letters from dickinson to otis phillips lord

30 April 1882

His little "Playthings" were very sick all the Week that closed, and except the sweet Papa assured them, they could not believe - it had one grace however, it kept the fain Mama from sleep, so she could dream of Papa awake - an innocence of fondness.

To write you, not knowing where you are, is an unfinished pleasure - Sweeter of course than not writing, because it has a wandering Aim, of which you are the goal - but far from joyful like yourself, and moments we have known - I have a strong surmise that moments we have not known are tenderest to you. Of their afflicting Sweetness, you only are the judge, but the moments we had, were very good - they were quite contenting.

Very sweet to know from Morn to Morn what you thought and said - the Republican told us - though that Felons could see you and we could not, seemed a wondering fraud. I feared for your sweet Lungs in the croweded Air, the Paper spoke of "Throngs" - We were much amused at the Juror's "cough" you thought not pulmonary, and when you were waiting at your Hotel for the Kidder Verdict, and the Jury decided to go to sleep, I thought them the loveliest Jury I had ever met. I trust you are "at Home," though my Heart spurns the suggestion, hoping all - absence - but itself.

I am told it is only a pair of Sundays since you went from me. I feel it many years. Today is April's last - it has been an April of meaning to me. I have been in your Bosom. My Philadelphia [Charles Wadsworth] has passed from Earth, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson - whose name my Father's Law Student taught me, has touched the secret Spring. Which Earth are we in?

Heaven, a Sunday or two ago - but that also has ceased -

Momentousness is ripening. I hope that all is firm. Could we yield each other to the impregnable chances till we had met once more?

Monday -

Your's of a Yesterday is with me. I am cruelly grieved about the "Cold." I feared it, but entreated it to wrong some other one. Must it of all the Lives have come to trouble your's? Be gentle with it - Coax it - Dont drive it or 'twill stay - I'm glad you are "at Home." Please think it with a codicil. My own were homeless if you were. Was my sweet "Phil" "proud"? What Hour? Could you tell me? A momentary gleam of hime between Morning . . .

. . . Door either, after you have entered, nor any Window, except in the Chimney, and if Folks knock at the Grass, the Grass can let them in. I almost wish it would, sometimes - with reverence I say it. That was a big - sweet Story - the number of times that "Little Phil" read his Letter, and the not so many, that Papa read his, but I am prepared for falsehood.

On subjects of which we know nothing, or should I say Beings - is "Phil" a "Being" or a "Theme," we both believe, and disbelieve a hundred times an Hour, which keeps Believing nimble.

But how can "Phil" have one opinion and Papa another - I thought the Rascals were inseparable - "but there again," as Mr New Bedford Eliot used to say, "I may be mistaken."

Papa has still many Closets that Love has never ransacked. I do - do want you tenderly. The Air is soft as Italy, but when it touches me, I spurn it with a Sigh, because it is not you. The Wanderers came last Night - Austin says they are brown as Berries and as noisy as Chipmunks, and feels his solitude much invaded, as far as I can learn. These dislocations of privacy among the Privateers amuse me very much, but "the Hearth knoweth its own" Whim - and in Heaven they neither woo nor are given in wooing - what an imperfect place!

Mrs Dr Stearns called to know if we didnt think it very shocking for [Benjamin F.] Butler to "liken himself to his Redeemer," but we thought Darwin had thrown "the Redeemer" away. Please excuse the wandering writing. Sleeplessness makes my Pencil stumble. Affection clogs it - too. Our Life together was long forgiveness on your part toward me. The trespass of my rustic Love upon your Realms of Ermine, only a Sovreign could forgive - I never knelt to other - The Spirit never twice alike, but every time another - that other more divine. Oh, had I found it sooner! Yet Tenderness has not a Date - it comes - and overwhelms.

The time before it was - was naught, so why establish it? And all the time to come it is, which abrogates the time.

thomas johnson's note on letter 750 | index to dickinson/lord letters

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