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Poems About the Soul

Table of Contents

  1. The Mystic by Anonymous
  2. The Soul's Storm by Emily Dickinson
  3. Choice by Emily Dickinson
  4. Exclusion by Emily Dickinson
  5. The soul should always stand ajar by Emily Dickinson
  6. The soul unto itself by Emily Dickinson
  7. Death And Life by Anonymous
  8. Weather of the Soul by Bliss Carman
  9. Sea-Birds by Elizabeth Akers
  10. The Soul's Farewell by Hannah Flagg Gould
  11. My Soul by Richard Lynott O'Malley
  12. Wings by Mathilde Blind
  13. A Clear Midnight by Walt Whitman
  14. A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman
  15. When Nerves Are Dead by Anonymous by Anonymous

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Psalm of Life
  1. Death is a dialogue between

    by Emily Dickinson

    Death is a dialogue between
    The spirit and the dust.
    "Dissolve," says Death. The Spirit, "Sir,
    I have another trust."

    Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
    The Spirit turns away,
    Just laying off, for evidence,
    An overcoat of clay.

  2. The Mystic

    by Anonymous

    His soul is like a shell, an empty shell.
    Within whose listening hollows evermore
    Home-hungry dreams of distant oceans dwell,
    The memories and murmurs of the shore.

  3. The Soul's Storm

    by Emily Dickinson

    It struck me every day
    The lightning was as new
    As if the cloud that instant slit
    And let the fire through.

    It burned me in the night,
    It blistered in my dream;
    It sickened fresh upon my sight
    With every morning's beam.

    I thought that storm was brief, —
    The maddest, quickest by;
    But Nature lost the date of this,
    And left it in the sky.

  4. Choice

    by Emily Dickinson

    Of all the souls that stand create
    I have elected one.
    When sense from spirit files away,
    And subterfuge is done;

    When that which is and that which was
    Apart, intrinsic, stand,
    And this brief tragedy of flesh
    Is shifted like a sand;

    When figures show their royal front
    And mists are carved away, —
    Behold the atom I preferred
    To all the lists of clay!

  5. Exclusion

    by Emily Dickinson

    The soul selects her own society,
    Then shuts the door;
    On her divine majority
    Obtrude no more.

    Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing
    At her low gate;
    Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
    Upon her mat.

    I've known her from an ample nation
    Choose one;
    Then close the valves of her attention
    Like stone.

  6. The soul should always stand ajar

    by Emily Dickinson

    The soul should always stand ajar,
    That if the heaven inquire,
    He will not be obliged to wait,
    Or shy of troubling her.

    Depart, before the host has slid
    The bolt upon the door,
    To seek for the accomplished guest, —
    Her visitor no more.

  7. The soul unto itself

    by Emily Dickinson

    The soul unto itself
    Is an imperial friend, —
    Or the most agonizing spy
    An enemy could send.

    Secure against its own,
    No treason it can fear;
    Itself its sovereign, of itself
    The soul should stand in awe.

  8. Death And Life

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Still the heart and stay the breath—
    There's a deeper death than death!
    This is death, when living soul
    Yields to deadly sin's control;
    When, beneath the devil's arts,
    Love, the light of life, departs;
    When the body, moving still,
    Bears about a lifeless will,
    And the spirit, formed to rise
    Ever-growing in the skies,
    Is a dead and empty seed:
    This, ah, this is death indeed!

    Rich the years, with fruitage rife—
    There's a higher life than life!
    This is life, when spirits press
    Into every nobleness;
    When on failure and defeat
    Power sets his lordly seat;
    When, although the body fail,
    Spirit energies prevail,
    And the world beholds a man
    After the Creator's plan,
    Soul from all its bondage freed;
    This, ah, this is life indeed!

    Hear the resurrection cry:
    Dying, yet you shall not die!
    Christ is He that conquereth
    All this deeper death than death;
    Christ, from out of mortal strife,
    Won this higher life than life—
    Wins it through eternity,
    Just for you and just for me.

  9. Weather of the Soul

    by Bliss Carman

    There is a world of being
    We range from pole to pole,
    Through seasons of the spirit
    And weather of the soul.

    It has its new-born Aprils,
    With gladness in the air,
    Its golden Junes of rapture,
    Its winters of despair.

    And in its tranquil autumns
    We halt to re-enforce
    Our tattered scarlet pennons
    With valor and resource.

    From undiscovered regions
    Only the angels know,
    Great winds of aspiration
    Perpetually blow,

    To free the sap of impulse
    From torpor of distrust,
    And into flowers of joyance
    Quicken the sentient dust.

    From nowhere of a sudden
    Loom sudden clouds of fault,
    With thunders of oppression
    And lightnings of revolt.

    With hush of apprehension
    And quaking of the heart,
    There breed the storms of anger,
    And floods of sorrow start.

    And there shall fall,—how gently!—
    To make them fertile yet,
    The rain of absolution
    On acres of regret.

    Till snows of mercy cover
    The dream that shall come true,
    When time makes all things wondrous,
    And life makes all things new.

  10. Sea-Birds

    by Elizabeth Akers

    O lonesome sea-gull, floating far
    Over the ocean's icy waste,
    Aimless and wide thy wanderings are,
    Forever vainly seeking rest:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

    'Twixt wintry sea and wintry sky,
    Cleaving the keen air with thy breast,
    Thou sailest slowly, solemnly;
    No fetter on thy wing is pressed:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

    O restless, homeless human soul,
    Following for aye thy nameless quest,
    The gulls float, and the billows roll;
    Thou watchest still, and questionest:—
    Where is thy mate, and where thy nest?

  11. The Soul's Farewell

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    It must be so, poor, fading, mortal thing!
    And now we part, thou pallid form of clay;
    Thy hold is broke—I can unfurl my wing;
    And from the dust the spirit must away!

    As thou at night, hast thrown thy vesture by,
    Tired with the day, to seek thy wonted rest,
    Fatigued with time's vain round,'t is thus that I
    Of thee, frail covering, myself divest.

    Thou know'st, while journeying in this thorny road,
    How oft we're sighed and struggled to be twain;
    How I have longed to drop my earthly load,
    And thou, to rest thee from thy toil and pain.

    Then he, who severs our mysterious tie,
    Is a kind angel, granting each release;
    He'll seal thy quivering lip and sunken eye
    And stamp thy brow with everlasting peace.

    When thou hast lost the beauty that I gave,
    And life's gay scenes no more will give thee place,
    Thou may'st retire within the secret grave,
    Where none shall look upon thine altered face.

    But I am summoned to the eternal throne,
    To meet the presence of the King most high;
    I go to stand, unshrouded and alone,
    Full in the light of God's all-searching eye.

    There must the deeds, which we together wrought,
    Be all remembered—each a witness made;
    The outward action and the secret thought
    Before the silent soul must there be weighed.

    Lo! I behold the seraph throng descend
    To waft me up where love and mercy dwell!
    Away, vain fears! the Judge will be my friend;
    It is my Father calls—pale clay, farewell!

  12. Excerpt from "Thoughts"

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    If such be the end of each perishing part,
    Immortal, invisible, tell what thou art;
    Thy business, and what thou dost hope to inherit,
    Thou restless, aspiring, unsatisfied Spirit!

    "What my nature may be, there is none that can know,
    But the Being above to whose presence I go.
    But I've dwelt on this earth, and its joys have embraced,
    'Till I've found myself wounded, deceived and disgraced.
    Its flowers, when I touched them, would wither and fall;
    I tasted its cup, but 't was mingled with gall.
    Allured to its landscape, the serpent or snare
    I found was concealed, and awaited me there;
    That the rainbow hung o'er it, so bright to my eyes,
    At best, was but vapor, or tears in disguise.
    I have leant on this world, 'till with anguish I feel
    It is harder, and colder, and keener than steel.
    Only constant to change, and to falsehood but true,
    It stabs while it kisses, and smiles to undo.
    But for me the deceit of its visions are o'er;
    They shall wound and enslave and ensnare me no more:
    For faint, torn and bleeding, I turn from the earth,
    And look up in faith to the realm of my birth:
    I know there's a sun with a glorious light,
    With beams full of healing, to burst on my sight,
    Dispelling the shadows of sorrow and care;
    I know that a balm, a Physician is there.
    That country, that home, the unsatisfied spirit
    Here sighs to recover, and hopes to inherit."

  13. Distances

    by Bliss Carman

    Just where that star above
    Shines with a cold, dispassionate smile —
    If in the flesh I'd travel there,
    How many, many a mile!

    If this, my soul, should be
    Unprisoned from its earthly bond,
    Time could not count its markless flight
    Beyond that star, beyond!

  14. The Soul-Conflict

    by Paul Hamilton Hayne

    Defeated! but never disheartened!
    Repulsed! but unconquered in will,
    Upon dreary discomfitures building
    Her virtue's strong battlements still,
    The soul, through the siege of temptations,
    Yields not unto fraud, nor to might,
    Unquelled by the rush of the passions,
    Serene 'mid the tumults of fight.

    She sees a grand prize in the distance,
    She hears a glad sound of acclaims,
    The crown wrought of blooms amaranthine
    The music far sweeter than Fame's
    And so, 'gainst the rush of the passions
    She lifts the broad buckler of right,
    And so, through the glooms of temptation,
    She walks in a splendor of light.

  15. The Sound of the Sea

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
    And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
    I heard the first wave of the rising tide
    Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
    A voice out of the silence of the deep,
    A sound mysteriously multiplied
    As of a cataract from the mountain's side,
    Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
    So comes to us at times, from the unknown
    And inaccessible solitudes of being,
    The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
    And inspirations, that we deem our own,
    Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
    Of things beyond our reason or control.

  16. In Cloudy Weather

    by Ruby Archer

    Where is my halcyon blue?
    The grudging sky is overcast.
    Where is my dowering sun?
    A glory past.

    Nay, soul, thy daily sky
    Unfading spirit light must win,
    Dark days thy sunshine glow
    Ah bright within!

  17. Resolution

    by Ruby Archer

    The waves oppose the cliffs with daily force,
    And fall resisted back along their course.
    My soul opposes fate with daily will,
    And falls resisted back, defeated still,
    With gathered strength returning, like the waves,
    To wrest complete dominion that it craves.
    The cliffs are stone, and stone will wear away.
    Spirit shall rule, and fate itself obey.

  18. Resolution

    by Ruby Archer

    As the sunshine feeds the flower
    And smiles it into beauty,
    So did childhood's fire empower
    My soul with love and duty.

    As the mountain oak is marred,
    All knotted by the storm,
    So my soul by sin is scarred
    And twisted out of form.

    Here, in an hour of contemplation sweet,
    The soul can sing with unmolested ease,
    Of future joys, where all may find release
    From this vain world, transform'd to joys complete.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    On Evening

    When the heart's with anguish riven,
    Hope 's our anchor,—faith's our guide,
    Which directs our souls to heaven,
    Where we from the storm may hide.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    To Sorrow

  19. On Evening

    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    A stillness now pervades the busy world,
    As night approaches with her mantle gray,
    The cricket now begins her evening lay,
    And all to peace, and quiet sleep, are lull'd.

    This is the hour, if bliss is felt below,
    For sweet reflection now to make complete,—
    Her quiet solitude her calm retreat,—
    More of herself, and less of earth to know.

    The hour to contemplate the soul's true worth,
    When noise and busy care are lull'd away;
    The moon comes forth behind her sable gray,
    And all the stars begin to sparkle forth.

    Now sweet composure calms the mind to rest,
    And all is still, save where the distant bell
    Dies on the ear, the watch-men cry "all's well,"
    Then quiet peace responsive fills the breast.

    Here, in an hour of contemplation sweet,
    The soul can sing with unmolested ease,
    Of future joys, where all may find release
    From this vain world, transform'd to joys complete.

    This world's a scene of varied light and shade,
    Where grief and tears successive cross our way;
    But there's a rest where darkness turns to day—
    Where sorrow never shall the soul invade.

  20. The Approach Of June, Or The Month Of Roses

    Put off thy wintry robe my soul,
    Born to rejoice and sing,
    Let gratitude thy lips control
    In praises to your king.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    The Approach Of June, Or The Month Of Roses
    by Eliza and Sarah Wolcott

    'Tis blushing on through brier and thorn,
    The wintry winds are still;
    Now softer zephyrs waft along,
    The month of June to fill.

    Soft dews descend upon the flowers
    And kindly rest awhile;
    'Tis sweet to wait upon these hours,
    To see the roses smile.

    How beautiful the charming scene,
    'Tis far surpassing art,
    Like purity in heavenly mien,
    Reviving to the heart.

    Sweet exhalations fill the air,
    While music in the grove,
    Invites my pensive soul to share
    In all the songs of love.

    Put off thy wintry robe my soul,
    Born to rejoice and sing,
    Let gratitude thy lips control
    In praises to your king.

    The soul with innocence possess'd,
    Her incense safe may bear
    To Christ, whose righteousness hath bless'd
    The humblest form of prayer.

    Thus while the roses greet our eyes,
    In all their rich perfume,
    Should our prayers like incense rise,
    Our summer to illume.

    When time is done with us below,
    Our souls can never die,
    But will partake of joy or woe,
    Beyond the human eye.

    – Eliza Wolcott
    The Time Is Short
  21. The Petrified Fern

    by Mary L. Bolles Branch

    In a valley, centuries ago,
    Grew a little fern leaf, green and slender,
    Veining delicate and fibers tender,
    Waving when the wind crept down so low;
    Rushes tall, and moss, and grass grew round it;
    Playful sunbeams darted in and found it;
    Drops of dew stole down by night and crowned it;
    But no foot of man e'er came that way;
    Earth was young and keeping holiday.

    Monster fishes swam the silent main;
    Stately forests waved their giant branches;
    Mountains hurled their snowy avalanches;
    Mammoth creatures stalked across the plain,
    Nature reveled in grand mysteries.
    But the little fern was not like these,
    Did not number with the hills and trees,
    Only grew and waved its sweet, wild way;
    No one came to note it day by day.

    Earth, one time, put on a frolic mood,
    Heaved the rocks and changed the mighty motion
    Of the strong, dread currents of the ocean;
    Moved the hills and shook the haughty wood;
    Crushed the little fern in soft, moist clay,
    Covered it, and hid it safe away.
    Oh, the long, long centuries since that day;
    Oh, the changes! Oh, life's bitter cost,
    Since the little useless fern was lost!

    Useless? Lost? There came a thoughtful man
    Searching Nature's secrets far and deep;
    From a fissure in a rocky steep
    He withdrew a stone, o'er which there ran
    Fairy pencilings, a quaint design,
    Leafage, veining, fibers, clear and fine,
    And the fern's life lay in every line.
    So, I think, God hides some souls away,
    Sweetly to surprise us the Last Day.

  22. Wings

    by Mathilde Blind

    Ascend, oh my Soul, with the wings of the lark ascend!
    Soaring away and away far into the blue.
    Or with the shrill seagull to the breakers bend,
    Or with the bee, where the grasses and field-flowers blend,
    Drink out of golden cups of the honey-dew.

    Ascend, oh my Soul, on the wings of the wind as it blows,
    Striking wild organ-blasts from the forest trees,
    Or on the zephyr bear love of the rose to the rose,
    Or with the hurricane sower cast seed as he goes
    Limitless ploughing the leagues of the sibilant seas.

    Ascend, oh my Soul, on the wings of the choral strain,
    Invisible tier above tier upbuilding sublime;
    Note as it scales after note in a rhythmical chain
    Reaching from chaos and welter of struggle and pain,
    Far into vistas empyreal receding from time.

    Ascend! take wing on the thoughts of the Dead, my Soul,
    Breathing in colour and stone, flashing through epic and song:
    Thoughts that like avalanche snows gather force as they roll,
    Mighty to fashion and knead the phenomenal throng
    Of generations of men as they thunder along.

  23. A Clear Midnight

    by Walt Whitman

    This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
    Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
    Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
    Night, sleep, death and the stars.

  24. A Noiseless Patient Spider

    by Walt Whitman

    A noiseless patient spider,
    I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
    Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
    It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
    Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

    And you O my soul where you stand,
    Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
    Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
    Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
    Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

  25. When Nerves Are Dead

    by Anonymous

    When the nerve is alive, and the dentist cuts and grinds,
    There are fully fifty pains he invariably finds
    There are pains that are hot, there are pains that are cold,
    There are big and swelling pains that the mouth can hardly hold,
    There are pains like a needle, there are pains like a saw,
    There are pains that explode and other pains that gnaw—
    When the nerve of the tooth is alive.

    When the nerve is dead, let the dentist grind away,
    You can sit and smile, quite at ease and even gay;
    He can do his worst, and he doesn't hurt a bit,
    He can chisel and bore and you hardly think of it.
    But the tooth, alas! needs the nerve to keep it well
    And it soon decays and becomes a brittle shell
    When the nerve of the tooth is dead.

    When the nerve of the soul is alive to sin and woe,
    How we groan at wrongs, and we will not have them so,
    How we sigh and weep at the weary lot of man,
    How we tug and pull just to help the best we can,
    How we heal the sick, how we bolster up the weak,
    How we range afar as the wretched lost we seek,
    When the nerve of the soul is alive.

    When the nerve of the soul is dead we live at ease,
    Sin, woe, and want,—let them ravage as they please.
    Let the wicked rule, let the weary faint and fall,
    We are deaf and blind to the sorrow of it all.
    But alas! for the soul as it slowly shrinks away, As it rots and fades in an ugly, swift decay,
    When the nerve of the soul is dead.

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