Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem

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Posthumous Printings

One of the few poems printed during Emily Dickinson's lifetime, "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" has appeared in various incarnations-–on 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.

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