Inventor Samuel F. B. Morse served as the book's editor. In his introduction, he wrote that he expected that her praise was exaggerated by family and friends but was surprised "that I was perusing the works of a child of genuine poetic feeling." Morse collected about three dozen poems in the 150-page book, including the title poem which took up 28 pages. Another long poem, Chicomico, was just over 40 pages. Many focus on home life and her family, but many also reflect her illness and approaching death.
Her poem "Feats of Death" (written when she was 16):
I have passed o'er the earth in the darkness of night,
I have walked the wild winds in the morning's broad light;
I have paused o'er the bower where the Infant lay sleeping,
And I've left the fond mother in sorrow and weeping.
My pinion was spread, and the cold dew of night
Which withers and moulders the flower in its light,
Fell silently o'er the warm cheek in its glow,
And I left it there blighted, and wasted, and low;
I culled the fair bud, as it danced in its mirth,
And I left it to moulder and fade on the earth.
I paused o'er the valley, the glad sounds of joy
Rose soft through the mist, and ascended on high;
The fairest were there, and I paused in my flight,
And the deep cry of wailing broke wildly that night.
I stay not to gather the lone one to earth,
I spare not the young in their gay dance of mirth,
But I sweep them all on to their home in the grave,
I stop not to pity — I stay not to save.
I paused in my pathway, for beauty was there;
It was beauty too death-like, too cold, and too fair!
The deep purple fountain, seemed melting away,
And the faint pulse of life, scarce remembered to play;
She had thought on the tomb, she was waiting for me,
I gazed, I passed on, and her spirit was free.
The clear stream rolled gladly, and bounded along,
With ripple, and murmur, and sparkle, and song;
The minstrel was tuning his wild harp to love,
And sweet, and half-sad were the numbers he wove.
I passed, and the harp of the bard was unstrung;
O'er the stream which rolled deeply, 'twas recklessly hung;
The minstrel was not! and I passed on alone,
O'er the newly-raised turf, and the rudely-carved stone.