Alone and in a Circumstance


Emily Dickinson drafted this poem after affixing clippings to the sheet with a three-cent postage stamp featuring a locomotive, which had first been issued the year before.

Alone and in a Circumstance
Reluctant to be told
A spider on my reticence
Assiduously crawled

And so much more at Home than I
Immediately grew
I felt myself a visitor
And hurriedly withdrew –

Revisiting my late abode
with articles of claim
I found it quietly assumed
as a Gymnasium

Where Tax asleep and Title off
The inmates of the Air
Perpetual presumption took
As each were special Heir –

If any strike me on the street
I can return the Blow –
If any take my property
According to the Law

The Statute is my Learned friend
But what redress can be
For an offence not here nor there
So not in Equity –

That Larceny of time and mind
The marrow of the Day
By spider, or forbid it Lord
That I should specify –

Alone and in a Circumstance
Poem, ca. 1870
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections