Verse > Emily Dickinson > Complete Poems > II. Nature > 105. “You ’ve seen balloons set, haven’t you?”

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part Two: Nature


YOU ’VE seen balloons set, haven’t you?
  So stately they ascend
It is as swans discarded you
  For duties diamond.
Their liquid feet go softly out        5
  Upon a sea of blond;
They spurn the air as’t were to mean
  For creatures so renowned.
Their ribbons just beyond the eye,
  They struggle some for breath,        10
And yet the crowd applauds below;
  They would not encore death.
The gilded creature strains and spins,
  Trips frantic in a tree,
Tears open her imperial veins        15
  And tumbles in the sea.
The crowd retire with an oath
  The dust in streets goes down,
And clerks in counting-rooms observe,
  “’T was only a balloon.”        20


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