This poignant poem was composed by Alcott's father, Amos Bronson Alcott, who was extraordinarily close to Louisa. He wrote it for her after she served as a nurse during the American Civil War. It was featured in Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters, and Journals (1889).
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 piercèd soon by fever's poisoned dart,
And brought unconscious home, with wildered head,
Thou ever since 'mid langour 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.