Poems, Series Three, by Emily Dickinson

III. Nature.


Nature’s Changes.

The springtime’s pallid landscape

  Will glow like bright bouquet,

Though drifted deep in parian

  The village lies today.

The lilacs, bending many a year,

  With purple load will hang;

The bees will not forget the tune

  Their old forefathers sang.

The rose will redden in the bog,

  The aster on the hill

Her everlasting fashion set,

  And covenant gentians frill,

Till summer folds her miracle

  As women do their gown,

Or priests adjust the symbols

  When sacrament is done.


The Tulip.

She slept beneath a tree

  Remembered but by me.

I touched her cradle mute;

She recognized the foot,

Put on her carmine suit, —

  And see!


A light exists in spring

  Not present on the year

At any other period.

  When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad

  On solitary hills

That science cannot overtake,

  But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;

  It shows the furthest tree

Upon the furthest slope we know;

  It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,

  Or noons report away,

Without the formula of sound,

  It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss

  Affecting our content,

As trade had suddenly encroached

  Upon a sacrament.


The Waking Year.

A lady red upon the hill

  Her annual secret keeps;

A lady white within the field

  In placid lily sleeps!

The tidy breezes with their brooms

  Sweep vale, and hill, and tree!

Prithee, my pretty housewives!

  Who may expected be?

The neighbors do not yet suspect!

  The woods exchange a smile —

Orchard, and buttercup, and bird —

  In such a little while!

And yet how still the landscape stands,

  How nonchalant the wood,

As if the resurrection

  Were nothing very odd!


To March.

Dear March, come in!

How glad I am!

I looked for you before.

Put down your hat —

You must have walked —

How out of breath you are!

Dear March, how are you?

And the rest?

Did you leave Nature well?

Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,

I have so much to tell!

I got your letter, and the birds’;

The maples never knew

That you were coming, — I declare,

How red their faces grew!

But, March, forgive me —

And all those hills

You left for me to hue;

There was no purple suitable,

You took it all with you.

Who knocks? That April!

Lock the door!

I will not be pursued!

He stayed away a year, to call

When I am occupied.

But trifles look so trivial

As soon as you have come,

That blame is just as dear as praise

And praise as mere as blame.



We like March, his shoes are purple,

  He is new and high;

Makes he mud for dog and peddler,

  Makes he forest dry;

Knows the adder’s tongue his coming,

  And begets her spot.

Stands the sun so close and mighty

  That our minds are hot.

News is he of all the others;

  Bold it were to die

With the blue-birds buccaneering

  On his British sky.



Not knowing when the dawn will come

  I open every door;

Or has it feathers like a bird,

  Or billows like a shore?


A murmur in the trees to note,

  Not loud enough for wind;

A star not far enough to seek,

  Nor near enough to find;

A long, long yellow on the lawn,

  A hubbub as of feet;

Not audible, as ours to us,

  But dapperer, more sweet;

A hurrying home of little men

  To houses unperceived, —

All this, and more, if I should tell,

  Would never be believed.

Of robins in the trundle bed

  How many I espy

Whose nightgowns could not hide the wings,

  Although I heard them try!

But then I promised ne’er to tell;

  How could I break my word?

So go your way and I’ll go mine, —

  No fear you’ll miss the road.


Morning is the place for dew,

  Corn is made at noon,

After dinner light for flowers,

  Dukes for setting sun!


To my quick ear the leaves conferred;

  The bushes they were bells;

I could not find a privacy

  From Nature’s sentinels.

In cave if I presumed to hide,

  The walls began to tell;

Creation seemed a mighty crack

  To make me visible.


A Rose.

A sepal, petal, and a thorn

  Upon a common summer’s morn,

A flash of dew, a bee or two,

A breeze

A caper in the trees, —

  And I’m a rose!


High from the earth I heard a bird;

  He trod upon the trees

As he esteemed them trifles,

  And then he spied a breeze,

And situated softly

  Upon a pile of wind

Which in a perturbation

  Nature had left behind.

A joyous-going fellow

  I gathered from his talk,

Which both of benediction

  And badinage partook,

Without apparent burden,

  I learned, in leafy wood

He was the faithful father

  Of a dependent brood;

And this untoward transport

  His remedy for care, —

A contrast to our respites.

  How different we are!



The spider as an artist

  Has never been employed

Though his surpassing merit

  Is freely certified

By every broom and Bridget

  Throughout a Christian land.

Neglected son of genius,

  I take thee by the hand.


A Well.

What mystery pervades a well!

  The water lives so far,

Like neighbor from another world

  Residing in a jar.

The grass does not appear afraid;

  I often wonder he

Can stand so close and look so bold

  At what is dread to me.

Related somehow they may be, —

  The sedge stands next the sea,

Where he is floorless, yet of fear

  No evidence gives he.

But nature is a stranger yet;

  The ones that cite her most

Have never passed her haunted house,

  Nor simplified her ghost.

To pity those that know her not

  Is helped by the regret

That those who know her, know her less

  The nearer her they get.


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, —

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few.


The Wind.

It’s like the light, —

  A fashionless delight

It’s like the bee, —

  A dateless melody.

It’s like the woods,

  Private like breeze,

Phraseless, yet it stirs

  The proudest trees.

It’s like the morning, —

  Best when it’s done, —

The everlasting clocks

  Chime noon.


A dew sufficed itself

  And satisfied a leaf,

And felt, ‘how vast a destiny!

  How trivial is life!’

The sun went out to work,

  The day went out to play,

But not again that dew was seen

  By physiognomy.

Whether by day abducted,

  Or emptied by the sun

Into the sea, in passing,

  Eternally unknown.


The Woodpecker.

His bill an auger is,

  His head, a cap and frill.

He laboreth at every tree, —

  A worm his utmost goal.


A Snake.

Sweet is the swamp with its secrets,

  Until we meet a snake;

’T is then we sigh for houses,

  And our departure take

At that enthralling gallop

  That only childhood knows.

A snake is summer’s treason,

  And guile is where it goes.


Could I but ride indefinite,

  As doth the meadow-bee,

And visit only where I liked,

  And no man visit me,

And flirt all day with buttercups,

  And marry whom I may,

And dwell a little everywhere,

  Or better, run away

With no police to follow,

  Or chase me if I do,

Till I should jump peninsulas

  To get away from you, —

I said, but just to be a bee

  Upon a raft of air,

And row in nowhere all day long,

  And anchor off the bar —

What liberty! So captives deem

  Who tight in dungeons are.


The Moon.

The moon was but a chin of gold

  A night or two ago,

And now she turns her perfect face

  Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond;

  Her cheek like beryl stone;

Her eye unto the summer dew

  The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber never part;

  But what must be the smile

Upon her friend she could bestow

  Were such her silver will!

And what a privilege to be

  But the remotest star!

For certainly her way might pass

  Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament,

  The universe her shoe,

The stars the trinkets at her belt,

  Her dimities of blue.


The Bat.

The bat is dun with wrinkled wings

  Like fallow article,

And not a song pervades his lips,

  Or none perceptible.

His small umbrella, quaintly halved,

  Describing in the air

An arc alike inscrutable, —

  Elate philosopher!

Deputed from what firmament

  Of what astute abode,

Empowered with what malevolence

  Auspiciously withheld.

To his adroit Creator

  Ascribe no less the praise;

Beneficent, believe me,

  His eccentricities.


The Balloon.

You’ve seen balloons set, haven’t you?

  So stately they ascend

It is as swans discarded you

  For duties diamond.

Their liquid feet go softly out

  Upon a sea of blond;

They spurn the air as ’t were too mean

  For creatures so renowned.

Their ribbons just beyond the eye,

  They struggle some for breath,

And yet the crowd applauds below;

  They would not encore death.

The gilded creature strains and spins,

  Trips frantic in a tree,

Tears open her imperial veins

  And tumbles in the sea.

The crowd retire with an oath

  The dust in streets goes down,

And clerks in counting-rooms observe,

  ”T was only a balloon.’



The cricket sang,

And set the sun,

And workmen finished, one by one,

  Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,

The twilight stood as strangers do

With hat in hand, polite and new,

  To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came, —

A wisdom without face or name,

A peace, as hemispheres at home, —

  And so the night became.



Drab habitation of whom?

Tabernacle or tomb,

Or dome of worm,

Or porch of gnome,

Or some elf’s catacomb?



A sloop of amber slips away

  Upon an ether sea,

And wrecks in peace a purple tar,

  The son of ecstasy.



Of bronze and blaze

  The north, to-night!

  So adequate its forms,

So preconcerted with itself,

  So distant to alarms, —

An unconcern so sovereign

  To universe, or me,

It paints my simple spirit

  With tints of majesty,

Till I take vaster attitudes,

  And strut upon my stem,

Disdaining men and oxygen,

  For arrogance of them.

My splendors are menagerie;

  But their competeless show

Will entertain the centuries

  When I am, long ago,

An island in dishonored grass,

  Whom none but daisies know.


The Coming of Night.

How the old mountains drip with sunset,

  And the brake of dun!

How the hemlocks are tipped in tinsel

  By the wizard sun!

How the old steeples hand the scarlet,

  Till the ball is full, —

Have I the lip of the flamingo

  That I dare to tell?

Then, how the fire ebbs like billows,

  Touching all the grass

With a departing, sapphire feature,

  As if a duchess pass!

How a small dusk crawls on the village

  Till the houses blot;

And the odd flambeaux no men carry

  Glimmer on the spot!

Now it is night in nest and kennel,

  And where was the wood,

Just a dome of abyss is nodding

  Into solitude! —

These are the visions baffled Guido;

  Titian never told;

Domenichino dropped the pencil,

  Powerless to unfold.



The murmuring of bees has ceased;

  But murmuring of some

Posterior, prophetic,

  Has simultaneous come, —

The lower metres of the year,

  When nature’s laugh is done, —

The Revelations of the book

  Whose Genesis is June.


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