poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 328

MANUSCRIPTS: The fair copy reproduced above (Bingham 98-4B-1) was written in 1862. It is a redaction of the semifinal draft in packet 85 (Bingham 32C) made somewhat earlier in the same year, and offers a suggested change which ED rejected in the fair copy:

A Bird, came down the Walk-
He did not know I saw-
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass-
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass-

He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad-
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head-

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers,
And rowed him softer Home-

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a Seam-
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim.

3. bit] shook-

ED altered one word in the fair copy:

10. abroad] around

The copy of this poem listed by Mrs. Todd (Letters, 443) among those which ED enclosed in letters to Higginson has not been located. It is listed in Higginson's inventory of poems that ED sent to him which he compiled and included in a letter to Mrs. Todd, dated 13 May 1891 (AB, 29).

PUBLICATION: The copy to Higginson was the source of the first publication of the poem in Atlantic Monthly, LXVIII (October 1891), 446-447, and is there incorporated in an article which Higginson wrote dealing with the letters and poems he had received from ED. It is identical with the text of the fair copy above, but there is no reason to suppose that it is the same copy, since Mrs. Todd indicates in her reply to Higginson's letter of 13 May that she already had a copy of the poem (AB, 130). Whether she then had both the fair copy and the packet copy is not clear. The poem was first collected in Poems (1891), 140-141, titled "In the Garden." The text derives from the packet copy, and rejects the suggested change. In Atlantic Monthly, but not in Poems, one word is altered:

7. the] a

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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