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Poem by Emma Lazarus


By the impulse of my will,
  By the red flame in my blood,
By me nerves' electric thrill,
  By the passion of my mood,
My concentrated desire,
  My undying, desperate love,
I ignore Fate, I defy her,
  Iron-hearted Death I move.
When the town lies numb with sleep,
  Here, round-eyed I sit; my breath
Quickly stirred, my flesh a-creep,
  And I force the gates of death.
I nor move nor speakyou'd deem
  From my quiet face and hands,
I were trancedbut in her dream,
  SHE responds, she understands.
I have power on what is not,
  Or on what has ceased to be,
From that deep, earth-hollowed spot,
  I can lift her up to me.
And, or ere I am aware
  Through the closed and curtained door,
Comes my lady white and fair,
  And embraces me once more.
Though the clay clings to her gown,
  Yet all heaven is in her eyes;
Cool, kind fingers press mine eyes,
  To my soul her soul replies.
But when breaks the common dawn,
  And the city wakesbehold!
My shy phantom is withdrawn,
  And I shiver lone and cold.
And I know when she has left,
  She is stronger far than I,
And more subtly spun her weft,
  Than my human wizardry.
Though I force her to my will,
  By the red flame in my blood,
By my nerves' electric thrill,
  By the passion of my mood,
Yet all day a ghost am I.
  Nerves unstrung, spent will, dull brain.
I achieve, attain, but die,
  And she claims me hers again.

Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus's other poems:
  1. Sic Semper Liberatoribus!
  2. Spring Longing
  3. Autumn Sadness
  4. Age and Death
  5. Restlessness

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