by: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
through the silent church-yard,
- Winter sunlight seemed to shed
- Golden shadows like soft blessings
- O'er a quiet little bed,
- Where a pale face lay unheeding
- Tender tears that o'er it fell;
- No sorrow now could touch the heart
- Of gentle little Nell.
- Ah, with what silent patient strength
- The frail form lying there
- Had borne its heavy load of grief,
- Of loneliness and care.
- Now, earthly burdens were laid down,
- And on the meek young face
- There shone a holier loveliness
- Than childhood's simple grace.
- Beset with sorrow, pain and fear,
- Tempted by want and sin,
- With none to guide or counsel her
- But the brave child-heart within.
- Strong in her fearless, faithful love,
- Devoted to the last,
- Unfaltering through gloom and gleam
- The little wanderer passed.
- Hand in hand they journeyed on
- Through pathways strange and wild,
- The gray-haired, feeble, sin-bowed man
- Led by the noble child.
- So through the world's dark ways she passed,
- Till o'er the church-yard sod,
- To the quiet spot where they found rest,
- Those little feet had trod.
- To that last resting-place on earth
- Kind voices bid her come,
- There her long wanderings found an end,
- And weary Nell a home.
- A home whose light and joy she was,
- Though on her spirit lay
- A solemn sense of coming change,
- That deepened day by day.
- There in the church-yard, tenderly,
- Through quiet summer hours,
- Above the poor neglected graves
- She planted fragrant flowers.
- The dim aisles of the ruined church
- Echoed the child's light tread,
- And flickering sunbeams thro' the leaves
- Shone on her as she read.
- And here where a holy silence dwelt,
- And golden shadows fell,
- When Death's mild face had looked on her,
- They laid dear happy Nell.
- Long had she wandered o'er the earth,
- One hand to the old man given,
- By the other angels led her on
- Up a sunlit path to Heaven.
- Oh! "patient, loving, noble Nell,"
- Like light from sunset skies,
- The beauty of thy sinless life
- Upon the dark world lies.
- On thy sad story, gentle child,
- Dim eyes will often dwell,
- And loving hearts will cherish long
- The memory of Nell.
POEMS BY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
"Little Nell" is reprinted
from the Boston Daily Courier, March 15, 1856.