Abby made it clear early on in our relationship, that people in the astral realm love to be read to aloud by their loved ones. It has to do with the vibration, and the essence of one's personality which comes through those vibrations--it is, she tells me, like getting a massage from one's loved one. So I read aloud to her from the English translation of La Fontaine's Fables, which in turn is a French rendering of Aesop's Fables.
The reason I have chosen this particular work (and, I read from an 1843 edition), is that this was originally Mathew's homework, when Abby was teaching him French. Abby was half-French, and French was spoken in her home (as clearly inferred by her first cousin, Charles Poyen of Mesmerism fame, in his book). Don't ask me how I have determined that Abby tutored Mathew. It's a long story, and I sensed it long before I began finding evidence for it. But, she did. Not only in French--also in the Greek classics, and other subjects. As well as metaphysics, which he wasn't so receptive to, at first.
As I have determined, when Abby died in late March of 1841 at age 24, Mathew, having imbibed the teachings of the ancient Greek Stoic philosophers, gave away everything from their relationship, including that French homework--La Fontaine's Fables, rendered in English verse. This, he must have given to his friend Elizur Wright, who, a few years later, would be his editor on the Boston "Chronotype." Mathew must have given it on condition of anonymity, so that if Wright chose to publish them, he should do it under his own name. Which he did, later that year. "The Fables of La Fontaine" were published by Wright in 1841.
However, so far as I know, Wright didn't write poetry. And what I want to emphasize, here, is how good these translations are; and how difficult the task would be. Rendering them in English is tantamount to starting from scratch. Only a gifted poet could do it. Mathew has demonstrated precisely this talent, in this particular genre (humorous poetry), and it's quite rare.
Although I can find no evidence, other than the Fables, that Wright had this talent, he was undoubtedly a brilliant man. Mathew describes him multi-tasking--let me see if I can quickly find that reference...found it, the Dec. 28, 1850 edition of the Boston "Weekly Museum," where Mathew is writing as "Quails." Incidentally, historians believe that "Quails" was written by entertainer Ossian Dodge, because he and the editor perpetuated a scam to claim it for him. But Dodge revealed himself to be a racist when he took over the paper in mid-1852. "Quails" clearly reveals himself as a personal friend of Elizur Wright who has visited his home; and there is a mention of Theodore Parker, as well. Any racist who had inadvertently said the name "Theodore Parker" would have run to wash his mouth out with soap; and it's extremely unlikely that he would set foot in the domicile of the editor of the anti-slavery paper, the "Chronotype." So this cannot possibly be Dodge. But, I digress. Here, Mathew is speaking of editors who are "some pumpkins" (one of his favorite phrases), and indicates that his friend Wright is in a whole other echelon:
Elizur Wright, of the Chronotype, of course, will not be admitted in the arena as a competitor, as he has been known to write with a pen in each hand on two different subjects, rock the cradle with his feet, and whistle "Hail Columbia" for the twin-babies, while intently perusing one of Parker's sermons, all at the same time.
This was 1850. Mathew had been a frequent contributor to the "Chronotype" for several years (including, but not exclusively, as "Ethan Spike," for which he is now known)--and he was one of its most openly radical (albeit, anonymous) writers. Mathew many times lampooned the patriotic song, "Hail Columbia," as "Ethan Spike," so this is an inside joke.
But once again, so far as I know, Wright didn't compose poetry--whereas Mathew had been writing this sort of humorous poetry since his childhood. One of the earliest examples I have of Mathew's work, is a two-layered doggerel written when he was 14 years old, published in the Boston-based "New-England Galaxy." I've shared that, before. I say "two-layered," because it was an allegory--ostensibly it was a letter describing his job as a cabinet-maker's apprentice to a cousin; but in actuality, it was commentary on a popular encyclopedia which had recently changed hands, or changed focus, or undergone some revision (and not for the best). Let me just give a few of the opening lines, here:
To My Cousin Dick at Buxton.
You ask me, dear Dick, what we're doing in town?
Tho' for ten that are doing, there's seven 'done brown.'
But, doing or done, we are all of us taking
A wonderful interest in Cabinet-making.
You have heard, I suppose, that among the odd things
Which belong to the best of Old England's good kings,
Was a curious Old Cabinet, formed of the wood
That, in George the Third's time was pronounced to be good;
Prime, well-seasoned stuff, and made up in the form
Prescribed by the 'Pilot who weathered the storm;'
'Twas costly enough, though 'twas not very showy--
would you know what it cost us, ask Aberdeen Joey.
Most of the italics indicate a pun, or a double meaning, or a hidden reference. I don't know who "Aberdeen Joey" was, but I'm sure it's a reference to a public figure. I'm just a lay historian with on-the-job training--a real academician might know the reference.
Just this morning, I read aloud to Abby one of the La Fontaine fables, from Mathew's homework assignments, published by Wright. A few of these are written in this same doggerel rhyming style, and this is one of them. You will recognize the style, for example, from "The Night Before Christmas," which was published anonymously in 1823. I don't know that Mathew wrote it; he would have been only 11 years old. But he could have, inasmuch as he was only three years older when he wrote the poem, above. I'm not claiming it--it just sort of struck me this morning.
But in any case, he did write this: "The Fox With His Tail Cut Off."
I've got to post this and get ready for a work shift. Enjoy.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "The Children's Waltz," by The Free Design,
from the children's album, "Sing For Very Important People"