I learned more during this house tour than I can share in one post. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the house, so here are some highlights:
- The fold-down desk where Alcott wrote Little Women in just three months -- it was made by her father. No surprise. Alcott's writing supported the entire family, something education reformer and transcendentalist Bronson Alcott had never been able to do. A little door in the wall above the desk opens. Inside, you can see Bronson Alcott's pencilled note on the wooden beam of the house.
- I was taken with the windows next to Alcott's writing desk. Each pane of glass was decorated with a dried, pressed Queen Anne's Lace blossom. Look closely at this photo taken from outside and you may see them.
- May's room (Amy, in Little Women), is covered in "graffiti," her early artwork. Louisa became the best-selling American author of the 1800s after Little Women was published. She put May through art training. One of May's paintings won a spot in the prestigious Paris Salon, beating out Mary Cassatt.
Alcott lived in this house in her twenties, but set Little Women here. I loved finding small details, like a chore-list for the girls in the master bedroom.
Before Little Women made it big, Alcott wrote poetry, pieces for magazines, and pulp fiction under a pseudonym.
In researching her poetry, I found, "Thoreau's Flute." Henry David Thoreau was one of Bronson Alcott's best friends and helped home school the Alcott children. Walden Pond is nearby -- another place to visit next trip.
I also loved, "A Little Bird I Am." For me, this poem speaks to the frustrations of Alcott's life -- a father who put his ideals before his family's needs, being a female author in the 1800s (she was passionate about being a "literary spinster"), and poor health after serving as a Civil War nurse.
But the poem I am sharing is "A Song from the Suds," about Washing Day. Like Louisa, "I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls/ the stains of the week away."
A Song from the Suds
Louisa May Alcott
Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.
I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!
Along the path of a useful life
Will heart's-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.
I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
'Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
I'm off to watch the American Masters biopic of Alcott with my daughter. Hope you enjoyed the tour!
Thanks to Kate at Book Aunt for hosting today's Poetry Friday round up.