The Poetry of Frances Sargent Osgood’s Siblings

by Ann Neilson

This evening, I was reading a letter from author John Neal to poetess Frances Sargent Osgood, which curiously mentions Neal becoming acquainted with Osgood’s “sister.” Despite Wikipedia clearly listing the fact that Osgood had eight siblings, and not having the foresight to look there first (can you imagine?) this prompted me to search for Fanny’s mysterious sibling. Further research showed that Frances had not only one, but two sisters and a brother of high literary reputation during the 19th century. Fanny’s half-sister, author Anna Maria Wells, was notable for her verse and book, The Floweret. A Gift of Love.; her brother, A. A. Locke, was Andrew Aitchison Locke, a poet and writer for journals; and her sister, Mrs. E. D. Harrington,* also wrote verse. This is to name only a few of her siblings. With this information, I endeavored to find poetry by the siblings and uncovered a few, which I will present in this post. You will find one poem each by Locke and Harrington, although I plan to post more as I come across them. I have another by Locke which will be up soon.

Elsie
By Mrs. E. D. Harrington
From The Sixth Reader of the Popular Series by Marcius Wilson, pg. 119

1. On the table a goblet of sweet, fresh milk;
On the sofa a banner of crimson silk;
Over the picture a garland of flowers;
On the hearth a bright fire, giving cheer to the hours;
In the cage a gay bird, on an ivory ring,
Singing a carol to welcome the Spring;
In Elsie’s young heart a beneficent thought,
From the story of Jesus the Merciful caught.

2. Baby drank up the fresh goblet of milk;
John marched away with the banner of silk;
The flowers drooped silently, one by one;
The fire turned to ashes at setting of sun;
The cage was left open, one warm, sunny day,
And, beckoned by Summer, the bird flew away;
But the thought haply planted in Elsie’s child-heart
Took root and became of her spirit a part,
And blossomed in many a generous deed,
Like flowers blooming fair from a wayside seed.

Lines.
Written after returning from a Party.
By A. A. Locke
From Ladies’ Magazine and Literary Gazette, Volume IV, pg. 486. Attributed to Locke in Sarah Josepha Hale’s 1848 Flora’s Interpreter, or the American Book of Flowers and Sentiments, pg. 209

No! it is not for wasted days I pine,
Nor for my slandered youth’s long banishment,
Nor for the wand of fame, so coldly mine,
It seemeth but a thorn in malice rent
From its right root to wound my heart’s content:
My foes I scorn and tread on—but my woe
Is the cold hollowness of friends to know.

To seek for sympathy, yet see it lie
Too low to purchase but with golden dust—
In aching loneliness of heart to sigh
Even for the comforter it dare not trust—
For thought it knows the bane, the tired heart must
Gasp for some nectar drop—ah, who can guess
Famine more dire in life’s long wilderness!

Had I but pearls of price—did golden piles
Of hoarded wealth swell in my treasury,
Easy I’d win the fawning flatterer’s smiles,
And bend the sturdiest Stoic’s iron knee—
For gold alone buys this world’s courtesy.
I grieve not that my gold could buy their grace
But that a man should need a toy so base.

Yet if ye keep aloof—if ye forego
The world, and all the trammels set aside,
Though ’tis her joy ungratefully to throw
Scorn on her slaves, her vassals to deride,
She will from pole to pole, through time and tide,
Still follow you with persecuting spell,
And by her whispers foul, make earth a hell.

Oh! for an island in the boundless deep!
Where rumor of that world might never come,
Oh! for a cave where weltering waves might keep
Eternal music—round which night winds roam,
Mixing incessant—with the surging foam:
Here might I rest and smile—in liberty
Forgotten live, since I unwept must die.

*This source states that an Elizabeth married Henry F. Harrington. Comparing the notes of the first source and this source, I wonder if there was a mixup concerning Mr. Harrington’s name. I speculate that Mrs. Harrington’s name is Elizabeth, considering Harrington was younger than Frances (according to the provided source) and that Elizabeth is the last listed among her siblings.