letters from dickinson to maria whitney

spring 1883

Dear Friend,

The guilt of having sent the note had so much oppressed me that I hardly dared to read the reply, and delayed my heart almost to its stifling, sure you would never receive us again. To come unto our own and our own fail to receive us, is a sere response.

I hope you may forgive us.

All is faint indeed without our vanished mother, who achieved in sweetness what she lost in strength, though grief of wonder at her fate made the winter short, and each night I reach finds my lungs more breathless, seeking what it means.

To the bright east she flies
Brothers of Paradise
Remit her home,
Without a change of wings,
Or Love's convenient things,
Enticed to come.

Fashioning what she is,
Fathoming what she was,
We deem we dream --
And that disolves the days
Through which existence strays
Homeless at home.

The sunshine almost speaks, this morning, redoubling the division and Paul's remark grows graphic, "the weight of glory."

I am glad you have an hour for books, those enthralling friends, the immortalities, perhaps, each may pre-receive. "And I saw the Heavens opened."

I hope that nothing pains you except the pang of life, sweeter to bear than to omit.

With love and wonder,


thomas johnson's note on letter 524 | index to dickinson/whitney letters

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Last updated on December 13, 1999