August 7, 2017


A few weeks ago, Steve stumbled upon my poetry in an old newspaper he had never heard of before, the 1831 "Philadelphia Album and Ladies Literary Port Folio." He had the entire year as a pdf file, which should be digitally searchable, and this is how he found my poems, which were signed with my initials, "A.P." (for Abby Poyen). But, as near as Steve can figure out, they were being submitted to the paper (and other papers) by my teacher, who had stolen them out of my notebook. Sometimes he added a stanza in the middle, because the class assignment only required two, whereas a poem one submits to a paper should have at least three. But sometimes he stole my personal poems, and submitted these. They, of course, were longer. But from them, Steve can obtain a glimpse of what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

Now, before we go on, a word about our channeling. Steve is not psychic; so he feels, from me, what he would naturally feel as my soul-mate. He writes this journal in-character, as "Abby," and then he tries to tune in to my thought/feeling bursts as he types, stream-of-consciousness. If, however, he has certain assumptions about our 19th-century life together, those assumptions influence what he says. In other words, he writes it out as he understands it to have been; and then, he lets me guide him from there. Suppose he is wrong--suppose he is flat-wrong? Then I can do nothing to stop him. I can only "nudge" him in a certain direction; but I can't put on the brakes and make him do an about-face. So, all that to say this--in what I am about to share with you, Steve is relying, as a basis, on what he has come to understand about this period in our lives. He wants to add this caveat, because he is about to receive more information which could "put the lie" to it, potentially, in this wise.

Steve has come to understand, from many interlacing clues, that in 1830, when I was 14 and he was 18, I was taking a class, and writing poetry assignments in that class. I kept a notebook, and in this notebook I also wrote private poetry, never dreaming that my teacher would steal it and publish it without my permission. Let me explain something--children, and women, had no rights. But it went deeper than that--they were perceived, by some men at least, as not deserving to have any. Does that make sense? In other words, you would not ask a dog's permission to use its photograph in a magazine; and you would not ask a young woman's permission to publish her poetry. It just so happened that he and I had the same initials; so he could rationalize to himself that he was publishing my poetry for me; but then when it was accepted, and even acclaimed, he could let people think it was his. This fellow turned out to be a rather famous scoundrel, and you will still see his name coming up occasionally. We will not sully my journal by giving it, here.

Steve once wondered whether he might have tried to seduce me. I gave him the impression, "Don't worry, he was greasy."

Okay, now, at 14, in 1830, at some point Steve surmises that I started the first of our winter tutoring sessions. Which is to say, after the harvest, when a farm boy would have fewer pressing chores. So I was attending a class, but I also had a student--and I fell in love with him. I had loved him from afar for many years, because, as you may recall from other journal entries, he had rescued me from a group of tormenting local girls when I was a child. We have been over all this, before. But I loved him; and I was psychic, and my mother had taught me the divining arts, which were passed down to her from her Scottish heritage. And what did the tea leaves and other arts tell me--as well as my heart? They told me that we were meant for each other; that fate had brought us together again. Yes, "again," because I had studied and believed in reincarnation as the driver of fate.

But Mathew, as many young men growing up on farms wished to do, yearned to be something more. He had a strong gift for story-telling and writing, and he had already lived for a time in New York City, writing for a newspaper there. He had come home for the harvest (and this is the part which could potentially be disproved, in the new information Steve is waiting for), after which I began tutoring him. How was that arranged? Steve feels that the family despaired of ever finding me a husband; and that I wanted to pursue a teaching career. So I needed training, and I also needed practice. But what they didn't guess, was that I had one, particular student in mind :-).

Matt was eager for a classical education, which had been denied him, and he liked me well enough (though his heart was set on the "town queen" who ignored him, being two years older). Actually, that was history--Matt was now a bitter, confirmed bachelor of 18! (We would just see about that.) So, the tutoring sessions began, I feel deeply in love, and he treated me like a kid, and like his teacher, at the same time. An odd sort of relationship! But then, he went back to New York in mid-December, when his studies with me were not yet complete.

I was devastated, because I had determined that if Matt was, in fact, my destined true love, from lives past, he would choose to stay. It became my test--the test of his love, and also the test of my faith in my beliefs. And that test had failed. Matt sort of patted me on the head, told me he had to seek his future in New York City, and went, anyway.

So I lost him--but it was the worst place for him to have gone, because to me, New York stood for all that was evil. Sigh...

All that leads up to this. While Steve had found that pdf version of the 1831 "Album" a few weeks ago, suddenly, a physical copy of it showed up on Ebay. It's not in very good shape, physically, but it is, nonetheless, an original copy of my poetry, which will proudly display in our little museum, someday. When it came in the mail, Steve leafed through it carefully, and found another of my poems. He also found two of what are evidentally my teacher's poems (all submitted together under "A.P."), the first of which imitates my style, and the second of which is his own style, and it is awful. Steve used that very word, "awful," where he mentioned it in our book. Good. You see, I have less sympathy for people who do wrong deliberately. They have made their bed, and they can lie in it. This person wanted fame above all else; when our book becomes a classic, he will have infamy.

But what does this new poem of mine say? I have already shared the others with you; they show me in love with Matt, and then they show me disillusioned, thinking him a "false friend" and cursing him! But such is a girl's heart. Soon, I reconciled myself, and that is because he began to write me sincerely as a friend, and to tell me about his new surroundings, and to reassure me that he was still the same ethical and moral person, whatever temptations might be there in the city. And so I was content that at least he was not being corrupted; and that he was a true friend, and loved me as a friend. I was content for that much; as it admitted of the possibility of more, someday.

But this poem I'm about to share with you, comes from the period when I was in despair. Matt had, indeed left--he had failed the test--and my beliefs had failed the test (or so I thought), as well. It appeared that the tea leaves, and the other methods I employed, were all wrong. We were not each others' true love, after all. And what of reincarnation and our past lives together? Here's what Steve thinks must have happened--I must have gone to my older sister, who didn't believe in such things, for solace. When I poured out my heart to her, and told her my reasons, she, seeing my angst, sought to relieve it by discounting everything paranormal in it. So how can a 14-year-old stand up to this? I began to doubt, and this was the impetus for this poem. But it does one interesting thing--it shows quite clearly that I had been exposed to these ideas, and that I had fully embraced them. Because whereas most poets might speak of "Fate," here, I speak of the "laws of fate." The laws of fate mean, precisely and specifically, karma. There is no other interpretation.

Steve wants to quote the medium who brought us together. But suffice it to say, she saw this from me, that I shared my metaphysical books with Matt as part of our tutoring, and that they included reincarnation--as the medium said they did. Here, however, is the first proof--IF Steve has figured out everything properly. If he finds that Mathew continued living in New York and writing for that paper "on the ground," as it were, right on through the fall and winter of 1830, then this entire scenario is busted; and Steve will have to go back to the drawing board. He is quite brave about such things, and moreover, he is honest. But I think he will not be disappointed.

This poem was written (as it appears to Steve, and as I am telling him) before Matt started writing me from New York, when my heart was broken, and my faith was being tested. What has happened, is that in facing the shock of Matt leaving me, I had first blamed him with being false; but then, I had blamed myself for imagining something false. You can see the progression--it is something, Steve says, like Dr. Kubler-Ross's "Stages of Grief." But I was right, you see--I was just too early, ahead of my time.

And there is a lesson to be gleaned from that. Perhaps, when you feel you are right, and everything seems to tell you that you are wrong--perhaps you are just early.


‘Tis sweet when bound in sorrow’s chains,
And haunting cares corrode the heart,
When music’s breath descends in vain
And wit and mirth unfelt depart;
‘Tis sweet mid this unmeasur’d gloom
Far in the past our ills to date,
To dream that life’s embitter’d doom
Was cradled in the laws of fate;
Oh, harmless falsehood, how thy beams
With mellow light o’er sorrow gleams.

‘Tis sweet on some unheeded hour,
Ere reason had assumed her sway,
And beat proud impulse to her power,
The woes of after years to lay.
Sweet are the tender dews that flow,
When self-compassion wakes the sigh,
When resignation waits on wo,
And all the sterner feelings die;
Oh, soft deceit, whose gentle balms
The self-recoiling spirit calms.

Love to each and all,