Emma Goldman's Tribute to Voltarine de Clyre
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somewhat old-fashioned in form, rank higher than much that now passes for poetry.
However, Voltairine did not believe in “art for art’s sake”. To her art was the means and the vehicle to voice life in its ebb and flow, in all its stern aspects for those who toil and suffer, who dream of freedom and dedicate their lives to its achievement. Yet more significant than her art was Voltairine de Cleyre’s life; itself, a supreme heroism moved and urged on by her ever-present Dominant idea.
The prophet is alien in his own land. Most alien is the American prophet. Ask any 100-percenter what he knows of the truly great men and women of his country, the superior souls that give life inspiration and beauty, the teachers of new values. He will not know of the wonderful spirit that was born in some obscure town in the State of Michigan, and who lived in poverty all her life, but who by sheer force of will pulled herself out of a living grave, cleared her mind from the darkness and superstition, --- turned her face to the sun, perceived a great ideal and determinedly carried it to every corner of her native land? the 100-percenters feel more comfortable when there is no one to disturb their drabness. But the few who themselves are souls in pain, who long for breadth and vision---they need to know about Voltairine de Cleyre. They need to know what American soil sometimes does bring forth exquisite plants. Such conciseness will be encouraging. It is for them that this sketch is written, for them that Voltairine de Cleyre, whose body lies in Waldheim, is being spiritually resurrected --- as it were --- as the poet-rebel, the liberty-loving artist, the greatest woman-Anarchist of America. But more graphically than any description of mine, her own words in the closing chapter of THE MAKING OF AN ANARCHIST express the true personality of Voltairine de Cleyre: ---
“Good-natured satirists often remark that ‘the best way to cure an Anarchist is to give him a fortune’. Substituting ‘corrupt’ for ‘cure’, I would subscribe to this; and believing myself to be no better than the rest of mortals, I earnestly hope that as so far it has been my luck to work, and work hard, and for no fortune, so I may