Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poems and Heaths of New England

After Emily Dickinson's death, her editors, Mabel Loomis Dodge and T. W. Higginson, selected a sampling of her poetry from the voluminous manuscripts she left behind. In their introduction to Poems by Emily Dickinson (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890), they described the poet as "a recluse by temperament and habit, literally spending years without setting her foot beyond the doorstep." They graced the cover of the book with a stand of indian pipe flowers stamped in silver. It was an conscious choice meant to convey a specific meaning that helped to establish the popular conception of Emily Dickinson.

This past week we acquired a contemporary description of the indian pipe in the privately printed The Heaths of New England.  Next to a dried specimen of the indian pipe the text, poetical in its own right, states:
Among the dark tall hemlocks this pale herb lifts its flower which is of the same hue as the stem.  Plants which have chlorophyll prepare their food from the crude inorganic elements of the earth and air.  This is therefore a root parasite, living on the juices elaborated by some other plant.
Ask for Val 816 D56L211 to see Dickinson's Poems; White Mountains QK495 E68 H35 1880z for The Heaths of New England.

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