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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 speak—you'd deem From my quiet face and hands, I were tranced—but 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 wakes—behold! My shy phantom is withdrawn, And I shiver lone and cold.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's other poems:
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