A few snippets of Harvey D. Little’s poetry

Harvey D. Little (1803-1833) was a poet and newspaper man in the Columbus, Ohio, area. He was married to Mary Howard (1809-1891), daughter of Horton Howard. (More biographical information on both of them can be found in the previous post. Or, read Coggeshall’s assessment of Harvey D. Little from The Poets and Poetry of the West (1860).)

I found some examples of Harvey’s poetry in the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection, and I just thought these were too cool not to share. (And I’m not even really a big poetry lover.)

I’ll post images and transcriptions. (Transcriptions were done by me.) To see the original handwritten poems, click on the images to view them larger on Flickr. (Also, notice the indentations in the originals; I typed them in, but they wouldn’t stay in the WordPress editor.)

All of these poems are from Sarah (Howard) Forrer‘s Album of “Original and Selected Pieces” of Poetry & Miscellany (Box 5, Folder 5), Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

Without further ado, here are the poems:

*****

This first one, Harvey wrote for his sister-in-law Sarah (Howard) Forrer, shortly after her marriage (1826) and the birth of her first child (Elizabeth, in 1827). I believe this poem was written in Harvey’s own handwriting, based on a few of his letters (also in the collection).

“To Mrs. Sarah H. Forrer” (1828)
By Harvey D. Little

I saw thee in thy maiden prime.– The rose of youth
Was freshly blooming on thy polish’d cheek,
Whose smile of innocence, and shades of meek
Expression mingled.– Even peerless Truth,
Was scarce more lovely in her pristine state.
Thou seem’d to us, some Peri from above,
That but to look on was to praise and love;–
Such was thy being,– such our changless fate.

Again I saw thee– when the bridal crown
Was gaily shining on thy polish’d brow,
And thy soft lips had breath’d the sacred vow,
That gave thee to another.– There stole down,
Thy cheek, a tear,– but not of sorrow,– no!
Affection’s fount was full to overflowing,
Thy heart’s warm rapture could not hide its glowing:
Thou didst not dream, for once, of future woe.

And yet again I saw thee.– Thy rich charms
Were heighten’d by a more majestic grace:
A lovely infant smil’d upon thy face,
As it lay fondling in thy guardian arms.
A mother’s hopes were in thy bosom; and her fears
Sometimes o’ershadow’d them,– as sombre care
Can cast a chill on all that’s bright and fear!–
Mayst thou ne’er have a real cause for tears!

Harvey D. Little
Columbus, Sept. 8th, 1828

To Mrs. Sarah H. Forrer, pg. 1 of 2

To Mrs. Sarah H. Forrer, pg. 1 of 2

. To Mrs. Sarah H. Forrer, pg. 2 of 2

Having the benefit of 150+ years of hindsight, I can’t help but be saddened a bit by the poem’s final line: “Mayst thou ne’er have a real cause for tears!” Sarah would outlive that baby by 13 years; she would lose two more children as children (her first son at age 8; a daughter at 1.5); she would lose her second (and by then only) son, as well as a son-in-law, within weeks of each other during the Civil War. Not to mention all the sorrow that befell the Howard/Little family in the years 1833-1834…

*****

I think the handwriting on this one may be Sarah’s. It’s a little hard to tell.

“Twilight Hour” (undated)
By Harvey D. Little

Twilight hour in month gray,
Herald of departing day,
Form’d by him who made the sun,
Ere creations work was done–
Oh! how dear thou art to me!
Clothed in vestal purity.

Twilight hour! thy pensiveness
Sooths my bosoms deep distress
Lulls to sleep each sordid woe,–
Gives to hope a brighter glow.–
Makes each passing scene appear
Far more pleasing, far more dear.

Twilight hour thy charms impart
A mournful sweetness to the heart,
By recalling smiles and tears,
Joys and griefs of far fled years:
Years that swiftly past away,
Joys that hastened to decay.

Twilight hour! in coming days,
Other bards may sing thy praise,
Love thy pensive charms which I
In the grassy tomb shall lie.
Far from sorrow far from pain
Far from every earthly stain.

There the storms of life are o’er–
There the wretched weep no more–
While the spirit wings its flight
To a world of endless light
Where bright orbs have ever shown
And in twilight hour is known.

Twilight Hour, pg. 1 of 2

Twilight Hour, pg. 1 of 2

.

Twilight Hour, pg. 2 of 2

Twilight Hour, pg. 2 of 2

I just love this one; it has a good rhythm, and I admit, I’ve always preferred poems that rhyme. In a way, it’s almost eerie, knowing as I do that within a few short years of writing it, the poet himself “In the grassy tomb shall lie. / Far from sorrow far from pain / Far from every earthly stain.” Harvey was taken by cholera in 1833 at the age of 30.

*****

This last poem I want to share is signed “M. Little,” which I’m pretty sure is Harvey’s wife Mary (Howard) Little. It doesn’t say “by” M. Little, but I can’t find this poem anywhere. So I’m not sure whether Mary wrote it herself or if it was simply one that she liked and requested to copy it into Sarah’s album. I believe the original handwriting is Mary’s, based on other examples and letters written by Mary.

Untitled (undated)
[Author not specified]

Cling to the world in rosy health,
And drink its sweet alluring pleasures
Bow at the golden shrine of wealth,
And worship time’s deceitful treasures.
But know the hour of pain will come
And sickness bring its cloud of sorrow,
To wrap in gloom our happy home,
And quench the sunlight of tomorrow.

Twine ye the green bay wreath of joy
And bind it on the brow of gladness,
And let no warning voice alloy,
No whispering spirit breathe of sadness.
For full should be his need of bliss,
Where hold on time so soon must sever:
Who wins no other world but this,
And with it loses all forever.

Pale sickness with its train of woes
Misfortunes, penury, and grief
The mournful fate which autumn throws
Ov’er the sere and faded leaf,
The good man’s doom on earth may be,
And he may struggle long with fate,
But sweet’s the rest his soul shall see,
When worlds lie wreck’d and desolate.

M. Little

Untitled poem

Untitled poem

Another somewhat gloomy poem, but again, I like it. It’s undated, so I have to wonder whether Mary copied this poem down before or after all the sadness that befell her little – er, Little – family.

“But know the hour of pain will come / And sickness bring its cloud of sorrow, / To wrap in gloom our happy home, / And quench the sunlight of tomorrow.”

In the summer of 1833, Mary lost her husband, two children, and both her parents in a cholera epidemic; the following spring, she lost her remaining two children to scarlet fever. She would eventually marry again and have 4 more children (one of whom died in the Civil War, but the other 3 grew to old age). I’m sure there were plenty of happy times in her life, too, but when I think of Mary (Howard) Little Affleck, I remember a woman who endured many, many sorrows.

*****

I hope you enjoyed the poems! I know I did.🙂

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