First print Life I, 1 J poem 67 | Fr poem 112 Success is counted sweetest By those who ne’er succeed. To comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need. Not one of all the purple host Who took the flag to-day Can tell the definition, So clear, of victory, As he, defeated, dying, On whose forbidden … Continue reading Success

Our Share of Night

First print Life II, 2 J poem 113 | Fr poem 116 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! The text … Continue reading Our Share of Night

Rouge et Noir

First print Life III, 3 J poem 139 | Fr poem 89 Soul, wilt thou toss again? By just such a hazard Hundreds have lost, indeed, But tens have won an all. Angels’ breathless ballot Lingers to record thee; Imps, in eager caucus, Raffle for my soul. The text may be used under any of … Continue reading Rouge et Noir

Rouge Gagne

First print Life IV, 4 J poem 172 | Fr poem 170 It is so much joy! ’T is so much joy! If I should fail, what poverty! And yet, as poor as I Have ventured all upon a throw; Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so This side the victory! Life is but life, and death … Continue reading Rouge Gagne

Glee! The Great Storm Is Over!

First print Life V, 5 J poem 619 | Fr poem 685 Glee! the great storm is over! Four have recovered the land; Forty gone down together Into 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 … Continue reading Glee! The Great Storm Is Over!

If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking

First print Life VI, 6 J poem 919 | Fr poem 982 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 robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain. The text … Continue reading If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking


First print Life VII, 7 J poem 90 | Fr poem 69 Within my reach! I could have touched! I might have chanced that way! Soft sauntered through the village, Sauntered as soft away! So unsuspected, violets Within the fields lie low; Too late for striving fingers That passed, an hour ago. The text may … Continue reading Almost!

A Wounded Deer

First print Life VIII, 8 J poem 165 | Fr poem 181 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 redder Just where the hectic stings! … Continue reading A Wounded Deer

The Heart Asks Pleasure First

First print Life IX, 9 J poem 536 | Fr poem 588 The heart asks pleasure first, And then, excuse from pain; And then, those little anodynes That deaden suffering; And then, to go to sleep; And then, if it should be The will of its Inquisitor, The liberty to die. The text may be … Continue reading The Heart Asks Pleasure First

In a Library

First print Life X, 10 J poem 371 | Fr poem 569 A precious, mouldering pleasure ’t is To 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 make To times when he … Continue reading In a Library

Much Madness

First print Life XI, 11 J poem 435 | Fr poem 620 Much madness is divinest sense To a discerning eye; Much sense the starkest madness. ’T is, the majority In this, as all, prevails. Assent, and you are sane; Demur, — you’re straightway dangerous, And handled with a chain. The text may be used … Continue reading Much Madness

The Secret

First print Life XIV, 14 J poem 89 | Fr poem 68 Some things that fly there be, — Birds, hours, the bumble-bee: Of these no elegy. Some things that stay there be, — Grief, hills, eternity: Nor this behooveth me. There are, that resting, rise. Can I expound the skies? How still the riddle … Continue reading The Secret

The Lonely House

First print Life XV, 15 J poem 289 | Fr poem 311 I know some lonely houses off the road A robber ’d like the look of, — Wooden barred, And windows hanging low, Inviting to A portico, Where two could creep: One hand the tools, The other peep To make sure all’s asleep. Old-fashioned … Continue reading The Lonely House

To Fight Aloud

First print Life XVI, 16 J poem 126 | Fr poem 138 To fight aloud is very brave, But gallanter, I know, Who charge within the bosom, The cavalry of woe. Who win, and nations do not see, Who fall, and none observe, Whose dying eyes no country Regards with patriot love. We trust, in … Continue reading To Fight Aloud

The Book of Martyrs

First print Life XVIII, 18 J poem 260 | Fr poem 323 Read, sweet, how others strove, Till we are stouter; What they renounced, Till we are less afraid; How many times they bore The faithful witness, Till we are helped, As if a kingdom cared! Read then of faith That shone above the fagot; … Continue reading The Book of Martyrs

Pain Has an Element of Blank

First print Life XIX J poem 650 | Fr poem 760 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. The text may … Continue reading Pain Has an Element of Blank

I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed

First print Life XX J poem 214 | Fr poem 207 I taste a liquor never brewed, From tankards scooped in pearl; Not all the vats upon the Rhine Yield such an alcohol! Inebriate of air am I, And debauchee of dew, Reeling, through endless summer days, From inns of molten blue. When landlords turn … Continue reading I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed