Last Words

By Genevieve Taggard

Sitting before a typewriter trying to write about George. (George, I never expected to have to do this.) What shall you say when he himself chose silence? (George, I know every turn of the road, although it was yours to walk on.) How is it possible to write one unreal word of the dead, when they have chosen its honesty and wanted its naturalness? (George, you were limited by the time you lived in, and by the beliefs of your generation, but so are we all.) I prefer to talk to him directly. He will understand me. Readers of this troubled prose, don't suppose that this is a literary tribute to a man who gave me praise and kindness and a poet's acknowledgment. (You did, George, and I will not forget.) This is sitting down at the typewriter to unravel the old problem—Death, Poetry, Indifferent Humanity, and the concrete being of a Person, George Sterling. (I think of your poet's years in terms of pain, because you wanted something you did not achieve.) A poet, under all his masks, wants to be able to give people what they need. And when they neither know what they need, nor find by accident what he has put close to them (hoping they will find it if just made and left to be found), then inevitably the poet dies. (I knew you were dying, George, when last I saw you). It is no one's fault. (You wanted someone to feed them, no matter who.) Now it is time to give him honor and burial. (Let them remember the Black Vulture, George, aloof on the day's immeasurable dome.) What shall we say now, when he himself chose silence?

Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine (1868-1935); Dec 1927; Vol LXXXV, Number 12, pg.368.