MANUSCRIPTS: There are four. The copy reproduced above (H 278), signed "Emily -" and presumably sent to Sue, was written during 1862. It is a redaction of the copy in packet 29 (H 155a) from which it derives, written earlier in the same year:
It sifts from Leaden Sieves -ED first wrote "of" at the end of line 5, then crossed it out. In the fair copy to Sue, ED adopted two of the changes suggested in the packet copy, the first and the last. At the same time she introduced three changes not previously indicated:
2. Field] WoodThe correction of the spelling "Ancles" (line 18) in the packet copy to "Ankles" in the copy to Sue may warrant the conjecture that the latter was written after July. In that month ED enclosed a copy of her poem "Of Tribulation, these are They" in a letter to Higginson. The word "Ancle" appears in the poem, at the bottom of which she wrote: "I spelled Ankle - wrong." There is no later instance of "Ancle."
At a somewhat later date, about 1864, she wrote a variant twelve-line version (Bingham 98-4B-3). It is in pencil and has been folded as if enclosed in an envelope:
It sifts from Leaden sievesThe text of the first four lines is identical with that of the copy to Sue; the remaining eight constitute an entirely new version. Many years later, in mid-March 1883, she enclosed a copy of this version in a letter (Bingham 106-32) written to Thomas Niles, editor of the publishing house of Roberts Breothers. In the letter she titles it "Snow."
It sifts from Leaden Sieves -This copy to Niles differs in two places from the 1864 pencil copy:
7. Flowers] FiguresPUBLICATION: Poems (1891), 174-175, titled "The Snow." It derives from the packet copy, adopting the suggested changes "seams" and "ghosts." The editors had access to the variant copies and from them adopted "wood" (line 2). The variant version is in BM (1945), 41. It is a composite of both, adopting "Figures" from the copy to Niles, and "while" from the pencil copy.