New Draft

April 17, 2007

Hmmm…seems that last ‘fragment’ post ended up containing nearly enough to be the whole thing. This is the fresh version of it-I’ll carry on tweeking it in this post, so I don’t take out anything from the last I might need later…

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-never wanted fame;
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.
Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name-
is Elizabeth,
Elizabeth Heyrick,
wife of John, John
who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction –

dead now.
He was old and I was young –
heart attack and me at only
26-but when he went
he let me go –
like a dove


Dear John,

It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

Hello – pleased to meet you.
My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick-wife of John
born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
yes?

William Wilberforce.
1769-1833.
Politician,
philanthropist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves-

William hated me. You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those manly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

Heyrick believed that women
were especially qualified
‘to plead
for the oppressed’

Well I rather think I did-
I guess I lacked a little patience
when it came to
woman being raped,
men in chains and
babies being sold
like they were slabs of meat.

I wanted it all to stop
immediately

William-
he wanted to take things
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves,
for now. But he
didn’t get the urgency. He’d
never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

*****
In the early 1820’s
Heyrick shocked those around her
By openly sympathizing
with the West Indies

slave revolts

and I’ll tell you something else I did.
Back home in Leicester
I went door to door
calling for a boycott
on slave grown sugar-

and I mobilized the woman-
the ones in the kitchens
buying the sugar
to fold in the puddings,
to stir in their husbands tea-

And they understood.
And they stopped buying it.

Are you listening to me?
I know I’m probably going on a bit
but I’ve been so cold
for quite some time…

Elizabeth Heyrick,
helped to form
the Birmingham Ladies’ Society
for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The group would subsequently change its name
to the Female Society for Birmingham.

John,
when all was said and done
I did miss you-
it’s just,
for the first time
in nearly 30 years
I finally felt free.

In 1824
Elizabeth Heyrick
published her seminal work
Immediate not Gradual Abolition

It was in stark contrast
to the gradualistic position
of the mainstream society.

William
Do you remember what you did?
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William,
do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.

What were your words..?

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William-

when it came to woman
you really didn’t get us-
did you?

In 1830
Elizabeth Heyrick submitted a motion
to the National Conference of Wilberforce’s Society
She called for it to demand
a direct end to slavery.

Dear John,
we begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways-
but when they didn’t work
we pointed to the money.

Heyrick’s network was the 5th largest donor
to Willberforce’s Party

and when our 73 different cells
threatened to withdraw that funding-
William Wilberforce, had to take us
much more seriously.

In a time of male dominance,
Elizabeth Heyrick succeeded
in assuring the abolition of slavery.

But I never lived to see it.
the bill we pushed was passed
in 1833 – I died
in 31 –
just too early.

John,
I remember you-
but even back in Leicester
very few remember me

Hello out there-
had any of you even
heard of me..?

Google me.
Go on, Google me:
2 silhouettes,
4 photos of my pamphlet
and more pictures of Wilberforce
than you’ll find of me.

A woman is a woman is a woman
and no one even thought
to keep a drawing.

Still-
I never wanted fame.
We wanted Justice
We wanted Freedom
We wanted liberation.

And here we are
you and me-
free at last to speak

It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start…

-haven’t we?

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2 Responses to “New Draft”

  1. charlotte said

    We blacks had some great strong people back in slavery

    I want to think them all,and i never want to forget that they build this country,and what some great wods u have here, i love it

  2. Absolutely agreed-the end of slavery had as much to do with black activists as anyone else. It’s such a hard subject to deal with and I may have some more work to do on this piece – but really glad you like it. Thanks.

    Lydia

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