Part 2 out of 6
Could but a crier of the glee
Have climbed the distant hill;
Had not the bliss so slow a pace, --
Who knows but this surrendered face
Were undefeated still?
Oh, if there may departing be
Any forgot by victory
In her imperial round,
Show them this meek apparelled thing,
That could not stop to be a king,
Doubtful if it be crowned!
Departed to the judgment,
A mighty afternoon;
Great clouds like ushers leaning,
Creation looking on.
The flesh surrendered, cancelled,
The bodiless begun;
Two worlds, like audiences, disperse
And leave the soul alone.
Safe in their alabaster chambers,
Untouched by morning and untouched by noon,
Sleep the meek members of the resurrection,
Rafter of satin, and roof of stone.
Light laughs the breeze in her castle of sunshine;
Babbles the bee in a stolid ear;
Pipe the sweet birds in ignorant cadence, --
Ah, what sagacity perished here!
Grand go the years in the crescent above them;
Worlds scoop their arcs, and firmaments row,
Diadems drop and Doges surrender,
Soundless as dots on a disk of snow.
On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.
The birds rose smiling in their nests,
The gales indeed were done;
Alas! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone!
The quiet nonchalance of death
No daybreak can bestir;
The slow archangel's syllables
Must awaken her.
FROM THE CHRYSALIS.
My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I'm feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.
A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.
So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.
Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea, --
Past the houses, past the headlands,
Into deep eternity!
Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?
Look back on time with kindly eyes,
He doubtless did his best;
How softly sinks his trembling sun
In human nature's west!
A train went through a burial gate,
A bird broke forth and sang,
And trilled, and quivered, and shook his throat
Till all the churchyard rang;
And then adjusted his little notes,
And bowed and sang again.
Doubtless, he thought it meet of him
To say good-by to men.
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
"And I for truth, -- the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.
"TROUBLED ABOUT MANY THINGS."
How many times these low feet staggered,
Only the soldered mouth can tell;
Try! can you stir the awful rivet?
Try! can you lift the hasps of steel?
Stroke the cool forehead, hot so often,
Lift, if you can, the listless hair;
Handle the adamantine fingers
Never a thimble more shall wear.
Buzz the dull flies on the chamber window;
Brave shines the sun through the freckled pane;
Fearless the cobweb swings from the ceiling --
Indolent housewife, in daisies lain!
I like a look of agony,
Because I know it 's true;
Men do not sham convulsion,
Nor simulate a throe.
The eyes glaze once, and that is death.
Impossible to feign
The beads upon the forehead
By homely anguish strung.
That short, potential stir
That each can make but once,
That bustle so illustrious
'T is almost consequence,
Is the eclat of death.
Oh, thou unknown renown
That not a beggar would accept,
Had he the power to spurn!
I went to thank her,
But she slept;
Her bed a funnelled stone,
With nosegays at the head and foot,
That travellers had thrown,
Who went to thank her;
But she slept.
'T was short to cross the sea
To look upon her like, alive,
But turning back 't was slow.
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,
'T were blessed to have seen.
The clouds their backs together laid,
The north begun to push,
The forests galloped till they fell,
The lightning skipped like mice;
The thunder crumbled like a stuff --
How good to be safe in tombs,
Where nature's temper cannot reach,
Nor vengeance ever comes!
I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
God permits industrious angels
Afternoons to play.
I met one, -- forgot my school-mates,
All, for him, straightway.
God calls home the angels promptly
At the setting sun;
I missed mine. How dreary marbles,
After playing Crown!
To know just how he suffered would be dear;
To know if any human eyes were near
To whom he could intrust his wavering gaze,
Until it settled firm on Paradise.
To know if he was patient, part content,
Was dying as he thought, or different;
Was it a pleasant day to die,
And did the sunshine face his way?
What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,
Or what the distant say
At news that he ceased human nature
On such a day?
And wishes, had he any?
Just his sigh, accented,
Had been legible to me.
And was he confident until
Ill fluttered out in everlasting well?
And if he spoke, what name was best,
What one broke off with
At the drowsiest?
Was he afraid, or tranquil?
Might he know
How conscious consciousness could grow,
Till love that was, and love too blest to be,
Meet -- and the junction be Eternity?
The last night that she lived,
It was a common night,
Except the dying; this to us
Made nature different.
We noticed smallest things, --
Things overlooked before,
By this great light upon our minds
Italicized, as 't were.
That others could exist
While she must finish quite,
A jealousy for her arose
So nearly infinite.
We waited while she passed;
It was a narrow time,
Too jostled were our souls to speak,
At length the notice came.
She mentioned, and forgot;
Then lightly as a reed
Bent to the water, shivered scarce,
Consented, and was dead.
And we, we placed the hair,
And drew the head erect;
And then an awful leisure was,
Our faith to regulate.
THE FIRST LESSON.
Not in this world to see his face
Sounds long, until I read the place
Where this is said to be
But just the primer to a life
Unopened, rare, upon the shelf,
Clasped yet to him and me.
And yet, my primer suits me so
I would not choose a book to know
Than that, be sweeter wise;
Might some one else so learned be,
And leave me just my A B C,
Himself could have the skies.
The bustle in a house
The morning after death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon earth, --
The sweeping up the heart,
And putting love away
We shall not want to use again
I reason, earth is short,
And anguish absolute,
And many hurt;
But what of that?
I reason, we could die:
The best vitality
Cannot excel decay;
But what of that?
I reason that in heaven
Somehow, it will be even,
Some new equation given;
But what of that?
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?
Not death; for who is he?
The porter of my father's lodge
As much abasheth me.
Of life? 'T were odd I fear a thing
That comprehendeth me
In one or more existences
At Deity's decree.
Of resurrection? Is the east
Afraid to trust the morn
With her fastidious forehead?
As soon impeach my crown!
The sun kept setting, setting still;
No hue of afternoon
Upon the village I perceived, --
From house to house 't was noon.
The dusk kept dropping, dropping still;
No dew upon the grass,
But only on my forehead stopped,
And wandered in my face.
My feet kept drowsing, drowsing still,
My fingers were awake;
Yet why so little sound myself
Unto my seeming make?
How well I knew the light before!
I could not see it now.
'T is dying, I am doing; but
I'm not afraid to know.
Two swimmers wrestled on the spar
Until the morning sun,
When one turned smiling to the land.
O God, the other one!
The stray ships passing spied a face
Upon the waters borne,
With eyes in death still begging raised,
And hands beseeching thrown.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.
Since then 't is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.
She went as quiet as the dew
From a familiar flower.
Not like the dew did she return
At the accustomed hour!
She dropt as softly as a star
From out my summer's eve;
Less skilful than Leverrier
It's sorer to believe!
At last to be identified!
At last, the lamps upon thy side,
The rest of life to see!
Past midnight, past the morning star!
Past sunrise! Ah! what leagues there are
Between our feet and day!
Except to heaven, she is nought;
Except for angels, lone;
Except to some wide-wandering bee,
A flower superfluous blown;
Except for winds, provincial;
Except by butterflies,
Unnoticed as a single dew
That on the acre lies.
The smallest housewife in the grass,
Yet take her from the lawn,
And somebody has lost the face
That made existence home!
Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
"Dissolve," says Death. The Spirit, "Sir,
I have another trust."
Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.
It was too late for man,
But early yet for God;
Creation impotent to help,
But prayer remained our side.
How excellent the heaven,
When earth cannot be had;
How hospitable, then, the face
Of our old neighbor, God!
ALONG THE POTOMAC.
When I was small, a woman died.
To-day 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
I never can 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 ever in the sky.
The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
"Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?"
"Because, sir, love is sweet!"
We are the flower, Thou the sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline,
We nearer steal to Thee, --
Enamoured of the parting west,
The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
No rack can torture me,
My soul's at liberty
Behind this mortal bone
There knits a bolder one
You cannot prick with saw,
Nor rend with scymitar.
Two bodies therefore be;
Bind one, and one will flee.
The eagle of his nest
No easier divest
And gain the sky,
Than mayest thou,
Except thyself may be
Captivity is consciousness,
I lost a world the other day.
Has anybody found?
You'll know it by the row of stars
Around its forehead bound.
A rich man might not notice it;
Yet to my frugal eye
Of more esteem than ducats.
Oh, find it, sir, for me!
If I shouldn't be alive
When the robins come,
Give the one in red cravat
A memorial crumb.
If I couldn't thank you,
Being just asleep,
You will know I'm trying
With my granite lip!
Sleep is supposed to be,
By souls of sanity,
The shutting of the eye.
Sleep is the station grand
Down which on either hand
The hosts of witness stand!
Morn is supposed to be,
By people of degree,
The breaking of the day.
Morning has not occurred!
That shall aurora be
East of eternity;
One with the banner gay,
One in the red array, --
That is the break of day.
I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky.
He will tell me what Peter promised,
And I, for wonder at his woe,
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.
I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!
Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!
by EMILY DICKINSON
Edited by two of her friends
MABEL LOOMIS TODD and T.W. HIGGINSON
The eagerness with which the first volume of Emily Dickinson's
poems has been read shows very clearly that all our alleged modern
artificiality does not prevent a prompt appreciation of the
qualities of directness and simplicity in approaching the greatest
themes,--life and love and death. That "irresistible needle-touch,"
as one of her best critics has called it, piercing at once the very
core of a thought, has found a response as wide and sympathetic as
it has been unexpected even to those who knew best her compelling
power. This second volume, while open to the same criticism as to
form with its predecessor, shows also the same shining beauties.
Although Emily Dickinson had been in the habit of sending
occasional poems to friends and correspondents, the full extent of
her writing was by no means imagined by them. Her friend "H.H."
must at least have suspected it, for in a letter dated 5th
September, 1884, she wrote:--
MY DEAR FRIEND,-- What portfolios full of verses
you must have! It is a cruel wrong to your "day and
generation" that you will not give them light.
If such a thing should happen as that I should outlive
you, I wish you would make me your literary legatee
and executor. Surely after you are what is called
"dead" you will be willing that the poor ghosts you
have left behind should be cheered and pleased by your
verses, will you not? You ought to be. I do not think
we have a right to withhold from the world a word or
a thought any more than a deed which might help a
single soul. . . .
The "portfolios" were found, shortly after Emily Dickinson's death,
by her sister and only surviving housemate. Most of the poems had
been carefully copied on sheets of note-paper, and tied in little
fascicules, each of six or eight sheets. While many of them bear
evidence of having been thrown off at white heat, still more had
received thoughtful revision. There is the frequent addition of
rather perplexing foot-notes, affording large choice of words and
phrases. And in the copies which she sent to friends, sometimes one
form, sometimes another, is found to have been used. Without
important exception, her friends have generously placed at the
disposal of the Editors any poems they had received from her; and
these have given the obvious advantage of comparison among several
renderings of the same verse.
To what further rigorous pruning her verses would have been
subjected had she published them herself, we cannot know. They
should be regarded in many cases as merely the first strong and
suggestive sketches of an artist, intended to be embodied at some
time in the finished picture.
Emily Dickinson appears to have written her first poems in the
winter of 1862. In a letter to oone of the present Editors the
April following, she says, "I made no verse, but one or two, until
The handwriting was at first somewhat like the delicate, running
Italian hand of our elder gentlewomen; but as she advanced in
breadth of thought, it grew bolder and more abrupt, until in her
latest years each letter stood distinct and separate from its
fellows. In most of her poems, particularly the later ones,
everything by way of punctuation was discarded, except numerous
dashes; and all important words began with capitals. The effect of
a page of her more recent manuscript is exceedingly quaint and
strong. The fac-simile given in the present volume is from one of
the earlier transition periods. Although there is nowhere a date,
the handwriting makes it possible to arrange the poems with general
As a rule, the verses were without titles; but "A Country Burial,"
"A Thunder-Storm," "The Humming-Bird," and a few others were named
by their author, frequently at the end,--sometimes only in the
accompanying note, if sent to a friend.
The variation of readings, with the fact that she often wrote in
pencil and not always clearly, have at times thrown a good deal of
responsibility upon her Editors. But all interference not
absolutely inevitable has been avoided. The very roughness of her
rendering is part of herself, and not lightly to be touched; for it
seems in many cases that she intentionally avoided the smoother and
more usual rhymes.
Like impressionist pictures, or Wagner's rugged music, the very
absence of conventional form challenges attention. In Emily
Dickinson's exacting hands, the especial, intrinsic fitness of a
particular order of words might not be sacrificed to anything
virtually extrinsic; and her verses all show a strange cadence of
inner rhythmical music. Lines are always daringly constructed, and
the "thought-rhyme" appears frequently,--appealing, indeed, to an
unrecognized sense more elusive than hearing.
Emily Dickinson scrutinized everything with clear-eyed frankness.
Every subject was proper ground for legitimate study, even the
sombre facts of death and burial, and the unknown life beyond. She
touches these themes sometimes lightly, sometimes almost
humorously, more often with weird and peculiar power; but she is
never by any chance frivolous or trivial. And while, as one critic
has said, she may exhibit toward God "an Emersonian self-possession,"
it was because she looked upon all life with a candor as unprejudiced
as it is rare.
She had tried society and the world, and found them lacking. She
was not an invalid, and she lived in seclusion from no
love-disappointment. Her life was the normal blossoming of a nature
introspective to a high degree, whose best thought could not exist
Storm, wind, the wild March sky, sunsets and dawns; the birds and
bees, butterflies and flowers of her garden, with a few trusted
human friends, were sufficient companionship. The coming of the
first robin was a jubilee beyond crowning of monarch or birthday of
pope; the first red leaf hurrying through "the altered air," an
epoch. Immortality was close about her; and while never morbid or
melancholy, she lived in its presence.
MABEL LOOMIS TODD.
My nosegays are for captives;
Dim, long-expectant eyes,
Fingers denied the plucking,
Patient till paradise,
To such, if they should whisper
Of morning and the moor,
They bear no other errand,
And I, no other prayer.
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there 's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They 'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
I bring an unaccustomed wine
To lips long parching, next to mine,
And summon them to drink.
Crackling with fever, they essay;
I turn my brimming eyes away,
And come next hour to look.
The hands still hug the tardy glass;
The lips I would have cooled, alas!
Are so superfluous cold,
I would as soon attempt to warm
The bosoms where the frost has lain
Ages beneath the mould.
Some other thirsty there may be
To whom this would have pointed me
Had it remained to speak.
And so I always bear the cup
If, haply, mine may be the drop
Some pilgrim thirst to slake, --
If, haply, any say to me,
"Unto the little, unto me,"
When I at last awake.
The nearest dream recedes, unrealized.
The heaven we chase
Like the June bee
Before the school-boy
Invites the race;
Stoops to an easy clover --
Dips -- evades -- teases -- deploys;
Then to the royal clouds
Lifts his light pinnace
Heedless of the boy
Staring, bewildered, at the mocking sky.
Homesick for steadfast honey,
Ah! the bee flies not
That brews that rare variety.
We play at paste,
Till qualified for pearl,
Then drop the paste,
And deem ourself a fool.
The shapes, though, were similar,
And our new hands
I found the phrase 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 done in cochineal,
Or noon in mazarin?
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I 've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
THE WHITE HEAT.
Dare you see a soul at the white heat?
Then crouch within the door.
Red is the fire's common tint;
But when the vivid ore
Has sated flame's conditions,
Its quivering substance plays
Without a color but the light
Of unanointed blaze.
Least village boasts its blacksmith,
Whose anvil's even din
Stands symbol for the finer forge
That soundless tugs within,
Refining these impatient ores
With hammer and with blaze,
Until the designated light
Repudiate the forge.
Who never lost, are unprepared
A coronet to find;
Who never thirsted, flagons
And cooling tamarind.
Who never climbed the weary league --
Can such a foot explore
The purple territories
On Pizarro's shore?
How many legions overcome?
The emperor will say.
How many colors taken
On Revolution Day?
How many bullets bearest?
The royal scar hast thou?
Angels, write "Promoted"
On this soldier's brow!
I can wade grief,
Whole pools of it, --
I 'm used to that.
But the least push of joy
Breaks up my feet,
And I tip -- drunken.
Let no pebble smile,
'T was the new liquor, --
That was all!
Power is only pain,
Stranded, through discipline,
Till weights will hang.
Give balm to giants,
And they 'll wilt, like men.
Give Himmaleh, --
They 'll carry him!
I never hear the word "escape"
Without a quicker blood,
A sudden expectation,
A flying attitude.
I never hear of prisons broad
By soldiers battered down,
But I tug childish at my bars, --
Only to fail again!
For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.
For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.
Through the straight pass of suffering
The martyrs even trod,
Their feet upon temptation,
Their faces upon God.
A stately, shriven company;
Convulsion playing round,
Harmless as streaks of meteor
Upon a planet's bound.
Their faith the everlasting troth;
Their expectation fair;
The needle to the north degree
Wades so, through polar air.
I meant to have but modest needs,
Such as content, and heaven;
Within my income these could lie,
And life and I keep even.
But since the last included both,
It would suffice my prayer
But just for one to stipulate,
And grace would grant the pair.
And so, upon this wise I prayed, --
Great Spirit, give to me
A heaven not so large as yours,
But large enough for me.
A smile suffused Jehovah's face;
The cherubim withdrew;
Grave saints stole out to look at me,
And showed their dimples, too.
I left the place with all my might, --
My prayer away I threw;
The quiet ages picked it up,
And Judgment twinkled, too,
That one so honest be extant
As take the tale for true
That "Whatsoever you shall ask,
Itself be given you."
But I, grown shrewder, scan the skies
With a suspicious air, --
As children, swindled for the first,
All swindlers be, infer.
The thought beneath so slight a film
Is more distinctly seen, --
As laces just reveal the surge,
Or mists the Apennine.
The soul unto itself
Is an imperial friend, --
Or the most agonizing spy
An enemy could send.
Secure against its own,
No treason it can fear;
Itself its sovereign, of itself
The soul should stand in awe.
Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the culprit, -- Life!
THE RAILWAY TRAIN.
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 sides, 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.
The show is not the show,
But they that go.
Menagerie to me
My neighbor be.
Fair play --
Both went to see.
Delight becomes pictorial
When viewed through pain, --
More fair, because impossible
That any gain.
The mountain at a given distance
In amber lies;
Approached, the amber flits a little, --
And that 's the skies!
A thought went up my mind to-day
That I have had before,
But did not finish, -- some way back,
I could not fix the year,
Nor where it went, nor why it came
The second time to me,
Nor definitely what it was,
Have I the art to say.
But somewhere in my soul, I know
I 've met the thing before;
It just reminded me -- 't was all --
And came my way no more.
Is Heaven a physician?
They say that He can heal;
But medicine posthumous
Is Heaven an exchequer?
They speak of what we owe;
But that negotiation
I 'm not a party to.
Though I get home how late, how late!
So I get home, 't will compensate.
Better will be the ecstasy
That they have done expecting me,
When, night descending, dumb and dark,
They hear my unexpected knock.
Transporting must the moment be,
Brewed from decades of agony!
To think just how the fire will burn,
Just how long-cheated eyes will turn
To wonder what myself will say,
And what itself will say to me,
Beguiles the centuries of way!
A poor torn heart, a tattered heart,
That sat it down to rest,
Nor noticed that the ebbing day
Flowed silver to the west,
Nor noticed night did soft descend
Nor constellation burn,
Intent upon the vision
Of latitudes unknown.
The angels, happening that way,
This dusty heart espied;
Tenderly took it up from toil
And carried it to God.
There, -- sandals for the barefoot;
There, -- gathered from the gales,
Do the blue havens by the hand
Lead the wandering sails.
I should have been too glad, I see,
Too lifted for the scant degree
Of life's penurious round;
My little circuit would have shamed
This new circumference, have blamed
The homelier time behind.
I should have been too saved, I see,
Too rescued; fear too dim to me
That I could spell the prayer
I knew so perfect yesterday, --
That scalding one, "Sabachthani,"
Recited fluent here.
Earth would have been too much, I see,
And heaven not enough for me;
I should have had the joy
Without the fear to justify, --
The palm without the Calvary;
So, Saviour, crucify.
Defeat whets victory, they say;
The reefs in old Gethsemane
Endear the shore beyond.
'T is beggars banquets best define;
'T is thirsting vitalizes wine, --
Faith faints to understand.
It tossed and tossed, --
A little brig I knew, --
O'ertook by blast,
It spun and spun,
And groped delirious, for morn.
It slipped and slipped,
As one that drunken stepped;
Its white foot tripped,
Then dropped from sight.
Ah, brig, good-night
To crew and you;
The ocean's heart too smooth, too blue,
To break for you.
Victory comes late,
And is held low to freezing lips
Too rapt with frost
To take it.
How sweet it would have tasted,
Just a drop!
Was God so economical?
His table 's spread too high for us
Unless we dine on tip-toe.
Crumbs fit such little mouths,
Cherries suit robins;
The eagle's golden breakfast
God keeps his oath to sparrows,
Who of little love
Know how to starve!
God gave a loaf to every bird,
But just a crumb to me;
I dare not eat it, though I starve, --
My poignant luxury
To own it, touch it, prove the feat
That made the pellet mine, --
Too happy in my sparrow chance
For ampler coveting.
It might be famine all around,
I could not miss an ear,
Such plenty smiles upon my board,
My garner shows so fair.
I wonder how the rich may feel, --
An Indiaman -- an Earl?
I deem that I with but a crumb
Am sovereign of them all.
Experiment to me
Is every one I meet.
If it contain a kernel?
The figure of a nut
Presents upon a tree,
But meat within is requisite,
To squirrels and to me.
MY COUNTRY'S WARDROBE.
My country need not change her gown,
Her triple suit as sweet
As when 't was cut at Lexington,
And first pronounced "a fit."
Great Britain disapproves "the stars;"
Disparagement discreet, --
There 's something in their attitude
That taunts her bayonet.
Faith is a fine invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency!
Except the heaven had come so near,
So seemed to choose my door,
The distance would not haunt me so;
I had not hoped before.
But just to hear the grace depart
I never thought to see,
Afflicts me with a double loss;
'T is lost, and lost to me.
Portraits are to daily faces
As an evening west
To a fine, pedantic sunshine
In a satin vest.
I took my power in my hand.
And went against the world;
'T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.
I aimed my pebble, but myself
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?
A shady friend for torrid days
Is easier to find
Than one of higher temperature
For frigid hour of mind.
The vane a little to the east
Scares muslin souls away;
If broadcloth breasts are firmer
Than those of organdy,
Who is to blame? The weaver?
Ah! the bewildering thread!
The tapestries of paradise
So notelessly are made!
Each life converges to some centre
Expressed or still;
Exists in every human nature
Admitted scarcely to itself, it may be,
For credibility's temerity
Adored with caution, as a brittle heaven,
Were hopeless as the rainbow's raiment
Yet persevered toward, surer for the distance;
Unto the saints' slow diligence
Ungained, it may be, by a life's low venture,
Eternity enables the endeavoring
Before I got my eye put out,
I liked as well to see
As other creatures that have eyes,
And know no other way.
But were it told to me, to-day,
That I might have the sky
For mine, I tell you that my heart
Would split, for size of me.
The meadows mine, the mountains mine, --
All forests, stintless stars,
As much of noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes.
The motions of the dipping birds,
The lightning's jointed road,
For mine to look at when I liked, --
The news would strike me dead!
So safer, guess, with just my soul
Upon the window-pane
Where other creatures put their eyes,
Incautious of the sun.
Talk with prudence to a beggar
Of 'Potosi' and the mines!
Reverently to the hungry
Of your viands and your wines!
Cautious, hint to any captive
You have passed enfranchised feet!
Anecdotes of air in dungeons
Have sometimes proved deadly sweet!
He preached upon "breadth" till it argued him narrow, --
The broad are too broad to define;
And of "truth" until it proclaimed him a liar, --
The truth never flaunted a sign.
Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As gold the pyrites would shun.
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a man!
Good night! which put the candle out?
A jealous zephyr, not a doubt.
Ah! friend, you little knew
How long at that celestial wick
The angels labored diligent;
Extinguished, now, for you!
It might have been the lighthouse spark
Some sailor, rowing in the dark,
Had importuned to see!
It might have been the waning lamp
That lit the drummer from the camp
To purer reveille!
When I hoped I feared,
Since I hoped I dared;
As a church remain;
Spectre cannot harm,
Serpent cannot charm;
He deposes doom,
Who hath suffered him.
A deed knocks first at thought,
And then it knocks at will.
That is the manufacturing spot,
And will at home and well.
It then goes out an act,
Or is entombed so still
That only to the ear of God
Its doom is audible.
Mine enemy is growing old, --
I have at last revenge.
The palate of the hate departs;
If any would avenge, --
Let him be quick, the viand flits,
It is a faded meat.
Anger as soon as fed is dead;
'T is starving makes it fat.
Remorse is memory awake,
Her companies astir, --
A presence of departed acts
At window and at door.
It's past set down before the soul,
And lighted with a match,
Perusal to facilitate
Of its condensed despatch.
Remorse is cureless, -- the disease
Not even God can heal;
For 't is his institution, --
The complement of hell.
The body grows outside, --
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 timid honesty.
Undue significance a starving man attaches
Far off; he sighs, and therefore hopeless,
And therefore good.
Partaken, it relieves indeed, but proves us
That spices fly
In the receipt. It was the distance
Heart not so heavy as mine,
Wending late home,
As it passed my window
Whistled itself a tune, --
A careless snatch, a ballad,
A ditty of the street;
Yet to my irritated ear
An anodyne so sweet,
It was as if a bobolink,
Sauntering this way,
Carolled and mused and carolled,
Then bubbled slow away.
It was as if a chirping brook
Upon a toilsome way
Set bleeding feet to minuets
Without the knowing why.
To-morrow, night will come again,
Weary, perhaps, and sore.
Ah, bugle, by my window,
I pray you stroll once more!
I many times thought peace had come,
When peace was far away;
As wrecked men deem they sight the land
At centre of the sea,
And struggle slacker, but to prove,
As hopelessly as I,
How many the fictitious shores
Before the harbor lie.
Unto my books so good to turn
Far ends of tired days;
It half endears the abstinence,
And pain is missed in praise.
As flavors cheer retarded guests
With banquetings to be,
So spices stimulate the time
Till my small library.
It may be wilderness without,
Far feet of failing men,
But holiday excludes the night,
And it is bells within.
I thank these kinsmen of the shelf;
Their countenances bland
Enamour in prospective,
And satisfy, obtained.
This merit hath the worst, --
It cannot be again.
When Fate hath taunted last
And thrown her furthest stone,
The maimed may pause and breathe,
And glance securely round.
The deer invites no longer
Than it eludes the hound.
I had been hungry all the years;
My noon had come, to dine;
I, trembling, drew the table near,
And touched the curious wine.