Of all the souls that stand create
I have elected one.
When sense from spirit files away,
And subterfuge is done;
When that which is and that which was
Apart, intrinsic, stand,
And this brief tragedy of flesh
Is shifted like a sand;
When figures show their royal front
And mists are carved away, —
Behold the atom I preferred
To all the lists of clay!
I have no life but this,
To lead it here;
Nor any death, but lest
Dispelled from there;
Nor tie to earths to come,
Nor action new,
Except through this extent,
The realm of you.
Your riches taught me poverty.
Myself a millionnaire
In little wealths, — as girls could boast, —
Till broad as Buenos Ayre,
You drifted your dominions
A different Peru;
And I esteemed all poverty,
For life’s estate with you.
Of mines I little know, myself,
But just the names of gems, —
The colors of the commonest;
And scarce of diadems
So much that, did I meet the queen,
Her glory I should know:
But this must be a different wealth,
To miss it beggars so.
I ’m sure ’t is India all day
To those who look on you
Without a stint, without a blame, —
Might I but be the Jew!
I ’m sure it is Golconda,
Beyond my power to deem, —
To have a smile for mine each day,
How better than a gem!
At least, it solaces to know
That there exists a gold,
Although I prove it just in time
Its distance to behold!
It ’s far, far treasure to surmise,
And estimate the pearl
That slipped my simple fingers through
While just a girl at school!
I gave myself to him,
And took himself for pay.
The solemn contract of a life
Was ratified this way.
The wealth might disappoint,
Myself a poorer prove
Than this great purchaser suspect,
The daily own of Love
Depreciate the vision;
But, till the merchant buy,
Still fable, in the isles of spice,
The subtle cargoes lie.
At least, ’t is mutual risk, —
Some found it mutual gain;
Sweet debt of Life, — each night to owe,
Insolvent, every noon.
“GOING to him! Happy letter! Tell him —
Tell him the page I didn’t write;
Tell him I only said the syntax,
And left the verb and the pronoun out.
Tell him just how the fingers hurried,
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow;
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages,
So you could see what moved them so.
“Tell him it wasn’t a practised writer,
You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled;
You could hear the bodice tug, behind you,
As if it held but the might of a child;
You almost pitied it, you, it worked so.
Tell him — No, you may quibble there,
For it would split his heart to know it,
And then you and I were silenter.
“Tell him night finished before we finished,
And the old clock kept neighing ‘day!’
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended —
What could it hinder so, to say?
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious,
But if he ask where you are hid
Until tomorrow, — happy letter!
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head!”
The way I read a letter ’s this:
’T is first I lock the door,
And push it with my fingers next,
For transport it be sure.
And then I go the furthest off
To counteract a knock;
Then draw my little letter forth
And softly pick its lock.
Then, glancing narrow at the wall,
And narrow at the floor,
For firm conviction of a mouse
Not exorcised before,
Peruse how infinite I am
To — no one that you know!
And sigh for lack of heaven, — but not
The heaven the creeds bestow.
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Futile the winds
To a heart in port, —
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.
Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!
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.
No squirrel went abroad;
A dog’s belated feet
Like intermittent plush were heard
Adown the empty street.
To feel if blinds be fast,
And closer to the fire
Her little rocking-chair to draw,
And shiver for the poor,
The housewife’s gentle task.
“How pleasanter,” said she
Unto the sofa opposite,
“The sleet than May — no thee!”
Did the harebell loose her girdle
To the lover bee,
Would the bee the harebell hallow
Much as formerly?
Did the paradise, persuaded,
Yield her moat of pearl,
Would the Eden be an Eden,
Or the earl an earl?
A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld, —
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.
But peers beyond her mesh,
And wishes, and denies, —
Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.
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;
A vest that, like the bodice, danced
To the immortal tune, —
Till those two troubled little clocks
Ticked softly into one.
In lands I never saw, they say,
Immortal Alps look down,
Whose bonnets touch the firmament,
Whose sandals touch the town, —
Meek at whose everlasting feet
A myriad daisies play.
Which, sir, are you, and which am I,
Upon an August day?
The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.
He never misses a degree;
Obedient to her eye,
He comes just so far toward the town,
Just so far goes away.
Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand,
And mine the distant sea, —
Obedient to the least command
Thine eyes impose on me.
He put the belt around my life, —
I heard the buckle snap,
And turned away, imperial,
My lifetime folding up
Deliberate, as a duke would do
A kingdom’s title-deed, —
Henceforth a dedicated sort,
A member of the cloud.
Yet not too far to come at call,
And do the little toils
That make the circuit of the rest,
And deal occasional smiles
To lives that stoop to notice mine
And kindly ask it in, —
Whose invitation, knew you not
For whom I must decline?
I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: “’T will keep.”
I woke and chid my honest fingers, —
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.
What if I say I shall not wait?
What if I burst the fleshly gate
And pass, escaped, to thee?
What if I file this mortal off,
See where it hurt me, — that ’s enough, —
And wade in liberty?
They cannot take us any more, —
Dungeons may call, and guns implore;
Unmeaning now, to me,
As laughter was an hour ago,
Or laces, or a travelling show,
Or who died yesterday!
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07