They shut me up in
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet-
Because they like me "still"-
Still! Could themself
And seen my Brain-go round-
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason-in the Pound-
Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
+ Abolish his-Captivity-
And laugh-No more have I-
Notes on the Text
- In Unpublished Poems (1935), Martha Dickinson
Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson place both occurances of the word still
in quotation marks. The manuscript and Johnson's versions both show
the first, but not the second, enclosed in quotes. Back.
- Bianchi and Hampson edit this to "themselves."
Although this is perhaps more grammatically correct, it does not
connote the antagonists' lack of individuality in the way that the manuscript's
"themself" does. Back.
- In the manuscript, Dickinson breaks the line after "lodged"
and places "a Bird" on its own line. None
of the printed versions of this poem list this as a separate line. Although
doing this would visually mimic the captivity of the bird, I also feel
this is one line. The most compelling reason behind this decision lies
in the capitalization pattern of the manuscript. While all of the other
lines in the manuscript begin with an initial capital letter, "a Bird"
begins with an obviously lowercase letter. Also, the length of the line
in the manuscript leads me to believe that Dickinson could have run out
of room. The word "lodged," which precedes the line break, is
at the edge of the paper. Back.
- Dickinson offers "Look down upon Captivity-"
and "Abolish his-Captivity-". A "note" at the
bottom of the manuscript reads "+ Abolish his-". Johnson's
readers edition includes only the variant and does not include the "dash"
between "his" and "Captivity." Back.
- "No more have I" is rendered as "nor
more have I" in the Bianchi-Hampson version of 1935. Back.
- The Bianchi-Hampson version translates the closing
punctuation marks for the final two stanzas as exclamation points. In
the manuscript, the sole exclamation point follows the first word of the
second stanza, "Still." Although these punctuation marks
are clearly not exclamation points, they are also not clearly anything
in particular. Back.
Notes on the Process
Although my interpretation of Dickinson's poem tries to stay true to
her manuscripts, a hypertext performance obviously strays from the confines
of ink and paper. In attempting to allow both variants to co-exist
in the poem, I felt including them both in the text was important. Following
cues from the manuscript, the "+" allows readers to open up the
poem. Some might feel these are two different poems (they technically exist
on two different "pages"), I feel they are not only one poem,
but leaving one of the variants out limits the poem. The method I
have used works mainly because there is only one set of variants in the
poem. Perhaps for a poem that has more than one instance, a pull-down menu
could let the reader choose which words she or he wanted in the text. Unfortunately,
this seems to be very intrusive to the text. Perhaps, as HTML and other
web technologies progress, there will be a more "natural" way
to integrate the possibilities of variation into the text. Or, perhaps
there already are ways with which I am not familiar.
Another element of the manuscript I tried to translate into hypertext
was size. Dickinson's poems do look small when typed in a twelve
point font on an 8x11 1/2" piece of paper, but the manuscripts overflow
with her words. Even what I have attempted in making the text's font
larger than "usual" creates more white space on the page than
I would have liked. Perhaps changing the size of the browser from
full screen to a more appropriate size would be one way to counteract the