Bianchi Life and Letters Title Page



 "A Mystic akin only to Emerson." W. P. Dawson, the English critic, in his own anthology states without apology: "Among the American poets I have named two — Poe and Emily Dickinson."  And it was another Englishman, Martin Armstrong, writing of her poetry in the London "Spectator" last January (1923), who concluded: "Mr. Conrad Aiken in his recent anthology of modern American poets calls Emily Dickinson's poetry 'perhaps the finest by a woman in the English language.'  I quarrel only with his 'perhaps."'
      However the present volume may lift the veil, or presume to lead her shy reality into the light of mortal dawns again, Emily alone supplies the only clue to herself, the articles of her Faith —

The Soul's superior instants
Occur to Her alone,
When friend and earth's occasion
Have infinite withdrawn.

Or she, Herself, ascended
To too remote a height,
For lower recognition
Than Her Omnipotent.

This mortal abolition
is seldom, but as fair
As Apparition — subject
To autocratic air.

Eternity's disclosure
To favorites, a few,
Of the Colossal substance
Of immortality.

The essential difficulty in presenting a Life of Emily Dickinson has been enhanced by the sacred pact observed with her chosen few, that all letters should be burned after her death.  This excludes exactly those which might have held together the frail external incidents of her days, which seem so scantily supplied to those






ignorant of the thronging events of the Spirit which eternally preoccupied her.
      This present record is made up from family letters hitherto withheld, deathless recollections, and many sentences overheard from her own lips and scrupulously set down as too unique to be squandered upon the passing moment. The Letters formerly printed have now been chronologically arranged, and as far as of intrinsic value, retained; others have been added from my article in the "Atlantic Monthly," and "The Single Hound," a volume composed entirely of poetic flashes sent to her brother's wife, my mother, on every gust of impulse.
      A high exigence constrains the sole survivor of her family to state her simply and truthfully, in view of a public which has, doubtless without intention, misunderstood and exaggerated her seclusion — amassing a really voluminous stock of quite lurid misinformation of irrelevant personalities. She has been taught in colleges as a weird recluse, rehearsed to women's clubs as a lovelorn sentimentalist — even betrayed by one American essayist of repute to appear a fantastic eccentric.
      On the other hand, she has been named "the Feminine Walt Whitman" in at least one of the great universities; in another;

Of the Colossal substance
Of immortality.