What Difference Does a Word Make?

Did you know that Thomas Wentworth Higginson, publisher and friend to Emily Dickinson, changed the word “Heft” to “weight” when he and Mabel Loomis Todd edited and published a collection of her poems after her death. Higginson wrote that Dickinson’s poems were “wayward and unconventional in the last degree; defiant of form, measure, rhyme, even grammar…” — precisely what makes her poems so original — and he adjusted them accordingly. Then in 1955 Thomas H. Johnson released a variorum edition of Dickinson’s work, and restored her original vocabulary. What difference does a word make? Scholar and poet Daniel Hoffman writes, “‘heft’ suggests a course physical effort required to handle heaviness…while at the same time the word embodies the successful act of lifting. It is this oxymoron that gives the image its synergy, its power.” #poem #poetry #columbiaupress #grangers #emilydickinson #analysis #poetsofinstagram cinemagraph by @gottakidtofeed

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