Auctions | March 14, 2013

Important Emily Dickinson Manuscript at Bonhams

The signed manuscript of Emily Dickinson’s letter-poem 'She sped as petals from a rose...',  is to be sold on 10 April in Part I of the sale of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London.  

The eight line verse, reproduced below, dates from around 1865 and is signed 'Emily' at the end and addressed on the back to 'Sue', written in pencil.  It is estimated at $15,600 - 23,000 (£10,000-15,000).

She sped as Petals from a Rose

Offended by the Wind

A frail Aristocrat of Time

Indemnity to find -

Leaving On Nature a default

As Cricket or as Bee,

But Andes in the Bosoms where

She has begun to lie.

The 'letter-poem' was sent to Emily Dickinson sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert, the recipient of a quarter of the poet’s surviving letters.  The addressing of this poem to Sue has not been previously recorded.

The two women knew one another for nearly forty years and their relationship was at the core of Emily's emotional and creative life.  Although ‘She sped as petals from a rose..’ is about the death of a child,  some of the references - to ‘bee’ and ‘Andes’, for example - occur in other of the letter-poems sent to Sue and clearly had a private significance.  

Poetry: Poetical  Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets,  is the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids and is the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction.  In Mr David’s own words, “it would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated.”

For more information on the sale, go to www.bonhams/books.