letters from dickinson to maria whitney

May 1883?

Dear Friend,

Is not an absent friend as mysterious as a bulb in the ground, and is not a bulb the most captivating floral form? Must it not have enthralled the Bible, if we may infer from its selection? "The lily of the field!".

I never pass one without being chagrined for Solomon, and so in love with "the lily" anew, that were I sure no one saw me, I might make those advances of which in after life I should repent.

The apple-blossoms were slightly disheartened, yesterday, by a snow-storm, but the birds encouraged them all that they could -- and how fortunate that the little ones had come to cheer their damask brethren!

You spoke of coming "with the apple-blossoms" -- which occasioned our solicitude.

The ravenousness of fondness is best disclosed by children....

Is there not a sweet wolf within us that demands its food?

I can easily imagine your fondness for the little life so mysteriously committed to your care. The bird that asks our crumb has a plaintive distinction. I rejoice that it was possible for you to be with it, for I think the early spiritual influences about a child are more hallowing than we know. The angel begins in the morning in every human life. How small the furniture of bliss! How scant the heavenly fabric!

No ladder needs the bird but skies
To situate its wings,
Not any leader's grim baton
Arraigns it as it sings.
The implements of bliss are few --
As Jesus says of Him
"Come unto me" the moiety
That wafts the cherubim.


thomas johnson's note on letter 824 | index to dickinson/whitney 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 December 13, 1999