Little Women poem

This poem from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is one which I very much like. In the book it is in the second to last chapter, the one entitled Under the Umbrella. I like it because I think it is such a sweet and beautiful poem. And it shows so clearly the different personalities of the four March sisters, except I think Jo is a little bit hard on herself.
In the book Jo says “It’s very bad poetry” about this piece. And maybe if you look at it in a professional poetical way it is, I don’t know since I am really not that well-read on poetry. But I do know that personally I really like it.

In the Garret

Four little chests all in a row,
Dim with dust, and worn by time,
All fashioned and filled, long ago,
By children now in their prime.
Four little keys hung side by side,
With faded ribbons, brave and gay
When fastened there, with childish pride,
Long ago, on a rainy day.
Four little names, one on each lid,

Carved out by a boyish hand,
And underneath there lieth hid
Histories of the happy band
Once playing here, and pausing oft
To hear the sweet refrain,
That came and went on the roof aloft,
In the falling summer rain.

‘Meg’ on the first lid, smooth and fair.
I look in with loving eyes,
For folded here, with well-known care,
A goodly gathering lies,
The record of a peaceful life-
Gifts to gentle child and girl,
A bridal gown, lines to a wife,
A tiny shoe, a baby curl.
No toys in this first chest remain.
For all are carried away,

In their old age, to join again
In another small Meg’s play.
Ah, happy mother! well I know
You hear, like a sweet refrain,
Lullabies ever soft and low
In the falling summer rain.

‘Jo’ on the next lid, scratched and worn,
And within a motley store
Of headless dolls, of school-books torn,
Birds and beasts that speak no more;

Spoils brought home from the fairy ground
Only trod by youthful feet,
Dreams of a future never found,
Memories of a past still sweet;
Half writ poems, stories wild,
April letters, warm and cold,
Diaries of a wilful child,
Hints of a woman early old;
A woman in a lonely home,
Hearing like a sad refrain-

‘Be worthy love, and love will come,
In the falling summer rain’.

My Beth! the dust is always swept
From the lid that bears your name,
As if by loving eyes that wept,
By careful hands that often came.
Death canonized for us one saint,
Ever less human than divine,
And still we lay, with tender plaint,

Relics in this household shrine-
The silver bell, so seldom rung,
The little cap which last she wore,
The fair, dead Catherine that hung
By angels borne above her door;
The songs she sang, without lament,
In her prison-house of pain,
For ever are they sweetly blent
With the falling summer rain.

Upon the last lid’s polished field-
Legend now both fair and true-
A gallant knight bears on his shield
‘Amy’ in letters gold and blue.
Within lies snoods that bound her hair.
Slippers that have danced their last,
Faded flowers laid by with care,
Fans whose airy toils are past;
Gay valentines, all ardent flames,
Trifles that have borne their part
In girlish hopes and fears and shames-

The record of a maiden heart
Now learning fairer, truer spells,
Hearing, like a blithe refrain,
The silver sound of bridal bells
In the falling summer rain.

Four little chests all in a row,
Dim with dust, and worn by time,
Four women, taught by weal and woe

To love and labour in their prime.
Four sisters parted for an hour,
None lost, one only gone before,
Made by love’s immortal power,
Nearest and dearest evermore.
Oh, when these hidden stores of ours
Lie open to the Father’s sight,
May they be rich in golden hours,
Deeds that show fairer for the light,
Lives whose brave music long shall ring,
Like a spirit-stirring strain,
Souls that shall gladly soar and sing
In the long sunshine after rain.


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6 Responses to Little Women poem

  1. Mercedes says:

    Oh, it’s so lovely. First time I read it in English. I think they shortened it in the Spanish version, or I don’t remember it quite well.
    Thanks a lot for sharing it! 🙂

  2. Aurora says:

    I am glad you enjoyed it Mercedes! It IS a very sweet poem. 🙂

  3. Sonali says:

    Thanks for sharing this poem. Just finished reading Little Women and this poem touched me so deeply. Now that the book’s over, I feel so sad and happy at the same time.

  4. Aurora says:

    I know that feeling exactly Sonali (may I just say here too what a beautiful name Sonali is!), this book and this poem always touches me so. Louisa May Alcott has a talent for wiriting in a way that touches me and also brings me to tears in a way few authors can. And I love her books!

  5. Jermaine says:

    Cute poem!! 😉

  6. robert says:

    is there a poem in little women where a line reads
    the cold one that starts the year

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