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Friday, September 30, 2016

Poetry Friday--Louisa May Alcott

On this day in 1868, the first volume of Little Women [F ALC] was published, the first edition of 2,000 copies sold out quickly and Louisa May Alcott became a literary sensation. Volume two was released the following year.

If you've read the book, or have seen the filmed versions, you know that Jo March wrote in many genres. In real life, Louisa, too, wrote novels and many other forms including poetry. Supposedly Alcott wrote fairy tales and poems for Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter Ellen when she, Alcott, was in her teens. "Fairy Song" is dated 1864. Since Alcott was 32 that year, I wonder if the poem was written then, or was it published 16 years after being written for Ellen? (A research question for another time!)

The moonlight fades from flower and rose
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is told, the song is sung,
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
And sings to them, soft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.

O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
Unseen by mortal eye,
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
And the flowers alone may know,
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell;
So't is time for the Elves to go.

From bird, and blossom, and bee,
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell,
Sweet voices whisper low,
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.

When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now,
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
With sunlight soon shall glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.

The photo is of a structure in the Nesmith Pixie Place village. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. Hurry, because soon the wee folk will be heading South with the birds for winter.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Karen Edmisten.


  1. Marvelous. I love it, of course.

    1. You're the first person I thought of when I read this, Brenda!

    2. Bless your little Elfin hearts, Ladies!

  2. This makes me wonder if Tolkien would have liked the poem, Diane.There's such a melancholy to the poem. Thanks for the history!

    1. Not so melancholic if you think of it as the Elves will be gone for a day, but back again the next night.

  3. A lovely, bittersweet poem. I had no idea Alcott was such a versatile writer!

    1. Her genre switching probably arose because she needed to make a living. When you have to eat, you write what's going to sell. Perhaps the poetry she wrote for herself.

  4. An enchanting poem, for sure. I also love your fairy garden. I remembered that you were doing this, but I don't think I ever saw a picture. Charming!

    1. There are several more pictures on the FB page.

    2. Adorable! And such a beautiful tribute to your colleague and friend.

  5. So beautiful! I'd not read this before. Coming from Carol Varsalona's Grand Canyon poem... they just seem to go together, though fairies and elves to Grand Canyon are seemingly opposites! I guess it's the thoughts, the breezes, and secrets...there are probably canyon fairies as well as those of the forest - don't you think?

    1. A little bird told me that "The Donkey Serenade" was really written by canyon fairies.

  6. "The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
    And sings to them, soft and low." So sweet!