Susan's Thursday morning note August 7, 2014 A New England Childhood by Lucy Larcom - description of a woman relating herself to her younger selves with who she is now
Good morning! Absolute stillness. Birds don’t even seem to want to make their appearance this morning. Again, though, our angel of dawn has arrived. Handing us a moment of beauty in stillness. Beauty in the gift of another morning.
This month I was fascinated with an historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings. This novel takes place in North Carolina and tells the story of young girls growing up in the home of their father, a slave-owner. One of the daughters abhors the idea of slavery and what she observes on their plantation. She ends up moving north and becoming a leading advocate in the abolitionist movement. In the reading of this book there was a reference to A New England Childhood, written in 1889 written by another leading abolitionist and poet, Lucy Larcom. This book is one of her memories of her childhood and moral development, which then led to her leadership in the abolitionist movement. She writes a description of her younger “self” and her “between younger and present self” which intrigued me in her comparison. I hope you love her writing as I do, the idea of who we were as a child still being who we are now as we merge these selves. Following these paragraphs I have written some of her famous quotes.
It is one of the most beautiful facts in this human existence of ours, that we remember the earliest and freshest part of it most vividly. Doubtless it was meant that our childhood should live on in us forever. My childhood was by no means a cloudless one. It had its light and shade, each contributing a charm which makes it wholly delightful in the retrospect.
I can see very distinctly the child that I was, and I know how the world looked to her, far off as she is now. She seems to me like my little sister, at play in a garden where I an at any time return and find her. I have enjoyed bringing her back, and letting her tell her story, almost as if she were somebody else. I like her better than I did when I was really a child, and I hope never to part company with her.
I do not feel so much satisfaction in the older girl who comes between her and me, although she, too, is enough like me to be my sister, or even more like my young, undisciplined mother; for the girl is mother of the woman. But I have to acknowledge her faults and mistakes as my own, while I sometimes feel like reproving her severely for her carelessly performed tasks, her habit of lapsing into listless reveries, her cowardly shrinking from responsibility and vigorous endeavor, and many other faults that I have inherited from her. Still, she is myself, and I could not be quite happy without her comradeship.
Every phase of our life belongs to us. The moon does not, except in appearance, lose her first thin, luminous curve, nor her silvery crescent, in rounding to her full. The woman is still both child and girl, in the completeness of womanly character. We have a right to our entire selves, through all the changes of this mortal state, a claim which we shall doubtless carry along with us into the unfolding mysteries of our eternal being. Perhaps in tis thought lies hidden the secret of immortal youth; for a seer has said that “to grow old in heave is to grow young.”
To take life as it is sent to us, to live it faithfully, looking and striving always towards better life, this was the lesson that came to me from y early teachers. It was not an easy lesson, but it was a healthful one; and I pass it on to younger pupils, trusting that they will learn it more thoroughly than I ever have.
Young or old, we may all win inspiration to do our best, from the needs of a world to which the humblest life ay be permitted to bring immeasurable blessings: –
“For no one doth know
What he can bestow,
What light, strength, ad beauty may after him go:
Thus onward we move,
And, save God above
none guesseth how wondrous the journey will prove.” Beverly, Massachusetts, October 1889
“… it is the greatest of all mistakes to begin life with the expectation that it is going to be easy, or with the wish to have it so.” “If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” “I regard a love for poetry as one of the most needful and helpful elements in the life-outfit of a human being. It was the greatest of blessings to me, in the long days of toil to which I was shut in much earlier than most young girls are, that the poetry I held in my memory breathed its enchanted atmosphere through me and around me, and touched even dull drudgery with its sunshine.”
“… possibly there is no needful occupation which is wholly unbeautiful. The beauty of work depends upon the way we meet it–whether we arm ourselves each morning to attack it as an enemy that must be vanquished before night comes, or whether we open our eyes with the sunrise to welcome it as an approaching friend who will keep us delightful company all day, and who will make us feel, at evening, that the day was well worth its fatigues.”
"This is a Haunted World" by Lucy Larcom (on those that have died being all around us) This is a haunted world. It hath no breeze But is the echo of some voice beloved: Its pines have human tones; its billows wear The color and the sparkle of dear eyes. Its flowers are sweet with touch of tender hands That once clasped ours. All things are beautiful Because of something lovelier than themselves, Which breathes within them, and will never die. — Haunted, — but not with any spectral gloom; Earth is suffused, inhabited by heavens. These blossoms, gathered in familiar paths, With dear companions now passed out of sight, Shall not be laid upon their graves. They live, Since love is deathless. Pleasure now nor pride Is theirs in mortal wise, but hallowing thoughts Will meet the offering, of so little worth, Wanting the benison death has made divine. And visible friends link hands with those unseen, Veiled in immortal light; their love is one. And, for love's sake, they will accept these waifs, Laid at their feet with a heart's gratitude, And sadness that it has no worthier gift.
Latin for this week: liber – child memoria – memory