poems from dickinson to kate anthon

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 83

MANUSCRIPTS: There are two, both written about 1859. That reproduced above (Bingham), sent to an unidentified recipient, is signed "Emily." It is a variant of the copy in packet 7 (H 29a):

Heart not so heavy as mine
Wending late home -
As it passed my window
Whistled itself a tune -

A careless snatch - a ballad -
A Ditty of the street -
Yet to my irritated ear
An anodyne so sweet -

It was as if a Bobolink
Sauntering this way
Carolled, and mused, and carolled -
Then bubbled slow away -

It was as if a chirping brook
Upon a toilsome way
Set bleeding feet to minuets
Without the knowing why!

Tomorrow - night will come again -
Perhaps - tired and sore -
Oh Bugle, by the window
I pray you stroll once more!

The variants in the revised copy are in lines 11, 14, 17-20. A third copy, now lost, was sent to Kate Anthon, whose trancription of it (H B 126) shows its text to have been identical with the revised version, except that it is arranged in quatrains, and in line 14 "a dusty" is rendered "the dusty." Kate first visited Sue in Amherst in March and again in August 1859. Her version is titled "Whistling under my window." The nature of the variants in the published text suggests that it may have derived from yet another version.

PUBLICATION: Poems (1891), 71-72. The text follows that of the packet copy with two exceptions:

18. Perhaps - tired] Weary, perhaps,
19] Ah, bugle, by my window

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
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Last updated on February 25, 2008