MANUSCRIPTS: This poem survives in three copies, all written in 1877: two variant fair copies, and the worksheet draft from which they are derived. The copy reproduced above (BPL Higg 36) was enclosed with three other poems in a letter to T.W. Higginson (BPL Higg 73) written in August 1877. In a letter (but not on the copy of the poem) ED has titled it "Word to a Friend." The variant fair copy is incorporated in a letter to Samuel Bowles. It is without stanza division, but is otherwise identical with the copy to Higginson except that lines 6 and 7 lack punctuation, and the last line reads: "The love of you." The worksheet draft (Bingham 98-3-12), jotted down in pencil on the inside of an envelope, reads thus:
I have no life [strikethrough: to live] but thisPUBLICATION: The text of the copy to Higginson is in Poems (1891), 90; that of the variant to Bowles in in Letters (ed. 1894), 219; (ed. 1931), 206; also LL (1924), 267, mistakenly dated 1865.