Sonnet 16

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



WHEN I remember with what buoyant heart,
Midst war's alarms and woes of civil strife,
In youthful eagerness, thou didst depart,
At peril of thy safety, peace, and life,
To nurse the wounded soldier, swathe the dead --
How piercéd soon by fever's poisoned dart,
And brought unconscious home, with wildered head --
Thou, ever since, mid languor and dull pain,
To conquer fortune, cherish kindred dear,
Hast with grave studies vexed a sprightly brain,
In myriad households kindled love and cheer;
Ne'er from thyself by Fame's loud trump beguiled,
Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere: --
I press thee to my heart, as Duty's faithful child.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 14, 2023

34 sec read
56

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABABCACDEDEFEF
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 652
Words 110
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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