Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Over Emily Dickinson's for Thanksgiving: 16 Poems


Emily Dickinson
1830-1886



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A Bird came down the Walk


        A Bird came down the Walk--
        He did not know I saw--
        He bit an Angleworm in halves
        And ate the fellow, raw,

        And then he drank a Dew
        From a convenient Grass--
        And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
        To let a Beetle pass--

        He glanced with rapid eyes
        That hurried all around--
        They looked like frightened Beads, I thought--
        He stirred his Velvet Head

        Like one in danger, Cautious,
        I offered him a Crumb
        And he unrolled his feathers
        And rowed him softer home--

        Than Oars divide the Ocean,
        Too silver for a seam--
        Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
        Leap, plashless as they swim.


_____



God gave a Loaf to every Bird


        God gave a Loaf to every Bird--
        But just a Crumb--to Me--
        I dare not eat it--tho' I starve--
        My poignant luxury--

        To own it--touch it--
        Prove the feat--that made the Pellet mine--
        Too happy--for my Sparrow's chance--
        For Ampler Coveting--

        It might be Famine--all around--
        I could not miss an Ear--
        Such Plenty smiles upon my Board--
        My Garner shows so fair--

        I wonder how the Rich--may feel--
        An Indiaman--An Earl--
        I deem that I--with but a Crumb--
        Am Sovereign of them all--






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He ate and drank the precious Words


        He ate and drank the precious Words--
        His Spirit grew robust--
        He knew no more that he was poor,
        Nor that his frame was Dust--

        He danced along the dingy Days
        And this Bequest of Wings
        Was but a Book--What Liberty
        A loosened spirit brings--


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I bring an unaccustomed wine


        I bring an unaccustomed wine
        To lips long parching
        Next to mine,
        And summon them to drink;

        Crackling with fever, they Essay,
        I turn my brimming eyes away,
        And come next hour to look.

        The hands still hug the tardy glass--
        The lips I would have cooled, alas--
        Are so superfluous Cold--

        I would as soon attempt to warm
        The bosoms where the frost has lain
        Ages beneath the mould--

        Some other thirsty there may be
        To whom this would have pointed me
        Had it remained to speak--

        And so I always bear the cup
        If, haply, mine may be the drop
        Some pilgrim thirst to slake--

        If, haply, any say to me
        "Unto the little, unto me,"
        When I at last awake.






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I had been hungry, all the Years


        I had been hungry, all the Years--
        My Noon had Come--to dine--
        I, trembling, drew the Table near--
        And touched the Curious Wine--

        'Twas this on Tables I had seen--
        When turning, hungry, Home
        I looked in Windows, for the Wealth
        I could not hope--for Mine--

        I did not know the ample Bread--
        'Twas so unlike the Crumb
        The birds and I had often shared
        In Nature's Dining-Room--

        The Plenty hurt me--'twas so new--
        Myself felt ill--and odd--
        As Berry--of A Mountain Bush
        Transplanted--to the Road--

        Nor was I hungry--so I found
        That Hunger--was a way
        Of Persons outside Windows--
        The Entering--takes away--


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I meant to have but modest needs


        I meant to have but modest needs--
        Such as Content--and Heaven--
        Within my income--these could lie
        And Life and I--keep even--

        But since the last--included both--
        It would suffice my Prayer
        But just for One--to stipulate--
        And Grace would grant the Pair--

        And so--upon this wise--I prayed--
        Great Spirit--Give to me
        A Heaven not so large as Yours,
        But large enough--for me--

        A Smile suffused Jehovah's face--
        The Cherubim--withdrew--
        Grave Saints stole out to look at me--
        And showed their dimples--too--

        I left the Place, with all my might--
        I threw my Prayer away--
        The Quiet Ages picked it up--
        And Judgment--twinkled--too--
        Tat one so honest--be extant--
        It take the Tale for true--
        That "Whatsoever Ye shall ask--
        Itself be given You"--

        But I, grown shrewder--scan the Skies
        With a suspicious Air--
        As Children--swindled for the first
        All Swindlers--be--infer--


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I worked for chaff and earning Wheat


        I worked for chaff and earning Wheat
        Was haughty and betrayed.
        What right had Fields to arbitrate
        In matters ratified?

        I tasted Wheat and hated Chaff
        And thanked the ample friend--
        Wisdom is more becoming viewed
        At distance than at hand.


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It sifts from Leaden Sieves


        It sifts from Leaden Sieves--
        It powders all the Wood.
        It fills with Alabaster Wool
        The Wrinkles of the Road--

        It makes an Even Face
        Of Mountain and of Plain--
        Unbroken Forehead from the East
        Unto the East again--

        It reaches to the Fence--
        It wraps it Rail by Rail
        Till it is lost in Fleeces--
        It deals Celestial Veil

        To Stump and Stack--and Stem--
        A Summer's empty Room--
        Acres of Joints where Harvests were,
        Recordless, but for them--

        It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
        As Ankles of a Queen--
        Then stills its Artisans--like Ghosts,
        Denying they have been--


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One Blessing had I than the rest


        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 Blue--
        Life's Latitudes leant over--full--
        The Judgment perished--too--

        Why Bliss so scantily disburse--
        Why Paradise defer--
        Why Floods be served to Us--in Bowls--
        I speculate no more--


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One Day is there of the Series


        One Day is there of the Series
        Termed Thanksgiving Day.
        Celebrated part at Table
        Part in Memory.

        Neither Patriarch nor Pussy
        I dissect the Play
        Seems it to my Hooded thinking
        Reflex Holiday.

        Had there been no sharp Subtraction
        From the early Sum--
        Not an Acre or a Caption
        Where was once a Room--

        Not a Mention, whose small Pebble
        Wrinkled any Sea,
        Unto Such, were such Assembly
        'Twere Thanksgiving Day.


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Prayer is the little implement


        Prayer is the little implement
        Through which Men reach
        Where Presence--is denied them.
        They fling their Speech

        By means of it--in God's Ear--
        If then He hear--
        This sums the Apparatus
        Comprised in Prayer--


_____



They won't frown alway--some sweet Day


        They won't frown alway--some sweet Day
        When I forget to tease--
        They'll recollect how cold I looked
        And how I just said "Please."

        Then They will hasten to the Door
        To call the little Girl
        Who cannot thank Them for the Ice
        That filled the lisping full.


_____






'Twas just this time, last year, I died


        'Twas just this time, last year, I died.
        I know I heard the Corn,
        When I was carried by the Farms--
        It had the Tassels on--

        I thought how yellow it would look--
        When Richard went to mill--
        And then, I wanted to get out,
        But something held my will.

        I thought just how Red--Apples wedged
        The Stubble's joints between--
        And the Carts stooping round the fields
        To take the Pumpkins in--

        I wondered which would miss me, least,
        And when Thanksgiving, came,
        If Father'd multiply the plates--
        To make an even Sum--

        And would it blur the Christmas glee
        My Stocking hang too high
        For any Santa Claus to reach
        The Altitude of me--

        But this sort, grieved myself,
        And so, I thought the other way,
        How just this time, some perfect year--
        Themself, should come to me--

        It was too late for man,
        But early yet for God;
        Creation impotent to help,
        But prayer remained our side.

        How excellent the heaven,
        When earth cannot be had;
        How hospitable, then, the face
        Of our old neighbor, God!


_____



Undue Significance a starving man attaches


        Undue Significance a starving man attaches
        To Food--
        Far off--He sighs--and therefore--Hopeless--
        And therefore--Good--

        Partaken--it relieves--indeed--
        But proves us
        That Spices fly
        In the Receipt--It was the Distance--
        Was Savory--


_____



Unto my Books--so good to turn


        Unto my Books--so good to turn--
        Far ends of tired Days--
        It half endears the Abstinence--
        And Pain--is missed--in Praise--

        As Flavors--cheer Retarded Guests
        With Banquettings to be--
        So Spices--stimulate the time
        Till my small Library--

        It may be Wilderness--without--
        Far feet of failing Men--
        But Holiday--excludes the night--
        And it is Bells--within--

        I thank these Kinsmen of the Shelf--
        Their Countenances Kid
        Enamor--in Prospective--
        And satisfy--obtained--


_____



Victory comes late


        Victory comes late--
        And is held low to freezing lips--
        Too rapt with frost
        To take it--
        How sweet it would have tasted--
        Just a Drop--
        Was God so economical?
        His Table's spread too high for Us--
        Unless We dine on tiptoe--
        Crumbs--fit such little mouths--
        Cherries--suit Robbins--
        The Eagle's Golden Breakfast strangles--Them--
        God keep His Oath to Sparrows--
        Who of little Love--know how to starve--


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3 Comments:

At 2:24 PM, Blogger M. Shahin said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this wonderful collection of poetry from Emily :-) She is one of my favorite poets, and I loved how pictures of her and her home were interspersed among the poems.

Bud, thanks for making my day :-)

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger Bud Bloom said...

Hi M.

I loved putting this one together, and am now very glad it found a true lover of Emily D.

Bud

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson said...

A lovely collection - we linked it on the page for Emily Dickinson in the 21st Century - come visit us: http://www.facebook.com/SecretLifeOfEmilyDickinson

 

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