Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “A Valentine” (Text-07), the Flag of Our Union (Boston), March 3, 1849, p. 2, col. 2


[page 2, top of column 2:]

[Written for The Flag of our Union.]

A Valentine.




At a ‘Valentine Soiree,’ in New York, the following enigmatical lines were received, among others, and read aloud to the company. The verses were enclosed in an envelope, addressed ‘To her whose name is written within.’ As no lady present could so read the riddle as to find her name written in it, the Valentine remained, and still remains, unclaimed. Can any of the readers of the FLAG discover for whom it is intended?


For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,

Brightly expressive as the twins of Læda,

Shall find her own sweet name that, nestling, lies

Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

Search narrowly this rhyme, which holds 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 trivialest 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 understand the plot.

Enwritten upon this page whereon are peering

Such eager eyes, there lies, I say, perdu,

A well-known name, oft uttered in the hearing

Of poets, by poets; as the name is a poet’s, too.

Its letters, although naturally lying —

Like the knight Pinto (Mendez Ferdinando) —

Still form a synonym for truth. Cease trying!

You will not read the riddle though you do the best you can do.

*  Should there be no solution furnished of the above, we will give the key next week.



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 original version, Poe accidentally mispelled her middle name as “Sergeant.” In the following copy of the text, punctuation and spaces have been removed and the relevant letters marked in red to make the matter clear:










AndyetthereisinthisnoGordian knot










Youwillnotreadtheriddlethoughyoudothebestyoucan do

No solution was given in the next issue. Instead, there appeared the following explanation (March 17, 1849, p. 3, col. 1):

That Valentine, by Poe.

Having received a poem from our regular contributor, Edgar A. Poe, Esq., and having paid for the same as original, we were not a little surprised to see the poem appear in Sartain’s Union Magazine for March, uncredited, and as original, though in the table of contents, on the cover, it is omitted. We at once addressed Mr. Poe, for an explanation, lest it should appear that we had taken the Valentine from the Magazine without credit. His answer to us is full and satisfactory. The said poem was written and handed to Mr. De Graw, a gentleman who proposed to start a Magazine in New York, but who gave up the project and started himself for California. Mr. Poe, learning of this, though, of course, his composition was his own again, and sent it to us as one of his regular contributions for the Flag; and was himself as much surprised as we could be, to see it, not long afterwards, in the Magazine, though the publisher does not say there that it was written for his pages. It was doubtless thus without any intent to wrong any one. We make this statement, as in duty bound to Mr. Poe, and ourselves.


[S:0 - FOU, 1849, LOC] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Poems - A Valentine [Text-07]