September 22, 2017
I have postponed talking about my own personal history, because of wanting to address the acute upheavals and sufferings that are coming to the earth, presently. There is much I could say by way of philosophy; but when the hurricane or earthquake or maurader arrives at the door, the time for philosophy is over. One hopes one has arrived at a philosophy which stands the test, but it is a bit late to be developing one at the 11th hour. Steve's mother is in this dilemma; having avoided thinking about the deep questions of life and death, she finds that old age has come upon her, death itself is near, but she has lost the capacity to think. Whatever philosophy--or lack, thereof--she had achieved in life, is what will stand for her, today.
So now, knowing that there is this upheaval and suffering, I want to turn to my own personal history, because I have something to share. But I don't want to just share it sans context; I want to give some idea of what was going on, and how I was feeling. Steve knows precisely how he felt, as Mathew; but he could only guess as to how I felt. (And he tries not to guess in these journal entries.)
I was a very mature young lady at age 14. I was highly intelligent, sheltered, and had received an above-average tutored education. I had received the education that the French gave their daughters, to be the companion of a nobleman, you see. Not the bottlewasher and bedmaker of a wealthy American with new money, which was the education that girls of the upper class received in America. I still learned those domestic skills, but I was tutored in the classics, in piano, in singing, in art (which I was only passing fair in)--as well as in philosophy, and writing, and poetry. But all of my training went to a country hayseed! to the consternation of my father. But what a hayseed! Actually, Mathew was nobility; but, nobility which needed to be polished and brought out. He was nobility in essence, hiding in the persona of a hayseed. He knew it; I knew it--and he was eager to come out. He was eager for the education I offered to pass along to him; he was eager for my company, as we alone understood each other in that small town (or, as he discovered, even in the City of New York); and at the tender age of 14, being entirely naive about men and the world, I was head-over-heels in love with him.
I was so young, and so far ahead of my age--and my father's sword kept such a keen watch over me!--that Mathew had little choice but to humor me, at first. Not that he would ever have taken advantage of me. The problem was, I was actually his tutor; and I was so far ahead of my age, that I really was a young woman in a 14-year-old stick of a body. And, we were soul-mates, which both of us could feel, deep down, in our remarkable compatibility. So Mathew kept things chaste, and allowed me the luxury of falling in love with him, reassuring me that, as a sworn bachelor, he would not be "dallying" with any other girls. I took matters seriously, claiming my right as his girl, and so the matter stood for some time.
I will spare you all the details, but by the time Mathew wrote this poem--I am going to say it was for my birthday, although Steve doesn't yet know the exact date of publication--he was falling quite in love with me! I am now 16 years old, and it is okay, by society's rules, for him to feel these things and to express them to me, openly. (And, let's face it, I was finally filling out a bit.) I have, meanwhile, never wavered. I knew we were destined for each other. Well, I did waver, at times, being shaken when the Stars didn't seem to be telling me the truth, as Mathew returned to New York City, instead of staying with me, when I was 14. (I did say I was naive.) He had to make his way in the world, after all, and I didn't particularly want to be a farmer's wife, so what could he do? He couldn't very well pursue a literary career in our little town of Haverhill, Mass.
So once I turned 16, he could pull out all the stops and tell me how he felt. And oh, what a torrent, what an ocean! He was particularly adept at hiding his true feelings, you see, and he ran very deep. I knew, but I didn't know, if that makes sense. As it turned out, I was the only one he opened up to. He told me how privileged he felt, once I opened my arms to him and permitted physical intimacies (in the spring of the following year); but he never knew how privileged I felt, that I was the only one he shared his true heart with. And a magnificent heart it was, if I am permitted to say so while Steve is channeling it.
So there is much, much more I could say--how I felt, upon receiving this poem. Steve is hesitating--did he give it to me privately, and then publish it, or did he give it to me in published form, in the paper, showing me that he had "shouted it from the rooftops," so to speak? He can't remember, and doesn't have a clear feeling about it, so we will leave it there. (It seems, to Steve, to be a little of both, somehow--as though I may have discovered it, but the surprise that he had published it remained.)
There are nuances of personal references in this poem. It is no accident that Mathew has called me a "queen," an "angel," and a "star." My family was linked with the royal crown of France; I actually was related. In short, I did have royal blood, and it showed. Steve remembers distinctly calling me his "dauphine," and it has come up again and again in stories and poetry. It was all his to see me as an angel, but indeed, I was an intellectual and ethereal type. But it was my love for the stars, and my identification with them, which Matt was referring to in the third instance. I loved stars, believing they were symbolic of living souls in heaven, and had picked two adjoining stars out as mine and Matt's. He knew this, of course. All his life, he signed, occasionally, with a single asterisk--a tribute to me, and to us. I demurred at all this, of course, feigning embarrassment. In classic Victorian style, I told him firmly that I wanted nothing of flattery, and I admonished him to beware the dangers of idolatry! But deep in my heart I drank from it as a fountain, because I desperately wanted it to be true. Gradually, gradually, gradually, Mathew washed the stain of the local girls' cruelty from my soul. Because all through my childhood, they had taunted me until my self-image, as they say now, was in the muck and the mire. Mathew washed me clean with his praise; at first I was afraid of it, lest it be mere flattery for effect. Then I began to realize he might be sincere; and then, in a glorious burst of freedom, I realized he was sincere! Only after I had passed, and saw our marriage from this vantage point--a vantage point where one can see the depth of each heart--did I realize that he had never once flattered me the entire time. He merely spoke his heart, and expressed what he saw in me. I can say no more. Here is Mathew's dear poem, written for my 16th birthday. You will see that Matt could never quite stay serious--his dear humor doubled as a disguise, because his heart ran so deep. But here he did not do a very good job of hiding, except for giving us both a silly name. (I didn't mind so much being "Molly Blueberry," especially as I knew that blueberries were Matt's favorite.)
Steve wishes to append my miniature portrait to the poem; I wouldn't choose to do so on my own, but perhaps the time for reticence is past; and this way you can see clearly who he was describing (though I was about 20 at the time the portrait was taken).
Love to each and all,