Some War Poems by Emily Dickinson

  That after Horror -- that 'twas us --
  That passed the mouldering Pier --
  Just as the Granite Crumb let go --
  Our Savior, by a Hair --
  A second more, had dropped too deep
  For Fisherman to plumb --
  The very profile of the Thought
  Puts Recollection numb --
  The possibility -- to pass
  Without a Moment's Bell --
  Into Conjecture's presence --
  Is like a Face of Steel --
  That suddenly looks into ours
  With a metallic grin --
  The Cordiality of Death --
  Who drills his Welcome in --

  If any sink, assure that this, now standing --
  Failed like Themselves -- and conscious that it rose --
  Grew by the Fact, and not the Understanding
  How Weakness passed -- or Force -- arose --
  Tell that the Worst, is easy in a Moment --
  Dread, but the Whizzing, before the Ball --
  When the Ball enters, enters Silence --
  Dying -- annuls the power to kill.

  No Rack can torture me --
  My Soul -- at Liberty --
  Behind this mortal Bone
  There knits a bolder One --
  You cannot prick with saw --
  Nor pierce with Scimitar --
  Two Bodies -- therefore be --
  Bind One -- The Other fly --
  The Eagle of his Nest
  No easier divest --
  And gain the Sky
  Than mayest Thou --
  Except Thyself may be
  Thine Enemy --
  Captivity is Consciousness --
  So's Liberty.

  They dropped like Flakes --
  They dropped like Stars --
  Like Petals from a Rose --
  When suddenly across the June
  A wind with fingers -- goes --
  They perished in the Seamless Grass --
  No eye could find the place --
  But God can summon every face
  Of his Repealless -- List.

  'Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch,
  That nearer, every Day,
  Kept narrowing its boiling Wheel
  Until the Agony
  Toyed coolly with the final inch
  Of your delirious Hem --
  And you dropt, lost,
  When something broke --
  And let you from a Dream --
  As if a Goblin with a Gauge --
  Kept measuring the Hours --
  Until you felt your Second
  Weigh, helpless, in his Paws --
  And not a Sinew -- stirred -- could help,
  And sense was setting numb --
  When God -- remembered -- and the Fiend
  Let go, then, Overcome --
  As if your Sentence stood -- pronounced --
  And you were frozen led
  From Dungeon's luxury of Doubt
  To Gibbets, and the Dead --
  And when the Film had stitched your eyes
  A Creature gasped "Reprieve"!
  Which Anguish was the utterest -- then --
  To perish, or to live?

It feels a shame to be Alive -- When Men so brave -- are dead -- One envies the Distinguished Dust -- Permitted -- such a Head -- The Stone -- that tells defending Whom This Spartan put away What little of Him we -- possessed In Pawn for Liberty -- The price is great -- Sublimely paid -- Do we deserve -- a Thing -- That lives -- like Dollars -- must be piled Before we may obtain? Are we that wait -- sufficient worth -- That such Enormous Pearl As life -- dissolved be -- for Us -- In Battle's -- horrid Bowl? It may be -- a Renown to live -- I think the Man who die -- Those unsustained -- Saviors -- Present Divinity --



Inconceivably solemn!
Things go gay
Pierce -- by the very Press
Of Imagery --

Their far Parades -- order on the eye
With a mute Pomp --
A pleading Pageantry --

Flags, are a brave sight --
But no true Eye
Ever went by One --
Steadily --

Music's triumphant --
But the fine Ear
Winces with delight
Are Drums too near --


The Only News I know
Is Bulletins all Day
From Immortality.

The Only Shows I see --
Tomorrow and Today --
Perchance Eternity --

The Only One I meet
Is God -- The Only Street --
Existence -- This traversed

If Other News there be --
Or Admirable Show --
I'll tell it You --


My Triumph lasted till the Drums
Had left the Dead alone
And then I dropped my Victory
And chastened stole along
To where the finished Faces
Conclusion turned on me
And then I hated Glory
And wished myself were They.

What is to be is best descried
When it has also been --
Could Prospect taste of Retrospect
The tyrannies of Men
Were Tenderer -- diviner
The Transitive toward.
A Bayonet's contrition
Is nothing to the Dead.