Verse > Emily Dickinson > Complete Poems > I. Life > 116. “I measure every grief I meet”

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

Part One: Life


I MEASURE every grief I meet
  With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
  Or has an easier size.
I wonder if they bore it long,        5
  Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
  It feels so old a pain.
I wonder if it hurts to live,
  And if they have to try,        10
And whether, could they choose between,
  They would not rather die.
I wonder if when years have piled—
  Some thousands—on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse        15
  Could give them any pause;
Or would they go on aching still
  Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
  By contrast with the love.        20
The grieved are many, I am told;
  The reason deeper lies,—
Death is but one and comes but once,
  And only nails the eyes.
There ’s grief of want, and grief of cold,—        25
  A sort they call “despair”;
There ’s banishment from native eyes,
  In sight of native air.
And though I may not guess the kind
  Correctly, yet to me        30
A piercing comfort it affords
  In passing Calvary,
To note the fashions of the cross,
  Of those that stand alone,
Still fascinated to presume        35
  That some are like my own.


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