Poetry News

Fragments of Emily Dickinson's Poems on Fragments of Paper

By Harriet Staff


Slate's blog The Vault alerts us to more Emily Dickinson news, having accessed her letters and manuscripts at Amherst College Digital Collections--as can we all, now that they've been recently digitized! Turns out that "fragments" (so called by Dickinson scholars) of her poems were written on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, and "sheets that seem to have been crumpled and then smoothed out." More:

Some of these bits of manuscript, like the piece of envelope holding a fragment that reads “was never/Frigate a/like,” are recognizable parts of familiar Dickinson poems (“There is no Frigate like a Book/To take us Lands away”).

Others were never published. Seeing them in their fragmentary form seems to elevate their poignancy, as with the long, skinny fragment of paper that reads:

All it’s (the occupations
crystallized – Everybody
gone away

Or the partial envelope flap on which Dickinson wrote, then crossed out in an emphatic hand:

Which – has the
wisest men
undone –
Doubt has

Read the full post here.

Originally Published: January 15th, 2013