poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 286

MANUSCRIPTS: The copy reproduced above, in packet 8 (H 33b), entered there about 1861, is a poem of 16 lines, arranged as two quatrains and an 8-line conclusion, with an alternate reading suggested for "drills." The copy to T. W. Higginson (BPL Higg 58), below, concludes a letter written early in 1863, signed "Barabbas" because ED fancies she owes an apology: ". . . might I be the one you tonight, forgave, 'tis a Better Honor -Mine is but just the Thief's Request-." The word "nails" suggested as an alternate for "drills" in the packet copy is not adopted:

The possibility to pass
Without a Moment's Bell-
Into Conjecture's presence-
Is like a face of steel
That suddenly looks into our's
With a Metallic Grin-
The Cordiality of Death
Who Drills his welcome-in-

PUBLICATION: The text to Higginson is in Letters (ed. 1894), 312 (ed. 1931), 281; also LL (1924), 268. The packet copy furnished the text in UP (1935), 145, where it is arranged as four quatrains. The suggested change is rejected. The first line reads: "That after horror that was Us-."

return to poem 286 | index to dickinson poems sent to higginson

search the archives

dickinson/higginson correspondence main page | dickinson electronic archives main menu

Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lv26@umail.umd.edu>
Last updated on September 2, 1998