ninth poem in fascicle 34

My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun –
In Corners – till a Day
The Owner passed – identified –
And carried Me away –

And now We roam in Sovreign Woods –
And now We hunt the Doe –
And every time I speak for Him –
The Mountains straight reply –

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow –
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let it’s pleasure through –

And when at Night – Our good Day done –
I guard My Master’s Head –
’Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow – to have shared –

To foe of His – I’m deadly foe –
None stir the second time –
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye –
Or an emphatic Thumb –

Though I than He – may longer live
He longer must – than I –
For I have but the power to kill,
Without – the power to die –

5. in] the –
16. Deep] low
18. stir] harm
23. power] art

(Emily Dickinson, no. 754, about 1863.)

and how often do we need mountains

“I caught sight of a splendid Misses. She had handkerchiefs and kisses. She had eyes and yellow shoes she had everything to choose and she chose me. In passing through France she wore a Chinese hat and so did I. In looking at the sun she read a map and so did I. . . . In loving the blue sea she had a pain. And so did I. In loving me she of necessity thought first. And so did I. How prettily we swim. Not in water. Not on land. But in love. How often do we need trees and hills. Not often. And how often do we need mountains. Not very often.”

(Gertrude Stein, from “A Sonatina Followed by Another”, quoted in the preface to Davenport’s Sappho.)


Be bold! That’s one way
Of getting through life.
So I turn upon her
And point out that,
Faced with the wickedness
Of things, she does not shiver.
I prefer to have, after all,
Only what pleases me.
Are you so deep in misery
That you think me fallen?
You say I’m lazy; I’m not,
Nor any of my kin-people.
I know how to love those
Who love me, how to hate.
My enemies I overwhelm
With abuse. The ant bites!
The oracle said to me:
“Return to the city, reconquer.
It is almost in ruins.
With your spear give it glory.
Reign with absolute power,
The admiration of me.
After this long voyage,
Return to us from Gortyne.”
Pasture, fish, nor vulture
Were you, and I, returned,
Seek an honest woman
Ready to be a good wife.
I would hold your hand,
Would be near you, would have run
All the way to your house.
I cannot. The ship went down,
And all my wealth with it.
The salvagers have no hope.
You whom the soldiers beat,
You who are all but dead,
How the gods love you!
And I, alone in the dark,
I was promised the light.

(Archilochos, pp. 18–19 in Guy Davenport’s Carmina Archilochi.)