Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1896. 1st Edition. 12mo, publisher's half green cloth over gilt-stamped white boards, all edges gilt. Housed in custom clamshell box.
Rare first edition of the third collection of poems by "the Belle of Amherst," one of 1000 copies issued: "It's all I have to bring to-day, / This, and my heart beside, / This, and my heart, and all the fields, / And all the meadows wide." Only a handful of Dickinson's nearly 1800 poems were published in her lifetime, with roughly a third of them seen through the press by her sister Lavinia and a cohort of family intimates in the years following her death in 1886. Disputes within the family, however, and with those tasked with editing the work, impeded further publication, with several piecemeal collections issued by the rival factions over the next half century, until the estate passed in its entirety to Harvard University. The present collection (along with two others issued in the 19th century) was edited by Mabel Loomis Todd, the mistress of Emily and Lavinia's older brother Austin. "The intellectual activity of Emily Dickinson was so great that a large and characteristic choice is still possible among her literary material, and this third volume of her verses is put forth in response to the repeated wish of the admirers of her peculiar genius" (from Todd's preface). The cover design, of silver-stamped "Indian Pipes," was taken from a painting Todd had given Dickinson and which hung in the poet's bedroom, becoming her "preferred flower of life," and a recurrent motif in future publications of her work. Binding A (no priority), with earlier imprint of Roberts Brothers on spine. Myerson A4.1a. BAL 4661. Light soiling to boards, with faint dampstaining near top edges, corners gently worn. An extremely good copy of a landmark in American literature. Item #1009