Thursday, November 19, 2015


(c) 2015 Frederick Ingram. All rights reserved.
I somehow missed Voltairine de Cleyre's birthday, November 17. I've recently penned her a song, with lyrics, music, and even a bleeding heart logo.

De Cleyre caught my attention six years ago while I was proofreading her entry in the Dictionary of Literary Biographies. It was part of a volume on 19th-century radicals. She struck me as an intensely passionate creature.

De Cleyre raged against what she saw as the unnatural shackles of the state on the human psyche. As these were what demented the assailant who shot her, she refused to testify against him and raised funds for his legal defense.

I'm thrilled to finally have finished writing this song after so many years of daydreaming about it. I think I had to grow a bit as a musician. Learning my last song "Fishbowl" on the piano, just because one was around, was my gateway into composing a whole song on a keyboard for the first time in my life. You can hear the influence on the voicings. I don't think I'm even going to learn this on the guitar, my primary instrument; rather, let it live in the world of pianists.

I'm not a real pianist yet. It will take a long time before I'm ever ready to play it in public. I have recorded a little video to document the song and will keep hacking away at the instrument until it's presentable. There's also the matter of singing it.

Doing the performing songwriter thing really is quite a bit of work; appreciate them. Especially the guys who also strap on a harmonica. I've never gone there but who knows.

I don't consider myself a radical but I'm really, really proud of my song "Voltairine" and hope it captures a bit of her essence.

(c) 2015 Frederick Ingram (BMI)

Em                               D

Life, this fiendish little thing

            B/D      A/D                  G

Crying out like a baby in the night

Em                                           D

Is there something you could bring?

B/D                  A/D                  G

Beauty, mercy, comfort, light?

Voltairine …

Bm       /           G         /

Bm       /           G         /

Strife, this “terrible tension” —

You know their numbness is a choice.

Is it far too much to mention?

Will they ever find a voice?


Voltairine …


Bm                               G

Voltairine, is it life itself that ails you?

Bm                               G

Voltairine, you’re a violet in a storm.                        

            Bm                                           A

Voltairine, there’s a roaring in your head                 


That bleeds in words so red

                                                Bm       /           G         /           Bm       /           G         /

            To fill a bright, white room …                                    Voltairine.


Wife to no one on this earth.

Neither “owning, nor being owned.”

Always laughing at the church;

You’d like to burn it down.


Exquisite rebel so divine,

A hero of your time!

Poison pen, penning poison—

What you write could be a crime.





C         D(6)     Em       /

C         D(6)     Em       /

C         D(6)     Em       /          

F#        /           /           /


Voltairine, they buried you at Waldheim

Voltairine, for you it’s hallowed ground

Voltairine, can you feel the worms now turning

            The Revolution’s burning

Can you hear the sound?

Voltairine …


And the state is a bitter little scandal

A massive slayer of our souls

All those torturers-in-chief

            Causing endless grief

In the name of God

In the name of the Crown

In the name of America ….

“Germinal! Anarchy! Liberty!”

(c) 2015 Frederick C. Ingram. All rights reserved.

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