MANUSCRIPTS: The copy reproduced above (BPL Higg 35) was enclosed in a letter to T.W. Higginson (BPL Higg 73) written in August 1877. The copy is endorsed to hime "The Blue Bird" in the upper left margin, and in the letter itself ED identifies it as "a Bluebird." The copy to Higginson was made soon after ED had entered the poem in the packet (Bingham 94-1):
After all Birds had been investigated and laid asideHaving recorded the poem in the packet, she was dissatisfied with the second stanza. Two penciled scraps (Bingham 96-3 and 94-1a) show how she began to rework it. The first reads:
First at the March competing with the WindThe second scrap brings line 6 and 7 still nearer their final shape:
Her gallant note endows us like a friendOnly line 8 remained to be redacted, and a worksheet draft (Bingham 102-30 - on the verso of which is a draft of "No Passenger was known") bears these penciled lines:
Last to adhereThese lines are exactly duplicated in text and form on a sheet of note paper (Bingham 99-7) that has been folded as if enclosed in an envelope. Her fair copy to Higginson introduces a new variant "panting" in line 6, but retains "cleaves" in line 7. On 3 December 1877, Samuel Bowles suffered his last stroke, though he lived for several weeks. Her final letter to him, now lost, incorporated these lines:
Last to adhere
PUBLICATION: The copy to Higginson was first published in New England Quarterly, V (1932), 220. The text in BM (1945), 61, follows the text of the packet copy for stanza 1, but constructs a second stanza from the two scraps:
First at the March, competing with the wind,The lines sent to Bowles are in Letters (ed. 1894), 222; (ed. 1931), 208; also LL (1924), 285.