The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: edgar allan poe

“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!

“Specimens of American Poets, with Facsimiles of Autographs”—Being a very serious article about very serious poets—Part Two.

As promised, here is the rest of the article in Godey’s Lady’s Book concerning epistles and poems from a few eminent 19th century poets. You can find part one, discussing the letters, here. Below are the “poems.”

Again, please note that this was for an April Fool’s Day joke and should not be taken seriously. No, Poe did not write “The Lady Hubbard,” nor did the other poets (Willis, Whittier, Morris and Neal) write “their” respective poems. If I catch one more person attributing this awful parody of a Poe-style poem to Poe, I may blow a gasket.


The Fishwoman’s Son.
By N. P. Willis.

Night on the market. Through the colonnade
Of red brick pillars not a sound was heard.
Save of some whistling urchin, as he strode
With stamping footfalls, listening to the noise
Which wore his shoe-soles and the hearer’s patience;
Or the low mutter of the drunken man.
As his wild song, proclaiming fixed resolve
Not to go home till morning sank to low
And nearly inarticulate murmurs—or
The steady and, to move, unwilling tread
Of some old Dogberry, whose beard had grown
Gray in the service of the corporation;
His purse borne down with weight of many coins,
Received for nights of arduous services,
In sleeping in the open air.

On a stall,
At ease recumbent, lay a lazy boy,
Wrapped in the arms of a most easy sleep.
Occasionally, he would toss and kick,
As some musquito, with his stirring hum,
Would serenade his ear; or, from his nose,
Draw luscious draughts, as ruby as the wine
From Hebrew valleys. In his sleep, there came
Strange visions of the future—happy dreams—
Wherein no pike could pierce him with its fin,
Nor ill-shaped catfish show its gaping mouth;
Bat fairies, in remarkably short skirts,
And friendly genii, bearing magic lamps,
Invite him down to gem-adorned caverns,
Made musical with murmured songs of sixpence
And pockets full of rye. There saw he, too,
That famous youth, who in the corner sat,
And from the pie of plenty picked the plum,
With curious and industrious digits. Then
The visions changed, and he beheld the dame,
So favorably known to growing babes,
Who sought within her cupboard for a bone,
Watch finding not, her dog was supperless.
These changed again: another spirit came,
And from the parted gates of rosy pulp.
Fresh from the clear and crystal vase of dreams,
Broke out these rose-leaf sounds, whose silver stops
Tinkled the tintinabulum of air:—

“I will not go,
Like a whipped dog, unto the public school,
To wear the cap and tokens of a fool,
While Mexico
Invites me on to glory and to fame,
Or a cracked crown, which after all’s the same.

“Fame!—all my eye
And Betty Martin, is it? If they err
Who so pronounce it, each philosopher,
Of motives high,
That ever lived, and now is shapeless mummy
Or powdered dust, was but a silly dummy.

“No! fame is real,
And no mistake; and then, besides, the pay,
Amounting unto twenty cents a day,
Shows no ideal,
But a true thing—besides, the cash in hand
As bounty money, and the western land.

“The western land!
A hundred acres!—why, a growing town—
Nay, more, a city might be scattered round,
And houses stand
As thick as onions on a rope—all there—
And I poor urchin, be a millionaire—

“A second Astor!
With an unbounded power of capital:
Then I might dress, and drink, and marry Sal,
And go it faster
Than omnibuses when there’s twelve inside
And six upon the steps, all bent to ride.

“To Mexico,
Bright land of dollars and of shilling pieces,
Sage contemplation my desire increases
To thee to go;
To rise to corporal, and on my arm to bear
The stripes, or on my back—it does not matter where.”

What more he would have dreamed or said,
If he had talked within his sleep, none knows;
For came the ancient guardian of the night.
And woke him from his slumber with a shake,
Exclaiming: “Get up, young one, get you home;
Your mother bough some shad this afternoon,
And wants your help to scale ’em. Get up, sleepy.'”
Straightway he rose and shook his garments old,
And yawned, and rubbed his eyes, and stretched himself,
And ran, as if impelled by some rude kick
Or angel not celestial, to his home.

The Rights of Boarders.
By J. G. Whittier.

Ho, stalwart men of Boston town!
Ho, villagers of Hingham!
Ye dealers in our wooden wares,
In cotton, clocks, and gingham!
Cambridge and Salem, Cabotville,
Fairhaven, Lowell, Lynn,
Great Barrington and Framingham,
Nantucket, void of sin;
New Bedford, Uxbridge, Beverly,
Lancaster, Leicester, Lee—
Andover, Salem, Marblehead—
Up!—listen unto me!
Arouse you, Haverhill, arouse!
Stand, Quincy, like thy granite;
And, Lexington, begin the fray,
As erewhile you began it!
Northampton, Canton, Mulbury,
Fall River, Plymouth, come!
Let Wrentham, Randolph, Danvers, hear
The beating of the drum!
Up, Newburyport and Roxbury,
To deeds of daring dare ’em;
And he the terrible toesin blown
At Braintree and at Wareham.
Pawtucket hears, and Oxford speaks,
And Falmouth brings her legions,
Old Salisbury and Southbridge talk
From their most hidden regions.
Cries Westfield from her eastern edge,
And Greenfield reads the roster,
While Adams marches into line,
Quite check by jowl with Gloucester.

The towns are up! Ere set of sun,
The bloody work shall well be done;
To prove to every son of a gun,
Our independence really won.

For why and whence this stirring cry?
And whose these martial orders?
To help ourselves to apple-pie,
And save the rights of boarders.
For o’er the town the stern decree,
Hath gone from tyrants’ lips—
The star of goodly liberty
Henceforth shall meet eclipse.
A court, in session solemn sat,
Which questions were decided at;
And in the land where Bunker Hill
Its monument above us towers;
This same tribunal made a mock
Of freedom long accounted ours—
Decided with a solemn face,
As law to rule the fallen place,
That boarders, so they would the wrath
Of landladies and urgent duns shun,
Might crackers in the pantry get,
But not have apple-pies for luncheon.
For this our fathers fell or fought;
For this the Pilgrim comers wrought;
For this they hung the Quakers high;
For this they sat in stocks each Monday.
The man who dared, with love so sly,
To kiss his lawful wife on Sunday;
For this—for these!—arouse, ye slaves!
There’s fetters hanging on your forms!
Arouse, and teach the lying knaves
Free anger is the worst of storms.
Advance, and dress your serried ranks,
And firmly as the old phalanx,
Which Macedonian Philip led,
Advance, and, like your fathers, deal,
Upon the proud oppressor’s head,
Quick blows from loudly ringing steel.
Advance at starry freedom’s beck,
And smite the souls of Amalek;
While, as in days so long gone by,
Shall ring in air your battle-cry!
Beside you stand your brothers strong,
All armed with right and hate of wrong;
All striving with a purpose high:
Fling to the winds your gonfalon,
And shout “For luncheon, apple-pie!
No crackers!” Gallant freemen, on!

The Lady Hubbard. 
By E. A. Poe.

Far down in the pass, where
The army has gone,
A maker of glass ware
Dwelt nearly alone;
And green is the grass there,
For Hubbard is gone,
And his widow, alas! there
Dwells sad and alone.

Not lone al[t]ogether,
That widow to-day;
Though loud how is the weather,
And dark is the way—
Not lone altogether
That widow to day—
Tied tight to his tether,
Behold the dog Tary!

This morning, the gladdest
That ever was known,
Has turned out the saddest,
At which we may moan;
And that dog is the maddest
That ever was known—
Ah, woman which gaddest,
Look sharp for the bone!

This morning, right early,
This morn of the day,
Up rose, big and burly,
Marm Hubbard, they say;
This morning right early,
She rose for the day,
And spoke to her curly
And famous dog Tray.

A faithful companion,
As ever was known;
Her sentinel canine,
And long time her own:
He ne’er let a man in—
She lived there alone—
This faithful companion,
He asked for a bone.

Then old Mistress Hubbard,
Felt pity herself;
She opened the cupboard,
She looked on the shelf,
Adown-board and up-board,
And back of the delf;
She searched the whole cupboard,
Each corner and shelf.

His extremity caudal,
The dog wagged in vain:
He coaxingly pawed all
The end of her train;
He marked her to dawdle
And falter in pain—
His extremity caudal
Dropped slowly again.

Then his mistress she slubbered
A tear from her eyes;
She shut to the cupboard—
She looked down to sigh.
Took a towel to rub board.
Although it was dry—
And she felt, Mrs. Hubbard,
A drop in her eye.

And she said: “Broken-hearted
And bone-wanting one!
The truth is imparted,
The cupboard has none:
The gold chain has parted,
Sink’s gloomy the sun;
The bones have departed!
The deed has been done.”

A City Lyrics. 
By George P. Morris.

Beside the Bowling Green I stand,
The bitter, live long day,
To hear the carriage-wheels go round,
And mark the fountain’s play;
To see the geese within the rails,
And note what others say—
To drink within my heart the flood
Of life in old Broadway.

‘Tis morn upon the Battery,
The fountains near my play,
The haze arises, like a quilt,
And spreads upon the bay;
The mowers cut the Battery’s grass,
And go to making hay—
I drink within my heart the flood
Of life in old Broadway.

‘Tis noon upon the Battery,
And mighty hot the ray;
I see the people rush to get,
Their ices o’er the way.
I wish I was a little fish,
Beneath yon fountain’s play,
To drink within my heart the flood
Of life in old Broadway.

‘Tis night, and from the streets are gone,
The wagon, car, and dray;
The omnibuses yet are left
To drag the folks away.
I’ll to my office, then to home,
And come another day,
To drink within my heart the flood
Of life in old Broadway.

The Firemen’s War.
By John Neal.

Far down the thickly crowded street,
Was heard the sound of hurrying feet,
As every brick-made pavement feels
The jarring rush of engine-wheels.
So hastily and hurriedly,
Like the swoop of an eagle’s pinions free;
Or the rush of an angular piece of stone,
By an urchin vile at a tom cat thrown;
Or the bound of a bounding caoutchouc ball,
Thrown at play on the side of a wall;
Or a mad bull’s head, as he butts in his wrath
At a fellow too lame to get out of his path;
Or a steam-engine running away on the rail,
Or the quivering twist of a salmon’s tail;
Or a mad dog beating both wind and steam,
With a tin kettle tied to his caudal extreme—
So hastily over the stones did pass,
Into Thirteenth Street from Sassafras,
The old Good Will, better known as the Screw,
Rushed ahead with a deal of ado—
The members of which,
With their voices all brought to a concert pitch,
Till the parts of speech of one and each,
Alarmed at the hailoo, and bellow, and screech,
At the whooping and yelling to check and dismay us—
A sort of a lunatic vocal chaos—
Vainly strove, until broken hearted,
From parts of speech they were speeches parted.
On came Good Will, in her hurried march,
Till she reached the corner of Tenth and Arch.

Up Arch Street rolled, at stroke of ten,
The Fairmount, drawn by bully men;
Each stout and stalwart, to be sure,
In sinew, bone, and brawn secure;
And loud upon the startled sky,
Which winked, in sore dismay, its eye,
Rang shrill the Fairmount’s battle cry:
“Walk in, Fairy!” Never sounds
So terrible, on the battle-grounds
Of Leuctra of Thermopylæ,
Had ever scared the startled day.
Those words, so potent and majestic,
Gave newer strength to Willbank’s best stick;
Waved, wildly, Deal’s red-kerchief banner,
And added new vigor to Gardner’s spanner;
While the very recumbent paving-stones
Muttered and sputtered a few odd moans,
As they seemed to each other to say, in dismay—
“They won’t let us sleep in our beds, to-day.”

But stood the men who loved the old Good Will,
At this same juncture, passive, dead, and still?
Ready to deal the fierce and fearful blow,
Or at once to acknowledge, or
Even succumb to a sad sockdolager;
Under the guidance of Simler and Logan,
Et id genus omne, they gave out their slogan:
“Wake up, Screw!” and a hallabaloo,
Went the ranks of the opposite company through,
And the opponents stood, in a martial position,
All ready to tackle, in fighting condition.

Omens dire were around the place;
Confusion was written in every face;
Drawn was each slung-shot, spanner, and mace,
Closing they were at a swifter pace,
Ready to struggle in fight or a race—
It would surely be a desperate case.
The citizens bolted and barred their doors,
Closed their windows and shut up their stores,
And hid in back closets on second floors.
All was ready to go in and win,
And Simler and Deal and gave the word to begin—
When through the crowd hoarse murmurs came,
As through prairies in summer a scorching dame,
Rolling and crackling, or getting higher,
Like Niagara Falls or a house on fire,
Till it shaped itself to this form so rare:
“Cut stick!—here comes the police and mayor.”

As when some feline animals,
Salute, with sleep-subduing calls,
And, chamber windows just below,
Prolong their stay and will not go;
You gently hoist your chamber casement,
And, to the animal’s amazement,
Cast angry blessings down below,
Exclaiming, spitefully: “‘Iss cat!
Consarn yer squallin’ mouths—take that!”
At first amazed they stand, and then
They scurry down the quiet street,
Which echoes with their pattering feet;
While you crawl into bed again—
So here these fighting engine pusses
Went homeward and preserved the peace,
While, in two passing omnibuses,
Off rode the mayor and his police.

“Specimens of American Poets, with Facsimiles of Autographs”—Being a very serious article about very serious poets—Part One.

This is a humorous article written exclusively for the December, 1849 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book (pp. 416-420), which presents letters and accompanying poems from five prominent 19th century authors and poets. Be mindful of the date attached to each letter as you read this. With that being said, I advise the reader take this with a grain of salt. Students, don’t use this article for serious research.

Because of the length of this article, being the letters with the poems, I have this divided into two parts. You will find only the “letters” here, and the “poems” here.

Specimens of American Poets, with Facsimiles of Autographs
Prefatory Correspondences

Philadelphia, April 1st, 1849.
Sir: I am a foreigner, who has been traveling in this country for a year past. Anxious to take away with me some memento of American literature, I addressed notes to various authors, requesting them to furnish me, free of cost, the means of complying with my desire. Most of these were polite enough to accede to my request. Others there were, I am sorry to chronicle the fact, mean and illiberal enough to take no notice of my very reasonable request. One, indeed, whose name I charitably suppress, was wicked enough to write me a reply, couched in very brief but expressive terms.
Having achieved what I wished, my next object is to make something out of it. I showed my collection to several publishers, who all declined to enter into the publication of these specimens. Some one or two—not more than two; and it may be less than one, since my memory is treacherous—expressed doubts as to their authenticity. Under these circumstances, I appeal to you. Let your endorsement of their genuine character be given, and I shall have all the publishers bidding, like so many buyers as a mock-auction, for my wares. You will not, surely, lack charity so far as to refuse this, my first, and by far the most reasonable offer I ever made you. To be sure, it may cause you a pang of conscience; but what of that? Charity, you know, covers a multitude of sins. I gave a bad sixpence to a blind man, yesterday, myself; and you should comfort yourself with this assurance.
I am, imploringly, yours,



To L. A. Godey, Esq.


We have examined the MSS. sent, and are willing to publish a few of them; but express no opinion in regard to their authenticity. The signature which accompany some of the letters look very like originals—the poems, we should say, were very original.


New York, April 1st, 1848.
MY DEAR BOY: I received your note this moment. I am very happy to be of any service to you, and enclose a poem. I hope you will succeed. Pray, let me know if I can be of any use. Would you like a notice in the Home Journal? I can do you any good, only indicate the mode, and at once. Believe me, my dear fellow,
For Willis and self, cordially yours,




Worcester, 4th Mo. 1st, 1848.
ESTEEMED FRIEND: I am enabled to comply with thy request, and dispatch to thy address, by the mail of to-day, an effusion, which I sincerely trust may answer thy purpose. Thou wilt observe that it touches upon a subject which concerns the most ordinary business of life, and will therefore find its response in the hearts, or in a more tender portion, of every member of the human family. With my most earnest wishes for all proper prosperity to attend thee, I am,
Ever thine,




New York, April 1st, 1848.
MY DEAR SIR: To be obliged to penetrate with the pump-buckets of necessity, prompted by the piston of a fifty-dollar compensation, with a publisher as the pump-handle, in search of a poem, is, of itself, annoying enough. To draw one up with the rope and bucket of gratuity, is a labor which qualifies for a long residence in fatiguedom. Your letter found me fagging away over my work-desk—chasing a brilliant idea in and out of the myriads of convolutions of my brain. All the while that I was aping Prometheus (the window being half-opened), I could sniff the delightful odors of a rose, which a fair neighbor will insist on keeping (poor Tantalus I), and could see, occasionally, white, ring-loved fingers parting the curtains on the opposite side of the street. My poor bird—Canary and I are fellow-prisoners here—was wearing his wing-feathers against the bars; and speaking with his wings what Sterne’s starling did with his throat. It was impossible for me to write anything for you with such sights, and smells, and sounds before and near me. But the Brigadier, good-naturedly, insisted that I should do something for you. I send you therefore an old scrap, which lies by me, with a protest against such demands. I cannot see that you have any more right to drag from me, as forced gifts, the products made in my workshop of a brain, than I would have to ask my neighbor’s goose to convert himself into my special quill manufactory.
Faithfully yours,




Fordham, April 1st, 1848.
SIR: The true purpose of poetry appears to have been misunderstood by poets in all ages. It has been reserved for the moderns, or one of them at least, to discover its proper uses—or, more correctly speaking, want of use. Poetry is but the rhythmical creation of beauty. Its true office is the beautiful only. It may verge on the grotesque, but must not enter it. It must never deal with the terrible, the vividly fearful—the horrid, or the profound. Didactic poetry is a misnomer, as reason is not rhyme. A poem should never have its moral, nor should it ever possess a meaning. I trust I make myself sufficiently clear, even to the meanest comprehension. To aid my exposition, I send you an example, in the singularly beautiful and strikingly peculiar poem which I inclose.
Your obedient servant,
Untitled 2




April 1st, 1848.
SIR: Here you have an extract from a new poem—the Battle of the Engines. For my own part, I care nothing for my own poetry—nor do other people, may be; however, they lose by that—besides, poetry is in itself an art—art is unproductive—and while I am on the subject of unproductiveness, I may as well mention that you did not pay the postage on the letter directed to




Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe!

“Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe

Not to be a cliché blogger, but I feel Poe is the perfect poet to turn to for this spooky day. Thus, I re-post and present my favorite Poe poem, and bid you all a Happy Halloween! Also, fun fact—editor Rufus Griswold omitted the last stanza from his complete works of Poe. I wonder if it was simply because the bit puzzled him? (I think I’ll explore this in a later post.)

Edgar Allan Poe

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic,
Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
As the scoriac rivers that roll—
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole—
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,
But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
Our memories were treacherous and sere,—
For we knew not the month was October,
And we marked not the night of the year
(Ah, night of all nights in the year!)—
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
(Though once we had journeyed down here)—
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent
And star-dials pointed to morn—
As the star-dials hinted of morn—
At the end of our path a liquescent
And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent
Arose with a duplicate horn—
Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said: “She is warmer than Dian;
She rolls through an ether of sighs—
She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
To point us the path to the skies—
To the Lethean peace of the skies—
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
To shine on us with her bright eyes—
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
With love in her luminous eyes.”

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
Said: “Sadly this star I mistrust—
Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Ah, hasten! —ah, let us not linger!
Ah, fly! —let us fly! -for we must.”
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
Wings until they trailed in the dust—
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

I replied: “This is nothing but dreaming:
Let us on by this tremulous light!
Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its Sybilic splendour is beaming
With Hope and in Beauty tonight!—
See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
And be sure it will lead us aright—
We safely may trust to a gleaming,
That cannot but guide us aright,
Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
And tempted her out of her gloom—
And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,
But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said: “What is written, sweet sister,
On the door of this legended tomb?”
She replied: “Ulalume -Ulalume—
‘Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
As the leaves that were crisped and sere—
As the leaves that were withering and sere;
And I cried: “It was surely October
On this very night of last year
That I journeyed—I journeyed down here!—
That I brought a dread burden down here—
On this night of all nights in the year,
Ah, what demon hath tempted me here?
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
This misty mid region of Weir—
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

Said we, then—the two, then—”Ah, can it
Have been that the woodlandish ghouls—
The pitiful, the merciful ghouls—
To bar up our way and to ban it
From the secret that lies in these wolds—
From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds—
Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
From the limbo of lunary souls—
This sinfully scintillant planet
From the Hell of the planetary souls?”