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Down Time's quaint stream

Down Time's quaint stream

Without an oar

We are enforced to sail

Our Port a secret

Our Perchance a Gale

What Skipper would

Incur the Risk

What Buccaneer would ride

Without a surety from the Wind

Or schedule of the Tide -

I should not dare to leave my friend

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!

If I can stop one heart from breaking

IF I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

‘Twould ease – a Butterfly

'Twould ease — a Butterfly —

Elate — a Bee —

Thou'rt neither —

Neither — thy capacity —

But, Blossom, were I,

I would rather be

Thy moment

Than a Bee's Eternity —

Content of fading

Is enough for me —

Fade I unto Divinity —

And Dying — Lifetime —

Ample as the Eye —

Her least attention raise on me

If those I loved were lost

If those I loved were lost

The Crier's voice would tell me --

If those I loved were found

The bells of Ghent would ring --

Did those I loved repose

The Daisy would impel me.

Philip -- when bewildered

Bore his riddle in!

I dwell in Possiblility

I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –

Impregnable of eye –

And for an everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –

For Occupation – This –

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise –

Hope is the thing with feathers

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.

A Bird, came down the Walk

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

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 Boy, and Barefoot –

I more than once at Noon

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 –

Ample make this bed

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

Safe in their alabaster chambers

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.

Wild Nights—Wild Nights!

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
In thee!

I died for Beauty

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.

Apparently with no surprise

Apparently with no surprise

To any happy flower,

The frost beheads it at its play

In accidental power.

The blond assassin passes on,

The sun proceeds unmoved

To measure off another day

For an approving God.

It was not Death, for I stood up

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 Sirocos—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 'twas 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 Measure Every Grief I Meet

I measure every Grief I meet

With narrow, probing, 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,

It would be to die.

I note that Some, gone patient long,
At length, renew their smile,

An imitation of a Light

That has so little Oil,

I wonder if when years have piled--

Some thousands--on the Harm -

That hurt them early, such a lapse

Could give them any Balm;

Or would they go on aching still

Through centuries of Nerve,

Enlightened to a larger Pain

In contrast with the Love.

The Grieved are many, I am told;

There is the various Cause,

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

And how they’re mostly worn

Still fascinated to presume

That Some are like my Own.

Heaven is what I cannot reach!

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!

Her teasing Purples—Afternoons—
The credulous—decoy—
Enamored—of the Conjuror—
That spurned us—Yesterday!


Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

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 strove

At recess, in the ring;

We passed the fields of gazing grain,

We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;

The dews grew quivering and chill,

For only gossamer my gown,

My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed

A swelling of the ground;

The roof was scarcely visible,

The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the horses' heads

Were toward eternity.

Indian Summer

These are the days when Birds come back

A very few—a Bird or two

To take a backward look

These are the days when skies resume

The old—old sophistries of June

A blue and gold mistake

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee

Almost thy plausibility

Induces my belief

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear

And softly thro' the altered air

Hurries a timid leaf

Oh Sacrament of summer days

Oh Last Communion in the Haze

Permit a child to join

Thy sacred emblems to partake

They consecrated bread to take

And thine immortal wine!

'Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe –

'Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe –

'Tis dimmer than a Lace –

No stature has it, like a Fog

When you approach the place –

Not any voice imply it here –

Or intimate it there –

A spirit – how doth it accost –

What function hath the Air?

This limitless Hyperbole

Each one of us shall be –

'Tis Drama – if Hypothesis

It be not Tragedy –