The majority of her poems, short stories, and novellas were published in periodicals including the New York Ledger and Harper's, which she later collected in several books in her lifetime. Authorship of her most famous poem ("All Quiet Along the Potomac") came under dispute in her lifetime, but it was immensely popular and was set to music. Much of her work is domestic in nature, sentimental in style, and feature children or families. She uses nature scenes and, particularly, descriptions of flowers but she also writes about spirituality, using words like "the Unseen" or "Master" in reference to the deity. Her poem "A New Friend":
I did not know her yesterday,
This gentle friend of mine;
There was no niche unfilled, I thought,
Within this heart of mine.
To-day I know her; songs of mine
Have spoken for me while unseen,
Stretching like spider lines wind-blown
Our severed selves between.
When I have done my best she knew;
When I have failed she cared, —
Looking beyond the ink-clogged pen,
My unbreathed trials shared.
Ah! through this living type I guess
How vanished ones may keep
Some busy distaff's subtle thread
Unbroken, tho' I sleep.
And still I gladder grow to think
Some souls I do not know
As yet may meet me by and by,
And, loving me, yet tell me so.
For, after all, a critic's praise
Or blame comes not so near
As gentle words from loving ones,
Who hold some simple cadence dear.
For these I think thee, busy pen,
With point to speak, and plume to bear
My greeting to these unknown friends
I shall know some time — here or There.