In Vain

I CANNOT live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf
The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life — his porcelain,
Like a cup
Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down, —
You could not.
And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’,
That new grace
Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.

They’d judge us — how?
For you served Heaven, you know,
Or sought to;
I could not,
Because you saturated sight,
And I had no more eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise.

And were you lost, I would be,
Though my name
Rang loudest
On the heavenly fame;
And were you saved,
And I condemned to be
Where you were not,
That self were hell to me.

So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And prayer,
And that pale sustenance,
Despair!

First print Love poem XII, 12
Johnson 640 | Franklin 706

■→IN POLISH

Text compared with the fascicle and prepared for publication by Teresa Pelka, available under any of the following licenses:
■→Creative Commons License 4.0, BY-SA 3.0, and License 2.5.

■→Poems, first print by Higginson and Todd, page 55;
Thematic arrangement; dash alone for thematic development, dash and comma for premise and consequent, cf. ■→Notes, for The Outlet.

■→Notes for Emily Dickinson’s poetry;
Poems one-by-one print and fascicle comparison,
■→Resource for Emily Dickinson’s poetry;
■→Google Drive, manuscript fascicles.


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The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.

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Świat może i nigdy nie widział jej oryginalnego pisma, jeśli jej umiejętność została wzięta za nadnaturalną. Zapraszam do Wierszy Emilii Dickinson w przekładzie Teresy Pelka: zwrotka tematyczna, notki o inspiracji greką i łaciną, korelacie z Websterem 1828 oraz wątku arystotelesowskim, Rzecz perpetualna — ta nie zasadza się na czasie, ale na wieczności.

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