Emily Dickinson Writing a Poem

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"Safe in...light laughs"

 < transcription >

H 11c; F6 


JL 238 | JP 216 | FP 124 | Late 1850s/early 1860s

Ink | Watermark/embossment: "Parsons / Paper / Co" with oval | 20 x 13 cm 

This is the version, bound into one of Dickinson's fascicles, that Sue had probably seen before and referred to in her note beginning "I am not suited dear Emily."  

Though no copy of this version of "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" addressed to Sue survives, it is more than reasonable to suppose that she had examined the poem with the second stanza beginning "Light laughs the breeze." When the poem was published in March 1862 in the Springfield Daily Republican as "The Sleeping," it features the "Light laughs" second stanza. Sue may have first seen that version in the newspaper, or she may have been the "agent" who forwarded Emily's poems to be printed.  Apparently Sue was resposible for many, if not all, of the printings of Dickinson's poems during Emily's lifetime.  She certainly knew all the editors who printed Emily's poems in the 1860s, having entertained them (Samuel Bowles, Richard Salter Storrs, e.g.) face-to-face in the Evergreens.  When she forwarded, or hand-delivered, a poem to a publisher, Sue was then without a copy, as her asking for another "A narrow Fellow / in the Grass" in the 1870s makes clear (The Book of Susan and Emily 246-249).  Thus, if Sue was responsible for the printing of "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers," as her note "Never mind Emily" may well suggest, then she would be left without a copy, having forwarded hers to the Republican.  Significantly, in that note Sue refers to the poem's publication as starting "our / Fleet," not just Emily's. In lieu of Sue's copy, "lost" to the Republican, the reproduction featured here is of the earliest version that Dickinson bound into Fascicle 6. Also featured is a facsimile of the 1862 printing.