poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 1363

MANUSCRIPT: Stanza 2 is incorporated in a letter (BPL Higg 77) written to T. W. Higginson in late October 1876. Stanza 1 was sent as a message, signed "Emily." to Mrs. J. G. Holland (H H35a) about the same time. There are two worksheet drafts in pencil which seem to precede them. The first (Bingham 105-8) reads:

Summer laid her simple Hat
On it's [strikethrough: mighty] subtle shelf -
Unobserved a Rib[strikethrough: bo]in dropped
[strikethrough: Snatch]Covet it [strikethrough: for] yourself!
[strikethrough: Tie it for yourself]
[strikethrough: Seize]

It is written on a half on the inside of a torn sheet of stationery. The second (Bingham 98-2-2), on the inside of a torn scrap of envelope, is in two stanzas:
Summer laid her simple Hat
On it's boundless shelf -
Unobserved a Ribin dropped slipt
[strikethrough: Summon] [strikethrough: Sanction]Fasten it - yourself

Summer laid her supple Glove
In it's silvan Drawer -
Wheresoe'er [strikethrough: she is] or as was she -
The Affair of Awe
The Demand of Awe

In line 4 "Snatch" is finally adopted even though it was crossed out in the earlier worksheet draft. The spelling ribin is clearly deliberate. Though there is traditional authority for ribon, riban, riband, ribband - still archaically used in the nineteenth century-the spelling ribin was her own creation.

PUBLICATION: The second stanza is in Letters (ed. 1894), 323; (ed. 1931), 300; also LL (1924), 302; in the letter to Higginson. The first stanza - to Mrs. Holland - is in LH (1951), 105. Both stanzas are in New England Quarterly, XX (1947), 17. They derive from the second worksheet. with these adoptions:

4. Fasten it yourself     8. An affair of awe

The first worksheet draft is in the same, page 16.

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
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Last updated on September 15, 1998