The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

“Youth Recalled” by James Gates Percival

Youth Recalled
James Gates Percival
Originally from The Token and Atlantic Souvenir: A Christmas and New Year’s Present of 1836, pp. 227-228.

In deepest shade, by fountain sparkling clear,
High o’er me, darkly heaved, the forest dome,
Sweet tones, long silent, melt upon my ear,—
They soothe my spirit like the voice of home;
And, blended with them, floats a beam of light,
Radiant, but gentle, through the shadowy night.

My heart, that sunk in dim, oblivious dream,
Wakes at the tones, and feels its life again;
My downcast eye uprises to the beam;
Softly untwines my bosom’s heavy chain:
A stream of melody around me flows;
Anew the smothered fire of feeling glows.

The charm, long lost, is found, and gushing pours,
From fancy’s heaven, its beauty, as a shower;
The mystic deep casts up its wondrous stores;
Mind stands in panoply of fullest power.
Heaving with wakened purpose, swells the soul
Its barriers fall; its gathered treasures roll.

Light covers all around,—light from on high,
Soft as the last retiring tint of even,
Full as the glow that fills the morning sky,
Pure as the midmost blue of cloudless heaven:
Like pillared bronze the lofty trunks aspire,
And every leaf above is tipped with fire.

And round me still the magic music flows;
A thousand different tones dissolve in one:
Softer than ever gale of evening blows,
They blend in harmony’s enchanted zone.
With pictured web and golden fringe they bind,
For higher flight, the renovated mind.

I feel it round me twine,—the band of power;
Youth beats in every vein; life bursts in bloom:
All seems as when, at twilight’s blissful hour,
Breathed from the flowery grove the gale’s perfume;
The laugh, the shout, the dance,—and then the strain
Of tenderest love dissolved the heart again.

Ye greet me far, ye years of hope and joy,
Ye days of trembling fears and ardent loves,
The reeling madness of the impassioned boy;—
Through wizard wilds again my spirit roves,
And beauty, veiled in fancy’s heavenly hue,
Smiles and recedes before my longing view.

The light has fled; the tones that won my heart
Back to its early heaven, again are still:
A deeper darkness broods,—with sudden start
Repelled, my life relapses from its thrill:
Heavier the shades descend, and on my ear
Only the bubbling fountain murmurs near.

“The Reach of Thought” by Charles Henry Foster

The Reach of Thought.
C. H. F. [Charles Henry Foster]
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 50, September, 1857, pg. 253.

The rain-drop that falls on a central wave
Of the ocean’s restless tide,
Moves the billowy depths that forever rave
Round each lonely rock, in each sounding cave,
Embraced in its empire wide.

The arrow that’s shot through the yielding air,
The beat of the ground-bird’s wing,
Are felt where the cold polar ices glare,
And where sun-shine warms the savannahs fair,
That bloom in perpetual spring.

And the light of the faintest star that burns
In its GOD-appointed place,
Streams forth to the farthest globe that turns,
Nor the lightest wandering atom spurns
That floats through the depths of space.

So a thought, sent forth by an earnest soul,
Sweeps the grander realm of mind:
‘Twill make itself felt through the sentient whole,
As onward the waves of its influence roll,
To brighten the hopes of mankind.

“To Venus” from the New-York Mirror

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From Popular Astronomy; Or, the Sun, Planets, Satellites, and Comets by Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel, pg. 38.

To Venus
By “Remus”
From the New-York Mirror, March 5, 1825, Volume 2, pg. 256.

Hail! lovely Venus! queen of the glimmering tribe
That bespangle the evening sky. Hail!
Thou bright proclaimer of the weary day’s dull end!
Thou cheering herald of approaching night!
Lo! even through the grand magnificence
Of mighty day, thy brilliant lustre pierces.
O! how I love to sit, and watch,
When placid night comes on, and the pale luna,
Wearied with watching, ceases to shine,—
Thy majestic march along the azure bend of heaven,
In the van of thy celestial corps—
Attired in all your bright pellucidness!
Who can behold thee in thy evening’s glory,
Without the spirit of enthusiasm
Sparkling in their eye? For what is brighter
Than thy lucent disk?—and what so faithful
As thy nocturnal course?
Angels of Heaven in adoration take thy name—
So do the daughters of our mother earth.

Holy Martyr Saint Valentina of Caesarea

Note: This post is unlike any other on this blog. Because of my dear grandmother’s steadfast dedication to studying the Eastern Orthodox saints, I have delved into these studies, as well. These studies will not be regularly posted on this blog. This post is purely for research purposes.

Today we commemorate the Holy Martyr Saint Valentina of Caesarea, Palestine.  According to Eusebius of Caesarea in “The History of the Martyrs in Palestine, Saint Valentina was condemned in 308 AD by the governor of Palestine for her strong faith in the Lord, as well as for rising to the defense of her sister, Thea, who was tortured and convicted for her faith and defiance against the Egyptian emperor. Notably, although “small indeed in person,” Valentina was “courageous in soul.” When accosted after speaking out against the torture being inflicted upon her sister, Valentina boldly kicked an altar containing sacrifices, which overturned, consequently scattering fire from the altar upon the ground. Because of her rebellious actions, Valentina was persecuted, and subsequently both Thea and Valentina were tortured and bound together, sentenced to death by fire, for their acts of resilience and for testifying the name of Jesus Christ.


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This is my own icon of Saint Valentina. Many thanks to David of Russian Icons online for posting an incredibly helpful guide on translating Vyaz’ Church Slavic calligraphy. Without his post, I would not know the subject of this icon. I was unable to find an icon of Saint Valentina like this one online, which is why I’m posting it here. Please feel free to use it as needed. 



“Fanny’s First Smile” by Frances Sargent Osgood

This was most likely written for Osgood’s daughter, Fanny Fay, who was born in June of 1846, and died in October of 1847. It is an endearing tribute to the early steps of infancy and motherhood and gives us a glimpse into the brief life of Osgood’s third, and last, child.

Since I’m posting this, I want to clear up a common rumor I see floating around, being whether or not Edgar Allan Poe fathered Fanny Fay Osgood. This may surprise some readers, and, no, Poe most likely did not father Fanny Fay. What is a source for these incredulous lies? I’m pointing my finger towards John Evangelist Walsh, especially concerning his novel Plumes in the Dust. According to Walsh, Edgar Allan Poe may have been Fanny’s father, due to circumstances involving the absence of Osgood’s husband, Samuel, and Poe and Fanny coincidentally meeting at a hotel during the summer of Samuel’s absence and Fanny’s conception (to summarize it terribly briefly). There’s also a claim that Poe’s poem, “Ulalume,” was inspired by the death of Fanny Fay, since Poe mentions the month October in the poem, the same month of Fanny’s death. We know how poets are about subtly throwing in things like this to represent the catastrophes in their lives. However, other Poe scholars, such as Sidney P. Mossdeny these claims. In “Did Poe Father Fanny Fay?”, Moss explains that the window of Fanny’s conception and Poe and Osgood’s meeting do not correlate—a pretty obvious error that Walsh must have missed, for it was during July of 1845 when Frances and Poe met, but Fanny was not born until June of 1846. Maybe Walsh thought babies were dropped in from storks, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Fanny’s First Smile

By Frances Sargent Osgood
Originally published in Graham’s Magazine, April, 1847, pg. 262.

It came to my heart—like the first gleam of morning,
To one who has watched through a long, dreary night—
It flew to my heart—without prelude or warning—
And wakened at once there a wordless delight.

That sweet pleading mouth, and those eyes of deep azure,
That gazed into mine so imploringly sad,
How faint o’er them floated the light of that pleasure,
Like sunshine o’er flowers, that the night-mist has clad!

Until that golden moment, her soft, fairy features
Had seemed like a suffering seraph’s to me—
A stray child of Heaven’s, amid earth’s coarser creatures,
Looking back for her lost home, that still she could see!

But now, in that first smile, resigning the vision,
The soul of my loved one replies to mine own;
Thank God for that moment of sweet recognition,
That over my heart like the Morning light shone!