Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Over Emily Dickinson's for Thanksgiving: 16 Poems

Emily Dickinson


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--


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--


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.


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--


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--


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.


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--


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--


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.


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--




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.


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:


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?