letters from dickinson to mary warner crowell

about 20 April 1856

"I cannot make him dead!
His fair sunshiny head
Is ever bounding round my study chair -
Yet, when my eyes, now dim
With tears, I turn to him -
The vision vanishes - he is not there!

I walk my parlor floor
And, through the open door,
I hear a footfall on the chamber stair -
I'm stepping toward the hall
To give the boy a call -
And then bethink me
That - he is not there -

I thread the crowded street -
A satchelled lad I met,
With the same beaming eyes, and colored hair -
And, as he's running by, -
Follow him with my eye -
Scarcely believing that - he is not there!

I know his face is hid
Under the coffin lid,
Closed are his eyes; cold is his forehead;
My hand that marble felt -
O'er it in prayer I knelt,
Yet my heart whispers that, he is not there!

I cannot make him dead -
When passing by the bed
So long watched over with parental care -
My spirit and my eye
Seek it inquiringly,
Before the tho't comes that, he is not there!

When, at the cool, gray break
Of day, from sleep I wake
With my first breathing of the morning air
My soul goes up, with joy,
To him who gave my boy, -
Then comes the sad tho't, that he is not there!

When at the day's calm close,
Before we seek repose -
I'm with his mother, offering up our prayer -
Whate'er I may be saying,
I am, in spirit, praying,
For our boy's spirit, tho', he is not there!

Not there? - Where, then, is he?
The form I used to see
Was but the raiment that he used to wear;
The grave - that now doth press
Upon that cast-off dress -
Is but his wardrobe locked, he is not there!

He lives! - In all the past
He lives; nor to the last,
Of seeing him again will I despair;
In dreams I see him now -
And, on his angel brow,
I see it written - "Thou shalt see me there!"

Yes, we all live to God! -
Father, thy chastening rod
So help us, thine afflicted ones to bear,
That, in the spirit land -
Meeting at thy right hand -
'Twill be our heaven to find that - he is there!"

Dear Mary -

I send the verses of which I spoke one day - I think them very sweet - I'm sure that you will love them - They make me think beside, of a Little Girl at your house, who stole away one morning, and tho' I cannot find her, I'm sure that she "is there." My love for your mother and Jennie - Love too for you

from Emilie -

thomas johnson's note on letter 183 | index to dickinson/crowell letters

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Last updated on March 3, 2008