Emerson

Amos Bronson Alcott 1799 (Wolcott, Connecticut) – 1888 (Boston, Massachusetts)



MISFORTUNE to have lived not knowing thee!  
’T were not high living, nor to noblest end,  
Who, dwelling near, learned not sincerity,  
Rich friendship’s ornament that still doth lend  
To life its consequence and propriety.   
Thy fellowship was my culture, noble friend:  
By the hand thou took’st me, and did’st condescend  
To bring me straightway into thy fair guild;  
And life-long hath it been high compliment  
By that to have been known, and thy friend styled,
Given to rare thought and to good learning bent;  
Whilst in my straits an angel on me smiled.  
Permit me, then, thus honored, still to be  
A scholar in thy university.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

32 sec read
71

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABABABBCDEDEAA
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 646
Words 109
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 14

Amos Bronson Alcott

Amos Bronson Alcott was an American teacher, writer, philosopher, and reformer. As an educator, Alcott pioneered new ways of interacting with young students, focusing on a conversational style, and avoided traditional punishment. He hoped to perfect the human spirit and, to that end, advocated a vegan diet before the term was coined. He was also an abolitionist and an advocate for women's rights. Born in Wolcott, Connecticut in 1799, Alcott had only minimal formal schooling before attempting a career as a traveling salesman. Worried about how the itinerant life might have a negative impact on his soul, he turned to teaching. His innovative methods, however, were controversial, and he rarely stayed in one place very long. His most well-known teaching position was at the Temple School in Boston. His experience there was turned into two books: Records of a School and Conversations with Children on the Gospels. Alcott became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and became a major figure in transcendentalism. His writings on behalf of that movement, however, are heavily criticized for being incoherent. Based on his ideas for human perfection, Alcott founded Fruitlands, a transcendentalist experiment in community living. The project was short-lived and failed after seven months. Alcott continued to struggle financially for most of his life. Nevertheless, he continued focusing on educational projects and opened a new school at the end of his life in 1879. He died in 1888. Alcott married Abby May in 1830 and they eventually had four surviving children, all daughters. Their second was Louisa May, who fictionalized her experience with the family in her novel Little Women in 1868.  more…

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