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de CLEYRE, Voltairine “Bastard Born”
Article published on 17 September 2009
last modification on 25 April 2015

by r-c.
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At 24, Voltairine de Cleyre gave birth to a child, Harry, born on June 12, 1890. She refused to marry her boyfriend, James B. Elliot, who was Harry’s father, because she rejected marriage. This was very scandalous in those times. Her choice and that event probably inspired the following poem.

1891. Selected Works 36–41.

Why do you clothe me with scarlet of shame?
Why do you point with your finger of scorn?
What is the crime that you hissingly name
When you sneer in my ears, "Thou bastard born?"

arrow On web : See the whole poem

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