letters from dickinson to frances and louise norcross

early spring 1881

TO: Louise and Frances Norcross

The dear ones will excuse - they knew there was a cause. Emily was sick, and Vinnie's middle name [Norcross] restrained her loving pen. The little girls came sweetly. The bulbs are in the sod - the seeds in homes of paper till the sun calls them. It is snowing now. . . . "Fine sleighing we have this summer," says Austin with a scoff. The box of dainty ones - I don't know what they were, buttons of spice for coats of honey - pleased the weary mother. Thank you each for all.

The beautiful words for which Loo asked were that genius is the ignition of affection - not intellect, as is supposed, - the exaltation of devotion, and in proportion to our capacity for that, is our experience of genius. Precisely as they were uttered I cannot give them, they were in a letter that I do not find, but the suggestion was this.

It is startling to think that the lips, which are keepers of thoughts so magical, yet at any moment are subject to the seclusion of death.

. . . I must leave you, dear, to come perhaps again, -

We never know we go - when we are going
We jest and shut the door -
Fate following behind us bolts it
And we accost no more.

I give you my parting love.


thomas johnson's note on letter 691 | index to dickinson/norcross letters

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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 13, 1999