Two Butterflies went out at Noon – Emily Dickinson

Two Butterflies went out at Noon—
And waltzed above a Farm—
Then stepped straight through the Firmament
And rested on a Beam—

And then—together bore away
Upon a shining Sea—
Though never yet, in any Port—
Their coming mentioned—be—

If spoken by the distant Bird—
If met in Ether Sea
By Frigate, or by Merchantman—
No notice—was—to me—

5 thoughts on “Two Butterflies went out at Noon – Emily Dickinson

  1. johnlos

    i think it was in infinite jest there was a person whose thesis topic was something like ‘punctuation in the works of emily dickinson’. i suppose i get it now.

  2. admin

    Billy Collins On Dickinson’s obsessive use of dashes

    “You find these in her letters, too. I think she just liked that form of punctuation. To me, there are dashes often between a subject and a verb. They’re kind of interruptive, strange dashes that don’t seem to do anything more than reveal her love of the dash, but then there are other dashes to me that are indications of a leap of thought. Whereas a comma or a semicolon doesn’t get the sudden transition as she’s moving from one word to another — so, a sort of zigzag type of logic. So, the tension in her poems — there’s a feeling of reliability about the meter, which is the common meter; there’s a kind of political vocabulary that’s going on, and then there’s a very radical and audacious and daring content and a completely original use of language.”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128272101

  3. Andrea

    Is this the original? Because I remember it going like this:

    Two Butterflies went out at noon
    And waltzed upon a farm
    Then lost themselves and found themselves
    In eddies of the sun

    Then both espied circumference
    And caught a ride with him
    Till rapture missed her footing
    And both were wrecked in noon

    To all surviving Butterflies
    Be this biography
    Example and monition
    To Entomology

    That’s it, or at least, that’s most of it…

  4. bp Post author

    Andrea –

    Emily Dickinson’s poetry has a fascinating publication history. Her work was published posthumously. Because of this, there may not always be “official” versions of poems. At times, her friends/editors also made significant revisions to her work.

    I was not aware of the version you posted – thank you for sharing. The version I posted is from 1862; the “entomology” version seems to be from 16 years later. Here’s a link I found that discusses this – http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/460568?uid=3739568&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102649687951. I think this line is a good one, “The revision, divided from the original by some 16 years, ought to be treated separately.” I agree – reading them in succession they seem to both arise from a similar vision but lead to different places.

    Thanks for sharing.

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