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An Amherst Bestiary

Word count: 1150

by Julian Philips (b. 1969)

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1. Prelude


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[--- Tacet ---]

2. Foreword [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Bring me the sunset in a cup --
Reckon the morning's flagons up
And say how many Dew --
Tell me how far the morning leaps --
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin's extasy [sic]1
Among astonished boughs --
How many trips the Tortoise makes --
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, Who laid the Rainbow's piers,
Also, Who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite --
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who'll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity?


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 1, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 140 (Version B).

1 Philips: “ecstasy”

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

3. The robin [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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The Robin for the Crumb
Returns no syllable
But long records the Lady’s name
In Silver Chronicle.


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 810 (Version B).


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

4. The winged beggar [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die beflügelte Bettlerin", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Most she touched me by her muteness -
Most she won me by the way
She presented her small figure -
Plea itself - for Charity -

Were a Crumb my whole possession -
Were there famine in the land -
Were it my resource from starving -
Could I such a plea withstand -

Not upon her knee to thank me
Sank this Beggar from the Sky -
But the Crumb partook - departed -
And returned On High -

I supposed - when sudden
Such a Praise began
'Twas as Space sat singing
To herself - and men -

'Twas the Winged Beggar -
Afterward I learned
To her Benefactor
Making Gratitude


Confirmed with The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, [1960], pages 372-373.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

5. The woodpecker [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le pic", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Der Specht", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


His Bill an Auger is
His Head, a Cap and Frill
He laboreth at every Tree
A Worm, His utmost Goal --


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 990.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

6. The owl [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le hibou", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die Eule", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


The Judge is like the Owl -
I’ve heard my Father tell -
And Owls do build in Oaks -
So here’s an Amber Sill -

That slanted in my Path -
When going to the Barn -
And if it serve You for a House -
Itself is not in vain -

About the price - ’tis small -
I only ask a Tune
At Midnight - Let the Owl select
His favourite Refrain.


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 728.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

7. The jay [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Der Häher", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A prompt - executive Bird is the Jay -
Bold as a Bailiff’s Hymn -
Brittle and Brief in quality -
Warrant in every line -

Sitting a Bough like a Brigadier
Confident and straight -
Much is the mien of him in March
As a Magistrate -


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1022 (Version C).


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

8. The hummingbird [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Within my Garden, rides a Bird
[Opon]1 a single Wheel -
Whose spokes a dizzy Music make
As 'twere a travelling Mill -

He never stops, but slackens -
Above the Ripest Rose -
Partakes without alighting -
And praises as he goes,

Till every spice is tasted -
And then his Fairy Gig
Reels in remoter atmospheres -
And I rejoin my Dog,

And He and I, perplex us
If positive, 'twere we -
Or bore the Garden in the Brain
This Curiosity -

But He, the best Logician,
Refers my [clumsy] 2 eye -
To just vibrating Blossoms!
An Exquisite Reply!


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 370.

1 [sic] ; Philips: “Upon”
2 In one of the earlier published versions this word was “duller”

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

9. The cat [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le chat", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) (Maria M. Schnepp) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


She sights a Bird - she chuckles -
She flattens - then she crawls -
She runs without the look of feet -
Her eyes increase to Balls -

Her Jaws stir - twitching - hungry -
Her Teeth can hardly stand -
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first -
Ah, Pussy, of the Sand,

The Hopes so juicy ripening -
You almost bathed your Tongue -
When Bliss disclosed a hundred [Toes]1 -
And fled with every one.


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 1, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 351.

1 In one of the earlier published versions this word was “wings”

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

10. The rat [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die Ratte", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Papa above!
Regard a mouse
O'erpowered by the Cat!
Reserve within thy kingdom
A "Mansion" for the Rat!

Snug in seraphic Cupboards
To nibble all the day,
While unsuspecting Cycles
Wheel [solemnly]1 away.


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 1, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 151 (Version B).

1 In Version A: „ pompously“

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

11. The leopard [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die Leopardin", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Civilization - spurns - the Leopard!
Was the Leopard - bold?
Deserts - never rebuked her Satin -
Ethiop - her Gold -
Tawny - her Customs -
She was Conscious -
Spotted - her Dun Gown -
This was the Leopard’s nature - Signor -
Need - a keeper - frown?

Pity - the Pard - that left her Asia -
Memories - of Palm -
Cannot be stifled - with Narcotic -
Nor suppressed - with Balm -


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 1, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 276.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

12. A letter [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Bee! I'm expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due --

The Frogs got Home last Week --
Are settled, and at work --
Birds, mostly back --
The Clover warm and thick --

You'll get my Letter by
The Seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me --
Yours, Fly.


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 983.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

13. The bee [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die Biene", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


His Feet are shod with Gauze -
His Helmet, is of Gold,
His Breast, a single Onyx
With Chrysophras, inlaid.

His Labor is a Chant -
His Idleness - a Tune -
Oh, for a Bee's experience
Of Clovers, and of Noon!


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 979.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

14. The spider [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed -
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified

By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land -
Neglected Son of Genius,
I take thee by the Hand.


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 3, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1373.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

15. The frog [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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His Mansion in the Pool
The Frog forsakes -
He rises on a Log
And statements makes -
His Auditors two Worlds
Deducting me,
The Orator of April
Is hoarse Today -
His Mittens at his feet
No Hand [hath]1 he -
His eloquence a Bubble
As Fame should be -
Applaud him to discover
To your chagrin
Demosthenes has vanished
In [Waters]2 Green -


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 3, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1355.

1 In one version “has.”
2 In one published version “Forums.”

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

16. The caterpillar [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Die Raupe", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


How soft a Caterpillar steps -
I find one on my Hand
From such a Velvet world it comes
Such plushes at command
[It’s [sic]]1 soundless travels just arrest
My slow - terrestrial eye
Intent [opon]2 its own career
What use has it for me -


View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 3, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1523.

1 Ippolito, Philips: "Its"
2 Ippolito, Philips: "upon"

Submitted by Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor] and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

17. The butterfly [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "Der Schmetterling", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


The Butterfly in honored Dust
Assuredly will lie
But none will pass the Catacomb
So chastened as the Fly -


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 3, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1305 (Version B).


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

18. The snake [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides -
You may have met Him - did you not
His notice sudden is

The Grass divides as with a Comb -
A spotted shaft is seen -
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on -

He likes a Boggy Acre
A floor too cool for Corn
Yet when a [Boy]1, and Barefoot -
I more than once at [Noon]2
Have passed, I thought, a Whip lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled and was gone -

Several of Nature's People
I know, and they know me -
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality -

But never met this Fellow
Attended, or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And Zero at the Bone -


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 1096 (Version B).

1 Holmes: “child”
2 Holmes: “morn”

Submitted by Brian Holmes and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

19. Afterword [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


"Nature" is what we see --
The Hill -- the Afternoon --
Squirrel -- Eclipse -- the Bumble bee --
Nay -- Nature is Heaven --
Nature is what we hear --
The Bobolink -- the Sea --
Thunder -- the Cricket --
Nay -- Nature is Harmony --
Nature is what we know --
Yet have no art to say --
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.


Confirmed with The Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. R.W. Franklin, Volume 2, Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998, Poem 721 (Version A).


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

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