“Father – I bring thee – not myself” (F295B, J265)

Father – I bring thee – not
myself –
That were the little load –
I bring thee the departed
I had not strength (power)
to hold –

The Heart I cherished
in my own
Till mine – too heavy grew –
Yet – strangest – heavier –
since it went –
Is it too large for you?

Link to EDA manuscript. Originally in Packet XX, Fascicle 10, ca. 1861. First published in Poems (1896), 88, from the fascicle. Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

This poem is the eleventh poem in the fascicle, one poem away from “A Single crew of Flesh” and by comparison with the poems that precede it, seems like the eye of the storm. It confirms that another’s “heart” is involved in the speaker’s religious struggles. And though the tone is simple and straightforward, it contains some classic Dickinson moves. The self-abasement in terms of scale: herself “little” compared to the bigger heart of the beloved; the strangeness of the heart/loss growing heavier since with its absence; the weightiness of absence and renunciation; the simple question at the end.

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