A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part IV: XCII-CIX" by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
From: The Single Hound; Poems of a Lifetime. by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). With an introduction by her niece, Martha Gilbert Dickinson Bianchi (1866?-1943). Boston: Little, Brown, 1914. pp. 99-117.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 99] 


THE Devil, had he fidelity,
Would be the finest friend–
Because he has ability,
But Devils cannot mend.
Perfidy is the virtue
That would he but resign,–
The Devil, so amended,
Were durably divine.

[Page 100] 


PAPA above!
              Regard a Mouse
O'erpowered by the Cat;
Reserve within thy kingdom
A "mansion" for the Rat!

Snug in seraphic cupboards
To nibble all the day,
While unsuspecting cycles
Wheel pompously away.

[Page 102] 


NOT when we know
The Power accosts,
The garment of Surprise
Was all our timid Mother wore
At Home, in Paradise.

[Page 102] 


ELIJAH'S wagon knew no thill,
Was innocent of wheel,
Elijah's horses as unique
As was his vehicle.
Elijah's journey to portray,
Expire with him the skill,
Who justified Elijah,
In feats inscrutable.

[Page 103] 


"REMEMBER me," implored the Thief–
Oh magnanimity!
"My Visitor in Paradise
I give thee Guaranty."

That courtesy will fair remain,
When the delight is dust,
With which we cite this mightiest case
Of compensated Trust.

Of All, we are allowed to hope,
But Affidavit stands
That this was due, where some, we fear,
Are unexpected friends.

[Page 104] 


TO this apartment deep
No ribaldry may creep;
Untroubled this abode
By any man but God.

[Page 105] 


"SOWN in dishonor?"
Ah! Indeed!
May this dishonor be?
If I were half so fine myself,
I'd notice nobody!

"Sown in corruption?"
By no means!
Apostle is askew;
Corinthians 1. 15, narrates
A circumstance or two!

[Page 106] 


WHO is it seeks my pillow nights?
With plain inspecting face,
"Did you, or did you not?" to ask,
'Tis Conscience, childhood's nurse.

With martial hand she strokes the hair
Upon my wincing head,
"All rogues shall have their part in"–
      The Phosphorus of God.

[Page 107] 


HIS Cheek is his Biographer–
As long as he can blush,
Perdition is Opprobrium;
Past that, he sins in peace.

[Page 108] 


"HEAVENLY Father," take to thee
The supreme iniquity,
Fashioned by thy candid hand
In a moment contraband.
Though to trust us seem to us
More respectful–"we are dust."
We apologize to Thee
For Thine own Duplicity.

[Page 109] 


THE sweets of Pillage can be known
To no one but the Thief,
Compassion for Integrity
Is his divinest Grief.

[Page 110] 


A LITTLE over Jordan,
As Genesis record,
An Angel and a Wrestler
Did wrestle long and hard.

Till, morning touching mountain,
And Jacob waxing strong,
The Angel begged permission
To breakfast and return.

Not so, quoth wily Jacob
And girt his loins anew,
"Until thou bless me, stranger!"
The which acceded to:

Light swung the silver fleeces
Peniel hills among,
And the astonished Wrestler
Found he had worsted God!

[Page 111] 


DUST is the only secret,
Death the only one
You cannot find out all about
In his native town:
Nobody knew his father,
Never was a boy,
Hadn't any playmates
Or early history.

Industrious, laconic,
Punctual, sedate,
Bolder than a Brigand,
Swifter than a Fleet,
Builds like a bird too,
Christ robs the nest–
Robin after robin
Smuggled to rest!

[Page 112] 


AMBITION cannot find him,
Affection doesn't know
How many leagues of Nowhere
Lie between them now.
Yesterday undistinguished–
Eminent today,
For our mutual honor–

[Page 113] 


EDEN is that old fashioned House
We dwell in every day,
Without suspecting our abode
Until we drive away.
How fair, on looking back, the Day
We sauntered from the door,
Unconscious our returning
Discover it no more.

[Page 114] 


CANDOR, my tepid Friend,
Come not to play with me!
The Myrrhs and Mochas of the Mind
Are its Iniquity.

[Page 115] 


SPEECH is a symptom of affection,
And Silence one,
The perfectest communication
Is heard of none–
Exists and its endorsement
Is had within–
Behold! said the Apostle,
Yet had not seen.

[Page 116] 


WHO were "the Father and the Son"–
We pondered when a child,
And what had they to do with us–
And when portentous told
With inference appalling,
By Childhood fortified,
We thought, "at least they are no worse
Than they have been described."

Who are "the Father and the Son"–
Did we demand today,
"The Father and the Son" himself
Would doubtless specify,
But had they the felicity
When we desired to know,
We better Friends had been, perhaps,
Than time ensue to be.

We start, to learn that we believe
But once, entirely–

[Page 117] 

Belief, it does not fit so well
When altered frequently.
We blush, that Heaven if we achieve,
Event ineffable–
We shall have shunned, until ashamed
To own the Miracle.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteer
Steven van Leeuwen.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom