Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Part One: Life 39. I meant to have but modest needs


I meant to have but modest needs,

Such as content, and heaven;

Within my income these could lie,

And life and I keep even.

But since the last included both,

It would suffice my prayer

But just for one to stipulate,

And grace would grant the pair.

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 smile suffused Jehovah's face;

The cherubim withdrew;

Grave saints stole out to look at me,

And showed their dimples, too.

I left the place with all my might, --

My prayer away I threw;

The quiet ages picked it up,

And Judgment twinkled, too,

That one so honest be extant

As take the tale for true

That "Whatsoever you shall ask,

Itself be given you."

But I, grown shrewder, scan the skies

With a suspicious air, --

As children, swindled for the first,

All swindlers be, infer.