The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

1680

Sometimes with the Heart
Seldom with the Soul
Scarcer once with the Might
Few—love at all.

54

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!
’Tis 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!

1764

The saddest noise, the sweetest noise,
  The maddest noise that grows,—
The birds, they make it in the spring,
  At night’s delicious close.

Between the March and April line—
  That magical frontier
Beyond which summer hesitates,
  Almost too heavenly near.

It makes us think of all the dead
  That sauntered with us here,
By separation’s sorcery
  Made cruelly more dear.

It makes us think of what we had,
  And what we now deplore.
We almost wish those siren throats
  Would go and sing no more.

An ear can break a human heart
  As quickly as a spear,
We wish the ear had not a heart
  So dangerously near.

1705

Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my Geography—
Volcanos nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to climb—
A Crater I may contemplate
Vesuvius at Home.

721

Behind Me—dips Eternity—
Before Me—Immortality—
Myself—the Term between—
Death but the Drift of Eastern Gray,
Dissolving into Dawn away,
Before the West begin—

’Tis Kingdoms—afterward—they say—
In perfect—pauseless Monarchy—
Whose Prince—is Son of None—
Himself—His Dateless Dynasty—
Himself—Himself diversify—
In Duplicate divine—

’Tis Miracle before Me—then—
’Tis Miracle behind—between—
A Crescent in the Sea—
With Midnight to the North of Her—
And Midnight to the South of Her—
And Maelstrom—in the Sky—

668

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

1035

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due—

The Frogs got Home last Week—
Are settled, and at work—
Birds, mostly back—
The Clover warm and thick—

You’ll get my Letter by
The seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me—
Yours, Fly.

1400

What mystery pervades a well!
That water lives so far—
A neighbor from another world
Residing in a jar

Whose limit none have ever seen,
But just his lid of glass—
Like looking every time you please
In an abyss’s face!

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

Related somehow they may be,
The sedge stands next the sea—
Where he is floorless
And does no timidity betray

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.

480

“Why do I love” You, Sir?
Because—
The Wind does not require the Grass
To answer—Wherefore when He pass
She cannot keep Her place.

Because He knows—and
Do not You—
And We know not—
Enough for Us
The Wisdom it be so—

The Lightning—never asked an Eye
Wherefore it shut—when He was by—
Because He knows it cannot speak—
And reasons not contained—
—Of Talk—
There be—preferred by Daintier Folk—

The Sunrise—Sire—compelleth Me—
Because He’s Sunrise—and I see—
Therefore—Then—
I love Thee—

419

We grow accustomed to the Dark—
When light is put away—
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye—

A Moment—We uncertain step
For newness of the night—
Then—fit our Vision to the Dark—
And meet the Road—erect—

And so of larger—Darkness—
Those Evenings of the Brain—
When not a Moon disclose a sign—
Or Star—come out—within—

The Bravest—grope a little—
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead—
But as they learn to see—

Either the Darkness alters—
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight—
And Life steps almost straight.

348

I dreaded that first Robin, so,
But He is mastered, now,
I’m accustomed to Him grown,
He hurts a little, though—

I thought If I could only live
Till that first Shout got by—
Not all Pianos in the Woods
Had power to mangle me—

I dared not meet the Daffodils—
For fear their Yellow Gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own—

I wished the Grass would hurry—
So—when ’twas time to see—
He’d be too tall, the tallest one
Could stretch—to look at me—

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

They’re here, though; not a creature failed—
No Blossom stayed away
In gentle deference to me—
The Queen of Calvary—

Each one salutes me, as he goes,
And I, my childish Plumes,
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment
Of their unthinking Drums—

1277

While we were fearing it, it came—
But came with less of fear
Because that fearing it so long
Had almost made it fair—

There is a Fitting—a Dismay—
A Fitting—a Despair
’Tis harder knowing it is Due
Than knowing it is Here.

They Trying on the Utmost
The Morning it is new
Is Terribler than wearing it
A whole existence through.

593

I think I was enchanted
When first a sombre Girl—
I read that Foreign Lady—
The Dark—felt beautiful—

And whether it was noon at night—
Or only Heaven—at Noon—
For very Lunacy of Light
I had not power to tell—

The Bees—became as Butterflies—
The Butterflies—as Swans—
Approached—and spurned the narrow Grass—
And just the meanest Tunes

That Nature murmured to herself
To keep herself in Cheer—
I took for Giants—practising
Titanic Opera—

The Days—to Mighty Metres stept—
The Homeliest—adorned
As if unto a Jubilee
’Twere suddenly confirmed—

I could not have defined the change—
Conversion of the Mind
Like Sanctifying in the Soul—
Is witnessed—not explained—

’Twas a Divine Insanity—
The Danger to be Sane
Should I again experience—
’Tis Antidote to turn—

To Tomes of solid Witchcraft—
Magicians be asleep—
But Magic—hath an Element
Like Deity—to keep—

1695

There is a solitude of space
A solitude of sea
A solitude of death, but these
Society shall be
Compared with that profounder site
That polar privacy
A soul admitted to itself—
Finite infinity.

917

Love—is anterior to Life—
Posterior—to Death—
Initial of Creation, and
The Exponent of Earth—

824

[first version]

The Wind begun to knead the Grass—
As Women do a Dough—
He flung a Hand full at the Plain—
A Hand full 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 Street—
The Thunders gossiped low—
The Lightning showed a Yellow Head—
And then a livid Toe—
The Birds put up the Bars to Nests—
The Cattle flung to Barns—
Then 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—

[second version]

The Wind begun to rock the Grass
With threatening Tunes and low—
He threw 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 threw 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—

1090

I am afraid to own a Body—
I am afraid to own a Soul—
Profound—precarious Property—
Possession, not optional—

Double Estate—entailed at pleasure
Upon an unsuspecting Heir—
Duke in a moment of Deathlessness
And God, for a Frontier.

1332

Pink—small—and punctual—
Aromatic—low—
Covert—in April—
Candid—in May—
Dear to the Moss—
Known to the Knoll—
Next to the Robin
In every human Soul—
Bold little Beauty
Bedecked with thee
Nature forswears
Antiquity—

579

I had been hungry, all the Years—
My Noon had Come—to dine—
I trembling drew the Table near—
And touched the Curious Wine—

’Twas this on Tables I had seen—
When turning, hungry, Home
I looked in Windows, for the Wealth
I could not hope—for Mine—

I did not know the ample Bread—
’Twas so unlike the Crumb
The Birds and I, had often shared
In Nature’s—Dining Room—

The Plenty hurt me—’twas so new—
Myself felt ill—and odd—
As Berry—of a Mountain Bush—
Transplanted—to a Road—

Nor was I hungry—so I found
That Hunger—was a way
Of Persons outside Windows—
The Entering—takes away—

1158

Best Witchcraft is Geometry
To the magician’s mind—
His ordinary acts are feats
To thinking of mankind.

629

I watched the Moon around the House
Until upon a Pane—
She stopped—a Traveller’s privilege—for Rest—
And there upon

I gazed—as at a stranger—
The Lady in the Town
Doth think no incivility
To lift her Glass—upon—

But never Stranger justified
The Curiosity
Like Mine—for not a Foot—nor Hand—
Nor Formula—had she—

But like a Head—a Guillotine
Slid carelessly away—
Did independent, Amber—
Sustain her in the sky—

Or like a Stemless Flower—
Upheld in rolling Air
By finer Gravitations—
Than bind Philosopher—

No Hunger—had she—nor an Inn—
Her Toilette—to suffice—
Nor Avocation—nor Concern
For little Mysteries

As harass us—like Life—and Death—
And Afterwards—or Nay—
But seemed engrossed to Absolute—
With shining—and the Sky—

The privilege to scrutinize
Was scarce upon my Eyes
When, with a Silver practise—
She vaulted out of Gaze—

And next—I met her on a Cloud—
Myself too far below
To follow her superior Road—
Or its advantage—Blue—

1765

That Love is all there is,
Is all we know of Love;
It is enough, the freight should be
Proportioned to the groove.

1233

Had I not seen the Sun
I could have borne the shade
But Light a newer Wilderness
My Wilderness has made—

1227

My Triumph lasted till the Drums
Had left the Dead alone
And then I dropped my Victory
And chastened stole along
To where the finished Faces
Conclusion turned on me
And then I hated Glory
And wished myself were They.

What is to be is best descried
When it has also been—
Could Prospect taste of Retrospect
The tyrannies of Men
Were Tenderer—diviner
The Transitive toward.
A Bayonet’s contrition
Is nothing to the Dead.

1551

Those—dying then,
Knew where they went—
They went to God’s Right Hand—
That Hand is amputated now
And God cannot be found—

The abdication of Belief
Makes the Behavior small—
Better an ignis fatuus
Than no illume at all—

465

I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air—
Between the Heaves of Storm—

The Eyes around—had wrung them dry—
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset—when the King
Be witnessed—in the Room—

I willed my Keepsakes—Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable—and then it was
There interposed a Fly—

With Blue—uncertain stumbling Buzz—
Between the light—and me—
And then the Windows failed—and then
I could not see to see—

1260

Because that you are going
And never coming back
And I, however absolute,
May overlook your Track—

Because that Death is final,
However first it be,
This instant be suspended
Above Mortality—

Significance that each has lived
The other to detect
Discovery not God himself
Could now annihilate

Eternity, Presumption
The instant I perceive
That you, who were Existence
Yourself forgot to live—

The “Life that is” will then have been
A thing I never knew—
As Paradise fictitious
Until the Realm of you—

The “Life that is to be,” to me,
A Residence too plain
Unless in my Redeemer’s Face
I recognize your own—

Of Immortality who doubts
He may exchange with me
Curtailed by your obscuring Face
Of everything but He—

Of Heaven and Hell I also yield
The Right to reprehend
To whoso would commute this Face
For his less priceless Friend.

If “God is Love” as he admits
We think that me must be
Because he is a “jealous God”
He tells us certainly

If “All is possible with” him
As he besides concedes
He will refund us finally
Our confiscated Gods—

288

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one’s name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!

1654

Beauty crowds me till I die
Beauty mercy have on me
But if I expire today
Let it be in sight of thee—

1026

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 Certainty that one
No color in the Rainbow
Perceive, when you are gone.

745

Renunciation—is a piercing Virtue—
The letting go
A Presence—for an Expectation—
Not now—
The putting out of Eyes—
Just Sunrise—
Lest Day—
Day’s Great Progenitor—
Outvie
Renunciation—is the Choosing
Against itself—
Itself to justify
Unto itself—
When larger function—
Make that appear—
Smaller—that Covered Vision—Here—

1664

I did not reach Thee
But my feet slip nearer every day
Three Rivers and a Hill to cross
One Desert and a Sea
I shall not count the journey one
When I am telling thee.

Two deserts, but the Year is cold
So that will help the sand
One desert crossed—
The second one
Will feel as cool as land
Sahara is too little price
To pay for thy Right hand.

The Sea comes last—Step merry, feet,
So short we have to go—
To play together we are prone,
But we must labor now,
The last shall be the lightest load
That we have had to draw.

The Sun goes crooked—
That is Night
Before he makes the bend.
We must have passed the Middle Sea—
Almost we wish the End
Were further off—
Too great it seems
So near the Whole to stand.

We step like Plush,
We stand like snow,
The waters murmur new.
Three rivers and the Hill are passed—
Two deserts and the sea!
Now Death usurps my Premium
And gets the look at Thee.

748

Autumn—overlooked my Knitting—
Dyes—said He—have I—
Could disparage a Flamingo—
Show Me them—said I—

Cochineal—I chose—for deeming
It resemble Thee—
And the little Border—Dusker—
For resembling Me—

470

I am alive—I guess—
The Branches on my Hand
Are full of Morning Glory—
And at my finger’s end—

The Carmine—tingles warm—
And if I hold a Glass
Across my Mouth—it blurs it—
Physician’s—proof of Breath—

I am alive—because
I am not in a Room—
The Parlor—Commonly—it is—
So Visitors may come—

And lean—and view it sidewise—
And add “How cold—it grew”—
And “Was it conscious—when it stepped
In Immortality?”

I am alive—because
I do not own a House—
Entitled to myself—precise—
And fitting no one else—

And marked my Girlhood’s name—
So Visitors may know
Which Door is mine—and not

1331

Wonder—is not precisely Knowing
And not precisely Knowing not—
A beautiful but bleak condition
He has not lived who has not felt—

Suspense—is his maturer Sister—
Whether Adult Delight is Pain
Or of itself a new misgiving—
This is the Gnat that mangles men—

1125

Oh Sumptuous moment
Slower go
That I may gloat on thee—
’Twill never be the same to starve
Now I abundance see—

Which was to famish, then or now—
The difference of Day
Ask him unto the Gallows led—
With morning in the sky—

156

You love me—you are sure—
I shall not fear mistake—
I shall not cheated wake—
Some grinning morn—
To find the Sunrise left—
And Orchards—unbereft—
And Dollie—gone!

I need not start—you’re sure—
That night will never be—
When frightened—home to Thee I run—
To find the windows dark—
And no more Dollie—mark—
Quite none?

Be sure you’re sure—you know—
I’ll bear it better now—
If you’ll just tell me so—
Than when—a little dull Balm grown—
Over this pain of mine—
You sting—again!

494

Going to Him! Happy letter!
Tell Him—
Tell Him the page I didn’t write—
Tell Him—I only said the Syntax—
And left the Verb and the pronoun out—
Tell Him just how the fingers hurried—
Then—how they waded—slow—slow—
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages—
So you could see what moved them so—

Tell Him—it wasn’t a Practised Writer—
You guessed—from the way the sentence toiled—
You could hear the Bodice tug, behind you—
As if it held but the might of a child—
You almost pitied it—you—it worked so—
Tell Him—no—you may quibble there—
For it would split His Heart, to know it—
And then you and I, were silenter.

Tell Him—Night finished—before we finished—
And the Old Clock kept neighing “Day”!
And you—got sleepy—and begged to be ended—
What could it hinder so—to say?
Tell Him—just how she sealed you—Cautious!
But—if He ask where you are hid
Until tomorrow—Happy letter!
Gesture Coquette—and shake your Head!

1261

A Word dropped careless on a Page
May stimulate an eye
When folded in perpetual seam
The Wrinkled Maker lie

Infection in the sentence breeds
We may inhale Despair
At distances of Centuries
From the Malaria—

1696

These are the days that Reindeer love
And pranks the Northern star—
This is the Sun’s objective,
And Finland of the Year.

705

Suspense—is Hostiler than Death—
Death—tho’soever Broad,
Is Just Death, and cannot increase—
Suspense—does not conclude—

But perishes—to live anew—
But just anew to die—
Annihilation—plated fresh
With Immortality—

1719

God is indeed a jealous God—
He cannot bear to see
That we had rather not with Him
But with each other play.

182

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 fast asleep,
You will know I’m trying
Why my Granite lip!

1585

The Bird her punctual music brings
And lays it in its place—
Its place is in the Human Heart
And in the Heavenly Grace—
What respite from her thrilling toil
Did Beauty ever take—
But Work might be electric Rest
To those that Magic make—

436

The Wind—tapped like a tired Man—
And like a Host—”Come in”
I boldly answered—entered then
My Residence within

A Rapid—footless Guest—
To offer whom a Chair
Were as impossible as hand
A Sofa to the Air—

No Bone had He to bind Him—
His Speech was like the Push
Of numerous Humming Birds at once
From a superior Bush—

His Countenance—a Billow—
His Fingers, as He passed
Let go a music—as of tunes
Blown tremulous in Glass—

He visited—still flitting—
Then like a timid Man
Again, He tapped—’twas flurriedly—
And I became alone—

1276

’Twas later when the summer went
Than when the Cricket came—
And yet we knew that gentle Clock
Meant nought but Going Home—
’Twas sooner when the Cricket went
Than when the Winter came
Yet that pathetic Pendulum
Keeps esoteric Time.

1445

Death is the supple Suitor
That wins at last—
It is a stealthy Wooing
Conducted first
By pallid innuendoes
And dim approach
But brave at last with Bugles
And a bisected Coach
It bears away in triumph
To Troth unknown
And Kindred as responsive
As Porcelain.

575

“Heaven” has different Signs—to me—
Sometimes, I think that Noon
Is but a symbol of the Place—
And when again, at Dawn,

A mighty look runs round the World
And settles in the Hills—
An Awe if it should be like that
Upon the Ignorance steals—

The Orchard, when the Sun is on—
The Triumph of the Birds
When they together Victory make—
Some Carnivals of Clouds—

The Rapture of a finished Day—
Returning to the West—
All these—remind us of the place
That Men call “paradise”—

Itself be fairer—we suppose—
But how Ourself, shall be
Adorned, for a Superior Grace—
Not yet, our eyes can see—

1619

Not knowing when the Dawn will come,
I open every Door,
Or has it Feathers, like a Bird,
Or Billows, like a Shore—

1255

Longing is like the Seed
That wrestles in the Ground,
Believing if it intercede
It shall at length be found.

The Hour, and the Clime—
Each Circumstance unknown,
What Constancy must be achieved
Before it see the Sun!

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