Sarah Helen Whitman

1803–1878
Sarah Helen Whitman

During her life, Sarah Helen Whitman made a career for herself as both a critic and poet, publishing in top periodicals. Her upbringing featured a typical Quaker education as well as instruction in ladies’ etiquette, which exposed her to German, French, and Italian literature. Through her husband, the writer John W. Whitman, she was introduced into elite literary and intellectual society. She wrote articles defending transcendentalists and about spiritualism, a subject that she pursued extensively. She published her poetry mostly in ladies’ journals, poems such as “To—,” in which she evokes images related to her own spiritual life.

Poems

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