A transcription of a previously unknown verse by Emily Dickinson has been found in a letter from Martha A. Cushing Esty (Mattie) to her sister Sarah E. S. Cushing Tuckerman (Eliza or Lizzie). The letter is part of the Cushing-Tuckerman-Esty Family Papers at Amherst College and was written in 1873 while Eliza and Professor Edward Tuckerman were in Europe and Mattie was taking care of their home, Applestead. Although the poem isn’t in Dickinson’s hand, it offers instead a rare glimpse of a recipient’s reaction to a Dickinson note. It shows, for example, that even among her contemporaries Dickinson’s handwriting was sometimes difficult to read, and that reading and interpreting it might become a family affair. It’s also interesting that Mattie mentioned it to Eliza at all, and made the effort to transcribe it for her, since she doesn’t usually describe her correspondence for her sister.
Domhnall Mitchell, Professor of English at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has written about the new poem in the 23 January 2024 issue of “Notes and Queries.” Here, then, are digital images of the full letter that do not appear in Mitchell’s article. The Dickinson section begins on the bottom of Mattie’s page 3 (“I received a box of lovely flowers the other day”) and continues on her page 4.