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Emily Dickinson’s literary mentor

Though more conventional, Thomas Higginson’s poetry demonstrated the same eye for poetic detail and literary value

Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

The Snowing of the Pines

  • Softer than silence, stiller than still air,
  • Float down from high pine boughs the slender leaves.
  • The forest floor its annual boon receives
  • That comes like snowfall, tireless, tranquil, fair.
  • Gently they glide, gently they clothe the bare
  • Old rocks with grace. Their fall a mantle weaves
  • Of paler yellow than autumnal sheaves
  • Or those strange blossoms the witch-hazels wear.
  • Athwart long aisles the sunbeams pierce their way;
  • High up, the crows are gathering for the night;
  • The delicate needles fill the air; the jay
  • Takes through their golden mist his radiant flight;
  • They fall and fall, till at November’s close
  • The snow-flakes drop as lightly-snows on snows. 

December

  • The evening sky unseals its quiet fountain,
  • Hushing the silence to a drowsy rain;
  • It spreads a web of dimness o’er the plain
  • And round each meadow tree;
  • Makes this steep river-bank a dizzy mountain,
  • And this wide stream a sea.
  • Stealing from upper headlands of deep mist,
  • The dark tide bears its icebergs ocean bound,
  • White shapeless voyagers, by each other kissed,
  • With rustling, ghostly sound;
  • The lingering oak-leaves sigh, the birches shiver,
  • Watching the wrecks of summer far and near,
  • Where many a dew-drop, frozen on its bier,
  • Drifts down the dusky river.
  • I know thee not, thou giant elm, who towerest
  • With shadowy branches in the murky air;
  • And this familiar grove, once light and fair,
  • Frowns, an Enchanted Forest.
  • Couldst thou not choose some other night to moan,
  • O hollow-hooting owl?
  • There needs no spell from thy bewildered soul;
  • I’m ghost enough alone.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911) was an American poet and Unitarian minister. Although he was best known in history as an Abolitionist active in his fight to free slaves prior to the Civil War – and a solider in that war – he is also remembered as Emily Dickinson’s literary mentor. He guided her in her literary pursuits through an ongoing correspondence with the younger poet. After Dickinson’s death, he worked with Mabel Loomis Todd, literary editor (and paramour of Dickinson’s brother), to publish a volume of Dickinson’s verse. Higginson’s own poetry, while more conventional than Dickinson’s, demonstrated the same eye for poetic detail and literary value that helped introduce the Poet of Amherst to the world.

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Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

The Snowing of the Pines

  • Softer than silence, stiller than still air,
  • Float down from high pine boughs the slender leaves.
  • The forest floor its annual boon receives
  • That comes like snowfall, tireless, tranquil, fair.
  • Gently they glide, gently they clothe the bare
  • Old rocks with grace. Their fall a mantle weaves
  • Of paler yellow than autumnal sheaves
  • Or those strange blossoms the witch-hazels wear.
  • Athwart long aisles the sunbeams pierce their way;
  • High up, the crows are gathering for the night;
  • The delicate needles fill the air; the jay
  • Takes through their golden mist his radiant flight;
  • They fall and fall, till at November’s close
  • The snow-flakes drop as lightly-snows on snows. 

December

  • The evening sky unseals its quiet fountain,
  • Hushing the silence to a drowsy rain;
  • It spreads a web of dimness o’er the plain
  • And round each meadow tree;
  • Makes this steep river-bank a dizzy mountain,
  • And this wide stream a sea.
  • Stealing from upper headlands of deep mist,
  • The dark tide bears its icebergs ocean bound,
  • White shapeless voyagers, by each other kissed,
  • With rustling, ghostly sound;
  • The lingering oak-leaves sigh, the birches shiver,
  • Watching the wrecks of summer far and near,
  • Where many a dew-drop, frozen on its bier,
  • Drifts down the dusky river.
  • I know thee not, thou giant elm, who towerest
  • With shadowy branches in the murky air;
  • And this familiar grove, once light and fair,
  • Frowns, an Enchanted Forest.
  • Couldst thou not choose some other night to moan,
  • O hollow-hooting owl?
  • There needs no spell from thy bewildered soul;
  • I’m ghost enough alone.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911) was an American poet and Unitarian minister. Although he was best known in history as an Abolitionist active in his fight to free slaves prior to the Civil War – and a solider in that war – he is also remembered as Emily Dickinson’s literary mentor. He guided her in her literary pursuits through an ongoing correspondence with the younger poet. After Dickinson’s death, he worked with Mabel Loomis Todd, literary editor (and paramour of Dickinson’s brother), to publish a volume of Dickinson’s verse. Higginson’s own poetry, while more conventional than Dickinson’s, demonstrated the same eye for poetic detail and literary value that helped introduce the Poet of Amherst to the world.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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