Not probable — The barest Chance —
A smile too few — a word too much
And far from Heaven as the Rest —
The Soul so close on Paradise —
What if the Bird from journey far —
Confused by Sweets — as Mortals — are —
Forget the secret of His wing
And perish — but a Bough between —
Oh, Groping feet —
Oh Phantom Queen!
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A fuzzy fellow, without feet,
Yet doth exceeding run!
Of velvet, is his Countenance,
And his Complexion, dun!
Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass!
Sometime, upon a bough,
From which he doth descend in plush
Upon the Passer-by!
All this in summer.
But when winds alarm the Forest Folk,
He taketh Damask Residence —
And struts in sewing silk!
Then, finer than a Lady,
Emerges in the spring!
A Feather on each shoulder!
You’d scarce recognize him!
By Men, yclept Caterpillar!
By me! But who am I,
To tell the pretty secret
Of the Butterfly!
‘Tis so much joy! ‘Tis so much joy!
If I should fail, what poverty!
And yet, as poor as I,
Have ventured all upon a throw!
Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so —
This side the Victory!
Life is but Life! And Death, but Death!
Bliss is, but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!
And if indeed I fail,
At least, to know the worst, is sweet!
Defeat means nothing but Defeat,
No drearier, can befall!
And if I gain! Oh Gun at Sea!
Oh Bells, that in the Steeples be!
At first, repeat it slow!
For Heaven is a different thing,
Conjectured, and waked sudden in —
And might extinguish me!