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Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "A Valentine" (B), "Griswold/Sergeant" manuscript, February 14, 1846






To ——

For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,
    Bright and expressive as the stars of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name that, nestling, lies
    Upon this page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly these words, which hold a treasure
    Divine — a talisman — an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure —
    The words — the letters themselves. Do not forget
The smallest point, or you may lose your labor.
    And yet there is in this no Gordian knot,
Which one might not undo without a sabre.
    If one could merely comprehend the plot
Upon the open page on which are peering
    Such sweet eyes now, there lies, I say, perdu
A musical name oft uttered in the hearing
    Of poets, by poets — for the name is a poet's too.
In common sequence set, the letters lying,
    Compose a sound delighting all to hear —
Ah, this you'd have no trouble in descrying
    Were you not something of a dunce, my dear: —
    And now I leave these riddles to their Seer.

Saturday, Feb. 14, 46.









Notes:

This valentine was written for Frances Sargent Osgood. Mrs. Osgood's full name is spelled with one letter on each line, the first letter of the first line ("F"), the second letter of the second line ("r"), the third letter of the third line ("a"), etc. In the this version, Poe accidentally misspelled her middle name as "Sergeant," an error that was not corrected in time for its publication in 1846. Without regard for the cleverness of its construction, one might wonder at the sincerity of a valentine that refers to its intended, even in jest, as "something of a dunce" (second from last line).

In the following copy of the text, punctuation and spaces have been removed and the relevant letters marked in red to make the matter of the solution clear:

Forhertheselinesarepennedwhoseluminouseyes
BrightandexpressiveasthestarsofLeda
Shallfindherownsweetnamethat nestlinglies
Uponthispageenwrappedfromeveryreader
Searchnarrowlythesewordswhichholdatreasure
Divineatalismananamulet
ThatmustbewornatheartSearchwellthemeasure
ThewordsthelettersthemselvesDonotforget
Thesmallestpointoryoumayloseyourlabor
Andyetthereisinthisnogordianknot
Whichonemightnotundowithoutasabre
Ifonecouldmerelycomprehendtheplot
Upontheopenpageonwhicharepeering
SuchsweeteyesnowthereliesIsayperdu
Amusicalnameoftutteredinthehearing
Ofpoetsbypoetsforasthenameisapoetstoo
Incommonsequencesettheletterslying
Composeasounddelightingalltohear
Ahthisyoudhavenotroubleindescrying
Wereyounotsomethingofaduncemydear
AndnowIleavetheseriddlestotheirseer

The manuscript is written on embossed paper. It presumably passed to Griswold from the papers of Frances S. Osgood, for whom Griswold served as literary executor.







 
[S:0 - MS, 1846 (Whitty, 1911)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - A Valentine (B)