The night was wide, and furnished scant
With but a single star,
That often as a cloud it met
Blew out itself for fear.
The wind pursued the little bush,
And drove away the leaves
November left; then clambered up
And fretted in the eaves.

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,

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!
My nosegays are for captives;
Dim, long-expectant eyes,
Fingers denied the plucking,
Patient till paradise,

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;

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.

I'll tell you how the sun rose, --
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun!"

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!

I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too --
And angels know the rest.
I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

I think the hemlock likes to stand
Upon a marge of snow;
It suits his own austerity,
And satisfies an awe
That men must slake in wilderness,
Or in the desert cloy, --
An instinct for the hoar, the bald,
Lapland's necessity.

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.

The quiet nonchalance of death
No daybreak can bestir;
The slow archangel's syllables
Must awaken her.
My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I'm feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.

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 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.

Coach it insures, and footmen,
Chamber and state and throng;
Bells, also, in the village,
As we ride grand along.
What dignified attendants,
What service when we pause!
How loyally at parting
Their hundred hats they raise!

The rose did caper on her cheek,
Her bodice rose and fell,
Her pretty speech, like drunken men,
Did stagger pitiful.
Her fingers fumbled at her work, --
Her needle would not go;
What ailed so smart a little maid
It puzzled me to know,
Till opposite I spied a cheek
That bore another rose;
Just opposite, another speech
That like the drunkard goes;

This is the sovereign anguish,
This, the signal woe!
These are the patient laureates
Whose voices, trained below,
Ascend in ceaseless carol,
Inaudible, indeed,
To us, the duller scholars
Of the mysterious bard!
I years had been from home,
And now, before the door,
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

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;

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.

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;

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!
Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

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