"Our Little Ghost" is part of a genre of poetry about the death of a child, which was very popular in the Victorian era. This can seem odd to us today, but we should remember that this was a period before the rise of psychology or grief counseling, so such poetry gave people who had suffered a similar loss a means to grieve and a sense of not being alone. Child mortality, though it plummeted sharply over the course of the nineteenth century, was still very high compared to its modern-day rates, so losing a beloved child was not an uncommon experience.
Alcott's poem is typical in being a sentimental poem meant to tug gently at the heartstrings. Its most striking metaphor is its comparison of the dead child to a ghost, rather than the more usual cliche of likening it to an angel—in fact, Alcott goes so far as to label the ghost of the child a "tricksy household elf," a strikingly non-Christian allusion to the spirit world.
Alcott invokes the Gothic in the "owl's shrill cry," the nighttime...
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