poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 325

MANUSCRIPTS: There are two drafts of this paraphrase of Revelations 7. The fair copy reproduced above (BPL Higg 15) was enclosed with three other poems in a letter (BPL Higg 54) to T. W. Higginson, written in July 1862. The last word is spelled out in large letters, and below it at the bottom of the sheet ED has written: "I spelled Ankle-wrong." The text is identical with that of the semifinal draft in packet 28 (H l29b), written late in 1861:

Of Tribulation, these are They
Denoted by the White-
The Spangled Gowns, a lesser Rank
Of Victors - designate -

All these - did Conquer -
But the ones who overcame most times-
Wear nothing commoner than snow-
No Ornament, but Palms-
Surrender-is a sort unknown-
On this superior soil-
Defeat - an outgrown Anguish -
Remembered, as the Mile

Our panting Ancle barely passed -
When Night devoured the Road-
But we - stood whispering in the House -
And all we said - was "Saved"!

13. passed] gained

The suggested change is not adopted in the fair copy.

PUBLICATION: The poem was first published in Atlantic Monthly, LXVIII (October 1891),448, in an article which Higginson wrote dealing with the letters and poems he had received from ED. It there reproduces the copy to him, and bears the title "The Saint's Rest," which he supplied. He reproduces the misspelling, "ancle," and adds a note:

[Note by the writer of the verses.] I spelled ankle wrong.

It was first collected later in the year in Poems (1891),227, titled "Saved!" The text derives from the packet copy, and the suggested change (which ED rejected in her copy to Higginson) is adopted. In both printings the first three words of line 6 conclude line 5. In the collected edition the note is omitted and the spelling of ankle corrected. In Atlantic Monthly, but not in Poems, one word is altered:

8. Ornament] omaments

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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 2, 1998