letters from dickinson to abiah root

about May 1852

I love to link you, A. and E., I love to put you together and look at you side by side - the picture pleases me, and I should love to watch it until the sun goes down, did I not call to mind a very precious letter for which I have not as yet rendered a single farthing, so let me thank you that midst your many friends and cares and influenzas, you yet found time for me, and loved me. You remarked that I had written you more affectionately than wont - I have thought that word over and over, and it puzzles me now; whether our few years have been cooler than our first ones, or whether I write indifferently when I truly know it not, the query troubles me. I do believe sincerely, that the friendship formed at school was no warmer than now, nay more, that this is warmest - they differ indeed to me as morning differs from noon - one may be fresher, cheerier, but the other fails not.

You and I have grown older since school-days, and our years have made us soberer - I mean have made me so, for you were always dignified, e'en when a little girl, and I used, now and then, to cut a timid caper. That makes me think of you the very first time I saw you, and I can't repress a smile, not to say a hearty laugh, at your little girl expense. I have roused your curiosity, so I will e'en tell you that one Wednesday afternoon, in the days of that dear old Academy, I went in to be entertained by the rhetoric of the gentlemen and the milder form of the girls - I had hardly recovered myself from the dismay attendant upon entering august assemblies, when with the utmost equanimity you ascended the stairs, bedecked with dandelions, arranged, it seemed, for curls. I shall never forget that scene, if I live to have gray hairs, nor the very remarkable fancies it gave me then of you, and it comes over me now with the strangest bygone funniness, and I laugh merrily. Oh, Abiah, you and the early flower are forever linked to me; as soon as the first green grass comes, up from a chink in the stones peeps the little flower, precious "leontodon," and my heart fills toward you with a warm childlike fullness! Nor do I laugh now; far from it, I rather bless the flower which sweetly, slyly too, makes me come nearer you.

But, my dear, I can't give the dandelion the privilege due to you, so good-by, little one!

I would love to see you, Abiah, I would rather than write to you, might I with equal ease, for the weather is very warm, and my head aches a little, and my heart a little more, so taking me collectively, I seem quite miserable, but I'll give you the sunny corners, and you must'nt look at the shade. You were happy when you wrote me; I hope so now, though I would you were in the country, and could reach the hills and fields. I can reach them, carry them home, which I do in my arms daily, and when they drop and fade, I have only to gather fresh ones. Your joy would indeed be full, could you sit as I, at my window, and hear the boundless birds, and every little while feel the breath of some new flower! Oh, do you love the spring, and isn't it brothers and sisters, and blessed, ministering spirits unto you and me, and us all?

I often see Abby - oftener than at sometimes when friendship drooped a little. Did you ever know that a flower, once withered and freshened again, became an immortal flower, - that is, that it rises again? I think resurrections here are sweeter, it may be, than the longer and lasting one - for you expect the one, and only hope for the other. . . . I will show you the sunset if you will sit by me, but I cannot bring it there, for so much gold is heavy. Can you see it in Philadelphia?

Abby's health does not change - I fear the wide world holds but little stregnth for her - I would it were otherwise. Abby is sweet and patient, does n't it ever seem as if her lovely patience was shriving her for God? We cannot tell, but I trust that her sweet face may not be hidden yet. Dear Abiah, do write me whenever you love to do, yet oftener I am not confident I ever would hear at all, should I conclude the bargain.


thomas johnson's note on letter 91 | index to dickinson/root letters

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Last updated on February 25, 2008