The Emily Project: Part One/Life: XII (I Asked No Other Thing)

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith has deemed this one  an *.  Hmmm…


I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.


Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”


Edith: a cryptic asterisk, a light pencil underlining of “merchant” and “Mr Higginson” off to the side.


Me: Can I get a vowel, please?  Really.  Not much to go on here.  This is a giant puzzle. I get the sense of wish fulfillment, as if Emily were looking for something and didn’t quite get what she wanted.  Now, if Emily didn’t travel far from home Brazil would seem a mighty long way away.  Is Brazil a metaphor of sorts for wanting the impossible, and is the merchant trying to convince her Brazil is out of her reach.  By capitalizing “Being” I attach immediate importance, and naturally I think of God.  Did Emily ask God for something specific, yet did not receive the answer she wanted, perhaps with some disappointment having received all else she had asked.  Mr Higginson. I came across his name when initially researching about Emily and he becomes very important to her. I know he became a mentor and they corresponded over the years. Edith? Are you holding out on me?  What do you know about Thomas Wentworth Higginson?





4 responses to “The Emily Project: Part One/Life: XII (I Asked No Other Thing)

  1. Higginson was a major literary figure in the 19th century. Among other things he was one of the founders of the Atlantic. He wrote an article directed to young writers which prompted a letter from ED along with some poems which started a lifelong correspondence. He discouraged her from publishing.

    There is a joint biography title Dear Praeceptor which describes there relationship. More recently there is a book called White Heat, which also describes their correspondence.

    I’m not much of a literary guy but I could see how speculating that Higginson, who after the Civil War pretty much wrote for living would be a good metaphor for “the merchant” compared to ED who published little.

    Higginson ended up helping ED’s poems get published posthumously and there has been much criticism of this editing.

    Higginson is an important historical figure from many viewpoints. He commanded the first Union regiment recruited from ex-slaves – The First Carolina Volunteers, was an active abolitionist and womens rights activist. At the end of his life he was kind of the grand old man of the Transcendentals. It is kind of ironic that Emily Dickinson is now more well known than he is.

  2. Thanks so much for the information on Higginson. This is really helpful in understanding the importance of his role in Emily’s life. I’m admittedly a bit nervous having an Emily expert reading over my posts now, although I look forward to any further input.

  3. Pingback: The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XIII (The Soul Selects Her Own Society) | Verasimilitude

  4. May I interrupt this wonderful conversation for some less-than-scholarly reflection on Dickinson’s “This Consciousness that is aware Of Neighbors and the Sun Will be the one aware of Death…” A different take from an old man thinking about studying Dickinson in high school. Thank you.

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