Second entry of the day, but I want to share something with you, which I proofread today. This poem appears in the April 21, 1849 Portland "Transcript," and it is signed with Mathew's "star," or asterisk, which I have gone to great lengths to confirm as his long-time secret pseudonym. I have said that he would initiate a new pseudonym at a the drop of a hat, and drop it just as fast--and this was true for his entire career. But there was one he saved in his hip pocket, which he used from the early 1830's (when his future wife, Abby, began teaching him metaphysics), until the 1870's. The "star" represented his soul; and it was a carryover from Abby's belief that their souls were twin stars in heaven (or something along that line).
Briefly, the context, here, is that early in 1849 Mathew appears to have formally separated from his second wife, Jane. That had been a family-arranged marriage. Several clues, plus past-life memory, suggest to me that his mother had tricked him into thinking that Abby wanted him to remarry (perhaps, by reporting this message from a seance, which historians say she attended). But during the Christmas season of 1847, he met with two of Abby's sisters--presumably, the same two who had helped Abby through her second pregnancy, there in Portland, and who had taken her back to their father's house just days before she passed away, of consumption. During that meeting, they must have shared with Mathew that Abby had told them, privately, that whatever she had told Mathew earlier, had he died first, she would not have remarried, but rather, would have waited for him. I'm not going to drag out all my evidence for this--it's in my sequel. I'm just reporting my conclusions, here.
But for a handsome man in his mid-30's who has been in a loveless, and for several years, probably sexless, marriage with a remarkably unattractive woman (I would never say such a thing, but as Jane was particulary masculine in appearance, it's grist for the historical mill), to suddenly find that he now could court these young ladies who had been flirting with him for years, if he so-chose, is a heady brew. In the context of offering help to some socially isolated (or perhaps even disabled) young woman, he got into a brief romance with her, in March of 1849. But her guardian stepped in, and she was not so much affected by the situation as he was. For awhile, he became bitter about love and marriage altogether; and he dropped back deeply into the mixture of Stoicism and Christianity which had helped him navigate Abby's death, some eight years earlier. Later, he became more conciliatory.
I should note that in the interim after Mathew ended his second marriage, but before he took up with this girl, Abby had begun contacting him from the spirit realm. Clearly, after this brief relationship ended, and Mathew passed through his stage of blanket cynicism, he turned his thoughts back to Abby. I don't know how long it took for her to begin responding, though she seems to have been doing so a year or two later. Ultimately, however, he wasn't able to sustain the kind of relationship I have established with her, today. Meanwhile, if he attempted a relationship with a physical girl, he invariably found two things; first, she couldn't hold a candle to Abby (either in her character, or her motivations); and secondly, that once they--or their guardians--found out he was still legally married, that was the end of it. Apparently it was extremely difficult to obtain a legal divorce in the mid-19th century. Mathew's second wife would have resisted it, not because she loved Mathew, but because she wanted to be married with a family (the original impetus of her agreeing to the arrangement, in the first place). There had been no infidelity, and thus the law saw no reason to grant the divorce. Or so I gather.
But that is all by way of background. What I want to call your attention to, here, is how similar this poem is, in style, to "The Raven." I know that if you want to prove style, technically you have to show pieces written before the poem in question. But Mathew wrote in this style all his life. I can show you an example from 1843, two years before "The Raven" was published; and I can show you an example from 1870--and many in-between. That being the case, I do not feel constrained to only share examples from before 1845. I would, if "The Raven" was really Edgar Allan Poe's poem--but it isn't. I suppose, today, that's a bit of a Catch-22--but someday in the future, it won't be. And hopefully, a significant part of my readership lies in the future.
Here, once again, you will see the influence of Greek Stoicism on Mathew's thinking; as well as Christianity. This is the author who would so admire the deeply faith-based poetry of Francis Quarles (which was similarly austere), as to sign "The Raven" with "---- Quarles." It makes perfect sense for Mathew; it makes no sense for Poe, whatsoever.
If you have kept up with this blog, you will know that any charge that Mathew was imitating Poe is ludicrous. And there really is no requirement that I address the ludicrous, here. Ready my back entries, and you'll see the evidence for that.
Mathew has signed two of several poems in the 1849 "Transcript" from the small Maine town of Oxford. There's an extensive back-story to this, which appears both in my first book and in the sequel, having to do with a young poet named Charles Carroll Loring whom, it appears, Mathew mentored.
TO THE WAYFARER OF LIFE.
Fainting on life's rugged mountains,
Parching mid its bitter fountains,
Give thine ear, sad pilgrim brother,
To the greeting of my lay,
And its close chill folds unsealing,
Let thy heart breathe forth its feeling,
Opening to the touch of kindness,
Like the flowers to the day;
So conversing and rehearsing,
We'll beguile the dusty way.
Thou art worn, and sad, and weary,
Of thy journey, waste and dreary,
And thy once smooth cheek hath furrows,
Where the tears are wont to flow;
And thy thousand cares oppress thee,
And thy failing limbs distress thee,
Sighing for the dove's soft pinions,
And the days of "Long ago;"
Life's sweet morning, manhood dawning,
Doomed without return to go.
Now, indeed, thy lot is sorrow,
With perhaps no bright tomorrow,
But art thou the only mourner,
Thine the only tears that flow?
Sigh not for unmingled pleasure,
Earth containeth no such treasure,
Not a heart but sick with anguish,
Often pulseth to and fro;
Ever yearning, ever turning,
Like the ceaseless winds that blow.
Every pang thy bosom beareth,
Be assured some other shareth,
In a journey such as ours is,
There is none can be secure;
But the ills that here befall us,
From our errors would recall us;
Our disease is kindly painful,
Lest we should not seek its cure,
Never heedless, never needless,
Come the evils we endure.
Manfully acquit thee, brother,
In thy bosom strongly smother,
Every sinful murmur rising,
At the touchings of the rod;
From the path of self denial,
And of stern, unceasing trial,
Thankless labor, firm endurance,
Which the blessed Saviour trod,
O, decline not, O repine not,
At the dealings of thy God.
Brother, see before us gleaming,
O'er the hill-top, upward streaming,
Light! nor sun, nor star, nor planet
Ever poured such gorgeous ray;
On our path it kindly beameth,
Guide and comforter it seemeth,
Telling that though hard and broken,
Still towards Heaven leads the way;
Courage, brother, and another
Shall not take thy crown away. *
Oxford, April 2, 1849.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Take a Pebble," by Emerson, Lake and Palmer,
from their debut album