Emily Dickinson

(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886 / Amherst / Massachusetts)

I cannot live with You (No. 640)


I cannot live with You--
It would be Life--
And Life is over there--
Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to--
Putting up
Our Life--His Porcelain--
Like a Cup--

Discarded of the Housewife--
Quaint--or Broke--
A newer Sevres pleases--
Old Ones crack--

I could not die--with You--
For One must wait
To shut the Other's Gaze down--
You--could not--

And I--could I stand by
And see You--freeze--
Without my Right of Frost--
Death's privilege?

Nor could I rise--with You--
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesus'--
That New Grace

Glow plain--and foreign
On my homesick Eye--
Except that You than He
Shone closer by--

They'd judge Us--How--
For You--served Heaven--You know,
Or sought to--
I could not--

Because You saturated Sight--
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be--
Though My Name
Rang loudest
On the Heavenly fame--

And were You--saved--
And I--condemned to be
Where You were not--
That self--were Hell to Me--

So We must meet apart--
You there--I--here--
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are--and Prayer--
And that White Sustenance--
Despair--

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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