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.

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.

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.

'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.

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.

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 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."

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

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.

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!

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?

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.

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 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.

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!

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.

His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.
His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;
What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty.
And Sophocles a man;

I said I gained it, --
This was all.
Look, how I clutch it,
Lest it fall,
And I a pauper go;
Unfitted by an instant's grace
For the contented beggar's face
I wore an hour ago.
To learn the transport by the pain,
As blind men learn the sun;
To die of thirst, suspecting
That brooks in meadows run;

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.
Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.
I've known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

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!

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