letters from dickinson to abiah root

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 8

MANUSCRIPT: missing. See note 3 in "Notes on the Present Text." All of the letter above the signature has been published; all below it is unpublished except the sentence marked by an asterisk, which is in Letters (1931).

PUBLICATION: L (1894) 12-15; LL 115-118; L (1931) 10-12, dated (presumably by ED): Thursday, Sept. 26 [sic], 1845.

The marriage referred to is that of Helen Humphrey to Albert Palmer. Sabra Palmer was a member of the same family; it was they whom Abiah visited when she came to Amherst.

This is the earliest known letter in which ED paraphrases lines from the Bible and from Shakespeare, the two sources to which she returns again and again throughout her life for quotation or allusion. Here the paraphrase is self-consciously introduced. The scripture source for the first is James 2.17: "faith, if it hath not works, is dead..." The second is from Macbeth V, iii, 22-23: "My way of life/Is fall'n into the sere, the yellow leaf."

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lvetter@uncc.edu>
Last updated on February 25, 2008