Being's road, Eternity by term.

Our pace took sudden awe, Our feet reluctant led. Before were cities, but between, The forest of the dead.

Retreat was out of hope, — Behind, a sealed route, Eternity's white flag before, And God at every gate.



Ample make this bed. Make this bed with awe; In it wait till judgment break Excellent and fair.

Be its mattress straight, Be its pillow round; Let no sunrise' yellow noise Interrupt this ground.



On such a night, or such a night, Would anybody care If such a little figure Slipped quiet from its chair,

So quiet, oh, how quiet! That nobody might know But that the little figure Rocked softer, to and fro?

On such a dawn, or such a dawn, Would anybody sigh That such a little figure Too sound asleep did lie

For chanticleer to wake it, — Or stirring house below, Or giddy bird in orchard, Or early task to do?

There was a little figure plump For every little knoll, Busy needles, and spools of thread, And trudging feet from school.

Playmates, and holidays, and nuts, And visions vast and small. Strange that the feet so precious charged Should reach so small a goal!


Essential oils are wrung: The attar from the rose Is not expressed by suns alone, It is the gift of screws.

The general rose decays; But this, in lady's drawer, Makes summer when the lady lies In ceaseless rosemary.


I lived on dread; to those who know The stimulus there is In danger, other impetus Is numb and vital-less.

As 't were a spur upon the soul, A fear will urge it where To go without the spectre's aid Were challenging despair.


If I should die, And you should live, And time should gurgle on, And morn should beam, And noon should burn, As it has usual done; If birds should build as early, And bees as bustling go, — One might depart at option From enterprise below! 'T is sweet to know that stocks will stand When we with daisies lie, That commerce will continue, And trades as briskly fly. It makes the parting tranquil And keeps the soul serene, That gentlemen so sprightly Conduct the pleasing scene!



Her final summer was it, And yet we guessed it not; If tenderer industriousness Pervaded her, we thought

A further force of life Developed from within, — When Death lit all the shortness up, And made the hurry plain.

We wondered at our blindness, — When nothing was to see But her Carrara guide-post, — At our stupidity,

When, duller than our dulness, The busy darling lay, So busy was she, finishing, So leisurely were we!



One need not be a chamber to be haunted, One need not be a house; The brain has corridors surpassing Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting External ghost, Than an interior confronting That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop, The stones achase, Than, moonless, one's own self encounter In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed, Should startle most; Assassin, hid in our apartment, Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver, He bolts the door, O'erlooking a superior spectre More near.



She died, — this was the way she died; And when her breath was done, Took up her simple wardrobe And started for the sun.

Her little figure at the gate The angels must have spied, Since I could never find her Upon the mortal side.



Wait till the majesty of Death Invests so mean a brow! Almost a powdered footman Might dare to touch it now!

Wait till in everlasting robes This democrat is dressed, Then prate about "preferment" And "station" and the rest!

Around this quiet courtier Obsequious angels wait! Full royal is his retinue, Full purple is his state!

A lord might dare to lift the hat To such a modest clay, Since that my Lord, "the Lord of lords" Receives unblushingly!



Went up a year this evening! I recollect it well! Amid no bells nor bravos The bystanders will tell! Cheerful, as to the village, Tranquil, as to repose, Chastened, as to the chapel, This humble tourist rose. Did not talk of returning, Alluded to no time When, were the gales propitious, We might look for him; Was grateful for the roses In life's diverse bouquet, Talked softly of new species To pick another day.

Beguiling thus the wonder, The wondrous nearer drew; Hands bustled at the moorings — The crowd respectful grew. Ascended from our vision To countenances new! A difference, a daisy, Is all the rest I knew!



Taken from men this morning, Carried by men to-day, Met by the gods with banners Who marshalled her away.

One little maid from playmates, One little mind from school, — There must be guests in Eden; All the rooms are full.

Far as the east from even, Dim as the border star, — Courtiers quaint, in kingdoms, Our departed are.


What inn is this Where for the night Peculiar traveller comes? Who is the landlord? Where the maids? Behold, what curious rooms! No ruddy fires on the hearth, No brimming tankards flow. Necromancer, landlord, Who are these below?


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 't was 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 chance or spar, Or even a report of land To justify despair.



I should not dare to leave my friend, Because — because if he should die While I was gone, and I — too late — Should reach the heart that wanted me;

If I should disappoint the eyes That hunted, hunted so, to see, And could not bear to shut until They "noticed" me — they noticed me;

If I should stab the patient faith So sure I 'd come — so sure I 'd come, It listening, listening, went to sleep Telling my tardy name, —

My heart would wish it broke before, Since breaking then, since breaking then, Were useless as next morning's sun, Where midnight frosts had lain!



Great streets of silence led away To neighborhoods of pause; Here was no notice, no dissent, No universe, no laws.

By clocks 't was morning, and for night The bells at distance called; But epoch had no basis here, For period exhaled.


A throe upon the features A hurry in the breath, An ecstasy of parting Denominated "Death," —

An anguish at the mention, Which, when to patience grown, I 've known permission given To rejoin its own.



Of tribulation these are they Denoted by the white; The spangled gowns, a lesser rank Of victors designate.

All these did conquer; but the ones Who overcame most times Wear nothing commoner than snow, No ornament but palms.

Surrender is a sort unknown On this superior soil; Defeat, an outgrown anguish, Remembered as the mile

Our panting ankle barely gained When night devoured the road; But we stood whispering in the house, And all we said was "Saved"!


I think just how my shape will rise When I shall be forgiven, Till hair and eyes and timid head Are out of sight, in heaven.

I think just how my lips will weigh With shapeless, quivering prayer That you, so late, consider me, The sparrow of your care.

I mind me that of anguish sent, Some drifts were moved away Before my simple bosom broke, — And why not this, if they?

And so, until delirious borne I con that thing, — "forgiven," — Till with long fright and longer trust I drop my heart, unshriven!



After a hundred years Nobody knows the place, — Agony, that enacted there, Motionless as peace.

Weeds triumphant ranged, Strangers strolled and spelled At the lone orthography Of the elder dead.

Winds of summer fields Recollect the way, — Instinct picking up the key Dropped by memory.


Lay this laurel on the one Too intrinsic for renown. Laurel! veil your deathless tree, — Him you chasten, that is he!



Third Series

Edited by


It's all I have to bring to-day, This, and my heart beside, This, and my heart, and all the fields, And all the meadows wide. Be sure you count, should I forget, — Some one the sum could tell, — This, and my heart, and all the bees Which in the clover dwell.


The intellectual activity of Emily Dickinson was so great that a large and characteristic choice is still possible among her literary material, and this third volume of her verses is put forth in response to the repeated wish of the admirers of her peculiar genius. Much of Emily Dickinson's prose was rhythmic, —even rhymed, though frequently not set apart in lines.

Also many verses, written as such, were sent to friends in letters; these were published in 1894, in the volumes of her Letters. It has not been necessary, however, to include them in this Series, and all have been omitted, except three or four exceptionally strong ones, as "A Book," and "With Flowers."

There is internal evidence that many of the poems were simply spontaneous flashes of insight, apparently unrelated to outward circumstance. Others, however, had an obvious personal origin; for example, the verses "I had a Guinea golden," which seem to have been sent to some friend travelling in Europe, as a dainty reminder of letter-writing delinquencies. The surroundings in which any of Emily Dickinson's verses are known to have been written usually serve to explain them clearly; but in general the present volume is full of thoughts needing no interpretation to those who apprehend this scintillating spirit.

M. L. T.

AMHERST, October, 1896.




'T is 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 I see A diadem to fit a dome Continual crowning me.



Superiority to fate Is difficult to learn. 'T is not conferred by any, But possible to earn

A pittance at a time, Until, to her surprise, The soul with strict economy Subsists till Paradise.



Hope is a subtle glutton; He feeds upon the fair; And yet, inspected closely, What abstinence is there!

His is the halcyon table That never seats but one, And whatsoever is consumed The same amounts remain.




Forbidden fruit a flavor has That lawful orchards mocks; How luscious lies the pea within The pod that Duty locks!




Heaven is what I cannot reach! The apple on the tree, Provided it do hopeless hang, That 'heaven' is, to me.

The color on the cruising cloud, The interdicted ground Behind the hill, the house behind, — There Paradise is found!



A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.


To venerate the simple days Which lead the seasons by, Needs but to remember That from you or me They may take the trifle Termed mortality!

To invest existence with a stately air, Needs but to remember That the acorn there Is the egg of forests For the upper air!



It's such a little thing to weep, So short a thing to sigh; And yet by trades the size of these We men and women die!


Drowning is not so pitiful As the attempt to rise. Three times, 't is said, a sinking man Comes up to face the skies, And then declines forever To that abhorred abode Where hope and he part company, — For he is grasped of God. The Maker's cordial visage, However good to see, Is shunned, we must admit it, Like an adversity.


How still the bells in steeples stand, Till, swollen with the sky, They leap upon their silver feet In frantic melody!


If the foolish call them 'flowers,' Need the wiser tell? If the savans 'classify' them, It is just as well!

Those who read the Revelations Must not criticise Those who read the same edition With beclouded eyes!

Could we stand with that old Moses Canaan denied, — Scan, like him, the stately landscape On the other side, —

Doubtless we should deem superfluous Many sciences Not pursued by learned angels In scholastic skies!

Low amid that glad Belles lettres Grant that we may stand, Stars, amid profound Galaxies, At that grand 'Right hand'!



Could mortal lip divine The undeveloped freight Of a delivered syllable, 'T would crumble with the weight.



My life closed twice before its close; It yet remains to see If Immortality unveil A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive, As these that twice befell. Parting is all we know of heaven, And all we need of hell.



We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies.

The heroism we recite Would be a daily thing, Did not ourselves the cubits warp For fear to be a king.



While I was fearing it, it came, But came with less of fear, Because that fearing it so long Had almost made it dear. There is a fitting a dismay, A fitting a despair. 'Tis harder knowing it is due, Than knowing it is here. The trying on the utmost, The morning it is new, Is terribler than wearing it A whole existence through.



There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry. This traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of toll; How frugal is the chariot That bears a human soul!


Who has not found the heaven below Will fail of it above. God's residence is next to mine, His furniture is love.



A face devoid of love or grace, A hateful, hard, successful face, A face with which a stone Would feel as thoroughly at ease As were they old acquaintances, — First time together thrown.



I had a guinea golden; I lost it in the sand, And though the sum was simple, And pounds were in the land, Still had it such a value Unto my frugal eye, That when I could not find it I sat me down to sigh.

I had a crimson robin Who sang full many a day, But when the woods were painted He, too, did fly away. Time brought me other robins, — Their ballads were the same, — Still for my missing troubadour I kept the 'house at hame.'

I had a star in heaven; One Pleiad was its name, And when I was not heeding It wandered from the same. And though the skies are crowded, And all the night ashine, I do not care about it, Since none of them are mine.

My story has a moral: I have a missing friend, — Pleiad its name, and robin, And guinea in the sand, — And when this mournful ditty, Accompanied with tear, Shall meet the eye of traitor In country far from here, Grant that repentance solemn May seize upon his mind, And he no consolation Beneath the sun may find.

NOTE. — This poem may have had, like many others, a personal origin. It is more than probable that it was sent to some friend travelling in Europe, a dainty reminder of letter-writing delinquencies.



From all the jails the boys and girls Ecstatically leap, — Beloved, only afternoon That prison doesn't keep.

They storm the earth and stun the air, A mob of solid bliss. Alas! that frowns could lie in wait For such a foe as this!


Few get enough, — enough is one; To that ethereal throng Have not each one of us the right To stealthily belong?


Upon the gallows hung a wretch, Too sullied for the hell To which the law entitled him. As nature's curtain fell The one who bore him tottered in, For this was woman's son. ''T was all I had,' she stricken gasped; Oh, what a livid boon!



I felt a clearing in my mind As if my brain had split; I tried to match it, seam by seam, But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join Unto the thought before, But sequence ravelled out of reach Like balls upon a floor.



The reticent volcano keeps His never slumbering plan; Confided are his projects pink To no precarious man.

If nature will not tell the tale Jehovah told to her, Can human nature not survive Without a listener?

Admonished by her buckled lips Let every babbler be. The only secret people keep Is Immortality.



If recollecting were forgetting, Then I remember not; And if forgetting, recollecting, How near I had forgot! And if to miss were merry, And if to mourn were gay, How very blithe the fingers That gathered these to-day!


The farthest thunder that I heard Was nearer than the sky, And rumbles still, though torrid noons Have lain their missiles by. The lightning that preceded it Struck no one but myself, But I would not exchange the bolt For all the rest of life. Indebtedness to oxygen The chemist may repay, But not the obligation To electricity. It founds the homes and decks the days, And every clamor bright Is but the gleam concomitant Of that waylaying light. The thought is quiet as a flake, — A crash without a sound; How life's reverberation Its explanation found!


On the bleakness of my lot Bloom I strove to raise. Late, my acre of a rock Yielded grape and maize.

Soil of flint if steadfast tilled Will reward the hand; Seed of palm by Lybian sun Fructified in sand.



A door just opened on a street — I, lost, was passing by — An instant's width of warmth disclosed, And wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I, I, lost, was passing by, — Lost doubly, but by contrast most, Enlightening misery.



Are friends delight or pain? Could bounty but remain Riches were good.

But if they only stay Bolder to fly away, Riches are sad.



Ashes denote that fire was; Respect the grayest pile For the departed creature's sake That hovered there awhile.

Fire exists the first in light, And then consolidates, — Only the chemist can disclose Into what carbonates.



Fate slew him, but he did not drop; She felled — he did not fall — Impaled him on her fiercest stakes — He neutralized them all.

She stung him, sapped his firm advance, But, when her worst was done, And he, unmoved, regarded her, Acknowledged him a man.



Finite to fail, but infinite to venture. For the one ship that struts the shore Many's the gallant, overwhelmed creature Nodding in navies nevermore.



I measure every grief I meet With analytic 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, They would not rather die.

I wonder if when years have piled — Some thousands — on the cause Of early hurt, if such a lapse Could give them any pause;

Or would they go on aching still Through centuries above, Enlightened to a larger pain By contrast with the love.

The grieved are many, I am told; The reason deeper lies, — 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, Of those that stand alone, Still fascinated to presume That some are like my own.


I have a king who does not speak; So, wondering, thro' the hours meek I trudge the day away,— Half glad when it is night and sleep, If, haply, thro' a dream to peep In parlors shut by day.

And if I do, when morning comes, It is as if a hundred drums Did round my pillow roll, And shouts fill all my childish sky, And bells keep saying 'victory' From steeples in my soul!

And if I don't, the little Bird Within the Orchard is not heard, And I omit to pray, 'Father, thy will be done' to-day, For my will goes the other way, And it were perjury!



It dropped so low in my regard I heard it hit the ground, And go to pieces on the stones At bottom of my mind;

Yet blamed the fate that fractured, less Than I reviled myself For entertaining plated wares Upon my silver shelf.



To lose one's faith surpasses The loss of an estate, Because estates can be Replenished, — faith cannot.

Inherited with life, Belief but once can be; Annihilate a single clause, And Being's beggary.



I had a daily bliss I half indifferent viewed, Till sudden I perceived it stir, — It grew as I pursued,

Till when, around a crag, It wasted from my sight, Enlarged beyond my utmost scope, I learned its sweetness right.


I worked for chaff, and earning wheat Was haughty and betrayed. What right had fields to arbitrate In matters ratified?

I tasted wheat, — and hated chaff, And thanked the ample friend; Wisdom is more becoming viewed At distance than at hand.


Life, and Death, and Giants Such as these, are still. Minor apparatus, hopper of the mill, Beetle at the candle, Or a fife's small fame, Maintain by accident That they proclaim.



Our lives are Swiss, — So still, so cool, Till, some odd afternoon, The Alps neglect their curtains, And we look farther on.

Italy stands the other side, While, like a guard between, The solemn Alps, The siren Alps, Forever intervene!



Remembrance has a rear and front, — 'T is something like a house; It has a garret also For refuse and the mouse,

Besides, the deepest cellar That ever mason hewed; Look to it, by its fathoms Ourselves be not pursued.


To hang our head ostensibly, And subsequent to find That such was not the posture Of our immortal mind,

Affords the sly presumption That, in so dense a fuzz, You, too, take cobweb attitudes Upon a plane of gauze!



The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side, The one the other will include With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea, For, hold them, blue to blue, The one the other will absorb, As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God, For, lift them, pound for pound, And they will differ, if they do, As syllable from sound.


The bone that has no marrow; What ultimate for that? It is not fit for table, For beggar, or for cat.

A bone has obligations, A being has the same; A marrowless assembly Is culpabler than shame.

But how shall finished creatures A function fresh obtain? — Old Nicodemus' phantom Confronting us again!



The past is such a curious creature, To look her in the face A transport may reward us, Or a disgrace.

Unarmed if any meet her, I charge him, fly! Her rusty ammunition Might yet reply!


To help our bleaker parts Salubrious hours are given, Which if they do not fit for earth Drill silently for heaven.


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.



Who never wanted, — maddest joy Remains to him unknown: The banquet of abstemiousness Surpasses that of wine.

Within its hope, though yet ungrasped Desire's perfect goal, No nearer, lest reality Should disenthrall thy soul.



It might be easier To fail with land in sight, Than gain my blue peninsula To perish of delight.



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.


A modest lot, a fame petite, A brief campaign of sting and sweet Is plenty! Is enough! A sailor's business is the shore, A soldier's — balls. Who asketh more Must seek the neighboring life!


Is bliss, then, such abyss I must not put my foot amiss For fear I spoil my shoe?

I'd rather suit my foot Than save my boot, For yet to buy another pair Is possible At any fair.

But bliss is sold just once; The patent lost None buy it any more.



I stepped from plank to plank So slow and cautiously; The stars about my head I felt, About my feet the sea.

I knew not but the next Would be my final inch, — This gave me that precarious gait Some call experience.



One day is there of the series Termed Thanksgiving day, Celebrated part at table, Part in memory.

Neither patriarch nor pussy, I dissect the play; Seems it, to my hooded thinking, Reflex holiday.

Had there been no sharp subtraction From the early sum, Not an acre or a caption Where was once a room,

Not a mention, whose small pebble Wrinkled any bay, — Unto such, were such assembly, 'T were Thanksgiving day.



Softened by Time's consummate plush, How sleek the woe appears That threatened childhood's citadel And undermined the years!

Bisected now by bleaker griefs, We envy the despair That devastated childhood's realm, So easy to repair.




Proud of my broken heart since thou didst break it, Proud of the pain I did not feel till thee, Proud of my night since thou with moons dost slake it, Not to partake thy passion, my humility.



My worthiness is all my doubt, His merit all my fear, Contrasting which, my qualities Do lowlier appear;

Lest I should insufficient prove For his beloved need, The chiefest apprehension Within my loving creed.

So I, the undivine abode Of his elect content, Conform my soul as 't were a church Unto her sacrament.



Love is anterior to life, Posterior to death, Initial of creation, and The exponent of breath.



One blessing had I, than the rest So larger to my eyes That I stopped gauging, satisfied, For this enchanted size.

It was the limit of my dream, The focus of my prayer, — A perfect, paralyzing bliss Contented as despair.

I knew no more of want or cold, Phantasms both become, For this new value in the soul, Supremest earthly sum.

The heaven below the heaven above Obscured with ruddier hue. Life's latitude leant over-full; The judgment perished, too.

Why joys so scantily disburse, Why Paradise defer, Why floods are served to us in bowls, — I speculate no more.



When roses cease to bloom, dear, And violets are done, When bumble-bees in solemn flight Have passed beyond the sun,

The hand that paused to gather Upon this summer's day Will idle lie, in Auburn, — Then take my flower, pray!



Summer for thee grant I may be When summer days are flown! Thy music still when whippoorwill And oriole are done!

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb And sow my blossoms o'er! Pray gather me, Anemone, Thy flower forevermore!



Split the lark and you'll find the music, Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled, Scantily dealt to the summer morning, Saved for your ear when lutes be old.

Loose the flood, you shall find it patent, Gush after gush, reserved for you; Scarlet experiment! sceptic Thomas, Now, do you doubt that your bird was true?


To lose thee, sweeter than to gain All other hearts I knew. 'T is true the drought is destitute, But then I had the dew!

The Caspian has its realms of sand, Its other realm of sea; Without the sterile perquisite No Caspian could be.


Poor little heart! Did they forget thee? Then dinna care! Then dinna care!

Proud little heart! Did they forsake thee? Be debonair! Be debonair!

Frail little heart! I would not break thee: Could'st credit me? Could'st credit me?

Gay little heart! Like morning glory Thou'll wilted be; thou'll wilted be!



There is a word Which bears a sword Can pierce an armed man. It hurls its barbed syllables,— At once is mute again. But where it fell The saved will tell On patriotic day, Some epauletted brother Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs the breathless sun, Wherever roams the day, There is its noiseless onset, There is its victory!

Behold the keenest marksman! The most accomplished shot! Time's sublimest target Is a soul 'forgot'!


I've got an arrow here; Loving the hand that sent it, I the dart revere.

Fell, they will say, in 'skirmish'! Vanquished, my soul will know, By but a simple arrow Sped by an archer's bow.



He fumbles at your spirit As players at the keys Before they drop full music on; He stuns you by degrees,

Prepares your brittle substance For the ethereal blow, By fainter hammers, further heard, Then nearer, then so slow

Your breath has time to straighten, Your brain to bubble cool, — Deals one imperial thunderbolt That scalps your naked soul.


Heart, we will forget him! You and I, to-night! You may forget the warmth he gave, I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me, That I my thoughts may dim; Haste! lest while you're lagging, I may remember him!


Father, I bring thee not myself, — That were the little load; I bring thee the imperial heart I had not strength to hold.

The heart I cherished in my own Till mine too heavy grew, Yet strangest, heavier since it went, Is it too large for you?


We outgrow love like other things And put it in the drawer, Till it an antique fashion shows Like costumes grandsires wore.


Not with a club the heart is broken, Nor with a stone; A whip, so small you could not see it. I've known

To lash the magic creature Till it fell, Yet that whip's name too noble Then to tell.

Magnanimous of bird By boy descried, To sing unto the stone Of which it died.



My friend must be a bird, Because it flies! Mortal my friend must be, Because it dies! Barbs has it, like a bee. Ah, curious friend, Thou puzzlest me!


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.



Let me not mar that perfect dream By an auroral stain, But so adjust my daily night That it will come again.



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 to-day To witness to the certainty Of immortality

Taught me by Time, — the lower way, Conviction every day, — That life like this is endless, Be judgment what it may.



I envy seas whereon he rides, I envy spokes of wheels Of chariots that him convey, I envy speechless 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 be, The earrings 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 his noon could bring,

Yet interdict my blossom And abrogate my bee, Lest noon in everlasting night Drop Gabriel and me.



A solemn thing it was, I said, A woman white to be, And wear, if God should count me fit, Her hallowed mystery.

A timid thing to drop a life Into the purple well, Too plummetless that it come back Eternity until.




The springtime's pallid landscape Will glow like bright bouquet, Though drifted deep in parian The village lies to-day.

The lilacs, bending many a year, With purple load will hang; The bees will not forget the tune Their old forefathers sang.

The rose will redden in the bog, The aster on the hill Her everlasting fashion set, And covenant gentians frill,

Till summer folds her miracle As women do their gown, Or priests adjust the symbols When sacrament is done.



She slept beneath a tree Remembered but by me. I touched her cradle mute; She recognized the foot, Put on her carmine suit, — And see!


A light exists in spring Not present on the year At any other period. When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad On solitary hills That science cannot overtake, But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn; It shows the furthest tree Upon the furthest slope we know; It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step, Or noons report away, Without the formula of sound, It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss Affecting our content, As trade had suddenly encroached Upon a sacrament.



A lady red upon the hill Her annual secret keeps; A lady white within the field In placid lily sleeps!

The tidy breezes with their brooms Sweep vale, and hill, and tree! Prithee, my pretty housewives! Who may expected be?

The neighbors do not yet suspect! The woods exchange a smile — Orchard, and buttercup, and bird — In such a little while!

And yet how still the landscape stands, How nonchalant the wood, As if the resurrection Were nothing very odd!



Dear March, come in! How glad I am! I looked for you before. Put down your hat — You must have walked — How out of breath you are! Dear March, how are you? And the rest? Did you leave Nature well? Oh, March, come right upstairs with me, I have so much to tell!

I got your letter, and the birds'; The maples never knew That you were coming, — I declare, How red their faces grew! But, March, forgive me — And all those hills You left for me to hue; There was no purple suitable, You took it all with you.

Who knocks? That April! Lock the door! I will not be pursued! He stayed away a year, to call When I am occupied. But trifles look so trivial As soon as you have come, That blame is just as dear as praise And praise as mere as blame.



We like March, his shoes are purple, He is new and high; Makes he mud for dog and peddler, Makes he forest dry; Knows the adder's tongue his coming, And begets her spot. Stands the sun so close and mighty That our minds are hot. News is he of all the others; Bold it were to die With the blue-birds buccaneering On his British sky.



Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door; Or has it feathers like a bird, Or billows like a shore?


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.


Morning is the place for dew, Corn is made at noon, After dinner light for flowers, Dukes for setting sun!


To my quick ear the leaves conferred; The bushes they were bells; I could not find a privacy From Nature's sentinels.

In cave if I presumed to hide, The walls began to tell; Creation seemed a mighty crack To make me visible.



A sepal, petal, and a thorn Upon a common summer's morn, A flash of dew, a bee or two, A breeze A caper in the trees, — And I'm a rose!


High from the earth I heard a bird; He trod upon the trees As he esteemed them trifles, And then he spied a breeze, And situated softly Upon a pile of wind Which in a perturbation Nature had left behind. A joyous-going fellow I gathered from his talk, Which both of benediction And badinage partook, Without apparent burden, I learned, in leafy wood He was the faithful father Of a dependent brood; And this untoward transport His remedy for care, — A contrast to our respites. How different we are!



The spider as an artist Has never been employed Though his surpassing merit Is freely certified

By every broom and Bridget Throughout a Christian land. Neglected son of genius, I take thee by the hand.



What mystery pervades a well! The water lives so far, Like neighbor from another world Residing in a jar.

The grass does not appear afraid; I often wonder he Can stand so close and look so bold At what is dread to me.

Related somehow they may be, — The sedge stands next the sea, Where he is floorless, yet of fear No evidence gives he.

But nature is a stranger yet; The ones that cite her most Have never passed her haunted house, Nor simplified her ghost.

To pity those that know her not Is helped by the regret That those who know her, know her less The nearer her they get.


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, — One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do If bees are few.



It's like the light, — A fashionless delight It's like the bee, — A dateless melody.

It's like the woods, Private like breeze, Phraseless, yet it stirs The proudest trees.

It's like the morning, — Best when it's done, — The everlasting clocks Chime noon.


A dew sufficed itself And satisfied a leaf, And felt, 'how vast a destiny! How trivial is life!'

The sun went out to work, The day went out to play, But not again that dew was seen By physiognomy.

Whether by day abducted, Or emptied by the sun Into the sea, in passing, Eternally unknown.



His bill an auger is, His head, a cap and frill. He laboreth at every tree, — A worm his utmost goal.



Sweet is the swamp with its secrets, Until we meet a snake; 'T is then we sigh for houses, And our departure take At that enthralling gallop That only childhood knows. A snake is summer's treason, And guile is where it goes.


Could I but ride indefinite, As doth the meadow-bee, And visit only where I liked, And no man visit me,

And flirt all day with buttercups, And marry whom I may, And dwell a little everywhere, Or better, run away

With no police to follow, Or chase me if I do, Till I should jump peninsulas To get away from you, —

I said, but just to be a bee Upon a raft of air, And row in nowhere all day long, And anchor off the bar,— What liberty! So captives deem Who tight in dungeons are.



The moon was but a chin of gold A night or two ago, And now she turns her perfect face Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond; Her cheek like beryl stone; Her eye unto the summer dew The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber never part; But what must be the smile Upon her friend she could bestow Were such her silver will!

And what a privilege to be But the remotest star! For certainly her way might pass Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament, The universe her shoe, The stars the trinkets at her belt, Her dimities of blue.



The bat is dun with wrinkled wings Like fallow article, And not a song pervades his lips, Or none perceptible.

His small umbrella, quaintly halved, Describing in the air An arc alike inscrutable, — Elate philosopher!

Deputed from what firmament Of what astute abode, Empowered with what malevolence Auspiciously withheld.

To his adroit Creator Ascribe no less the praise; Beneficent, believe me, His eccentricities.



You've seen balloons set, haven't you? So stately they ascend It is as swans discarded you For duties diamond.

Their liquid feet go softly out Upon a sea of blond; They spurn the air as 't were too mean For creatures so renowned.

Their ribbons just beyond the eye, They struggle some for breath, And yet the crowd applauds below; They would not encore death.

The gilded creature strains and spins, Trips frantic in a tree, Tears open her imperial veins And tumbles in the sea.

The crowd retire with an oath The dust in streets goes down, And clerks in counting-rooms observe, ''T was only a balloon.'



The cricket sang, And set the sun, And workmen finished, one by one, Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew, The twilight stood as strangers do With hat in hand, polite and new, To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came, — A wisdom without face or name, A peace, as hemispheres at home, — And so the night became.



Drab habitation of whom? Tabernacle or tomb, Or dome of worm, Or porch of gnome, Or some elf's catacomb?



A sloop of amber slips away Upon an ether sea, And wrecks in peace a purple tar, The son of ecstasy.



Of bronze and blaze The north, to-night! So adequate its forms, So preconcerted with itself, So distant to alarms, — An unconcern so sovereign To universe, or me, It paints my simple spirit With tints of majesty, Till I take vaster attitudes, And strut upon my stem, Disdaining men and oxygen, For arrogance of them.

My splendors are menagerie; But their competeless show Will entertain the centuries When I am, long ago, An island in dishonored grass, Whom none but daisies know.



How the old mountains drip with sunset, And the brake of dun! How the hemlocks are tipped in tinsel By the wizard sun!

How the old steeples hand the scarlet, Till the ball is full, — Have I the lip of the flamingo That I dare to tell?

Then, how the fire ebbs like billows, Touching all the grass With a departing, sapphire feature, As if a duchess pass!

How a small dusk crawls on the village Till the houses blot; And the odd flambeaux no men carry Glimmer on the spot!

Now it is night in nest and kennel, And where was the wood, Just a dome of abyss is nodding Into solitude! —

These are the visions baffled Guido; Titian never told; Domenichino dropped the pencil, Powerless to unfold.



The murmuring of bees has ceased; But murmuring of some Posterior, prophetic, Has simultaneous come, —

The lower metres of the year, When nature's laugh is done, — The Revelations of the book Whose Genesis is June.



This world is not conclusion; A sequel stands beyond, Invisible, as music, But positive, as sound. It beckons and it baffles; Philosophies don't know, And through a riddle, at the last, Sagacity must go. To guess it puzzles scholars; To gain it, men have shown Contempt of generations, And crucifixion known.


We learn in the retreating How vast an one Was recently among us. A perished sun

Endears in the departure How doubly more Than all the golden presence It was before!


They say that 'time assuages,' — Time never did assuage; An actual suffering strengthens, As sinews do, with age.

Time is a test of trouble, But not a remedy. If such it prove, it prove too There was no malady.


We cover thee, sweet face. Not that we tire of thee, But that thyself fatigue of us; Remember, as thou flee, 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.



That is solemn we have ended, — Be it but a play, Or a glee among the garrets, Or a holiday,

Or a leaving home; or later, Parting with a world We have understood, for better Still it be unfurled.


The stimulus, beyond the grave His countenance to see, Supports me like imperial drams Afforded royally.


Given in marriage unto thee, Oh, thou celestial host! Bride of the Father and the Son, Bride of the Holy Ghost!

Other betrothal shall dissolve, Wedlock of will decay; Only the keeper of this seal Conquers mortality.


That such have died enables us The tranquiller to die; That such have lived, certificate For immortality.


They won't frown always, — some sweet day When I forget to tease, They'll recollect how cold I looked, And how I just said 'please.'

Then they will hasten to the door To call the little child, Who cannot thank them, for the ice That on her lisping piled.



It is an honorable thought, And makes one lift one's hat, As one encountered gentlefolk Upon a daily street,

That we've immortal place, Though pyramids decay, And kingdoms, like the orchard, Flit russetly away.


The distance that the dead have gone Does not at first appear; Their coming back seems possible For many an ardent year.

And then, that we have followed them We more than half suspect, So intimate have we become With their dear retrospect.


How dare the robins sing, When men and women hear Who since they went to their account Have settled with the year! — Paid all that life had earned In one consummate bill, And now, what life or death can do Is immaterial. Insulting is the sun To him whose mortal light, Beguiled of immortality, Bequeaths him to the night. In deference to him Extinct be every hum, Whose garden wrestles with the dew, At daybreak overcome!



Death is like the insect Menacing the tree, Competent to kill it, But decoyed may be.

Bait it with the balsam, Seek it with the knife, Baffle, if it cost you Everything in life.

Then, if it have burrowed Out of reach of skill, Ring the tree and leave it, — 'T is the vermin's will.



'T is sunrise, little maid, hast thou No station in the day? 'T was not thy wont to hinder so, — Retrieve thine industry.

'T is noon, my little maid, alas! And art thou sleeping yet? The lily waiting to be wed, The bee, dost thou forget?

My little maid, 't is night; alas, That night should be to thee Instead of morning! Hadst thou broached Thy little plan to me, Dissuade thee if I could not, sweet, I might have aided thee.


Each that we lose takes part of us; A crescent still abides, Which like the moon, some turbid night, Is summoned by the tides.


Not any higher stands the grave For heroes than for men; Not any nearer for the child Than numb three-score and ten.

This latest leisure equal lulls The beggar and his queen; Propitiate this democrat By summer's gracious mien.



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 to-day As children to the rainbow's scarf, Or sunset's yellow play

To eyelids in the sepulchre. How still the dancer lies, While color's revelations break, And blaze the butterflies!



'T is whiter than an Indian pipe, 'T is dimmer than a lace; No stature has it, like a fog, When you approach the place.

Not any voice denotes it here, Or intimates it there; A spirit, how doth it accost? What customs hath the air?

This limitless hyperbole Each one of us shall be; 'T is drama, if (hypothesis) It be not tragedy!



She laid her docile crescent down, And this mechanic stone Still states, to dates that have forgot, The news that she is gone.

So constant to its stolid trust, The shaft that never knew, It shames the constancy that fled Before its emblem flew.


Bless God, he went as soldiers, His musket on his breast; Grant, God, he charge the bravest Of all the martial blest.

Please God, might I behold him In epauletted white, I should not fear the foe then, I should not fear the fight.


Immortal is an ample word When what we need is by, But when it leaves us for a time, 'T is a necessity.

Of heaven above the firmest proof We fundamental know, Except for its marauding hand, It had been heaven below.


Where every bird is bold to go, And bees abashless play, The foreigner before he knocks Must thrust the tears away.


The grave my little cottage is, Where, keeping house for thee, I make my parlor orderly, And lay the marble tea,

For two divided, briefly, A cycle, it may be, Till everlasting life unite In strong society.


This was in the white of the year, That was in the green, Drifts were as difficult then to think As daisies now to be seen.

Looking back is best that is left, Or if it be before, Retrospection is prospect's half, Sometimes almost more.


Sweet hours have perished here; This is a mighty room; Within its precincts hopes have played, — Now shadows in the tomb.


Me! Come! My dazzled face In such a shining place!

Me! Hear! My foreign ear The sounds of welcome near!

The saints shall meet Our bashful feet.

My holiday shall be That they remember me;

My paradise, the fame That they pronounce my name.



From us she wandered now a year, Her tarrying unknown; If wilderness prevent her feet, Or that ethereal zone

No eye hath seen and lived, We ignorant must be. We only know what time of year We took the mystery.


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.



Bereaved of all, I went abroad, No less bereaved to be Upon a new peninsula, — The grave preceded me,

Obtained my lodgings ere myself, And when I sought my bed, The grave it was, reposed upon The pillow for my head.

I waked, to find it first awake, I rose, — it followed me; I tried to drop it in the crowd, To lose it in the sea,

In cups of artificial drowse To sleep its shape away, — The grave was finished, but the spade Remained in memory.


I felt a funeral in my brain, And mourners, to and fro, Kept treading, treading, till it seemed That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated, A service like a drum Kept beating, beating, till I thought My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box, And creak across my soul With those same boots of lead, again. Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell, And Being but an ear, And I and silence some strange race, Wrecked, solitary, here.


I meant to find her when I came; Death had the same design; But the success was his, it seems, And the discomfit mine.

I meant to tell her how I longed For just this single time; But Death had told her so the first, And she had hearkened him.

To wander now is my abode; To rest, — to rest would be A privilege of hurricane To memory and me.



I sing to use the waiting, My bonnet but to tie, And shut the door unto my house; No more to do have I,

Till, his best step approaching, We journey to the day, And tell each other how we sang To keep the dark away.


A sickness of this world it most occasions When best men die; A wishfulness their far condition To occupy.

A chief indifference, as foreign A world must be Themselves forsake contented, For Deity.


Superfluous were the sun When excellence is dead; He were superfluous every day, For every day is said

That syllable whose faith Just saves it from despair, And whose 'I'll meet you' hesitates If love inquire, 'Where?'

Upon his dateless fame Our periods may lie, As stars that drop anonymous From an abundant sky.


So proud she was to die It made us all ashamed That what we cherished, so unknown To her desire seemed.

So satisfied to go Where none of us should be, Immediately, that anguish stooped Almost to jealousy.



Tie the strings to my life, my Lord, Then I am ready to go! Just a look at the horses — Rapid! That will do!

Put me in on the firmest side, So I shall never fall; For we must ride to the Judgment, And it's partly down hill.

But never I mind the bridges, And never I mind the sea; Held fast in everlasting race By my own choice and thee.

Good-by to the life I used to live, And the world I used to know; And kiss the hills for me, just once; Now I am ready to go!


The dying need but little, dear, — A glass of water's all, A flower's unobtrusive face To punctuate the wall,

A fan, perhaps, a friend's regret, And certainly that one No color in the rainbow Perceives when you are gone.



There's something quieter than sleep Within this inner room! It wears a sprig upon its breast, And will not tell its name.

Some touch it and some kiss it, Some chafe its idle hand; It has a simple gravity I do not understand!

While simple-hearted neighbors Chat of the 'early dead,' We, prone to periphrasis, Remark that birds have fled!


The soul should always stand ajar, That if the heaven inquire, He will not be obliged to wait, Or shy of troubling her.

Depart, before the host has slid The bolt upon the door, To seek for the accomplished guest, — Her visitor no more.


Three weeks passed since I had seen her, — Some disease had vexed; 'T was with text and village singing I beheld her next,

And a company — our pleasure To discourse alone; Gracious now to me as any, Gracious unto none.

Borne, without dissent of either, To the parish night; Of the separated people Which are out of sight?


I breathed enough to learn the trick, And now, removed from air, I simulate the breath so well, That one, to be quite sure

The lungs are stirless, must descend Among the cunning cells, And touch the pantomime himself. How cool the bellows feels!


I wonder if the sepulchre Is not a lonesome way, When men and boys, and larks and June Go down the fields to hay!



If tolling bell I ask the cause. 'A soul has gone to God,' I'm answered in a lonesome tone; Is heaven then so sad?

That bells should joyful ring to tell A soul had gone to heaven, Would seem to me the proper way A good news should be given.


If I may have it when it's dead I will contented be; If just as soon as breath is out It shall belong to me,

Until they lock it in the grave, 'T is bliss I cannot weigh, For though they lock thee in the grave, Myself can hold 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.


Before the ice is in the pools, Before the skaters go, Or any cheek at nightfall Is tarnished by the snow,

Before the fields have finished, Before the Christmas tree, Wonder upon wonder Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of On a summer's day; What is only walking Just a bridge away;

That which sings so, speaks so, When there's no one here, — Will the frock I wept in Answer me to wear?



I heard a fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form Was like the stillness in the air Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry, And breaths were gathering sure For that last onset, when the king Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away What portion of me I Could make assignable, — and then 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.


Adrift! A little boat adrift! And night is coming down! Will no one guide a little boat Unto the nearest town?

So sailors say, on yesterday, Just as the dusk was brown, One little boat gave up its strife, And gurgled down and down.

But angels say, on yesterday, Just as the dawn was red, One little boat o'erspent with gales Retrimmed its masts, redecked its sails Exultant, onward sped!


There's been a death in the opposite house As lately as to-day. I know it by the numb look Such houses have alway.

The neighbors rustle in and out, The doctor drives away. A window opens like a pod, Abrupt, mechanically;

Somebody flings a mattress out, — The children hurry by; They wonder if It died on that, — I used to when a boy.

The minister goes stiffly in As if the house were his, And he owned all the mourners now, And little boys besides;

And then the milliner, and the man Of the appalling trade, To take the measure of the house. There'll be that dark parade

Of tassels and of coaches soon; It's easy as a sign, — The intuition of the news In just a country town.


We never know we go, — when we are going We jest and shut the door; Fate following behind us bolts it, And we accost no more.



It struck me every day The lightning was as new As if the cloud that instant slit And let the fire through.

It burned me in the night, It blistered in my dream; It sickened fresh upon my sight With every morning's beam.

I thought that storm was brief, — The maddest, quickest by; But Nature lost the date of this, And left it in the sky.


Water is taught by thirst; Land, by the oceans passed; Transport, by throe; Peace, by its battles told; Love, by memorial mould; Birds, by the snow.



We thirst at first, — 't is Nature's act; And later, when we die, A little water supplicate Of fingers going by.

It intimates the finer want, Whose adequate supply Is that great water in the west Termed immortality.


A clock stopped — not the mantel's; Geneva's farthest skill Can't put the puppet bowing That just now dangled still.

An awe came on the trinket! The figures hunched with pain, Then quivered out of decimals Into degreeless noon.

It will not stir for doctors, This pendulum of snow; The shopman importunes it, While cool, concernless No

Nods from the gilded pointers, Nods from the seconds slim, Decades of arrogance between The dial life and him.



All overgrown by cunning moss, All interspersed with weed, The little cage of 'Currer Bell,' In quiet Haworth laid.

This bird, observing others, When frosts too sharp became, Retire to other latitudes, Quietly did the same,

But differed in returning; Since Yorkshire hills are green, Yet not in all the nests I meet Can nightingale be seen.

Gathered from many wanderings, Gethsemane can tell Through what transporting anguish She reached the asphodel!

Soft fall the sounds of Eden Upon her puzzled ear; Oh, what an afternoon for heaven, When 'Bronte' entered there!


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.


Far from love the Heavenly Father Leads the chosen child; Oftener through realm of briar Than the meadow mild,

Oftener by the claw of dragon Than the hand of friend, Guides the little one predestined To the native land.



A long, long sleep, a famous sleep That makes no show for dawn By stretch of limb or stir of lid, — An independent one.

Was ever idleness like this? Within a hut of stone To bask the centuries away Nor once look up for noon?



'T was 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 carts went 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 if my stocking hung too high, Would it blur the Christmas glee, That not a Santa Claus could reach The altitude of me?

But this sort grieved myself, and so I thought how it would be When just this time, some perfect year, Themselves should come to me.



On this wondrous sea, Sailing silently, Ho! pilot, ho! Knowest thou the shore Where no breakers roar, Where the storm is o'er?

In the silent west Many sails at rest, Their anchors fast; Thither I pilot thee, — Land, ho! Eternity! Ashore at last!


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