poems sent from dickinson to higginson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 828

MANUSCRIPT: About 1864, in packet 92 (Bingham 76a). Another copy, now lost, was sent to T. W. Higginson and is listed by him as among his papers in May 1891 (AB, 129). In his article discussed below he says that it came to him enclosed in a letter he received in the spring of 1863 while he was at camp in South Carolina. The packet copy is in handwriting clearly of a later date, sometime in 1864. Higginson was establishing his data from memory, nearly thirty years later, and there are instances where his memory as employed in that article was in error. It probably is in error here, for ED's custom was to send copies of her poems to friends after she had entered them in her packets, not before.

PUBLICATION: The poem was first published in Atlantic Monthly, LXVIII (October 1891), 450, titled "The Robin," in an article which Higginson wrote dealing with the letters and poems he had received from ED. It was first collected in Poems (1891), 117, also titled "The Robin." Unless the lost copy to Higginson is recovered, there can be no way of knowing whether the source of the texts, which are identical, was the packet copy or the copy to Higginson. In a letter which Mrs. Todd wrote Higginson on 18 May 1891 (AB, l30), she tells him that she did not at that time have a copy of the poem. In both printings the form of three words differs. The difference is of a nature to suggest editorial alteration rather than a variant source:

2. interrupt] interrupts
6. overflow] overflows
11. Submit] Submits

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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