Poems of Emily Dickinson
ENGL313: American Literature
J. Auerbach
Spring 2008

Table of Contents
A still -- Volcano -- Life -- Much Madness is divinest Sense --
All these my banners be My Life had stood -- a Loaded Gun --
Apparently with no surprise Not One by Heaven defrauded stay --
Bliss is the plaything of the child -- Of God we ask one favor,
Climbing to reach the costly Hearts One need not be a Chamber -- To be Haunted --
Cocoon above! Cocoon below! Safe in their Alabaster Chambers
He fumbles at your Soul The Brain -- is wider than the Sky --
Her Losses make our Gains ashamed -- The Doomed -- regard the Sunrise --
I know some lonely Houses off the Road There comes a warning like a spy
I taste a liquor never brewed -- There's a certain Slant of light,
It stole along so stealthy This was a Poet -- It is That
It was not Death, for I stood up, Through lane it lay -- through bramble --
Like Time's insidious wrinkle 'Twas Love -- not me --
Mine -- by the Right of the White Election! Wild Nights -- Wild Nights!


A still -- Volcano -- Life --
That flickered in the night --
When it was dark enough to do
Without erasing sight --

A quiet -- Earthquake Style --
Too subtle to suspect
By natures this side Naples --
The North cannot detect

The Solemn -- Torrid -- Symbol --
The lips that never lie --
Whose hissing Corals part -- and shut --
And Cities -- ooze away --

(JP 601; FP 517)


All these my banners be.
I sow my pageantry
In May --
It rises train by train --
Then sleeps in state again --
My chancel -- all the plain

To lose -- if one can find again --
To miss -- if one shall meet --
The Burglar cannot rob -- then --
The Broker cannot cheat.
So build the hillocks gaily
Thou little spade of mine
Leaving nooks for Daisy
And for Columbine --
You and I the secret
Of the Crocus know --
Let us chant it softly --
There is no more snow!”

To him who keeps an Orchis’ heart --
The swamps are pink with June.

(JP 22; FP 29)


Apparently with no surprise
To any happy Flower
The Frost beheads it at its play --
In accidental power --
The blonde Assassin passes on --
The Sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another Day
For an Approving God.

(JP 1624; FP 1668)


Bliss is the plaything of the child --
The secret of the man
The sacred stealth of Boy and Girl
Rebuke it if we can

(JP 1553; FP 1583)


Climbing to reach the costly Hearts
To which he gave the worth,
He broke them, fearing punishment
He ran away from Earth --

(JP 1566; FP 1626)


Cocoon above! Cocoon below!
Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so
What all the world suspect?
An hour, and gay on every tree
Your secret, perched in ecstasy
Defies imprisonment!

An hour in Chrysalis to pass,
Then gay above receding grass
A Butterfly to go!
A moment to interrogate,
Then wiser than a "Surrogate,"
The Universe to know!

(JP 129; FP 142)


He fumbles at your Soul
As Players at the Keys
Before they drop full Music on --
He stuns you by degrees --
Prepares your brittle Nature
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 --

When Winds take Forests in their Paws --
The Universe -- is still --

(JP 315; FP 477)


Her Losses make our Gains ashamed --
She bore Life's empty Pack
As gallantly as if the East
Were swinging at her Back.
Life's empty Pack is heaviest,
As every Porter knows --
In vain to punish Honey --
It only sweeter grows.

(JP 1562; FP 1602)


I know some lonely Houses off the Road
A Robber'd like the look of --
Wooden barred,
And Windows hanging low,
Inviting to --
A Portico,
Where two could creep --
One -- hand the Tools --
The other peep --
To make sure All's Asleep --
Old fashioned eyes --
Not easy to surprise!

How orderly the Kitchen'd look, by night,
With just a Clock --
But they could gag the Tick --
And Mice won't bark --
And so the Walls -- don't tell --
None -- will --

A pair of Spectacles ajar just stir --
An Almanac's aware --
Was it the Mat -- winked,
Or a Nervous Star?
The Moon -- slides down the stair,
To see who's there!

There's plunder -- where --
Tankard, or Spoon --
Earring -- or Stone --
A Watch -- Some Ancient Brooch
To match the Grandmama --
Staid sleeping -- there --

Day -- rattles -- too
Stealth's -- slow --
The Sun has got as far
As the third Sycamore --
Screams Chanticleer
"Who's there"?

And Echoes -- Trains away,
Sneer - "Where"!
While the old Couple, just astir,
Fancy the Sunrise -- left the door ajar!

(JP 289; FP 311)


I taste a liquor never brewed --
From Tankards scooped in Pearl --
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of Air -- am I --
And Debauchee of Dew --
Reeling -- thro endless summer days --
From inns of Molten Blue --

When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove's door --
When Butterflies -- renounce their "drams" --
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats --
And Saints -- to windows run --
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the -- Sun --

(JP 214; FP 207)


It stole along so stealthy
Suspicion it was done
Was dim as to the wealthy
Beginning not to own --

(JP 1457; FP 1497)


It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down --
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
I felt Siroccos -- crawl --
Not Fire -- for just my Marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool --

And yet, it tasted, like them all,
The Figures I have seen
Set orderly, for Burial,
Reminded me of mine --

As if my life were shaven,
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key,
And 'twas like Midnight, some --

When everything that ticket -- has stopped --
And Space stares all around --
Or Grisly frosts -- first Autumn morns,
Repeal the Beating Ground --

But, most, like Chaos -- Stopless -- cool --
Without a Chance, or Spar --
Or even a Report of Land --
To justify -- Despair.

(JP 510; FP 355)


Like Time's insidious wrinkle
On a beloved Face
We clutch the Grace the tighter
Though we resent the crease

The Frost himself so comely
Dishevels every prime
Asserting from his Prism
That none can punish him

(JP 1236; FP 1204)


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 -- long as Ages steal!

(JP 528; FP 411)


Much Madness is divinest Sense --
To a discerning Eye --
Much Sense -- the starkest Madness --
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail --
Assent -- and you are sane --
Demur -- you're straightway dangerous --
And handled with a Chain --

(JP 435; FP 620)


My Life had stood -- a Loaded Gun --
In Corners -- till a Day
The Owner passed -- identified --
And carried Me away --

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods --
And now We hunt the Doe --
And every time I speak for Him --
The Mountains straight reply --

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow --
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through --

And when at Night -- Our good Day done --
I guard My Master's Head --
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow -- to have shared --

To foe of His -- I'm deadly foe --
None stir the second time --
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye --
Or an emphatic Thumb --

Though I than He -- may longer live
He long must -- than I --
For I have but the power to kill,
Without -- the power to die --

(JP 754; FP 764)


Not One by Heaven defrauded stay --
Although he seem to steal
He restitutes in some sweet way
Secreted in his will --

(JP 1303; FP 1296)


Of God we ask one favor,
That we may be forgiven --
For what, he is presumed to know --
The Crime, from us, is hidden --
Immured the whole of Life
Within a magic Prison
We reprimand the Happiness
That too competes with Heaven.

(JP 1601; FP 1675)


One need not be a Chamber -- To be Haunted --
One need not be a House --
The Brain has Corridors -- surpassing
Material Place --

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting --
That Cooler Host.

Far Safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stone's a'chase --
Than Unarmed, one's a'self encounter --
In lonesome Place --

Ourself behind ourself, concealed --
Should startle most --
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror's least.

The Body -- borrows a Revolver --
He bolts the Door --
O'erlooking a superior spectre --
Or More --

(JP 670; FP 407)


Safe in their Alabaster Chambers --
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon --
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection --
Rafter of satin,
And Roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them --
Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence --
Ah, what sagacity perished here!
(JP 216; FP 124)

To learn more about this poem, visit:
Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem


The Brain -- is wider than the Sky --
For -- put them side by side --
The one the other will contain
With ease -- and You -- beside --

The Brain is deeper than the sea --
For -- hold them -- Blue to Blue --
The one the other will absorb --
As Sponges -- Buckets -- do --

The Brain is just the weight of God --
For -- Heft them -- Pound for Pound --
And they will differ -- if they do --
As Syllable from Sound --

(JP 632; FP 598)


The Doomed -- regard the Sunrise
With different Delight --
Because -- when next it burns abroad
They doubt to witness it --

The Man -- to die -- tomorrow --
Harks for the Meadow Bird --
Because its Music stirs the Axe
That clamors for his head --

Joyful -- to whom the Sunrise
Precedes Enamored -- Day --
Joyful -- for whom the Meadow Bird
Has ought but Elegy!

(JP 294; FP 298)


There comes a warning like a spy
A shorter breath of Day
A stealing that is not a stealth
And Summers are away --

(JP 1536; FP 1560)


There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons --
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes --

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us --
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are --

None may teach it -- Any --
'Tis the Seal Despair --
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air --

When it comes, the Landscape listens --
Shadows -- hold their breath --
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death --

(JP 258; FP 320)


This was a Poet -- It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings --
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door --
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it -- before --

Of Pictures, the Discloser --
The Poet -- it is He --
Entitles Us -- by Contrast --
To ceaseless Poverty --

Of Portion -- so unconscious --
The Robbing -- could not harm --
Himself -- to Him -- a Fortune --
Exterior -- to Time --

(JP 448; FP 446)


Through lane it lay -- through bramble --
Through clearing and through wood --
Banditti often passed us
Upon the lonely road.

The wolf came peering curious --
The owl looked puzzled down --
The serpent's satin figure
Glid stealthily along --

The tempests touched our garments --
The lightning's poinards gleamed --
Fierce from the Crag above us
The hungry Vulture screamed --

The satyr's fingers beckoned --
The valley murmured "Come" --
These were the mates --
This was the road
These children fluttered home.

(JP 9; FP 43)


'Twas Love -- not me --
Oh punish -- pray --
The Real one died for Thee --
Just Him -- not me --

Such Guilt -- to love Thee -- most!
Doom it beyond the Rest --
Forgive it -- last --
'Twas base as Jesus -- most!

Let Justice not mistake --
We Two -- looked so alike --
Which was the Guilty Sake --
'Twas Love's -- Now Strike!

(JP 394; FP 562)


Wild Nights -- Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

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 -- Tonight --
In Thee!

(JP 249; FP 269)

Transcription by Rebecca Mooney.
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on J anuary 11, 2010

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