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Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete

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I.SUCCESS.[Published in "A Masque of Poets"at the request of "H.H.," the author'sfellow-townswoman and friend.]Success is counted sweetestBy those who ne'er succeed.To comprehend a nectarRequires sorest need.Not one of all the purple hostWho took the flag to-dayCan tell the definition,So clear, of victory,As he, defeated, dying,On whose forbidden earThe distant strains of triumphBreak, agonized and clear!

II.Our share of night to bear,Our share of morning,Our blank in bliss to fill,Our blank in scorning.Here a star, and there a star,Some lose their way.Here a mist, and there a mist,Afterwards — day!

III.ROUGE ET NOIR.Soul, wilt thou toss again?By just such a hazardHundreds have lost, indeed,But tens have won an all.Angels' breathless ballotLingers to record thee;Imps in eager caucusRaffle for my soul.

IV.ROUGE GAGNE.'T is so much joy! 'T is so much joy!If I should fail, what poverty!And yet, as poor as IHave ventured all upon a throw;Have gained! Yes! Hesitated soThis side the victory!Life is but life, and death but death!Bliss is but bliss, and breath but breath!And if, indeed, I fail,At least to know the worst is sweet.Defeat means nothing but defeat,No drearier can prevail!And if I gain, — oh, gun at sea,Oh, bells that in the steeples be,At first repeat it slow!For heaven is a different thingConjectured, and waked sudden in,And might o'erwhelm me so!

V.Glee! The great storm is over!Four have recovered the land;Forty gone down togetherInto the boiling sand.Ring, for the scant salvation!Toll, for the bonnie souls, —Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,Spinning upon the shoals!How they will tell the shipwreckWhen winter shakes the door,Till the children ask, "But the forty?Did they come back no more?"Then a silence suffuses the story,And a softness the teller's eye;And the children no further question,And only the waves reply.

VI.If I can stop one heart from breaking,I shall not live in vain;If I can ease one life the aching,Or cool one pain,Or help one fainting robinUnto his nest again,I shall not live in vain.

VII.ALMOST!Within my reach!I could have touched!I might have chanced that way!Soft sauntered through the village,Sauntered as soft away!So unsuspected violetsWithin the fields lie low,Too late for striving fingersThat passed, an hour ago.

VIII.A wounded deer leaps highest,I've heard the hunter tell;'T is but the ecstasy of death,And then the brake is still.The smitten rock that gushes,The trampled steel that springs;A cheek is always redderJust where the hectic stings!Mirth is the mail of anguish,In which it cautions arm,Lest anybody spy the bloodAnd "You're hurt" exclaim!

IX.The heart asks pleasure first,And then, excuse from pain;And then, those little anodynesThat deaden suffering;And then, to go to sleep;And then, if it should beThe will of its Inquisitor,The liberty to die.

X.IN A LIBRARY.A precious, mouldering pleasure 't isTo meet an antique book,In just the dress his century wore;A privilege, I think,His venerable hand to take,And warming in our own,A passage back, or two, to makeTo times when he was young.His quaint opinions to inspect,His knowledge to unfoldOn what concerns our mutual mind,The literature of old;What interested scholars most,What competitions ranWhen Plato was a certainty....