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American poet
(1830 - 1886)
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Death is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.
      - [Death]

Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.
      - [Failure]

How frugal is the chariot that bears a human soul.
      - [Frugality]

Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it.
      - [Life]

My friends are my estate.
      - [Friends]

Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.
      - [Dawn]

That it shall never come again is what makes life so sweet.
      - [Life]

The truth dazzles gradually, or else the world would be blind.
      - [Truth]

They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell.
      - [Dogs]

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
      - [Living]

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
      - [Aging]

We'd never know how high we are, till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky.
      - [Adversity]

He ate and drank the precious words,
  His spirit grew robust;
    He knew no more that he was poor,
      Nor that his frame was dust.
        He danced along the dingy days,
          And this bequest of wings
            Was but a book. What liberty
              A loosened spirit brings!
      - A Book [Books]

There is no frigate like a book
  To take us lands away,
    Nor any coursers like a page
      Of prancing poetry.
        This traverse may the poorest take
          Without oppress of toll;
            How frugal is the chariot
              That bears a human soul.
      - A Book [Books]

And so upon this wise I prayed,--
  Great Spirit, give to me
    A heaven not so large as yours
      But large enough for me.
      - A Prayer [Heaven]

Because I could not stop for Death--
  He kindly stopped for me--
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves--
      And Immortality.
      - Because I could not stop for Death [Death]

A little madness in the Spring
  Is wholesome even for the King,
    But God be with the Clown,
      Who ponders this tremendous scene--
        This whole experiment in green,
          As if it were his own!
      - Collected Poems (The Centenary Edition)
        [Nature : Spring]

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
  I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
      Or cool one pain,
        Or help one fainting robin
          Into his nest again,
            I shall not live in vain.
      - Life [Help]

A little Madness in the Spring
  Is wholesome even for the King,
    But God be with the Clown,
      Who ponders this tremendous scene--
        This whole experiment in green,
          As if it were his own!
      - No. 1333 [Spring]

There's a certain Slant of light,
  Winter Afternoons--
    That oppresses, like the Heft
      Of Cathedral Tunes--
      - No. 258 [Winter]

The heart asks pleasure first,
  And then, excuse from pain;
    And then, those little anodynes
      That deaden suffering;
        And then, to go to sleep;
          And then, if it should be
            The will of its Inquisitor,
              The liberty to die.
      - Poems (IX), (ed. 1891) [Heart]

The pedigree of honey
  Does not concern the bee;
    A clover, any time, to him
      Is aristocracy.
      - Poems (V) [Bees]

God preaches, a noted clergyman,
  And the sermon is never long;
    So instead of getting to heaven at last,
      I'm going all along.
      - Poems (VI, A Service of Song) [Preaching]

Much madness is divinest sense
  To a discerning eye;
    Much sense the starkest madness.
      'Tis the majority
        In this, as all, prevails
          Assent, and you are sane;
            Demur,--you're straightway dangerous,
              And handled with a chain.
      - Poems (XI (1891 ed.)) [Insanity]

The mountain at a given distance
  In amber lies;
    Approached, the amber flits a little,--
      And that's the skies!
      - Poems (XIX, second series (ed. 1891))

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