Poems by Emily Dickinson (First Series): Transcriber's Note

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
by EmilyDickinson

Transcriber's Note

As is well documented, Emily Dickinson's poems were edited in these early editions by her friends, better to fit the conventions of the times. In particular, her dashes, often small enough to appear as dots, became commas and semi-colons.

In the second series of poems published, a facsimile of her handwritten poem which her editors titled "Renunciation" is given, and I here transcribe that manuscript as faithfully as I can, showing _underlined_ words thus.

There came a day - at Summer's full -
Entirely for me -
I thought that such were for the Saints -
Where Resurrections - be -
The sun - as common - went abroad -
The flowers - accustomed - blew,
As if no soul - that solstice passed -
Which maketh all things - new -
The time was scarce profaned - by speech -
The falling of a word
Was needless - as at Sacrament -
The _Wardrobe_ - of our Lord!
Each was to each - the sealed church -
Permitted to commune - _this_ time -
Lest we too awkward show
At Supper of "the Lamb."
The hours slid fast - as hours will -
Clutched tight - by greedy hands -
So - faces on two Decks look back -
Bound to _opposing_ lands.
And so, when all the time had leaked,
Without external sound,
Each bound the other's Crucifix -
We gave no other bond -
Sufficient troth - that we shall _rise_,
Deposed - at length the Grave -
To that new marriage -
_Justified_ - through Calvaries - of Love!

From the handwriting, it is not always clear which are dashes, which are commas and which are periods, nor it is entirely clear which initial letters are capitalized.

However, this transcription may be compared with the edited version in the main text to get a flavor of the changes made in these early editions.