letters between dickinson and jackson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 976


PUBLICATION: L (1894) 424-425; LL 372-373; L (1931) 413-414. It is a composite of the two drafts.

The actual letter ED wrote is missing, but its contents are clear from the two drafts left among her papers. Both are fair copies, but show different wording. The first draft is incomplete. The second, which repeats some sentences, has had portions cut out. The repetitions are in fact part of a third draft.

The first poem ED had also incorporated in a letter (no. 960) to the Loomises, written early in January. (See also letter no. 1014.)

There are three fragment drafts (AC-pencil) that incorporate expressions similar to ones in the letter drafts:

Strength to perish is sometimes withheld
Afternoon and the West and the gorgeous nothings
which compose the sunset keep their high Appointment
Clogged only with Music like the Wheels of Birds

It is very still in the world now - Thronged only
with Music like the Decks of Birds and the Seasons
take their hushed places like figures in a Dream -

All are published in NEQ XXVIII (1955) 304. (See also letter no. 968.)

The letter is a reply to one (HCL unpublished) written by Helen Jackson, dated: Santa Monica/Cal./By the Sea./Feb. 3. 1885.

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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 October 8, 1998