poems sent from dickinson to frances and louise norcross

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 1466

MANUSCRIPTS: The copy reproduced above (Bingham 97-8) was written about 1879. There survives also (Bingham 97-8a) part of another copy written at the same time: the last six words of stanza 5, together with stanzas 6 and 7 entire. Its text is identical with the equivalent section above. Two other fair copies, once extant, are now lost. Helen Hunt Jackson suggested that ED try her hand "on the oriole." This poem is the result. ED sent a copy of it to Mrs. Jackson. For a full discussion, see the note accompanying the poem beginning "Before you thought of Spring." The other lost copy, a variant, was sent to the Norcross cousins. It is discussed below.

PUBLICATION: Poems (1891), 126-127, titled "The Oriole." The editorial procedure leading to the printing of this poem is set forth in some detail in AB (1945), 147, p. 160-161, in correspondence between Mrs. Todd and T.W. Higginson. Frances Norcross during the summer of 1891 sent Mrs. Todd a transcript of a copy which ED had once enclosed in a letter to her cousins. Lines 3 and 4 were variants:

Was that minute domingo
The blissful oriole

as were lines 26 and 27:

Tradition suffer me
Behold his lost emolument

Meanwhile late in August, when the text of the Second Series was still in galley proof, Mrs. Todd discovered the autograph reproduced above. The published version is a composite of this autograph and the Norcross transcript. Lines 4, 26, 27 follow the text of the transcript; line 3 adopts "confiding prodigal" from the autograph.

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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 January 5, 1998