Dickinson's Birds

A Public Listening Project

Dickinson’s Birds: Reading Coordinates

42.3732° N, 72.5199° W

Dickinson in the Meshwork: Encoding Environment
This project encourages attunement to the ways in which Dickinson’s poetry evokes the world(s) around her and her complex, sometimes uncanny experience of emplacement. Thus our mark up of the poems reflects their relationship to scale, place, motion, time, and sound. We begin by inventorying the poems’ scalar allusions to Universes, Galaxies, Solar Systems, Worlds, and Planets. We then recalibrate to report the poems’ landforms: valleys, mountains, deserts, seas, glacial ice. In another act of refocusing, we catalogue their terrestrial and marine habitats, along with the flora and fauna sheltering in them. We consider their climates, marking the meteorological and atmospheric processes recorded in them. And then, in an effort to set back into motion those “elements” of Dickinson’s world trapped in our static inventories, we imagine them in their temporal zones. Our sense that Dickinson lived in the very nick of time, our vision of the lyric itself as a fleeting instance and measure of time, and our experience of reading Dickinson in and out of time is reflected in our effort to mark the many temporalities  — years, seasons, months and days, transits and occultations — found in her work. At last, the central importance of sound in the poems is manifest in our attention to three interlacing registers in Dickinson’s work: the geophony, the biophony, and the anthrophony. 
Explorations of agency and alterity are at the very core of all of Dickinson’s work and thus at the core of these selected works from her larger corpus. Everywhere in her lyric oeuvre, we find encounters between “strange strangers”, the human and non-human, the organic and inorganic, sometimes colliding with one another, sometimes turning toward or becoming one another, sometimes just passing by but not touching. Although we do not attempt to mark the infinite traces of “strange strangers” in these works for fear of domesticating their movements and revolutions in form, we hope that the coordinates of our encoding will lead each reader more deeply into the complex meshwork of Dickinson’s world and an encounter with the questions — about poetry, about ecology — that swirl within it.
  • Universe/Universes
  • Galaxies
  • World/Worlds
  • Solar Systems & Bodies 
  • Landforms 
  • Habitat: Terrestrial
  • Habitat: Freshwater
  • Habitat: Marine
  • Flora
  • Fauna
  • Meteorological and Atmospheric Phenomena 
  • Time-marks: Solar
  • Time-marks: Earthly
  • Sound-marks: Geophony
  • Soundmarks: Biophony
  • Soundmarks: Anthrophony
Dickinson in TEI 
Many of the material and some of the formal attributes for each document  (genre, date, paper-type, medium, state, setting in Dickinson's archive, circulation, affiliations with other manuscripts in Dickinson's oeuvre, current custody) are recorded in  the project's databases. Our encoding of the documents focuses on marking meaningful divisions of the text (e.g., leaf-breaks, stanzas or other line groups, physical line breaks, variant lists, salutations, signatures); marking sites of revision  (e.g., additions, cancellations, instances of overwriting, etc.) and identifying textual gaps; inventorying the authorial marks (+ or x-marks, drawn boundary lines, etc.) found on the manuscripts; recording the occurrence of textual variants, including their physical location on the manuscript and their linguistic relations to one another; and noting the presence of Dickinson's different hands—i.e., her drafting or composing hand, her copying hand—as well as the occurrence of the hands of others on the documents.

The following TEI Tagset is applied to the encoding the poems in Dickinson’s Birds.
Material Divisions
<milestone>, with attribute unit 
<milestone unit="leaf-face"></milestone>
Unit Attribute Values
{E.g., "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46)
Textual Divisions
<lg>, with attributes type, rend*
<lg type="stanza" rend="space-above">
*Use rend with <lg> only when a linegroup is preceded (“space-above”) or followed (“space-below”) by an empty space
Type Attribute Values
type=“stanza”   {e.g., "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46)
type=“verse”     {e.g., A feather from the Whippowil (A 796)
type=“passage” {e.g., A Route of Evanescence (A 766)
type= “variant-wordlist” {e.g., A Mien to move a Queen - (H 32)
type= “postscript” {e.g., A Wind that rose (A 118)
Rend Attribute Values
rend="space-above" {e.g., "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46)
rend="space-below" {e.g., A feather from the Whippowil (A 796)
rend="space-above-space-below" {e.g., The guest is gold and crimson - (H 387)
{Ex: All documents included in the archive are divided into <lg>s; see, for example, "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46)
Line breaks     
<1>, with rend (if “rend” is necessary to indicate rotation)
<l>"Hope" is the thing with</l>
{Ex: We employ <l>, the element designated for marking verse lines, in a non-standard way. Here, it marks each physical line break in a document. See, e.g., "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46) or any document in the archive.
Openers: Title, Date, Salutation 
{Note: The <opener> element floats outside <lg>}
·       Title    
<opener>, with attribute rend; <title>
<opener rend="align(center)"><title>"Navy" Sunset!</title></opener>
Rend attribute values
{E.g.,  The guest is gold and crimson - (H 387)
·       Date
<opener>, with attribute rend; <date>
<opener rend="align(left)"><date> Saturday - </date></opener>
Rend attribute values
·       Salutation
<opener>, with rend; <salute>; <persName>
<opener rend="align(left)"><salute>Dear friend -</salute></opener>
<opener rend="align(left)"><salute>Dear</salute><persName>Mrs Holland -</persName></opener>
{E.g., A Route of Evanescence (A 766)
Rend attribute values
Closer: Signatures
{Note: The <closer> element floats outside <lg>}
·       Signature:
<closer>, with attribute rend; <signed>; <persName>
<closer rend="align(right)"><signed><persName>Emily-</persName></signed></closer>
Rend attribute values
{e.g., My Bird - Who is "Today"? (AAS)
Author-drawn Boundary Lines:
·       Horizontal line            
<milestone>, with attributes unit, type, rend, rendition 
<milestone unit="horizontal-line" type="textual-boundary" rend="align(center)" rendition="13 spaces"></milestone>
Unit Attribute Values
Type Attribute Values
Rend Attribute Values
rend="align(center)" {for horizontal boundary lines at the ends of poems or between the poem proper and the variant wordlist
Rendition Attribute Values
rendition="13-spaces" {rendition is used in combination with rend when it is possible to give an approximate length for the line; in the example below — “Hope” is the thing with feathers -” — the line is 13 spaces long.
{E.g, "Hope" is the thing with feathers - (H 46)
·       Vertical lines -- notes coming soon 
·       Open bracket -- notes coming soon
Textual features
Authorial marks (“+” “o” “x” “+o”) used to mark textual variants and appearing in a position other than inline   
(Note: Since these marks will be searchable without encoding, we are encoding only those that are not composed inline; generally, the marks are above the line, in a superscript position. This encoding is done for the purposes of display.)
<hi> with attributes rend
<hi rend="sup">+</hi>
Rend Attribute Values 
rend="sup”  {for marks in superscript position
rend=“sub”  {for marks in subscript position
<hi> with attribute rend                                      
<hi rend="underline-1x">bird</hi>
Rend attribute values for underscoring record the number of underscores
{E.g, The guest is gold and crimson - (H 387)
Retracing (of letters, words--generally for clarity)
<hi> with attribute rend
<hi rend=“retrace”>c</hi>
Overwriting (of letters/words to reform them into other letters/words)
<del> with attribute rend; <add> with attribute place                     
<del rend="overwritten">c</del><add place=overwritten>a</add>
Rend values
Place values
{E.g., no examples yet.
Additions (not including variant readings, which are treated differently)      
<add>* with attributes place; rend
<add place="above-line" rend="smaller-hand">Bee</add>
Place attribute values
place=“left margin”
place=“right margin”
place= “top margin”
place= “bottom margin”
Rend attribute values (when relevant)
{E.g., The Bird did prance - (A 379)
*Note: For longer passages, we will use the <addSpan> element           
<del> with attribute rend=“see list below”></del> OR <delSpan></delSpan>***
Note: Illegible or lost text within a deletion may be marked using the gap tag to signal that text is present but has not been transcribed, or is no longer visible; see Gap below.
Rend attribute values
Textual directions (testing) 
For lines written vertically in relation to the body-text, we will use <1> with attribute style
<l style="writing-mode: vertical-lr; text-orientation: sideways-left">;
<l style="writing-mode: vertical-rl; text-orientation: sideways-left">
<l style="writing-mode: vertical-lr; text-orientation: sideways-left">for immortality -</l>
For lines written upside-down in relation to the body-text, we will use <1> with attribute style
<l style="writing-mode: text-orientation: upside-down">
For single words written upside-down in relation to the body-text, we will use <hi> with attribute style
<hi style=“writing-mode: text-orientation: upside-down"
{E.g., With Pinions of Disdain, A 529 
The <gap> element indicates a point where material has been omitted in a transcription of Dickinson’s manuscripts because the material is illegible, invisible, or lost. 
<gap> with attributes reason, quantity & unity
<gap reason="illegible" unit="word" quantity="2"/>
<gap reason="illegible" unit="chars" quantity="4"/>
Attribute Values for Reason
reason="illegible hand"
reason="blotted out"
reason="rubbed out"
reason="overwriting illegible"
reason="leaf torn"
reason="leaf cut"
Attribute Values for Unit
Attribute Values for Quantity
quantity="9" (etc.)
Textual Variants
To mark textual variants we follow the protocol below:
·       Every variant (including the "root" variant) in the body of a poem is assigned a discrete xml: id number, e.g., xml:id="v01", xml:id="v02", xml:id="v03", etc.
·       The discrete xml:id number for a variant can be housed within a <l>, if there are no other words outside the variant in the line or any other tags; if there are additional words or encoding, the xml:id number can be housed within a <seg>:
o   LINE: <l xml:id="v01">specified</l>
SEG: <l>+ <seg xml:id="v02">remote -</seg> + <seg xml:id="v03">astray</seg></l> 
·       The associations of variants within a given poem are then articulated using the element <altGrp> below the final <lg> but before the closing </body> element:
<altGrp mode="incl">
            <alt target="#v01 #v02 #v03"/>
            <alt target="#v04 #v05"/>
            <alt target="#v06 #v07"/>
In cases where textual variants cross elements, or are broken up by elements, we use the <joinGrp> element in the following manner:
            <join result="seg" scope="branches" target="#v17 #v18" xml:id="v22"/> 
            <join result="seg" scope="branches" target="#v19 #v20" xml:id="v21"/>
Here again the element <joinGrp> is positiobed below the final <lg> but before the closing </body> element.
Hands: Given the importance of distinguishing between Dickinson’s drafting/composing and copying hands and the importance of identifying non-authorial hands on the document, we will use the handNote element. This list below is quite comprehensive, but might need to be expanded if additional non-authorial hands are found on the MSS.
a.      xml:id=“ED” scribe=“Emily Dickinson”  script=“Hand A”  
b.     xml:id=“ED” scribe=“Emily Dickinson”  script=“Hand B”    
c.      xml:id=“ED” scribe=“Emily Dickinson”  script=“Hands A and B”  
d.     xml:id=“ED” scribe=“Emily Dickinson”  script=“Hand C”  
e.      xml:id=“MLT” scribe=“Mabel Loomis Todd”  medium=“ink” 
f.      xml:id=“MLT” scribe=“Mabel Loomis Todd”  medium=“pencil” 
g.     xml:id=“MLT” scribe=“Millicent Todd Bingham”  medium=“ink” 
h.     xml:id=“MLT” scribe=“Millicent Todd Bingham”  medium=“pencil” 
i.       xml:id=“SD” scribe=“Susan Dickinson”  medium=“ink” 
j.       xml:id=“SD” scribe=“Susan Dickinson”  medium=“pencil”
k.     xml:id=“LD” scribe=“Lavinia Dickinson”  medium=“ink” 
l.       xml:id=“LD” scribe=“Lavinia Dickinson”  medium=“pencil” 
m.    xml:id=“TWH” scribe=“Thomas Wentworth Higginson”  medium=“ink” 
n.     xml:id=“TWH” scribe=“Thomas Wentworth Higginson”  medium=“pencil” 
o.     xml:id=“JL” scribe=“Jay Leyda”  medium=“ink” 
p.     xml:id=“JL” scribe=“Jay Leyda”  medium=“pencil” 
q.     xml:id=“Unknown” scribe=“Unidentified hand”  medium=“ink” 
r.      xml:id=“Unknown” scribe=“Unidentified hand”  medium=“pencil” 
Prose descriptions for Dickinson’s Hands A-C
·       handNote for Dickinson’s copying hand (Hand A): This hand, whether in ink or pencil, is a fine, elegant, legible hand in which the letters feel as much drawn as written. Although Dickinson’s copying hand evolves over time, it is often distinguished by the embellishment or original formation of certain letter forms; by long, sweeping descenders and ascenders, by the presence of exaggerated crossbars in Dickinson’sT/ ts; by expressive but controlled punctuation, especially dashes; and by its right-leaning slant. This hand is fluent but also reflective--qualities reflected in the breathing spaces between letters and/or words that impart to the written leaves a feeling of composure.
·       handNote for Dickinson’s composing hand (Hand B): This hand, whether in ink or pencil, is devoid of ornamentation; letters and words are not always proportional with respect to one another, with some letters either exaggerated or awkwardly foreshortened. While the writing retains some of the slant found in Hand A, not all letters or words appear angled in the same direction, sometimes because of their uneven placement along the baseline of the rule, other times because of their disjointed inscription. This hand feels cramped, the result, in part, of a loss of height in many of the letters and also of the loss of definition—even blurring—of letters. In this hand, it is often difficult to distinguish meaningfully between dashes and commas since a range of similar marks appear in many different lengths and especially angles. The uneven gaps between words and sometimes between letters of a single word imparts to the written leaves a feeling of struggle, trial. 
·       handNote for Dickinson’s revising hand (Hand C): This hand resembles either Hand A or Hand B or a combination of features from both.