Emily Dickinson

Poetry on Dove

Emily Dickinson:

Dove in Poems & Letters

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

POEM 48 (circa 1858)

Once more, my now bewildered Dove
Bestirs her puzzled wings
Once more her mistress, on the deep
Her troubled question flings—

Thrice to the floating casement
The Patriarch's bird returned,
Courage! My brave Columba!
There may yet be Land!


POEM 1204 (circa 1871)

Whatever it is— she has tried it—
Awful Father of Love—
Is not Our's the chastising—
Do not chastise the Dove—

Not for Ourselves, petition—
Nothing is left to pray—
When a subject is finished—
Words are handed away—

Only lest she be lonely
In thy beautiful House
Give her for her Transgression
License to think of us—


POEM 3 (St. Valentine 1852)

It was the brave Columbus,
    A sailing o'er the tide,
Who notified the nations
    Of where I would reside!

(stanza 10 of 17 stanzas)


POEM 555 (circa 1863)

Trust in the Unexpected—
By this— was William Kidd
Persuaded of the Buried Gold—
As One had testified—

Through this— the old Philosopher—
His Talismanic Stone—
Discernéd— still with holden
To effort undivine—

'Twas this— allured Columbus—
When Genoa— withdrew
Before an Apparition
Baptized America—

The Same— afflicted Thomas—
When Deity assured
'Twas better— the perceiving not—
Provided it believed—

Notes: For the reference to Thomas, see John, XX.29:
"Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou has seen me, thou has believed:
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
(Edited by Thomas H. Johnson),
Little Brown, Boston, 1960

Notes: "Dove" and "Columbus" are cited two times each according to
S. P. Rosenbaum (Ed.), A Concordance to the Poems of Emily Dickinson,
Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1964, pp. 140, 203

I have included "Columbus" because in Poem 48, Emily was aware that Columba is Latin for dove. Likewise, Emily's image of Columbus baptized America (Poem 555) refers to the dove's descent when Christ was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew, 3.16)


LETTER 5 (To Abiah Root, Feb. 23, 1845)

I hope the little dove will bear the letter safely.

LETTER 492 (To Mrs. J. G. Holland, about March 1877)

There is a Dove in the Street and I own a beautiful Mud—
so I know Summer is coming. I was always attached to Mud,
because of what it typifies— also, perhaps,
a Child's tie to primeval Pies.

LETTER 737 (To Frances Norcross, about November 1881)

Home is the riddle of the wise— the booty of the dove.

LETTER 948 (To Maria Whitney, autumn 1884)

Austin brought me the picture of [Tommaso] Salvini when
he was in Boston. The brow is that of Deity— the eyes,
those of the lost, but the power lies in the throat
pleading, sovereign, savage— the panther and the dove! Each, how innocent!

The Letters of Emily Dickinson, Edited by Thomas H. Johnson
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1965,
Vol. 1, p. 11; Vol. 2, p. 576; Vol. 3, pp. 717, 847

Notes: "Dove" is cited 7 times and "Dove's" once according
to Concordance to the Letters of Emily Dickinson,
By Cynthia MacKenzie, University Press of Colorado,
Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 188 (four samples quoted above)

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