Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Whitman, Sarah Helen

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WHITMAN, Sarah Helen, poet, b. in Providence, R. I., in 1803; d. there, 27 June, 1878. She was the daughter of Nicholas Power, of Providence, and in 1828 married John W. Whitman, a Boston lawyer, after whose death in 1833 she returned to her native city and devoted herself to literature. Mrs. Whitman was well known for her conversational powers. She was an admirer of Edgar A. Poe, with whom, about 1848, she entered into a conditional engagement of marriage. Though it was broken off soon afterward, her friendly feeling for Poe did not cease, and inspired several of her poems, notably the elegy “Resurgamus.” Mrs. Whitman contributed to magazines prize essays on literary topics, including critical articles on European writers, and many poems, which have been admired for their tenderness, melody, and philosophic spirit. She published in book-form a collection of these, entitled “Hours of Life, and other Poems” (Providence, 1853), and “Edgar A. Poe and his Critics,” in which she defended her friend's character from harsh aspersions (New York, 1860). She was often called on for occasional poems, and one of these she read at the unveiling of the statue of Roger Williams in Providence in 1877. Parts of her “Fairy Ballads,” “The Golden Ball,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella” (1867) were written by her sister, Anna Marsh Power. After Mrs. Whitman's death a full collection of her “Poems” appeared (Boston, 1879).