|"I did not deem that planetary forces annulled, but suffered an exchange of territory, or world."|
~ Photo: skyscape, Irish Memorial Hunger Garden, NYC, from Pilgrimage
< Early Feminist Essays | Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism >
"Emily Dickinson's Letters" by Thomas Wentworth Higginson -- (pg.6)|
text pub. Atlantic Monthly, October, 1891
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t would seem that at first I tried a little, -- a very little -- to lead her in
the direction of rules and traditions;
but I fear it was only perfunctory, and
that she interested me more in her --
so to speak -- unregenerate condition.
Still, she recognizes the endeavor. In
this case, as will be seen, I called her
attention to the fact that while she took
pains to correct the spelling of a word,
she was utterly careless of greater irregularities.
It will be seen by her answer
that with her usual naïve adroitness she
turns my point: --
DEAR FRIEND, -- Are these more orderly? I thank you for the truth.
I had no monarch in my life, and
cannot rule myself; and when I try to
organize, my little force explodes and
leaves me bare and charred.
I think you called me "wayward."
Will you help me improve?
I suppose the pride that stops the
breath, in the core of woods, is not of ourself.
You say I confess the little mistake,
and omit the large. Because I can see
orthography; but the ignorance out of
sight is my preceptor's charge.
Of "shunning men and women,"
they talk of hallowed things, aloud, and
embarrass my dog. He and I don't object to them,
if they'll exist their side.
I think Carl would please you. He is
dumb, and brave. I think you would like
the chestnut tree I met in my walk. It
hit my notice suddenly, and I thought the
skies were in blossom.
Then there's a noiseless noise in the
orchard that I let persons hear.
You told me in one letter you could
not come to see me "now," and I made
no answer; not because I had none, but
did not think myself the price that you
should come so far.
I do not ask so large a pleasure, lest
you might deny me.
You say, "Beyond your knowledge."
You would not jest with me, because I
believe you; but, preceptor, you cannot
All men say "What" to me, but I
thought it a fashion.
When much in the woods, as a little
girl, I was told that the snake would
bite me, that I might pick a poisonous
flower, or goblins kidnap me; but I went
along and met no one but angels, who
were far shyer of me than I could be
of them, so I have n't that confidence
in fraud which many exercise.
I shall observe your precept, though I
don't understand it, always.
I marked a line in one verse, because
I met it after I made it, and never consciously touch a paint mixed by another person.
I do not let go it, because it is mine.
Have you the portrait of Mrs. Browning?
Persons sent me three. If you had
none, will you have mine?
A month or two after this I entered
the volunteer army of the civil war,
and must have written to her during
the winter of 1862-63 from South Carolina or
Florida, for the following reached
me in camp: --
DEAR FRIEND, -- I did not deem that
planetary forces annulled, but suffered
an exchange of territory, or world.
I should have liked to see you before
you became improbable. War feels to
me an oblique place. Should there
be other summers, would you perhaps
I found you were gone, by accident,
as I find systems are, or seasons of the
year, and obtain no cause, but suppose
it a treason of progress that dissolves
as it goes. Carlo still remained, and I
Best gains must have the losses' test,
To constitute them gains.
My shaggy ally assented.
Perhaps death gave me awe for
friends, striking sharp and early, for I
held them since in a brittle love, of
more alarm than peace. I trust you
may pass the limit of war; and though
not reared to prayer, when service is
had in church for our arms, I include
yourself. . . . I was thinking to-day, as
I noticed, that the "Supernatural" was
only the Natural disclosed.
Not "Revelation" 't is that waits,
But our unfurnished eyes.
But I fear I detain you. Should
you, before this reaches you, experience
immortality, who will inform me of the
exchange? Could you, with honor, avoid
death, I entreat you, sir. It would bereave
I trust the "Procession of Flowers" was not a premonition.