Poems, Series Three, by Emily Dickinson

II. Love.



Proud of my broken heart since thou didst break it,

  Proud of the pain I did not feel till thee,

Proud of my night since thou with moons dost slake it,

  Not to partake thy passion, my humility.


Love’s Humility.

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.



Love is anterior to life,

  Posterior to death,

Initial of creation, and

  The exponent of breath.



One blessing had I, than the rest

  So larger to my eyes

That I stopped gauging, satisfied,

  For this enchanted size.

It was the limit of my dream,

  The focus of my prayer, —

A perfect, paralyzing bliss

  Contented as despair.

I knew no more of want or cold,

  Phantasms both become,

For this new value in the soul,

  Supremest earthly sum.

The heaven below the heaven above

  Obscured with ruddier hue.

Life’s latitude leant over-full;

  The judgment perished, too.

Why joys so scantily disburse,

  Why Paradise defer,

Why floods are served to us in bowls, —

  I speculate no more.


With a Flower.

When roses cease to bloom, dear,

  And violets are done,

When bumble-bees in solemn flight

  Have passed beyond the sun,

The hand that paused to gather

  Upon this summer’s day

Will idle lie, in Auburn, —

  Then take my flower, pray!



Summer for thee grant I may be

  When summer days are flown!

Thy music still when whippoorwill

  And oriole are done!

For thee to bloom, I’ll skip the tomb

  And sow my blossoms o’er!

Pray gather me, Anemone,

  Thy flower forevermore!



Split the lark and you’ll find the music,

  Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled,

Scantily dealt to the summer morning,

  Saved for your ear when lutes be old.

Loose the flood, you shall find it patent,

  Gush after gush, reserved for you;

Scarlet experiment! sceptic Thomas,

  Now, do you doubt that your bird was true?


To lose thee, sweeter than to gain

  All other hearts I knew.

’T is true the drought is destitute,

  But then I had the dew!

The Caspian has its realms of sand,

  Its other realm of sea;

Without the sterile perquisite

  No Caspian could be.


  Poor little heart!

  Did they forget thee?

Then dinna care! Then dinna care!

  Proud little heart!

  Did they forsake thee?

Be debonair! Be debonair!

  Frail little heart!

  I would not break thee:

Could’st credit me? Could’st credit me?

  Gay little heart!

  Like morning glory

Thou’ll wilted be; thou’ll wilted be!



There is a word

  Which bears a sword

  Can pierce an armed man.

It hurls its barbed syllables —

  At once is mute again.

But where it fell

The saved will tell

  On patriotic day,

Some epauletted brother

  Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs the breathless sun,

  Wherever roams the day,

There is its noiseless onset,

  There is its victory!

Behold the keenest marksman!

  The most accomplished shot!

Time’s sublimest target

  Is a soul ‘forgot’!


I’ve got an arrow here;

  Loving the hand that sent it,

I the dart revere.

Fell, they will say, in ‘skirmish’!

  Vanquished, my soul will know,

By but a simple arrow

  Sped by an archer’s bow.


The Master.

He fumbles at your spirit

  As players at the keys

Before they drop full music on;

  He stuns you by degrees,

Prepares your brittle substance

  For the ethereal blow,

By fainter hammers, further heard,

  Then nearer, then so slow

Your breath has time to straighten,

  Your brain to bubble cool, —

Deals one imperial thunderbolt

  That scalps your naked soul.


Heart, we will forget him!

  You and I, to-night!

You may forget the warmth he gave,

  I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me,

  That I my thoughts may dim;

Haste! lest while you’re lagging,

  I may remember him!


Father, I bring thee not myself, —

  That were the little load;

I bring thee the imperial heart

  I had not strength to hold.

The heart I cherished in my own

  Till mine too heavy grew,

Yet strangest, heavier since it went,

  Is it too large for you?


We outgrow love like other things

  And put it in the drawer,

Till it an antique fashion shows

  Like costumes grandsires wore.


Not with a club the heart is broken,

    Nor with a stone;

A whip, so small you could not see it.

    I’ve known

To lash the magic creature

    Till it fell,

Yet that whip’s name too noble

    Then to tell.

Magnanimous of bird

    By boy descried,

To sing unto the stone

    Of which it died.



My friend must be a bird,

    Because it flies!

Mortal my friend must be,

    Because it dies!

Barbs has it, like a bee.

Ah, curious friend,

    Thou puzzlest me!


He touched me, so I live to know

That such a day, permitted so,

  I groped upon his breast.

It was a boundless place to me,

And silenced, as the awful sea

  Puts minor streams to rest.

And now, I’m different from before,

As if I breathed superior air,

  Or brushed a royal gown;

My feet, too, that had wandered so,

My gypsy face transfigured now

  To tenderer renown.



Let me not mar that perfect dream

  By an auroral stain,

But so adjust my daily night

  That it will come again.


Numen Lumen.

I live with him, I see his face;

  I go no more away

For visitor, or sundown;

  Death’s single privacy,

The only one forestalling mine,

  And that by right that he

Presents a claim invisible,

  No wedlock granted me.

I live with him, I hear his voice,

  I stand alive today

To witness to the certainty

  Of immortality

Taught me by Time, — the lower way,

  Conviction every day, —

That life like this is endless,

  Be judgment what it may.



I envy seas whereon he rides,

  I envy spokes of wheels

Of chariots that him convey,

  I envy speechless hills

That gaze upon his journey;

  How easy all can see

What is forbidden utterly

  As heaven, unto me!

I envy nests of sparrows

  That dot his distant eaves,

The wealthy fly upon his pane,

  The happy, happy leaves

That just abroad his window

  Have summer’s leave to be,

The earrings of Pizarro

  Could not obtain for me.

I envy light that wakes him,

  And bells that boldly ring

To tell him it is noon abroad, —

  Myself his noon could bring,

Yet interdict my blossom

  And abrogate my bee,

Lest noon in everlasting night

  Drop Gabriel and me.



A solemn thing it was, I said,

  A woman white to be,

And wear, if God should count me fit,

  Her hallowed mystery.

A timid thing to drop a life

  Into the purple well,

Too plummetless that it come back

  Eternity until.


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