Mid 1850’s: Emily to Susan


One Sister have I in our house—

And one, a hedge away.

There’s only one recorded,

But both belong to me.


One came the road that I came—

And wore my last year’s gown—

The other as a bird her nest,

Builded [sic] our hearts among.


She did not sing as we did—

It was a different tune—

Herself to her a music

As a Bumble bee of June.


Today is far from Childhood—

But up and down the hills

I held her hand the tighter—

Which shortened all the miles—


And still her hum

The years among,

Deceives the Butterfly;

Still in her Eye

The Violets lie

Mouldered [sic] this many May.


I split the dew—

But took the morn—

I chose this single star

From out the wide night’s numbers—

Sue_ forevermore!


Emilie —


Late 1850’s: Emily to Susan


Exultation is the going

Of an inland soul to sea,

Past the houses—past the headlands—

Into deep Eternity,


Bred as we, among the mountains,

Can the sailor understand

The divine intoxication

Of the first league out from land?


Late 1850’s: Emily to Susan


Her breast is fit for pearls,

But I was not a “Diver”—

Her brow is fit for thrones

But I have not a crest,

Her heart is fit for home—

I – a Sparrow – build there

Sweet of twigs and twine

My perennial nest.


Emily –

Late 1850’s: Emily to Susan


Except to Heaven—she is nought.

Except for Angels—lone.

Except to some wide-wandering Bee—

A flower superfluous—blown.


Except for winds – provincial—

Except for Butterflies

Unnoticed as a single dew

That on the Acre lies –


The smallest Housewife in the grass—

Yet take her from the lawn

And somebody has lost the face

That made Existence—Home –


Late 1850’s: Susan to Emily



All’s well—


Nevermind Emily—to-morrow

will do just as well—Don’t bother—

I’m “not an hard master”—You

know Maggie is out, and I don’t like

to leave my fold—There are two or

three little things I wanted to talk

with you about without witnesses

but to-morrow will do just as

well—Has girl read Republican?

It takes as long to start our

Fleet as the Burnside.


Early 1860’s: Susan to Emily



I have intended to

write you Emily to-day but the

quiet has not been mine   I send

you this, lest I should seem to

have turned away from a kiss –

If you have suffered this past

summer   I am sorry I

Emily bear a sorrow that I

never uncover — — If a nightingale

sings with her breast against

a thorn, why not we

when I can I shall write –


Sue –


Early 1860’s: Emily to Susan


He fumbles at your Soul

As Players at the Keys

Before they drop full

Music on—

He stuns you by degrees—

Prepares your brittle Nature

For the Etherial [sic] Blow

By fainter Hammers—

further heard—

Then nearer—Then so slow

Your Breath has time to


Your Brain—to bubble Cool—


Thunder bolt—

That scalps your

naked Soul—


When Winds take Forests

in their Paws—

The Universe—is still—




March 1865: Emily to Susan


Dear Sue—

Unable are the

Loved—to die—

For Love is immortality—

Nay—it is Deity—




December 1865: Emily to Susan



We both are

Women, and there

is a Will of God—

Could the Dying

confide Death,

there would be no


is shyer than Death.

Thank you for


I find it is the only

food that the Will

takes, nor that

from general fingers.

I am glad you go—

It does not remove

you. I seek you

first in Amherst,

then turn my

thoughts without

a Whip—so well

they follow you—

An Hour is a Sea

Between a few, and me—

With them would Harbor



Early 1871: Emily to Susan


To miss you, Sue,

is power.

The stimulus

of Loss makes

most Possession


To live lasts

always, but to

love is firmer

than to live.

No Heart that

broke but further

went than


The Trees keep

House for you

all Day and

the Grass looks


A silent Hen

frequents the

place with



still Forenoons

a Rooster knocks

at your outer


To look that

way is Romance.

The Novel “out,”

pathetic worth

attaches to the


Nothing has gone

but Summer, or

no one that you knew.

The Forests

are at Home—

the Mountains

intimate at

Night and arrogant

at Noon, and

lonesome Fluency

abroad, like

suspending Music.

Of so divine

a Loss

We enter but

the Gain,

Indemnity for


That such a

Bliss has been.

Tell Neddie

that we miss

him and cherish

“Captain Jinks.”

Tell Mattie

that Tim’s dog

calls Vinnie’s Pussy

names and I dont

discourage him.

She must come

Home and chase

them both and

that will make

it square.

For Big Mattie

and John, of

course a strong


I trust that

you are warm.

I keep your

faithful place.

Whatever throng

the Lock is

firm upon your

Diamond Door.



Mid 1870’s: Emily to Susan


Dear Sue—


I would

have liked to

be beautiful and

tidy when you


You will excuse

me, wont you,

I felt so sick.

How it would

please me if

you would come

once more, when

I was palatable.