-Marcia A Taylor
1881 - 1969
This poet is perhaps the most mysterious of all my obscure poetesses. Marcia Adelle Taylor was born on 27 July 1881 in Caribou, Maine to parents William Henry Taylor (Civil war vet - private in 17th Maine Infantry) and Adelle M Page. Marcia had three elder brothers; Jesse, Russel and Josiah and an elder sister Ella as well as a younger sister, Harriette ("Hattie"). The family lived in Burlington, ME for a time and then moved to Bangor, where it seems she spent most of her childhood and the final years of her life.
Marcia never married. It is possible that she was homosexual, as she is listed in several census reports as living with Rachel A Hall, who was teaching at a business school (in Cambridge, MA 1920). Marcia herself worked as a life insurance saleswoman for her father's insurance agency, W.H. Taylor and Sons Insurance Co.
Rachel is listed as "boarder", but Marcia was renting the home. In 1930 the pair was listed as living in Boston, but Marcia also appears as living in Maine with her mother and two sisters in that year. Perhaps she moved back to Bangor for part of 1930, or her mother listed her as a member of her household even though she wasn't living in the house. Marcia and Rachel were still sharing a home in 1940 at 16B Washington Ave. in Chelsea, Massachusetts. This time Rachel is listed as head of household with Marcia as "partner".
Another clue that Marcia and Rachel may have been lovers is a small poem that is included in Marcia's book. Although she never married, she wrote this tender little poem to...... someone!
Marcia Adelle Taylor
Marcia with sisters Ella
(standing) and Hattie (left)
Beloved is a star dipped word,
A witching word, a happy word,
A radiant, fragrant, jewelled word,
A synonym for you!
Would she use the words "radiant, fragrant, jewelled" for a man? It doesn't seem so.
I can't find much about Rachel, except that she was probably the child of Frank Hall and Alice Bently, was born 19 September 1885, and died 11 December 1952 in Bangor at age 64. We will never know for sure, but it could be that Marcia and Rachel were a life-long, devoted gay couple.
While we don't know with certainty about her enigmatic roommate/partner Rachel, we do know that Marcia came to a tragic end. On 28 November 1969, when she was 88 years old, Marcia perished in a horrific fire at her home at 263 Pine Street in Bangor, Maine where she lived alone. The article from the newspaper can be read below.
It seems strange to me that they ruled the fire accidental when it appeared to have started in multiple areas of the house. What would cause flames to burst out from basement to attic? And Marcia had two match sticks in her hand? Perhaps it is over-dramatic to speculate, but it seems that she herself may have set her own house on fire, for some reason. But would she burn herself to death? Seems a very gruesome way to choose to leave this world. Yet what other explanation is there? Marcia did write about suicide and death, which the visitor may read below, and draw their own conclusions.
Marcia published her poetry book, Dweller in the Sun, in 1930 when she was 49 years old. On the title page it says "by Marcia A Taylor, author of The Cup, etc." I have found no other reference to The Cup. She also wrote a book called The Open Gate in 1950 at age of 69. This is listed as fiction by the reprint companies who offer it for sale, but it is only 36 pages, so it could be a short story. One day I'll acquire the book and update!
Dweller in the Sun
by Marcia A Taylor
From the Sixth Floor
They pass in gray array
Along the crowded way!
Red and violet and green!
Now and then a black is seen.
Why mourning on a day of snow?
See the green and scarlet go!
The purple one's a gay affair!
The green one steps as though on air!
The red one goes with laugh and shout!
The brown one's turning inside out, ....
As though to show its rage!
The black one walks... with... age.
Green umbrellas! Red umbrellas!
Umbrellas! See them go!
An army of umbrellas
Marching in the snow!
Is a toe dancer
Who trips over the rim of the earth
In gorgeous draperies,
And the world is filled
Is a brightly colored bird
That flies away into the woods
Of night, leaving the world
In velvet shadows.
Is a magician
Who spreads a cloak
Of midnight blue
Over the tired world
And hovers near
Is a black vulture
That patrols the sea of mind
And carries off faith and courage
In his cruel beak, leaving nothing
But a ripple widening in contempt
At human weakness.
So this is Death?
This sudden ease of pain,
This coming out of darkness
To far light of stars?
This gift of instant freedom,
This sense that all is well,
Clear sound of distant harmonies,
The vast, unfolding Light?
Is a quiet pool
In which to rest
A Bright Smile
I have forgotten
Many things, but I remember
A smile you flung at me
Over your shoulder,....
A bright smile
On a dull morning
Like a sudden flash
Of a crimson-breasted bird
Seen in swift passing!
A bright smile you gave me
Making vivid my grey
Is the dry stalk
Of a once thrifty plant
That blazed with color.
Of translucent red,
Midnight shadows of violet,
And elusive odor of yellow roses
Pay little unexpected visits
To us and the dry plant
Takes fresh root
And blooms again.
Dweller in the Sun
The snow is falling softly, covering all
With fleecy whiteness: only the poplars stand
Against the wall, naked and strong and tall,
Defying northern winds, — the icy hand
Of winter reaching out across the land.
White flakes have draped each larch with finest lace:
Red cedars gaily flaunt an ermine band,
Each shrub, with small bowed head is saying grace,
As God in robes of white, reveals His friendly face.
is a white bird
That comes at dusk
Singing a lullaby....
I have thrown off the shackles of old memories,
Cast them aside like so much baggage at the terminal,--
Old memories that tear and sear and scorch
With their tongues of flame, they weigh down and depress.
What have I to do with old memories and vain regrets
Covered with the cobwebs of forgotten years
Like old clothes left hanging in the attic?
I put the bomb of laughter underneath them,
Then touched it off with the glowing match of joy,
And they lie shattered like so many nothings!
After all, the tapestry grows threadbare with the years:
I have torn it in fragments with my thoughts!
Left it in shreds for the ragbag of discarded things.
Thoughts are potent things, live, vibrant things!
They make us what we are and what we will become!
What have I to do with old memories and vain regrets?
My soul is full of laughter! I am free!
I am happy! I am a DWELLER IN THE SUN!