Poems, by Emily Dickinson

II. Love.



Mine by the right of the white election!

Mine by the royal seal!

Mine by the sign in the scarlet prison

Bars cannot conceal!

Mine, here in vision and in veto!

Mine, by the grave’s repeal

Titled, confirmed, — delirious charter!

Mine, while the ages steal!



You left me, sweet, two legacies, —

A legacy of love

A Heavenly Father would content,

Had He the offer of;

You left me boundaries of pain

Capacious as the sea,

Between eternity and time,

Your consciousness and me.


Alter? When the hills do.

Falter? When the sun

Question if his glory

Be the perfect one.

Surfeit? When the daffodil

Doth of the dew:

Even as herself, O friend!

I will of you!



Elysium is as far as to

The very nearest room,

If in that room a friend await

Felicity or doom.

What fortitude the soul contains,

That it can so endure

The accent of a coming foot,

The opening of a door!



Doubt me, my dim companion!

Why, God would be content

With but a fraction of the love

Poured thee without a stint.

The whole of me, forever,

What more the woman can, —

Say quick, that I may dower thee

With last delight I own!

It cannot be my spirit,

For that was thine before;

I ceded all of dust I knew, —

What opulence the more

Had I, a humble maiden,

Whose farthest of degree

Was that she might,

Some distant heaven,

Dwell timidly with thee!


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.

If only centuries delayed,

I’d count them on my hand,

Subtracting till my fingers dropped

Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,

That yours and mine should be,

I’d toss it yonder like a rind,

And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length

Of time’s uncertain wing,

It goads me, like the goblin bee,

That will not state its sting.


With a Flower.

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.



That I did always love,

I bring thee proof:

That till I loved

I did not love enough.

That I shall love alway,

I offer thee

That love is life,

And life hath immortality.

This, dost thou doubt, sweet?

Then have I

Nothing to show

But Calvary.


Have you got a brook in your little heart,

Where bashful flowers blow,

And blushing birds go down to drink,

And shadows tremble so?

And nobody knows, so still it flows,

That any brook is there;

And yet your little draught of life

Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,

When the rivers overflow,

And the snows come hurrying from the hills,

And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,

When the meadows parching lie,

Beware, lest this little brook of life

Some burning noon go dry!



As if some little Arctic flower,

Upon the polar hem,

Went wandering down the latitudes,

Until it puzzled came

To continents of summer,

To firmaments of sun,

To strange, bright crowds of flowers,

And birds of foreign tongue!

I say, as if this little flower

To Eden wandered in —

What then? Why, nothing, only,

Your inference therefrom!


The Outlet.

My river runs to thee:

Blue sea, wilt welcome me?

My river waits reply.

Oh sea, look graciously!

I’ll fetch thee brooks

From spotted nooks, —

Say, sea,

Take me!


In Vain.

I cannot live with you,

It would be life,

And life is over there

Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,

Putting up

Our life, his porcelain,

Like a cup

Discarded of the housewife,

Quaint or broken;

A newer Sevres pleases,

Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,

For one must wait

To shut the other’s gaze down, —

You could not.

And I, could I stand by

And see you freeze,

Without my right of frost,

Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,

Because your face

Would put out Jesus’,

That new grace

Glow plain and foreign

On my homesick eye,

Except that you, than he

Shone closer by.

They’d judge us — how?

For you served Heaven, you know,

Or sought to;

I could not,

Because you saturated sight,

And I had no more eyes

For sordid excellence

As Paradise.

And were you lost, I would be,

Though my name

Rang loudest

On the heavenly fame.

And were you saved,

And I condemned to be

Where you were not,

That self were hell to me.

So we must keep apart,

You there, I here,

With just the door ajar

That oceans are,

And prayer,

And that pale sustenance,




There came a day at summer’s full

Entirely for me;

I thought that such were for the saints,

Where revelations be.

The sun, as common, went abroad,

The flowers, accustomed, blew,

As if no soul the solstice passed

That maketh all things new.

The time was scarce profaned by speech;

The symbol of a word

Was needless, as at sacrament

The wardrobe of our Lord.

Each was to each the sealed church,

Permitted to commune this time,

Lest we too awkward show

At supper of the Lamb.

The hours slid fast, as hours will,

Clutched tight by greedy hands;

So faces on two decks look back,

Bound to opposing lands.

And so, when all the time had failed,

Without external sound,

Each bound the other’s crucifix,

We gave no other bond.

Sufficient troth that we shall rise —

Deposed, at length, the grave —

To that new marriage, justified

Through Calvaries of Love!


Love’s Baptism.

I’m ceded, I’ve stopped being theirs;

The name they dropped upon my face

With water, in the country church,

Is finished using now,

And they can put it with my dolls,

My childhood, and the string of spools

I’ve finished threading too.

Baptized before without the choice,

But this time consciously, of grace

Unto supremest name,

Called to my full, the crescent dropped,

Existence’s whole arc filled up

With one small diadem.

My second rank, too small the first,

Crowned, crowing on my father’s breast,

A half unconscious queen;

But this time, adequate, erect,

With will to choose or to reject.

And I choose — just a throne.



’T was a long parting, but the time

For interview had come;

Before the judgment-seat of God,

The last and second time

These fleshless lovers met,

A heaven in a gaze,

A heaven of heavens, the privilege

Of one another’s eyes.

No lifetime set on them,

Apparelled as the new

Unborn, except they had beheld,

Born everlasting now.

Was bridal e’er like this?

A paradise, the host,

And cherubim and seraphim

The most familiar guest.



I’m wife; I’ve finished that,

That other state;

I’m Czar, I’m woman now:

It’s safer so.

How odd the girl’s life looks

Behind this soft eclipse!

I think that earth seems so

To those in heaven now.

This being comfort, then

That other kind was pain;

But why compare?

I’m wife! stop there!


The Wife.

She rose to his requirement, dropped

The playthings of her life

To take the honorable work

Of woman and of wife.

If aught she missed in her new day

Of amplitude, or awe,

Or first prospective, or the gold

In using wore away,

It lay unmentioned, as the sea

Develops pearl and weed,

But only to himself is known

The fathoms they abide.



Come slowly, Eden!

Lips unused to thee,

Bashful, sip thy jasmines,

As the fainting bee,

Reaching late his flower,

Round her chamber hums,

Counts his nectars — enters,

And is lost in balms!


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53