poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 1355

MANUSCRIPT: There are four, all written early in 1876. The copy reproduced above (BPL Higg 28) was enclosed with four other poems in a letter to T.W. Higginson (BPL 83) written in January or February 1876. Another fair copy (Bingham 94-2) is identical in text and form except that line 5 is concluded with a dash. A third copy (Bingham 98-4B-19) seems to have been intended as a fair copy but is marred by ink strokes. It is identical in text and form with the copy to Higginson except that dashes end lines 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8. The penciled worksheet draft (Brigham 98-4B-20) may have been an immediate precursor of the fair copies even though the variant quality of the final lines is quite different:

The Mind lives on the Heart
Like any Parasite -
If that be full of meat
The mind is fat -
But, if the heart be lean
The boldest mind will pine
Throw not to the divine
Like Dog a Bone

5. lean] thin
5. be lean] decline
6] [The] stoutest mind is wan

7. Throw]Give
6-7] Forthwith the mind is wan
Cast not [to the divine]

PUBLICATION: The copy to Higginson is in New England Quarterly, V (1932), 200. The worksheet copy, given stanza division, is in BM (1945), 227, with the suggested change "stoutest" adopted.

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
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Last updated on December 12, 1999