Mary Wollstonecraft

Anarchist and feminist poet Voltairine de Cleyre wrote this poem in celebration of Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), lived and worked in Newington Green. In 1784 she opened a boarding school for girls in Newington Green along with her sister Eliza and friend Fanny Blood. The radical Unitarian Church that she attended is still there, and local artist Stewy has pained this memorial grafitto on it.

marygraff

Mary Wollstonecraft

The dust of a hundred years
Is on thy breast,
And thy day and thy night of tears
Are centurine rest.
Thou to whom joy was dumb,
Life a broken rhyme,
Lo, thy smiling time is come,
And our weeping time.
Thou who hadst sponge and myrrh
And a bitter cross,
Smile, for the day is here
That we know our loss; —
Loss of thine undone deed,
Thy unfinished song,
Th’ unspoken word for our need,
Th’ unrighted wrong;
Smile, for we weep, we weep,
For the unsoothed pain,
The unbound wound burned deep,
That we might gain.
Mother of sorrowful eyes
In the dead old days,
Mother of many sighs,
Of pain-shod ways;
Mother of resolute feet
Through all the thorns,
Mother soul-strong, soul-sweet, —
Lo, after storms
Have broken and beat thy dust
For a hundred years,
Thy memory is made just,
And the just man hears.

Thy children kneel and repeat:
“Though dust be dust,
Though sod and coffin and sheet
And moth and rust
Have folded and molded and pressed,
Yet they cannot kill;
In the heart of the world at rest
She liveth still.”

Philadelphia, 27th April 1893

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