“With alarm, Your Scholar,” and other excellent sign-offs from Emily Dickinson’s letters.

Emily Temple

April 30, 2024, 10:06am

This month, Harvard University Press published a new edition of Emily Dickinson’s letters, the first in over sixty years, edited by Cristianne Miller and Domhnall Mitchell. It is the most complete volume of the poet’s correspondence to date, presenting 1,304 letters, including hundreds of previously uncollected letters and “letter-poems,” each one freshly transcribed—a process that, the press says, revealed not only a number of errors but also material that was “deliberately omitted” by previous editors.

These newly republished and annotated letters reveal that “Dickinson was by no means an isolated, lonely, woman,” write Miller and Mitchell in the book’s introduction. “She lived fully within the stream of events in her town, state, country, and times. This new edition of the letters will transform how we understand the narrative of Dickinson’s casual and profound relationships and her life as a poet.”

The book is, necessarily, filled with Dickinson’s observations and wishes and sharp turns of phrase—these are the letters of a legendary poet, after all. And she was always good at sticking the landing. Below, you’ll find a few of Dickinson’s excellent sign-offs, pulled from the letters in the book. Perhaps this is a sign that it’s time to collectively retire “best”?


Thank you for the lovely love –

Keeping you and the beloved Doctor in thought – you know who I am –

All you will say of yourselves is dear to Emily and Vinnie, and is’nt to say it soon – prudent – in so short a Life?

With a kiss and a flower, one of which will endure, I am whom you infer.

I close with reluctant and hurrying love.

With wondering love

For the sweet Founder of the Fold, the bereft Madonna, more love than “we can ask or think” –

With reverential remembrance

Spring is a Strange Land when our friends are ill. With my Sister’s tenderest alarm, as also my own,

Thinking of you with fresher love, as the Bible boyishly says “New every Morning and fresh every Evening”,

Love for all but the Rheumatism

Your “Rascal.” I washed the adjective.

Accept a loving Caw from a nameless friend, “Selah”

A word from you would be sacred. Emily.

If affection can reinforce, you, dear, shall not fall. Emily

Love to your World – or Worlds.

Emily, with love


With alarm, Your Scholar

Truly and warmly

Have I convinced you Friend? – Pleasantly,

With sweet respect

With the sincere spite of a woman

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