That is solemn we have ended,— (87)

- 1830-1886

That is solemn we have ended,—
     Be it but a play,
Or a glee among the garrets,
     Or a holiday,

Or a leaving home; or later,
     Parting with a world
We have understood, for better
     Still it be unfurled.

I measure every Grief I meet (561)

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes – 
I wonder if It weighs like Mine – 
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long – 
Or did it just begin – 
I could not tell the Date of Mine – 
It feels so old a pain – 

I wonder if it hurts to live – 
And if They have to try – 
And whether – could They choose between – 
It would not be – to die – 

I note that Some – gone patient long – 
At length, renew their smile –  
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil – 

I wonder if when Years have piled –  
Some Thousands – on the Harm –  
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –  

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve – 
Enlightened to a larger Pain –  
In Contrast with the Love –  

The Grieved – are many – I am told –  
There is the various Cause –  
Death – is but one – and comes but once –  
And only nails the eyes –  

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –  
A sort they call "Despair" –  
There's Banishment from native Eyes – 
In sight of Native Air –  

And though I may not guess the kind –  
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –  

To note the fashions – of the Cross –  
And how they're mostly worn –  
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own – 

The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman (1487)

The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman—
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen—

The Road to Bethlehem
Since He and I were Boys
Was leveled, but for that 'twould be
A rugged Billion Miles—

A Man may make a Remark (952)

A Man may make a Remark -
In itself - a quiet thing
That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark
In dormant nature - lain -

Let us divide - with skill -
Let us discourse - with care -
Powder exists in Charcoal -
Before it exists in Fire -

Related Poems

Burial

Geometry is a perfect religion,
Axiom after axiom:
One proves a way into infinity
And logic makes obeisance at command.

Outside of the triangle, cubes, and polystructures
There is restless pummeling, pounding and taunting.
The end is diffused into channels
Every step into eternity—and steps are endless.

Life and Art

You have sweet flowers for your pleasure;
    You laugh with the bountiful earth
In its richness of summer treasure:
    Where now are your flowers and your mirth?
Petals and cadenced laughter,
    Each in a dying fall,
Droop out of life; and after
    Is nothing; they were all.

But we from the death of roses
    That three suns perfume and gild
With a kiss, till the fourth discloses
    A withered wreath, have distilled
The fulness of one rare phial,
    Whose nimble life shall outrun
The circling shadow on the dial,
    Outlast the tyrannous sun.

On Death

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
    And he said:
    You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

    In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
    And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
    Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
    Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
    And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.