And Diadems — a Tale —
I Brooch and Earrings for Myself,
Do sow, and Raise for sale —
And tho' I'm scarce accounted,
My Art, a Summer Day — had Patrons —
Once — it was a Queen —
And once — a Butterfly —
F553 (1863) J397
Lacking the prominence of a poet laureate or the glamor of the lionized poets of her day such as the Brownings, Emerson, or William Cullen Bryant, Dickinson pluckily says she can make her own jewels and baubles. And despite her lack of fame, she had, at least on one Summer day, two patrons of her art: a Queen and a butterfly.
This charming poem begins as if a once-upon-a-time tale. Like the unnamed heroine of Rumpelstiltskin, she can sit alone in a room with her Muse and craft treasures. Dickinson says she sows them – as if jewels were cabbages or poems peonies. She raises them as if they were lambs or ponies. And like a farmer or rancher, she raises them for sale.
The wry second stanza has her admitting that as she writes she is little known and "scarce accounted" in general. Perhaps this last phrase is a bit of a dig at editor and dear friend (at least) Samuel Bowles who didn't encourage her to submit poems to his paper – or to Higginsworth, her "Preceptor" who discouraged her from publishing.
If one were to pick two patrons, a Queen and a Butterfly are lovely choices. No doubt there are real people behind these monikers, but we can only speculate as to whom.
The poem is written in hymn meter. The "had Patrons" in the second stanza metrically belongs to the next line. But the "Once – it was a Queen" line works much better by itself.