poems from dickinson to gertrude vanderbilt

Thomas Johnson's Note on Poem 831

MANUSCRIPTS: There are two, identical in text. The copy reproduced above in packet 86 (Bingham 35d) was written about 1864; that below in pencil (Collamore), addressed "Mrs. Vanderbilt -" and signed "Emily -," was written about 1866:

Dying - to be afraid of Thee -
One must to thine Artillery
Have left exposed a friend -
Than thine old Arrow is a Shot
Delivered straighter to the Heart
The leaving Love behind -

Not for itself, the Dust is shy.
But Enemy - Beloved be -
Thy Batteries divorce -
Fight sternly in a dying eye
Two Armies - Love and Certainty,
And Love and the Reverse -

Though the packet copy of this poem was made in 1864, the copy to Mrs. Vanderbilt almost certainly was sent some two years later.

PUBLICATION: BM (1945), 193. It derives from the packet copy.

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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 February 14, 2000