"I died for beauty" - and other poems

by Emily Dickenson

I died for beauty - but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In adjoining Room.

He questioned softly ‘Why I failed’ ?
‘For Beauty’ I replied -
‘And I - for Truth - Themself are One -
We Brethren, are’ - He said -

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night -
We talked between the Rooms -
Until the Moss had reached our lips -
And covered up our names -
If I should cease to bring a Rose
Upon a festal day,
’Twill be because beyond the Rose
I have been called away –

If I should cease to take the names
My buds commemorate –
’Twill be because Death’s finger
Claps my murmuring lip!

If what we could were what we would –
Criterion – be small –
It is the Ultimate of Talk
The Impotence to Tell
I cannot be ashamed
Because I cannot see
The love you offer
Reverses modesty

And I cannot be proud
Because a Height so high
Involves Alpine
And Services of Snow
No Man can compass a Despair
As round a Goalless Road
No faster than a Mile at once
The Traveler proceed –
Unconscious of the Width –
Unconscious that the Sun
Be setting on His progress –
So accurate the One
At estimating Pain –
Whose own – has just begun –
His ignorance – the Angel
That pilot Him along -
They dropped like Flakes –
They dropped like Stars –
Like Petals from a Rose -
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers – goes -
They perished in the Seamless Grass –
No eye could find the place –
But God can summon every face
On his Repealless - List
Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality
Nay, it is Deity

Unable they that love - to die
For Love reforms Vitality
Into Divinity
The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

There's been a death in the opposite house
As lately as today.
I know it by the numb look
Such houses have alway.

The neighbours rustle in and out,
The doctor drives away.
A window opens like a pod,
Abrupt, mechanically;

Somebody flings a mattress out, -
The children hurry by;
They wonder if It died on that, -
I used to when a boy.

The minister goes stiffly in
As if the house were his,
And he owned all the mourners now,
And little boys besides;

And then the milliner, and the man
Of the appalling trade,
To take the measure of the house.
There'll be that dark parade

Of tassels and of coaches soon;
It's easy as a sign, -
The intuition of the news
In just a country town.

Good Morning - Midnight
I'm coming Home -
Day - got tired of Me -
How could I - of Him?
Sunshine was a sweet place -
I liked to stay -
But Morn - didn't want me - now -
So - Good Night - Day!
I can look - can't I -
When the East is Red?
The Hills - have a way - then -
That puts the Heart - abroad -
You are not so fair - Midnight -
I choose - Day -
But - please take a little Girl -
He turned away!

The distance that the dead had gone
Does not at first appear.
Their coming back seems possible
For many an ardent year.

And then, that we have followed them
We more than half suspect
So intimate have we become
With their dear retrospect.

Ourselves were wed one summer – dear –
Your vision – was in June
And when Your little Lifetime failed,
I wearied – too – of mine. –

And overtaken in the dark
Where You had put me down
But Some one carrying a Light
I – too - received the Sign.

‘Tis true – our Futures different lay –
Your Cottage – faced the Sun –
While Oceans – and the North must be –
On every side of mine

‘Tis true, Your Garden led the Bloom,
For mine – in Frosts – was sown
And yet, one summer, we were Queens –
But You – were crowned in June.

This is my letter to the world,
 That never wrote to me,
The simple news that Nature told,
 With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
 Judge tenderly of me!

Civilization - spurns - the Leopard!
Was the Leopard - bold?
Deserts - never rebuked her Satin
Ethiop - her Gold -
Tawny - her Customs -
She was Conscious -
Spotted - her Dun Gown -
This was the Leopard's nature - Signor
Need - a keeper - frown?

Pity - the Pard - that left her Asia -
Memories - of Palm -
Cannot be stifled - with narcotic -
Not suppressed - with Balm -

Why – do they shut Me out of Heaven?
Did I sing - too loud?
But I can say a little “Minor”
Timid as a Bird!

Wouldn’t the Angels try me –
Just – once – more –
Just – see – if I troubled them –
But don’t – shut the door!

Oh, if I – were the Gentleman
In the “White Robe” –
And they – were the little Hand – that knocked
Could I forbid?

What soft – Cherubic Creatures –
These Gentelwomen are –
One would as soon assault a Plush –
Or violate a Star –

Such Dimity Convictions –
A Horror so refined
Of freckled Human Nature -
Of Deity – ashamed –

It’s such a common – Glory –
A Fisherman’s – degree –
Redemption – Brittle Lady –
Be so – ashamed of Thee -

I shall know why - when Time is over -
And I have ceased to wonder why -
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky -
He will tell me what "Peter" promised -
And I - for wonder at his woe
I shall forget the drop of Anguish
That scalds me now - that scalds me now!

The most important population
Unnoticed dwell,
They have a heaven each instant
Not any hell
Their names, unless you know them
'Twere useless tell.
Of bumble-bees and other nations
The grass is full.

I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.
Nor had I time to love; but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

I had a guinea golden;
I lost it in the sand,
And though the sum was simple,

And pounds were in the land,
Still had it such a value
Unto my frugal eye,
That when I could not find it
I sat me down to sigh.

I had a crimson robin
Who sang full many a day,
But when the woods were painted
He, too, did fly away.

Time brought me other robins, --
Their ballads were the same, --
Still for my missing troubadour
I kept the 'house at hame.'

I had a star in heaven;
One Pleiad was its name,
And when I was not heeding
It wandered from the same.

And though the skies are crowded,
And all the night ashine,
I do not care about it,
Since none of them are mine.

My story has a moral:
I have a missing friend, --
Pleiad its name, and robin,
And guinea in the sand, --
And when this mournful ditty,
Accompanied with tear,
Shall meet the eye of traitor
In country far from here,
Grant that repentance solemn

May seize upon his mind,
And he no consolation
Beneath the sun may find.

I felt my life with both my hands
To see if it was there -
I held my spirit to the Glass
To prove it possibler -
I turned my being round and round
And paused at every pound
To ask the Owner's name -
For doubt, that I should know the Sound
I judged my features - jarred my hair -
I pushed my dimples by, and waited -
If they - twinkled back -
Conviction might, of me -
I told myself "Take Courage, Friend -
That was a former time -
But we might learn to like the Heaven
As well as our Old Home!"