Emily Dickinson: Fascicle 6

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Our Findings

In this section of the site, our team already had a research question formulated, and it stemmed from our work with Fascicle 16. Since we were working with a new fascicle, we had to begin with transcribing and marking up all the poems individually. Because Emily Dickinson did not make any of her own variations within her own poems in Fascicle 6, we compared only the published versions to her original handwritten manuscripts. We used the same method of tagging to mark the changes that the publishers made, which we then used with SVG produced and Network Analysis graphs to analyze trends.

The way the poems are viewed in the Fascicle 6 portion of the site works the same way as Fascicle 16. The poem first appears on the page as Emily Dickinson had originally written it. Then the user can click the buttons on the side to show and hide the variations that the different publishers made, highlighted in the corresponding color of the button. This allows the user to view the different variations right beside each other. Many of these changes involved the placement of line breaks, capitalization, punctuation, and most notably, the dashes that are so typical of Dickinson. On poem that exemplifies these changes well is Poem 10. These changes are all very typical of what the publishers would change, so below is a side by side comparison of Poem 10, stanza 6 of Emily Dickinson's original poem, and the The Poems of Emily Dickinson; Centenary Edition publication.

Dickinson's Fascicle 6

1: Thy sacred Emblems to partake—
2: Thy consecrated bread to take
3: And thine immortal wine!

Centenary Edition

1: Thy sacred emblems to partake,
2: Thy consecrated bread to break,
3: Taste thine immortal wine!Y

As you can see, the changes to the original poem can really change the way the poem is read. First, in line one, the word "Emblem" is no longer capitalized, which removes emphasis from the word. Originally, the word was meant to stand out and draw attention, but without the capitalization, it's just another word. At the end of the line, the published version replaces the dash with a comma, a change that was made very commonly. The dash suggests a longer, more dramatic pause. Replacing it with a comma again removes emphasis, this time on the pause. Finally, changing the words was a very obvious way that the publishers edited Dickinson's work. This happens in this stanza in both lines two and three. Changing "take" to "break" and "And" to "Taste" changes the meaning of the line, and in some cases, it can change the meaning of the whole poem.

The backbone of all our research lies in our xml markup of the variations of the poems. As mentioned, we used the same method that we developed while working with Fascicle 16: we used rdg tags in our xml that held #id attributes for each different publication. When something was changed, we needed an app tag that held different rdg tags to represent the changes. Line groups were contained in lg tags, and lines within l tags. An example of code from the above stanza can be found below.

                <l n="16">Thy sacred <app>
                    <rdg wit="#df6">Emblems</rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#ce #CP #D #fh #poems1">emblems</rdg>
                </app> to partake<app>
                    <rdg wit="#df6 #CP #D #fh">—</rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#ce #poems1">,</rdg>
                <l n="17">Thy consecrated bread to <app>
                    <rdg wit="#df6 #CP #D #fh">take</rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#ce #poems1">break</rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#df6 #CP #D #fh"></rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#ce #poems1">,</rdg>
                <l n="18"><app>
                    <rdg wit="#df6 #CP #D #fh">And</rdg>
                    <rdg wit="#ce #poems1">Taste</rdg>
                </app> thine immortal wine!</l>

As you can see, the The Poems of Emily Dickinson; Centenary Edition , (#ce) and the Poems (#poems1) publications deviated from the original manuscript (#df6) the most. This trend is similar for most of the poems; these two published editions change the poems the most, while Final Harvest, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson remain the most true to the manuscripts.

We used this markup to create an SVG graph to further analyze which publications were the most accurate. Since the dashes were a staple in Dickinson's work, we used the percent of dash reduction to measure which publication removed the most dashes. We concluded that, same as above, the The Poems of Emily Dickinson; Centenary Edition, and the Poems publications removed the most dashes, while Final Harvest, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson retained the most. For a more in-depth analysis, visit our Dash Analysis Graph.

We also created a Network Analysis graph to analyze how closely the published versions corresponded with each other. This analysis mapped out how to what degree the published versions and the original manuscripts shared with each other. We concluded that The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson shared the most variants with Dickinson's original poems, and therefore changes the poems to the least degree of all the publications that we looked at. For a more in-depth analysis, visit our Sharing of Variants Network Analysis.

In conclusion, we found that like Fascicle 16, many of the publications that we looked at changed at least some aspect of Dickinson's poems from the original maniscript versions, whether it be capitalization, dashes, or complete words. While some editors claimed that they were making her poems more "readable," the changes to her original work changes not only how the poems were read, but the meaning of them in some cases. The best way to access the poems with Dickinson's original sentiments is to either read straight from her manuscripts, or choose a publication that stayed close to her original work, such as Final Harvest, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, or The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Unless you are looking for a different take on the poems, it is best to stear clear of publications that made drastic changes to her work, such as the The Poems of Emily Dickinson; Centenary Edition, and the Poems publications.