Emma Goldman's Tribute to Voltarine de Clyre
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neglected education met with failure. They were strangers to each other. Quite naturally perhaps, her males child felt like most men in her life; he, too, was overawed by her intellect, repelled by her austere mode of living. He went his way. He is today probably, one of the 100% Americans, commonplace and dull.
Yet Voltairine de Clayre loved youth and understood it as few grown people do. Characteristically, she wrote to a young friend who was deaf and with whom it was difficult to converse orally:
“Why do you say you are drifting farther and farther from those dear to you? I do not think your experience in that respect is due to your deafness; but to the swell of life in you. All young creatures feel the time come when a new surge of life overcomes them, drives them onward, they know not where. And they lose hold on the cradles of life, and parental love, and they almost suffocate with the pressure of forces in themselves. And even if they hear; they feel so vague, restless, looking for some definite thing to come.
It seems to you it is your deafness ; but while that is a terrible thing, you mustn’t think it would solve the problem of loneliness if you could hear. I know how your soul must fight against the inevitability of your deprivation ; I, too, could never be satisfied and resigned of your deprivation ; I, too, could never be satisfied ; and resigned to the ‘inevitable’. I fought it when there was no use and no hope. But the main cause of loneliness is, as I say; the surge of life, which in the time will find its own expression.
Full well she knew “the surge of life”, and the tragedy of vein seeking for an outlet, for in her it had been suppressed so long that she was at home on the platform; proximity she shrank from. Her reserve and isolation, her inability to break through the wall raised by years of silence in the Convent and years of illness are disclosed in a letter to her young correspondent :
“Most of the time I shrink away from people and talk --- especially talk. With the exception of a few---a very few people, I hate to sit in people’s company. You see I have (for a number of reasons I cannot explain to anybody) had to go away from the home and friends where I lived for twenty years. And no matter how good other people are to me, I never feel at home anywhere. I feel like a lost or wandering creature that has no place, and cannot find anything to be at home with. And that’s why I don’t talk much to you, not to others (excepting the two or three that knew in the east). I am always far away. I cannot help it. I am too old to learn to like new corners. Even at home I never talked much, with but one or two persons. I’m sorry. It’s not because I want to be morose, but I can’t bear company. Haven’t you noticed that I never like to sit at a table when