poems sent from dickinson to bowles

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 689

MANUSCRIPTS: There are two, both written early in 1863. That reproduced above (Bingham) was sent to Samuel Bowles with ED's notation on the rear:

"I couldn't let Austin's note go - without a word - Emily."

It is a redaction of the semifinal draft in packet 22 (H 122c):

The Zeroes taught Us - Phosphorus -
We learned to like the Fire
By playing Glaciers - when a Boy -
And Tinder - guessed - by power

Of Opposite - to equal Ought -
Eclipses - Suns - imply -
Paralysis - our Primer dumb
Unto Vitality -

7. dumb] numb -

In her fair copy she rejected the suggested change of the packet copy, and introduced new readings in lines 3, 5, and 6.

PUBLICATION: Letters (ed. 1894), 200; and LL (1924), 227, follow the text of the note to Bowles, arranged as two quatrains. A footnote gives the reading of line 6 in the packet copy. The footnote, slightly altered, is retained in Letters (ed. 1931), 191, but the stanza division is not retained. The packet copy furnishes the text in FP (1929), 201. It is without stanza division and the suggested change is adopted. The misreading "sums" (line 6) was later corrected to "suns."

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lv26@umail.umd.edu>
Last updated on October 16, 1998