Contours of the Errand of the Eye

Susan Howe in the preface to Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings asks "Can thought hear itself see?"

From a paper inserted in a copy of the Complete Poems at "Whether my bark went down at sea —"

To close one's eyes
and still feel the
flutter of light
and the moment
of shadow as the
beings pass over
the earth in a
skid and bump
show of graceless
There comes a time when the expression culled form an Emily Dickinson poem presses upon you with the refinement of a request often disposed of in the ordinary course of affairs without much bother to the means of its execution … "the errand of the eye" or is it an eye. Do need to check the passage in question. It makes a lovely phrase to look up in a database. —> it is errand of the eye.

Susan Howe interview with Thomas Gardner in A Door Ajar.
The hook — the bio of Dickinson Well, first of all there was a biographical connection. My aunt Helen Howe Allen […] When she was bedridden in her last sudden illness — it took a month to kill her — I used to visit her in her apartment […] Richard Sewall's biography of Emily Dickinson had just been published. Because she didn't have the physical energy to pore over it, I began to read it to her.
The quotation of the letter — Samuel Ward Look at this pencil line beside this passage from a letter Samuel Ward had written Higginson shortly after the first edition of Poems was published:
She is the quintessence of that element we all have who are of the Puritan descent. … We came to this country to think our own thoughts with nobody to hinder. … We conversed with our own souls till we lost the art of communicating with other people. The typical family grew up strangers to each other, as in this case. It was artfully high, but awfully lonesome. Such prodigies of shyness do not exist elsewhere.
The marginal marking — sign of discipline She must have told me to mark the passage so she could go back and read it to herself when she was better, though we both knew she wasn't going to get better — I never felt closer to her. It was as if we could only touch each other through reading aloud. This practice of self-discipline was above all a dread of any display of affection. I made the little mark. The wide, un-thing that we couldn't say was there.

Lost art of conservation reconstructed in the exchange of letters and the inscribing of signs, all told in an interview. An errand by way of ear.

And so for day 1494