XII. I Asked No Other Thing


I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.

Brazil nuts? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is dere nuttin’ else
I can shell you to-day?”


The 1924 version; the authentic version, using the remarkably different “sneered.” A particularly funny and enigmatic poem, even cited in a 1913 critique of Dickinson in The Atlantic (“a union of playfulness and of terrible comment upon the thwarted aspirations of a suffering soul”).


IX. The Heart Asks Pleasure First


The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little dynamos
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to bed;
And then, using lightning
From atop the castle’s spire,
A monster brain, awakening.


The monster-less version—or, more accurately, the alternate monster. Not to be confused with the song from the 1993 movie “The Piano.”