poems sent from dickinson to bowles

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 84

MANUSCRIPTS: There are two, both written about 1859. That reproduced above (Bingham), in pencil and signed "Emily.," was sent to Samuel Bowles. It is identical in form with the semifinal copy in packet 83 (Bingham 18e), except that it adopts the suggested change "home" (line 5) for the originally written "rest." The spelling of the second word in line 8 is "perrennial." One word is variant:

4. have] had

[from editors MNS & ELH: Johnson is in error when he says this manuscript was sent to Samuel Bowles. In fact, this was addressed to "Sue," which has been erased from the verso. "In Mabel Loomis Todd's 1894 edition of Letters, she placed this poem in the Samuel Bowles correspondence, suggesting that Emily had sent "Her breast is fit for pearls" to Samuel in honor of his wife, Mary. Loomis Todd may well have been attempting to make Emily's correspondence with Mary Bowles look more extensive, since Dickinson wrote Bowles few joint letters. By falsely attributing the poem, Loomis Todd accomplished two objectives: she disguised a love poem to Susan, and she made Emily's correspondence to Bowles (with whom she is said to have been in love) appear more inclusive of his wife" (OMC 50; see also the archive of documents to Susan Dickinson & "New Light on Manuscripts Addressed to 'Sue,'" EDIS Bulletin 8:2 (November/December 1996): 14-15, 23). We leave this document in the working directory for Bowles in order to foster scholarly conversation and debate.]

PUBLICATION: The copy to Bowles is in Letters (ed. 1894), 202-203; also LL (1924), 253.

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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