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Poems

J243

I've known a Heaven, like a Tent -
To wrap its shining Yards -
Pluck up its stakes, and disappear -
Without the sound of Boards
Or Rip of Nail - Or Carpenter -
But just the miles of Stare -
That signalize a Show's Retreat -
In North America -

No Trace - no Figment of the Thing
That dazzled, Yesterday,
No Ring - no Marvel -
Men, and Feats -
Dissolved as utterly -
As Bird's far Navigation
Discloses just a Hue -
A plash of Oars, a Gaiety -
Then swallowed up, of view.

c. 1861                        1929

 

This poem, which movingly evokes a recognition of the fact that everything disappears, is a fine example of Dickinson's poetry of transience. The last line contains an echo of William Cullen Bryant's "To a Waterfowl" (1821), which serves to indicate how far she had moved in 1861 from Romantic certainty toward Existential doubt.