One useful feature of the archive is that you can search for a particular word -- for example, in the picture below, I searched for the word "bleakness" -- and then you can explore the text from a particular poem and even from a specific publication of the poem (again, in the picture below, I selected a version of "On the bleakness of my lot" from the 1998 Franklin Variorum).
An additional feature I like is that the archive's transcriptions show the various word choices Dickinson was considering for her poems.
In the example at the right, "On the Bleakness of my Lot," take a look at the second stanza. Dickinson considered "steadfast tilled" vs. "steady tilled," and she considered "reward" and "repay" before settling on "refund."
Some other examples are below. You can click the images to enlarge.
Interestingly enough, at times I have found alternate word choices that would shifted the meaning and/or tone of specific poems rather significantly. For example, check out the three poems below.
2. "Because I could not stop for death" started out as a love poem to Emily Dickinson's favorite breakfast: triple chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes with whipped cream The first stanza was to have started like this:
Because I could not stop for triple chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes with whipped cream
They kindly stopped for me
The platter held by just myself
And scads of calories
3. Dickinson was also a lover of the classic Margarite (invented by Emmett Lee Dickinson, Emily's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request), and her poem "Before the ice is in the pools" was almost an ode to her favorite libation. The poem was going to open with these lines:
Before the ice is in the glass –
Before Tequila’s poured
Or any drink at nightfall
Is garnished and adored –