poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 1398

MANUSCRIPT: The poem survives in three copies, all written in 1877: two variant fair copiues, and the worksheet draft from which they derived. The copy reproduced above (BPL Higg 36) was enclosed with three other poems in a letter to T.W. Higginson (BPL Higg 73) written in August 1877. In the ltter (but not on the copy of the poem) ED has titled it "Word to a Friend." The variant fair copy is incoporated in a letter to Samuel Bowles. It is without stanza division, but is otherwise identical with the copy to Higginson except that lines 6 and 7 lack punctuation, and the last line reads: "The love of you." The worksheet draft (Bingham 98-3-12), jotted down in pencil on the inside of an envelope, reads thus:

I have no life [strikethrough: to live] but this
[strikethrough: But] To lead it here
Nor any Death but lest
Abased from there -
withheld -
deprived from there -
Nor Plea for the World   &nsbp;s  &nsbp;to come
nor tie to
Nor Wisdoms new
Except through this extent
  &nsbp;  &nsbp;  &nsbp;expanse -
The loving you -

PUBLICATION: The text copy to Higginson is in Poems (1891), 90; that of the variant to Bowles is in Letters (ed. 1894), 219; (ed. 1931), 206; also LL (1924), 267, mistakenly dated 1865.

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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 September 24, 1998