Pearl was my grandmother’s elder sister who died of tuberculosis at age 16 when Grandmother was only 7˝. It seems odd in some ways that Grandmother would even remember her sister very well, but undoubtedly she did. I well recall when I was a child that Grandmother would often have tears come to her eyes when she would talk about Pearl, so great was her love for her.
As a youngster I knew that Grandmother kept a few scraps of paper on which were some things Pearl had written, but I never actually read them back then. After Grandmother died I attempted to locate those writings, and I believe that one or both of the short works below are probably by Pearl. Both are in a hand that is not my grandmother’s and both appear to be from about the same time period. On the back of the essay there is a child’s handwriting which reads, “My sisster sent this.” The writing looks to be that of a child just learning to write in cursive, which would be around age 7 — the age of Grandmother shortly before Pearl died. Whether these are actually written by Pearl we may never know for certain; but they seem to reflect the thoughts of a young girl who knows perhaps that her days are few. In spite of that there remains a bit of whimsy in the essay and a spirit of courage and ultimate victory in the poem. They are posted here to her memory.
Man comes into the world without his concent and leaves it against his will. During his stay on earth his time is spent in one continuous round of contraries and misunderstandings. In his infancy he is an angel; in his boy hood he is a devil; in his manhood he is everything from a lizard up. in his duties he is a fool; if he has no family he is committing race suicide; if he raises a check he is a thief and the law raises cain with him; if he is a poor man he is a poor manager and has no sense; if he is rich he is dishonest, but considered smart; if he is in politics he is a grafter and a crook; if he is out of politics you can't place him as he is [an] undersirable citizen; if [he] goes to church he is a [hypo]crite; if he stays away [from] church he is a sinner; [if he] donates to foreign [-----]n he does it for show; if he doesn't he is stingy and a “tight wad”. When he first comes into the world everybody wants to kiss him. before he goes out they want to kick him. If he dies young there was a great future before him; if he lives to a ripe old age he is in the way, only living to save funeral expenses.
Life is a funny proposition after all.
UntitledLife, you have brusied me and killed me;
Fate, you have jeered at my pain;
Dreams, you have mocked while you thrilled me —
so I turn to the battle again.
Love, you have blessed me and led me;
the lips that have kissed you, you smite;
Hope, you have urged me and fled me —
but left is the joy of the fight!
Never was I a coward!
Now must I prove my worth.
World, I will give you my courage:
not tears but a hard frought mirth.
Work of my hands I grant you,
labor and toil of brain.
But heart and soul shall be wanting —
for they are [cleansed?] of pain!
Forward! a fight to the death then:
Life is a sorry jest.
ahead! To the thick of tumult
Fate is a fool at the best.
Courage! The war Gods are greatest!
Love is a false, fair light.
To arms! For dreams are frail bubbles,
and hope but a song in the night.
World, I cast down the gauntlet,
for you were made to defy!
Own me a foe your mettle
ah, fighting let me die!
Love, Hope and dreams, I give you:
Life I fling at your feet!
I will drink to the dregs of the bitter —
for once I had tasted of sweet!
Of one last taunt I shall rob you:
stern, I will calm [/claim?] my due:
Our recompence you shall give me,
balm I will snatch from you.
Tis neither fame nor glory —
toys to break and regret:
I demand to conquer memory!
I demand that I — forget.