letters from dickinson to mary bowles

early 1878

I hasten to you, Mary, because no moment must be lost when a heart is breaking, for though it broke so long, each time is newer than the last, if it broke truly. To be willing that I should speak to you was so generous, dear.

Sorrow almost resents love, it is so inflamed.

I am glad if the broken words helped you. I had not hoped so much, I felt so faint in uttering them, thinking of your great pain. Love makes us "heavenly" without our trying in the least. 'Tis easier than a Saviour - it does not stay on high and call us to its distance; its low "Come unto me" begins in every place. It makes but one mistake, it tells us it is "rest" - perhaps its toil is rest. but what we have not known we shall know again, that divine "again" for which we are all breathless.

I am glad you "work." Work is bleak redeemer, but it does redeem; it tires the flesh so that can't tease the spirit.

Dear "Mr. Sam" is very near, these midwinter days. When purples come on Pelham, in the afternoon we say "Mr. Bowles's colors." I spoke to him once of his Gem chapter, and the beautiful eyes rose till they were out of reach of mine, in some hallowed fathom.

Not that he goes - we love him more
Who led us while he stayed.
Beyond earth's trafficking frontier,
For what he moved, he made.

Mother is timid and feeble, but we keep her with us. She thanks you for remembering her, and never forgets you . . . . Your sweet "and left me all alone," consecrates your lips.


thomas johnson's note on letter 536 | index to dickinson/m. bowles letters

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Last updated on December 13, 1998