I see thee better – in the Dark – (F442, J611)

I see thee better – in the Dark –
I do not need a Light –
The Love of Thee – a Prism be –
Excelling Violet –

I see thee better for the
That hunch themselves between –
The Miner’s Lamp – sufficient be –
To nullify the Mine –

And in the Grave – I see Thee best –
It’s little Panels be
A’glow – All ruddy – with the
I held so high, for Thee –

Link to EDA manuscript. Originally in Packet XXXIV, Fascicle 21, ca. 1862. First published in The Single Hound (1914), 85, from the copy sent to Susan ([B]). Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Dickinson sent a copy of this poem to Sue in 1862, which Sue’s daughter Martha included in The Single Hound, the collection of poems she published from her mother’s cache of poetry sent to her in letters. Another version, now lost, was sent to the Norcross cousins. It picks up the “mining” imagery of the previous poem, “Your – Riches – taught me – poverty!”  (F418A, J299) but uses it to suggest burial and lovers meeting in the depths of the grave, which will be illumined by the light of their passion.

According to Judith Farr,

This conceit of burial and destruction after love’s explosion surely had some relation to [Dickinson’s] own life

and her increasing withdrawal, in particular, her refusal to see Samuel Bowles when he finally returned from his European travels. Farr continues, it is

apposite to the considerable number of her poems which imagine both beloveds–female and male–as entombed with her.

This poem is part of that cluster, as is “I see thee clearer for the grave” (F1695A, J1666) and associates the poems to and about Sue with poems to and about the Master.


Farr, Judith. The Passion of Emily Dickinson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1992, 215.

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