Emily Dickinson & Her Envelope Poems

Two years ago I bought a book for the local library called Envelope Poems (2016, Christine Burgin/New Directions, $14.95). Last week I saw it on the poetry shelf, half-hidden between two larger volumes.

Though most of her powers were spent by 1870, around this time Dickinson began writing notes and scraps of poetry on mail lying about her house. It seems she was working on a project connecting poetry with sending and receiving a letter. On one late piece she scribbled, “What a Hazard a Letter is…” (If you have written poetry, you might feel the same way about a poem).

This little book has photos of the envelopes and the original text is transcribed, with Dickinson’s revision marks, on the adjacent page. None of them are complete poems, but there are bits of gold in the fragments. Here are two examples of why the work is worth a look:

 

252)

In this short life

that merely lasts an hour

How much – how little –

is within our power

539)

“There are those who are shallow intentionally and only profound by accident.”

One Year

It’s been one year since The Hidden Press appeared and the first post (“Birthday”) was published.

Thank you, if you have been here since the beginning.

Thank you, if you have stopped by along the way.

Thank you, if you are here for the first time. Welcome!

When I started The Hidden Press I wanted to write for you, the individual- not for “targeted advertising markets” or any ideological group. I simply wanted to share what might come from a day’s talking or thinking or working.

So, I hope you have enjoyed what’s been posted.

Will you please take a second to click on the three lines at the top-right of your screen? You will find an archive of past posts, a little bit about The Hidden Press, and a way to stay in touch.

Previously

Some of the posts here at The Hidden Press have been edited and updated, though not necessarily improved. Please take a moment to visit them.

Then to Now:

Birthday

Hope

Wind

A Day

I Post, Therefore

The Republic

Elevator

Tell Me A Story

Weather-Watching

The Path

Escape or Escapism?

Life Is

Crows

Leaves

Thoughts

Fire

Master Key

Patience

Morning Note

Leaves

Leaves can’t keep secrets

Green or brown,

They whisper and tattle and dance

On the branch,

Taunting those who do not know

The source of their revelry

 

Leaves love to keep silent

Most of all,

When the guide-wind has gone and you

Are alone,

Standing in the heavy-hot air

Without a word

 

But leaves fall when the air is light

And words return when their time is right

Escape or Escapism?

When he sees me he waves an arm, flicks a wrist, and says strange phrases. He must be at least twelve years old. His thin-rimmed glasses constantly threaten to slide off his nose and his sandy brown hair needs no comb. The boy is a devoted fan of Harry Potter, and for reasons I do not know, he casts a curse my direction when our paths cross. As he grows up, his love for the wizarding world might cool. For now, it burns white-hot.

Continue reading