Emily Dickinson – Selected Poems


Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards — day!


ROUGE GAGNE.

‘T is so much joy! ‘T is so much joy!
If I should fail, what poverty!
And yet, as poor as I
Have ventured all upon a throw;
Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so
This side the victory!

Life is but life, and death but death!
Bliss is but bliss, and breath but breath!
And if, indeed, I fail,
At least to know the worst is sweet.
Defeat means nothing but defeat,
No drearier can prevail!

And if I gain, — oh, gun at sea,
Oh, bells that in the steeples be,
At first repeat it slow!
For heaven is a different thing
Conjectured, and waked sudden in,
And might o’erwhelm me so!


SUCCESS.

[Published in “A Masque of Poets”
at the request of “H.H.,” the author’s
fellow-townswoman and friend.]

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear!


The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.


IN A LIBRARY.

A precious, mouldering pleasure ‘t is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

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;

When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
The gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true;
He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,
You beg him not to go;
Old volumes shake their vellum heads
And tantalize, just so.


PROBLEMS.

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up,
    And say how many dew;
Tell me how far the morning leaps,
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
    Who spun the breadths of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new robin’s ecstasy
    Among astonished boughs;
How many trips the tortoise makes,
How many cups the bee partakes, —
    The debauchee of dews!

Also, who laid the rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
    By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite,
Who counts the wampum of the night,
    To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban house
And shut the windows down so close
    My spirit cannot see?
Who ‘ll let me out some gala day,
With implements to fly away,
    Passing pomposity?


MY CRICKET.

Farther in summer than the birds,
Pathetic from the grass,
A minor nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive mass.

No ordinance is seen,
So gradual the grace,
A pensive custom it becomes,
Enlarging loneliness.

Antiquest felt at noon
When August, burning low,
Calls forth this spectral canticle,
Repose to typify.

Remit as yet no grace,
No furrow on the glow,
Yet a druidic difference
Enhances nature now.


More from Philo Culturo

Philo Culturo Free Texts

Analyzing Literature

Analyzing Pop Culture

Essay Writing Tips

How to Create Citations in MLA

Critical Concepts & Critical Theory

Instructor Resources

%d bloggers like this: