Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem

  Posthumous Printings

Please note: this page is under construction....


One of the few poems printed during Emily Dickinson's lifetime, "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" has appeared in various incarnations-ľon both printed and manuscript pages and now in this new materiality offered for display on the computer screen. The printings of versions of this poem (or poems) relied on various manuscript and previously printed copies. As far as the pre-1955 printings are concerned, users should know that Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Higginson had access to the copy Dickinson sent to Higginson in 1862 (facsimile printed in A Reader's History of American Literature), the fascicle copies (H 11c and H 203c&d) passed along to Loomis Todd by Lavinia Dickinson, and possibly the printing that appeared in the Springfield Daily Republican (1 March 1862). Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson had access to the two surviving manuscript copies sent to Susan Dickinson (H B74a and H B74c), as well as to the previous printings by Loomis Todd and Higginson and possibly to the one that appeared in the Republican. They may have also had access to a manuscript copy (now lost, if ever extant) with the second stanza beginning "Light laughs the breeze" that Susan may have possessed at one time.

Subsequent editors (Johnson, Franklin, Hart & Smith) have traced the transmission of this poem differently, and their works can be consulted directly. In this production performance, our notes attempt to clarify who had which manuscripts, who relied on which print versions to make new ones, and trace the Loomis Todd & Higginson, Bianchi & Hampson printings. As do the notations by Johnson and Franklin, many of these clarifications rely on speculations. We note such conjectures, both on our part and that of other editors.



organized genealogically | chronologically


Printings with "Light laughs..."
· Christian Union, T. W. Higginson, XLII (25 September 1890), 393. Drawn from copy recorded in fascicles.
· Poems, Eds. T.W. Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890, 113. Drawn from copy recorded in fascicles.
· The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Eds. Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson, Little, Brown, and Co. (1936), 158.


Printings with "Grand go the Years..."
· Christian Union, T. W. Higginson, XLII (25 September 1890), 393. Drawn from copy sent to Higginson and from fascicle copies.
· Poems, Eds. T.W. Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890, 113. Drawn from copy sent to Higginson and from fascicle copies.
· A Reader's History of American Literature, T. W. Higginson and H. W. Boynton, Boston (1903), 130-131. Facsimile reproduction of copy sent to Higginson.
· The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1924), 78. Quoted in part, and drawn from copies sent to Susan Dickinson.
· The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Eds. Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson, Little, Brown, and Co. (1936), 158.
· Emily Dickinson Face to Face, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Houghton Mifflin, 1932 (rpt. Archon Books, 1970), 164. Narrativizing the exchange between her mother and her aunt regarding the writing of this poem, Bianchi quotes in part from documents they exchanged.


Printings with "Springs shake..."
· The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1924), 78. Drawn from the copy sent to Susan Dickinson.
· Emily Dickinson Face to Face, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Houghton Mifflin, 1932 (rpt. Archon Books, 1970), 164. Narrativizing the exchange between her mother and her aunt regarding the writing of this poem, Bianchi quotes in part from documents they exchanged.
· Ancestors' Brocades: The Literary Debut of Emily Dickinson, Millicent Todd Bingham, Harper & Brothers (1945), 383.


Printing of Susan's Response, "I am not suited, dear Emily"
· Emily Dickinson Face to Face, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Houghton Mifflin, 1932 (rpt. Archon Books, 1970), 164. Narrativizing the exchange between her mother and her aunt regarding the writing of this poem, Bianchi quotes in part from documents they exchanged.