Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Emily Dickinson, fully Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

American Poet

"Bereaved of all, I went abroad— No less bereaved was I Upon a New Peninsula— The Grave preceded me— Obtained my Lodgings, ere myself— And when I sought my Bed— The Grave it was reposed upon The Pillow for my Head— I waked to find it first awake— I rose—It followed me— I tried to drop it in the Crowd— To lose it in the Sea— In Cups of artificial Drowse To steep its shape away— The Grave—was finished—but the Spade Remained in Memory— "

"Bring me the sunset in a cup, Reckon the morning's flagons up And say how many Dew, Tell me how far the morning leaps— Tell me what time the weaver sleeps Who spun the breadth of blue! Write me how many notes there be In the new Robin's ecstasy Among astonished boughs— How many trips the Tortoise makes— How many cups the Bee partakes, The Debauchee of Dews! Also, who laid the Rainbow's piers, Also, who leads the docile spheres By withes of supple blue? Whose fingers string the stalactite— Who counts the wampum of the night To see that none is due? Who built this little Alban House And shut the windows down so close My spirit cannot see? Who'll let me out some gala day With implements to fly away, Passing Pomposity? "

"Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat? Then crouch within the door— Red—is the Fire's common tint— But when the vivid Ore Has vanquished Flame's conditions, It quivers from the Forge Without a color, but the light Of unanointed Blaze. Least Village has its Blacksmith Whose Anvil's even ring Stands symbol for the finer Forge That soundless tugs—within— Refining these impatient Ores With Hammer, and with Blaze Until the Designated Light Repudiate the Forge— "

"Death is a Dialogue between The Spirit and the Dust. "Dissolve" says Death—The Spirit "Sir I have another Trust"— Death doubts it—Argues from the Ground— The Spirit turns away Just laying off for evidence An Overcoat of Clay. "

"Death is potential to that Man Who dies—and to his friend— Beyond that—unconspicuous To Anyone but God— Of these Two—God remembers The longest—for the friend— Is integral—and therefore Itself dissolved—of God— "

"Death leaves Us homesick, who behind, Except that it is gone Are ignorant of its Concern As if it were not born. Through all their former Places, we Like Individuals go Who something lost, the seeking for Is all that's left them, now— "

"Death sets a thing significant The eye had hurried by, Except a perished creature Entreat us tenderly To ponder little workmanships In crayon or in wool, With 'This was last her fingers did,' Industrious until The thimble weighed too heavy, The stitches stopped themselves, And then 't was put among the dust Upon the closet shelves. A book I have, a friend gave, Whose pencil, here and there, Had notched the place that pleased him,-- At rest his fingers are. Now, when I read, I read not, For interrupting tears Obliterate the etchings Too costly for repairs. "

"Each Second is the last Perhaps, recalls the Man Just measuring unconsciousness The Sea and Spar between. To fail within a Chance— How terribler a thing Than perish from the Chance's list Before the Perishing! "

"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. "

"For each ecstatic instant We must an anguish pay In keen and quivering ratio To the ectasty. For each beloved hour Sharp pittances of years, Bitter contested farthings And coffers heaped with tears. "

"Faith—is the Pierless Bridge Supporting what We see Unto the Scene that We do not— Too slender for the eye It bears the Soul as bold As it were rocked in Steel With Arms of Steel at either side— It joins—behind the Veil To what, could We presume The Bridge would cease to be To Our far, vacillating Feet A first Necessity. "

"Heaven is so far of the Mind That were the Mind dissolved— The Site—of it—by Architect Could not again be proved— 'Tis vast—as our Capacity— As fair—as our idea— To Him of adequate desire No further 'tis, than Here— "

"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 the Paws— The Universe—is still— "

"Grief is a Mouse— And chooses Wainscot in the Breast For His Shy House— And baffles quest— Grief is a Thief—quick startled— Pricks His Ear—report to hear Of that Vast Dark— That swept His Being—back— Grief is a Juggler—boldest at the Play— Lest if He flinch—the eye that way Pounce on His Bruises—One—say—or Three— Grief is a Gourmand—spare His luxury— Best Grief is Tongueless—before He'll tell— Burn Him in the Public Square— His Ashes—will Possibly—if they refuse—How then know— Since a Rack couldn't coax a syllable—now. "

"How noteless Men, and Pleiads, stand, Until a sudden sky Reveals the fact that One is rapt Forever from the Eye— Members of the Invisible, Existing, while we stare, In Leagueless Opportunity, O'ertakenless, as the Air— Why didn't we detain Them? The Heavens with a smile, Sweep by our disappointed Heads Without a syllable— "

"Heaven is what I cannot reach! The apple on the tree, Provided it do hopelss hang, That 'heaven' is, to me. The color on the cruising cloud, The interdicted ground Behind the hill, the house behind, -- There Paradise is found! "

"I Came to buy a smile—today— But just a single smile— The smallest one upon your face Will suit me just as well— The one that no one else would miss It shone so very small— I'm pleading at the "counter"—sir— Could you afford to sell— I've Diamonds—on my fingers— You know what Diamonds are? I've Rubies—live the Evening Blood— And Topaz—like the star!"

"I cried at Pity—not at Pain— I heard a Woman say "Poor Child"—and something in her voice Convicted me—of me— So long I fainted, to myself It seemed the common way, And Health, and Laughter, Curious things— To look at, like a Toy— To sometimes hear "Rich people" buy And see the Parcel rolled— And carried, I supposed—to Heaven, For children, made of Gold— But not to touch, or wish for, Or think of, with a sigh— And so and so—had been to me, Had God willed differently. I wish I knew that Woman's name— So when she comes this way, To hold my life, and hold my ears For fear I hear her say She's "sorry I am dead"—again— Just when the Grave and I— Have sobbed ourselves almost to sleep, Our only Lullaby— "

"I died for beauty, but was scarce Adjusted in the tomb, When one who died for truth was lain In an adjoining room. He questioned softly why I failed? "For beauty," I replied. "And I for truth - the two 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. "

"I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, And Mourners to and fro Kept treading--treading--till it seemed That Sense was breaking through-- And when they all were seated, A Service, like a Drum-- Kept beating--beating--till I thought My Mind was going numb-- And then I heard them lift a Box And creak across my Soul With those same Boots of Lead, again, Then Space--began to toll, As all the Heavens were a Bell, And Being, but an Ear, And I, and Silence, some strange Race Wrecked, solitary, here-- And then a Plank in Reason, broke, And I dropped down, and down-- And hit a World, at every plunge, And Finished knowing--then-- "

"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 Be large enough for Me— "

"I lived on dread; to those who know The stimulus there is In danger, other impetus Is numb and vital-less. As't were a spur upon the soul, A fear will urge it where To go without the spectre's aid Were challenging despair. "

"I got so I could take his name— Without—Tremendous gain— That Stop-sensation—on my Soul— And Thunder—in the Room— I got so I could walk across That Angle in the floor, Where he turned so, and I turned—how— And all our Sinew tore— I got so I could stir the Box— In which his letters grew Without that forcing, in my breath— As Staples—driven through— Could dimly recollect a Grace— I think, they call it "God"— Renowned to ease Extremity— When Formula, had failed— And shape my Hands— Petition's way, Tho' ignorant of a word That Ordination—utters— My Business, with the Cloud, If any Power behind it, be, Not subject to Despair— It care, in some remoter way, For so minute affair As Misery— Itself, too vast, for interrupting—more— "

"I meant to find her when I came; Death had the same design; But the success was his, it seems, And the discomfit mine. I meant to tell her how I longed For just this single time; But Death had told her so the first, And she had hearkened him. To wander now is my abode; To rest,--to rest would be A privilege of hurricane To memory and me."

"I shall know why—when Time is over— And I have ceased to wonder why—"

"I live with Him—I see His face— I go no more away For Visitor—or Sundown— Death's single privacy The Only One—forestalling Mine— And that—by Right that He Presents a Claim invisible— No wedlock—granted Me— I live with Him—I hear His Voice— I stand alive—Today— To witness to the Certainty Of Immortality— Taught Me—by Time—the lower Way— Conviction—Every day— That Life like This—is stopless— Be Judgment—what it may— "

""I want"—it pleaded—All its life— I want—was chief it said When Skill entreated it—the last— And when so newly dead— I could not deem it late—to hear That single—steadfast sigh— The lips had placed as with a "Please" Toward Eternity"

"I think to Live—may be a Bliss To those who dare to try— Beyond my limit to conceive— My lip—to testify— I think the Heart I former wore Could widen—till to me The Other, like the little Bank Appear—unto the Sea— I think the Days—could every one In Ordination stand— And Majesty—be easier— Than an inferior kind— No numb alarm—lest Difference come— No Goblin—on the Bloom— No start in Apprehension's Ear, No Bankruptcy—no Doom— But Certainties of Sun— Midsummer—in the Mind— A steadfast South—upon the Soul— Her Polar time—behind— The Vision—pondered long— So plausible becomes That I esteem the fiction—real— The Real—fictitious seems— How bountiful the Dream— What Plenty—it would be— Had all my Life but been Mistake Just rectified—in Thee "

"If What we could—were what we would— Criterion—be small— It is the Ultimate of Talk— The Impotence to Tell— "

"Of all the Sounds despatched abroad, There's not a Charge to me Like that old measure in the Boughs— That phraseless Melody— The Wind does—working like a Hand, Whose fingers Comb the Sky— Then quiver down—with tufts of Tune— Permitted Gods, and me— Inheritance, it is, to us— Beyond the Art to Earn— Beyond the trait to take away By Robber, since the Gain Is gotten not of fingers— And inner than the Bone— Hid golden, for the whole of Days, And even in the Urn, I cannot vouch the merry Dust Do not arise and play In some odd fashion of its own, Some quainter Holiday, When Winds go round and round in Bands— And thrum upon the door, And Birds take places, overhead, To bear them Orchestra. I crave Him grace of Summer Boughs, If such an Outcast be— Who never heard that fleshless Chant— Rise—solemn—on the Tree, As if some Caravan of Sound Off Deserts, in the Sky, Had parted Rank, Then knit, and swept— In Seamless Company— "

"No Prisoner be— Where Liberty— Himself—abide with Thee— "

"Nature the gentlest mother is, Impatient of no child, The feeblest of the waywardest. Her admonition mild In forest and the hill By traveller be heard, Restraining rampant squirrel Or too impetuous bird. How fair her conversation A summer afternoon, Her household her assembly; And when the sun go down, Her voice among the aisles Incite the timid prayer Of the minutest cricket, The most unworthy flower. When all the children sleep, She turns as long away As will suffice tolight her lamps, Then bending from the sky With infinite affection An infiniter care, Her golden finger on her lip, Wills silence everywhere. "

"More Life—went out—when He went Than Ordinary Breath— Lit with a finer Phosphor— Requiring in the Quench— A Power of Renowned Cold, The Climate of the Grave A Temperature just adequate So Anthracite, to live— For some—an Ampler Zero— A Frost more needle keen Is necessary, to reduce The Ethiop within. Others—extinguish easier— A Gnat's minutest Fan Sufficient to obliterate A Tract of Citizen— Whose Peat lift—amply vivid— Ignores the solemn News That Popocatapel exists— Or Etna's Scarlets, Choose— "

"Not "Revelation"—'tis—that waits, But our unfurnished eyes— "

"Of Tolling Bell I ask the cause? "A Soul has gone to Heaven" I'm answered in a lonesome tone— Is Heaven then a Prison? That Bells should ring till all should know A Soul had gone to Heaven Would seem to me the more the way A Good News should be given. "

"Of Consciousness, her awful Mate The Soul cannot be rid— As easy the secreting her Behind the Eyes of God. The deepest hid is sighted first And scant to Him the Crowd— What triple Lenses burn upon The Escapade from God— "

"One Life of so much Consequence! Yet I—for it—would pay— My Soul's entire income— In ceaseless—salary— One Pearl—to me—so signal— That I would instant dive— Although—I knew—to take it— Would cost me—just a life! The Sea is full—I know it! That—does not blur my Gem! It burns—distinct from all the row— Intact—in Diadem! The life is thick—I know it! Yet—not so dense a crowd— But Monarchs—are perceptible— Far down the dustiest Road! "

"Our journey had advanced; Our feet were almost come To that odd fork in Being's road, Eternity by term. Our pace took sudden awe, Our feet reluctant led. Before were cities, but between, The forest of the dead. Retreat was out of hope,-- Behind, a sealed route, Eternity's white flag before, And God at every gate."

"One and One—are One— Two—be finished using— Well enough for Schools— But for Minor Choosing— Life—just—or Death— Or the Everlasting— More—would be too vast For the Soul's Comprising— "

"Pain—expands the Time— Ages coil within The minute Circumference Of a single Brain— Pain contracts—the Time— Occupied with Shot Gamuts of Eternities Are as they were not— "

"Pain has an element of blank; It cannot recollect When it began, or if there were A day when it was not. It has no future but itself, Its infinite realms contain Its past, enlightened to perceive New periods of pain. "

"Pain—has an Element of Blank— It cannot recollect When it begun—or if there were A time when it was not— It has no Future—but itself— Its Infinite contain Its Past—enlightened to perceive New Periods—of Pain."

"Peace is a fiction of our Faith— The Bells a Winter Night Bearing the Neighbor out of Sound That never did alight. "

"Remorse -- is Memory -- awake -- Her Parties all astir -- A Presence of Departed Acts -- At window -- and at Door -- Its Past -- set down before the Soul And lighted with a Match -- Perusal -- to facilitate -- And help Belief to stretch -- Remorse is cureless -- the Disease Not even God -- can heal -- For 'tis His institution -- and The Adequate of Hell -- "

"Publication—is the Auction Of the Mind of Man— Poverty—be justifying For so foul a thing Possibly—but We—would rather From Our Garret go White—Unto the White Creator— Than invest—Our Snow— Thought belong to Him who gave it— Then—to Him Who bear Its Corporeal illustration—Sell The Royal Air— In the Parcel—Be the Merchant Of the Heavenly Grace— But reduce no Human Spirit To Disgrace of Price— "

"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— "

"She dealt her pretty words like Blades— How glittering they shone— And every One unbared a Nerve Or wantoned with a Bone— She never deemed—she hurt— That—is not Steel's Affair— A vulgar grimace in the Flesh— How ill the Creatures bear— To Ache is human—not polite— The Film upon the eye Mortality's old Custom— Just locking up—to Die. "

"Renunciation -- is a piercing Virtue -- The letting go A Presence -- for an Expectation -- Not now -- The putting out of Eyes -- Just Sunrise -- Lest Day -- Day's Great Progenitor -- Outvie Renunciation -- is the Choosing Against itself -- Itself to justify Unto itself -- When larger function -- Make that appear -- Smaller -- that Covered Vision -- Here -- "

"Sleep is supposed to be By souls of sanity The shutting of the eye. Sleep is the station grand Down which, on either hand The hosts of witness stand! Morn is supposed to be By people of degree The breaking of the Day. Morning has not occurred! That shall Aurora be— East of Eternity— One with the banner gay— One in the red array— That is the break of Day! "

"Soto! Explore thyself! Therein thyself shalt find The "Undiscovered Continent"— No Settler had the Mind. "