Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Part One: Life 116. I measure every grief I meet


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,

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,

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

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.

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, --

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

A piercing comfort it affords

In passing Calvary,

To note the fashions of the cross,

Of those that stand alone,

Still fascinated to presume

That some are like my own.