Emily Dickinson "Wild nights" manuscript
Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
Emily Dickinson, Wild Nights – Wild Nights!, 1861
Dickinson's posthumous editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson thought the poem was too erotic
for a woman he deemed pure and was initially reluctant to print the poem, "lest the malignant
read into it more than that virgin recluse ever dream of putting there"*. Modern readers
now, however, recognize the poem as one of her most erotic and find in the text Dickinson's
understanding of sexual passion.
* Leiter, Sharon. Critical Companion to Emily Dickinson: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work.
New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2007