poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 1399

MANUSCRIPT: The copy reproduced above (Bingham 104-32) is a penciled worksheet draft written about 1877. In line 3 "flight" is crossed out and "lapse" substituted. The alternative lines 7-8 are duplicated. Other trial words for the last two lines, crossed out or ignored, are:

And there
commences -

A fair copy presumably was made from this draft and sent to the two sisters of William C. Dickinson. The autograph of the fair copy has not been located but a transcript of it-with "antedates" (line 7) adopted- is in the Jones Library at Amherst. The poem was probably sent during the summer of 1877. A variant of the first stanza was incorporated in a letter (BPL Higg 93) written to T. W. Higginson during the autumn oF 1877, after the death of his wife in September:
Perhaps she does not go so far
As you who stay - suppose -
Perhaps comes closer, for the lapse
Of her corporeal clothes -

PUBLICATION: The worksheet draft is the source of the two stanzas in New England Quarterly, XX (1947), 47. The suggested change to line 7 is adopted. The letter to Higginson is in Letters (ed. 1931 only), 308.

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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