Emma Goldman's Tribute to Voltarine de Clyre
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tribute to Dyer D. Lum in her poem IN MEMORIAM from which I quoted the last stanza:
Oh, life I love you for the love of him
Who showed me all your glory and your pain!
Into Nirvana’--- so the deep tunes sing ---
And there--- and there--- we shall---be---one--again”.
Measured by the ordinary yard-stick, Voltairine de Cleyre was anything but normal in her feelings and reactions. Fortunately, the great of the world cannot be weighed in numbers and scales; their worth lies in the meaning and purpose they give to existence, and Voltairine has undoubtedly enriched life with meaning and given sublime idealism as its purpose. But, as a study of human complexities she offers rich material.
The woman who consecrated herself to the service of the submerged, actually experiencing poignant agony at the sight of suffering, whether of children or dumb animals (she was obsessed by love for the latter and would give shelter and nourishment to every stray cat and dog, even to the extent of breaking with a friend because she objected to her cats invading every corner of the house), the woman who loved her mother devotedly, maintaining her at the cost of her own needs, ---this generous comrade whose heart went out to all who were in pain or sorrow, was almost entirely lacking the mother instinct. Perhaps it never had a chance to assert itself in an atmosphere of freedom and harmony. The one child she brought into the world had not been wanted. Voltairine was deathly ill the whole period of pregnancy, the birth of her child nearly costing the mother’s life, Her situation was aggravated by the serious rift that took place at his time in her relationship with the father of this child. The stifling Puritan atmosphere in which the two lived did not serve to improve matters. All of it resulted in the little one being frequently changed from place to place later even used by the father as bait to compel Voltairine to return to him. Subsequently, deprived of opportunity to see her child, kept in ignorance even of its whereabouts, she gradually grew away from him. Many years passed before she saw the boy again and he was then seventeen years of age. Her efforts to improve his much-