Tag Archives: Pearl Curran

Descriptive Writing

JEWISH_TEMPLE00000020The opening of Chapter XIII of the book ‘Panda’, the first of a trilogy of books written by Pearl Curran  and Patience Worth which were published as ‘The Sorry Tale’ in 1917 provides a good example of one of the descriptive writing styles of Patience Worth. I think it is rather simple writing and at times choppy perhaps but if one reads it carefully and slowly letting the images form in one’s mind, I think that it provides a very good example of Patience Worth’s ability to generate a sense of place.

Patience Worth used different writing styles in her published works and ‘The Sorry Tale’ is unique in that language usage and writing style seem to be especially created by Patience Worth for this work.  The language is Modern English but the grammar and form are a creation of Patience Worth. The style can be confusing as it seems to be written as one who was present at the time.  Characters walk into the scene and speak without being named and some characters have several names so at times one does not know who is speaking until much later in the narrative.

It is difficult for me  to believe that Pearl Curran wrote this either from her conscious mind or from her subconsciousness mind.  Pearl Curran had a limited  formal education, having had to drop out of the first year of high school due to illness when she was  around 14 or 15 years old.  She claimed to have had no interest in writing or history and she never traveled outside of the central part of the United States prior to writing ‘The Sorry Tale.’

One may get a sense of actually being there as the scene unfolds.  Perhaps Pearl Curran or Patience Worth was just reporting what she saw 2000 years ago when she danced as  the “white mist” Theia for the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

CHAPTER XIII

The morn spread forth the golded tresses of the sun, and lo, a star still rested upon a cloud bar.  And Jerusalem slept.  The temples stood whited, and the market’s place shewed emptied.  Upon the temple’s pool the morn-sky shewed, and doves bathed within the waters at its edge.

Beside the market’s way camels lay, sunk upon their folded legs, and chewed, their mouths slipping o’er the straw, and tongues thrust forth to pluck up more for chewing.  The hides shewed like unto a beggar’s skull, hair fallen off o’er sores.

The day had waked the tribes, and narrowed streets shewed bearded men, and asses, packed.  The temple priests stood forth upon the stoned steps and blew upon the shell that tribesmen come.  From out the pillared place the smoke of incense curled, and within the stone made echo of the chants and sandals-fall of foot.

And tribes sought out the place, and lo, like unto ants they swarmed up and o’er the steps, to sit and make wisdom of the wording of the priests.

And merchants spread forth their wares upon the temple steps that they who came from out should see. Bent and shrunk like unto the skins of ox, they sat and whined, hands spread forth o’er the wares.  Filthed hands bore fruits, and faces dead looked out from swathing of cloth; and they whined, and shewed sores and twisted limbs.

Beside the pool stooped women who put therein their hands and cast drops upon withered greens.  One, dark and black-locked, held  between her knees a youth of young years and searched within his locks for abominations, but stopping that she eat from off a fruit that lay beside.  Within the market’s place the merchants brought forth cloths and hung, spread wide o’er the bins, and shewed of breads and fishes and jewels and cloths and skins.  And made word one unto another of the wares.

A beggar squatted at the road’s skirt plucking at his scabs, and grinned unto the passers through his whines.

Within the walls the men of other lands came forth.  And smells sent them up unto the day, scents of spice and fruits and filth.  And the wall’s gate had been oped since the light and the beggars came within like dreams unto night.

The patter of ass’s hoof sounded upon the stoned street and brown-stained lad came after, shouting unto the market men: “Water!  Water, that ye sup!”

And lo, upon the ass there hung two jugs of skin.  And the man came forth and brought out bowls.  And he loosed the jugs and sat them upon his hip that he pour forth.  And they supped and wiped their beards upon their hands and their hands upon their mantles.

And there came from out the narrow street a maiden, who wore o’er her face a cloth, and she bore a tray of fruits and blooms.  And upon her arms there shewed copper bands, and at her ankles they shewed, and the flesh of her bare legs was stained green with their touching.  And o’er her breast hung a broad strand of black locks, and her bosom shewed dark beneath the white cloth that covered it.  And within her ears hung hoops of metal.  And she chanted of her wares and cast sharp glances unto the market’s men.  And the youths of the market’s men called unto her and held up moneys, and lo, she cast down her eyes and saw them not.

“Nada hath tucked her heart with the blooms.” said the market’s men, and Nada shrugged and cast bloom unto the men.

And lo, the lad of the water jugs looked up unto her and the dark skin of her cheek burned.  And the men laughed loud and spake:

“Nada hath loving for the white-skin of Rome.  Yea, but the sun of Jerusalem hath darkened him.  Lucius, thou knowest she looketh unto thee at the every day!”

And he shewed his white teeth in smiling.  And lo, there came forth from out the bin that shewed of jewels that looked precious, a one bent, whose beard shewed long and black and who rubbed his hands one upon the other.  And they called his name “Jacob.”

And Nada looked unto him with frowning and spake:

“Thou Jew!  Thinkest thou that seeking out upon the roadway thou mayest tempt the hoard of him!  Lucius, he hath seen thee take of moneys and seeketh thee that thou shalt spend within the bin of him!”

And Jacob spread forth his hands and smiled and made words of lamentation, and spake of the jewels he had within his bin, that, should they seek, would rob him of his bread, so little did they bring and so much had he put forth for their buying.  And Nada said:

“Lest then we do thee wrong, we seek thee not.”

The Language of TELKA

TelkaThere are some people who think that Pearl Curran wrote, if not from her conscious mind, then from her subconscious mind.  That is, information about the language, locations and history she wrote about must have been gathered somehow by her conscious mind and stored in her subconscious to be pieced together, bit by bit,  to produce authentic-sounding historical stories about Medieval England, England during the 1600s, Victorian England or Palestine and its surrounds of 2000 years ago.

However you want to look at it, whether Pearl Curran wrote the poems, plays and novels or Patience Worth dictated them, the trick was amazing.  Just how could someone like Pearl Curran or Patience Worth with a very limited formal education and not very worldly by any definition, do that!  Is it possible that a woman with a grade-school education; one who had not traveled farther than Missouri, Texas or Illinois; who had no dreams to become a writer; who had only read one or two childhood novels, who had little or no interest in poetry and who reported discombobulated knowledge of history and geography could write material acclaimed by numerous  experts of literature to be outstanding if not superior to the writing of recognized authors?

The evidence of Patience Worth perhaps is not of the type that most people want to hear or read about.  It is not what one would expect in the grocery store tabloid.  Patience Worth does not predict the future; there is no finding of lost jewelry or persons, there are no messages from the dearly departed relatives, there are no apports, disembodied voices or apparitions of any sort.  In lieu of those phantasms, Pearl Curran left behind a tangible collection of materials that anyone may consider first-hand. Her evidence is not hearsay or second or third-hand information.   No— it exists in the language of her poems, plays, novels and ‘table-talk’ during sittings with Patience Worth.

Casper Yost who participated in sittings with Patience Worth and who subsequently wrote the first book about her apparently agrees!  He wrote one of the best, if not the only serious discussion of the language used by Patience Worth in her medieval poem ‘Telka’ and I highly recommend that those who are interested in language as evidence read his article.  It can be found at the end of Telka or  in Walter Franklin Prince’s book The Case of Patience Worth.  Casper Yost, when discussing the evidence for Patience Worth writes that, “It is the locutions of Telka, and in particular the vocabulary and the uses of that vocabulary, that are, I believe, miraculous.” Yost continues by saying:

The Story of Telka contains about sixty thousand words, and about nine-tenths of it is in dialogue.  From beginning to end it is rhythmical; not a hidden rhythm such as may be found in the works of many great writers of prose, but a regularly recurring accent in the iambic measure that dominates the entire work.  That is not to say that it is metrically precise.  It is far from that; but the ruling cadence never wholly disappears, and at times it flows from many lines with hardly a break in the rhythm.

Epics of this length are not numerous.  Love stories of ten thousand lines which Telka approximates, are rare in poetic form.  And love stories in metre, with plots that are carried forward with the ease and steady progression of a modern novel, without a diversion from the central theme, are, to say the least, unusual.  So it would seem to be justifiable to assert that a story of this extent and character, put in rhythmical speech, without monotony of cadence; a story that while it has high poetic qualities yet arouses and holds the active interest of the reader in the narrative to the end, is in itself a remarkable achievement..  .  .  it is the locutions of Telka, and in particular the vocabulary and the uses of that vocabulary, that are, I believe, miraculous.  I have said that practically every word in it is of Anglo-Saxon origin or usage.  By that I mean about ninety per cent. of it is of that derivation, as I shall show later.  The remaining ten per cent. is composed of old French, with an occasional Scandinavian word, and, rarely one of Celtic, or direct Latin origin.  .  .  .  it is the southern dialect (of England) that the language of Telka, as well as the language customarily used by Patience Worth subsequent to the beginning of Telka, is most closely allied.  There is in it more of the words and idioms peculiar to, or most prevalent in, that region, at the present time as well as in the past, and she has given reason to believe that if she could communicate vocally her pronunciation would be southern.  Yet the dialect of Telka is not wholly southern.  If it were its sources might be definitely fixed.  But it contains word and phrase forms peculiar to the north, others that are of the colloquial usage of the east or the west or the middle shires, either at present or in the past.  It seems not to be the language of any period of England nor of any locality of England.  I am unable to find that, in the form she gives it, it was ever written or ever spoken.  It has words of various periods as well as of various localities.

One looks in vain through the recorded speech of England, from Ælfric to Chaucer, from Chaucer to Shakespeare, from Shakespeare to the present, for anything with which to compare it.  Far exceeding Chaucer in the preponderance of Anglo-Saxon words, it bears not the slightest resemblance to Chaucer.  Retaining some of the forms of middle English, it shows no general likeness to the works of any writer of the middle English period.  Having much in common with what is technically termed modern English, from 1500 to the present, it differs in many particulars from every writer and every century of this chronological division.  Nor does it seem possible, dialectical as it is, to identify it with the dialect of any time or of any section.

The language of Telka is, it would seem, a composite of dialects, a tongue that is in a sense artificial, although it contains few words that have not the authority of usage, and it is by no means certain that the exceptions are lacking in authority, for all sources have not been examined.  .  .  .  I believe it is safe to say that no book since the days of Layamond, with the exception of Wickliffe’s Bible, is as exclusively Anglo-Saxon as this work of Patience Worth’s ..  .  .  I have found that an average of about ninty per cent. of them are of Anglo-Saxon origin, accepting Webster as a sufficient authority for such derivations, and including the pre-Norman Scandinavian words.  .  .  .  I am inclined to believe that not fifty words in the entire book are of direct Latin or Greek origin, and I venture the assertion that, with a single exception, there is not one word of later entry into the language than the year sixteen hundred.  .  .  .  It is true that Anglo-Saxon is the essential framework of our language, and it is difficult to write a single sentence of length without using Anglo-Saxon words, but it is also somewhat difficult to write a single sentence wholly in words of Anglo-Saxon origin that would not be commonplace, and I do not believe that any one could write and speak rapidly, fluently and beautifully, as Patience does, so restricted. .  .  . at no time since the beginning of English, as we now know it, in the fourteenth century has there been any writing having more than seventy percent. Anglo-Saxon with the single exception of the Bible, which Weisse gives seventy-seven percent.  Weise does not include Wickliffe’s Bible in his calculations, although he analyzes a single paragraph.  This, although written late in the fourteenth century, is almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon in its verbal origins, and the relatively pure Anglo-Saxon of our King James Version of the Bible is in many cases due to the influence exerted upon its translators by Wickliffe’s remarkable work.  When the figures here given are compared with the ninety per cent. of Telka, it is to be seen that this product of the present has but a single precedent in this particular (Wickliffe) until we get back to the thirteenth century when Anglo-Saxon was still unmixed with French, at least in the speech of the common people.

But the Anglo-Saxon of Telka bears little resemblance to the Anglo-Saxon of Layamon, or even of Wickliffe.  It is modern in the form of most of its words.  It retains few or none of the old Anglo-Saxon inflexions.  There are not a dozen words in it that are obsolete as a whole.  There are many words that are obsolete in the forms she gives them, but their stems are in constant use today.

And it is her construction, more even than her vocabulary, that is peculiar and individual.  She has no reverence for the parts of speech, and little respect for the holiest rules of syntax.  “I be dame,” she says, and therefore not amenable to rule.  If it suits her to make a noun, an adjective, or even a preposition do service as a verb, it is done.  If she wishes to make a noun of an adjective, so be it. .  .  .  But not all the words and locutions that are contrary to accepted standards of the present are without authority of usage in other times.  Patience has said that she is not attached to precedent.  “I be a builder ‘pon word,” she says,“for doth it to stand at low I then do fetch a-high and set at up and make o’ that that be not that that be.”  And one can imagine a twinkle in her eye when she adds, “Thee’dst merry at the word awaked that knoweth not itself.”

It is an interesting and pertinent fact in this connection that the Elizabethan age, with which Patience Worth seems to be most closely associated, was one in which grammatical forms had least stability.  There was in all the leading writers of the period a striking disregard of the precise functions of the parts of speech, and this was especially characteristic of Shakespeare.  “Almost any part of speech can be used as any other part of speech,” says Professor Abbot in his “A  Shakesperian Grammar,” referring to Elizabethan English in general.  “An adverb can be used as a verb, as a noun or as an adjective.  Any noun, adjective, or neuter verb can be used as an active verb.  An adjective can be used as an adverb or as a noun.  Every variety of grammatical inaccuracy meets us.”  The reason for all of this is found in the transitional state of the language, but the fact is a further proof that even in her grammatical anomalies, Patience is in accord with her time.

“Telka, then, is unique in its Anglo-Saxon purity, in its combination of dialectal forms of various localities and various periods, in some of its grammatical peculiarities, and in its diversions or extensions of verbal meanings.  Is it conceivable that anyone would attempt to create such a speech for literary purposes?  What purpose could be accomplished that would not be attained with greater ease and greater certainty by simpler methods? But conceding this attempt, how should it be done?  Setting aside the difficulty of acquiring a vocabulary of English words of Anglo-Saxon origin and skill in their idiomatic use, to the total exclusion of the vastly greater number of modern words with which our minds are saturated, let us assume that the one attempting this thing is already steeped in philological lore, has a thorough knowledge of English etymology, and the ability to separate almost intuitively the Anglo-Saxon words in his vocabulary from those derived from other sources.  I doubt if any philologist has that faculty, but let us admit that he has, and is able to think and express his thoughts in that restricted speech.  Could he make it the vehicle for a literary work of poetic character, intensely emotional, dramatical and spiritual?  I have said that in the dark period between the Norman Conquest and the days of Chaucer the Anglo-Saxon tongue lost many of its words, and the greatest loss was in those of a literary character, for the reason that literature in the vernacular was dead, and it was only the terms of colloquial speech that survived.  .  .  .  And Dr. Murray says: “When the educated generation that saw the arrival of the Norman died out, the language, ceasing to be read and written, lost all its literary words.  The words of ordinary life, whose preservation is independent of books, lived on as vigorously as ever, but the literary terms, those that related to science, art and higher culture, the bold, artistic compounds, the figurative terms of poetry, were speedily forgotten.  The poetical vocabulary shrank to a fraction of it former extent.”

Casper Yost concludes by saying that anyone,

.  .  .  who attempted this thing would require much more than a knowledge of Anglo-Saxon derivatives, and their middle and modern English forms and meanings.  He would have to know Norman- French words in order to make even a small use of them, and to know many English dialects.  A working knowledge of dialects is hardly to be acquired from books.  One who attempts to write a contemporaneous dialect story without having an auricular acquaintance with the dialect he presents is undertaking a difficult and somewhat dangerous task.  How much more difficult is it to make use of an archaic dialect for which there is no written guide except the fragmentary utterances of provincial characters in old stories and plays or the comparatively rare dialectal ballads and folk songs.

Yet, conceding that the one who is attempting this feat has acquired all the general and special knowledge of words and idioms required for the purpose, he has still to weave a composite of dialects in with a restricted literary language, and make of the mixture a harmonious and beautiful fabric; he has still to put it to use as a vehicle for poetry, for fiction, for the expression of emotion, of a warring of the material with the spiritual and a triumph of the spirit; for the making of pictures as delicate and ethereal as the cobwebs that sometimes drift across the vision on a summer’s day.  Where is the man, or the woman, who can do this, consciously or subconsciously?

Here is a representative example, chosen at random, of the language in Telka taken from the opening paragraphs of Chapter XI, Page 120.  For the full text of Telka see this link.

      The heaven’s eye a-closed at sink o’ moon.  Night’s cool and sweets put silence, a-musiced with winged scrape and notes o’ birds, who wait at eager for the morn and spill o’ note unto the night.  The sun’s robe a-crimsoned, floateth like to a veil up and o’er the gray, till questioning he riseth for to look where night hath hid her loves.  Paths a-show be-glistened, and flower’s- cup waketh for to ope and drink.  Sleep a-hangs e’en ‘pon the morn, and night holdeth sway within the walls a-high.
     Rich silken-covered couch a-standeth it ‘mid gray, where thredding o’ its strand a-showeth not.  RICARDO, bowed deep in dark, a-stopped o’ sleep, a-claspeth blade and shield, a-rest ‘pon him a-stilled.
Soft-whirred the wing o’bird by lattice where dew doth bead.  A rose-light creepeth it athin.  Morn’s breeze, a-born with sun, seeketh it a-through and sootheth it ‘bout the twain a-clasped in sleep.
      Curls, a-loosed from tuck, shower ‘bout the face a-bent.  A-start, wide-eyed, she looketh as a dream.  Sigh, born from out the heart, slippeth ‘pon the air.  The cradled form stirreth, and sway, the TELKA putteth soft hum and sway.

For those not familiar with the archaic language of Patience Worth, with great forbearance allow me to attempt a translation of the above.  I cringe at doing this as any translation is a desecration of a piece of literary art but perhaps by comparison one can see how extraordinary and creative the words of Patience Worth really are.  I find I am not satisfied with any translation I could make, but if you can stand it, read this macerated attempt and then go back and read and reread the beautiful descriptions and metaphors of Patience Worth in this opening to Chapter IX.

It was early morning and the moon had slipped below the horizon.  The birds and crickets, silent during the night, begin to waken as the sun slowly rises.  The roads are wet with water and the flowers are covered with dew.  The world is slowly awakening, except within the castle walls where it is still dark. Ricardo is seen upon a couch, sound asleep holding his sword and shield on his chest as he dozes.  The birds begin to flutter and the rosy light of dawn highlights two people asleep in each other’s arms.  Telka, with her hair hanging about her face is seen as beautiful as she sighs, and then hums to her baby as she rocks its cradle.

Now tell me how, in God’s green acres, did Pearl Curran write this out of her subconscious mind, one letter at a time on the Ouija board?  Remember, this story came quickly as a stream of letters, unparsed and unpunctuated.  Well, of course according to some critics, Pearl Curran must have read old English literature at some time in her life or heard philologists speaking it and stored it in her subconscious to be brought forward word by word to be arranged as beautiful and meaningful poetry.

Occasionally someone criticizes the  language of Patience Worth by saying that it has more of a Scottish dialect in it than a southern English dialect especially when Patience speaks in her 16th century tongue.  Irving Litvag points out in his book Singer in The Shadows that Patience Worth had said that her father was English and that her mother was Scottish.  Perhaps that could account for the amount of Scottish words in the default language of Patience Worth.

 

AWFUL SILENCE OF GOD

Moonrise-in-the-Woods

A  lot of examples of poems by Patience Worth printed in various articles about her are, to save space, the shorter ones.  Often only a line or two are given as examples of her writing.  The following poem is one of her longer poems taken from a collection of her poetry published in 1923 by her friend, Herman Behr in a collection titled “Light From Beyond”.   Arguably, parsing might be changed which I find often helps me to understand the meaning of her poems and sometimes reading them quickly—out loud, makes the meaning clearer for me.   Perhaps this poem will speak to others in a way it does not speak to me; that is the genius of her work.    I therefore will resist the temptation to give my interpretation of this poem.

I would like to remind the reader that Pearl Curran received many of these poems one letter at a time, unpunctuated in rapid order, using the Ouija Board as a “thought dispeller” as she listened to ‘Patience Worth’ or saw visions in her mind. Later on, Pearl Curran discarded the Ouija Board and simply repeated the words as she heard them.  She often said she did not understand the poetry as she was discerning it. I have a difficult time accepting that poetry like this came from the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran.  Although she was not an unintelligent person, according to those who knew her she was not capable of poetry such as this.

 

GOD’S ANSWERING SILENCE

When I would seek my God and know Him;
When I would feel my God and see Him;
When I would list to the gentle murmur of His tongue—
Listening, listening, listening, would I stand
Praying for a sound that might give me the key
To the awful silence which oppresseth me!

In the hours when bedlam teems
Like a turbulent ocean o’er the earth;
When the wrathful waters sweep
Torrentially against the walled ways;
Within these shrieking instants, I stand awed
Before the awful silence of my God.

Heaven may descend, and, licking ‘cross the field,
Wipe the verdant valleys dry of dew,
Blot the sunlight, sweep the waters
In a flooding toward the sea.
Within this anguish there is naught for me but silence,
And I stand awed before the awful silence of my God.

To hunger as a wolf whose vitals gnaw;
To lick my thirsty lips in anguish at their parch;
To let my aching eyes gaze up into the sun,
Burning their pits dry, while my heart
Beneath the thirst crumbles and sifts
Like dusts between my ribs!

What if my throat gives up an awful cry!
What should I gaze into the silent sky,
And bay defiance at the Lord!
Lo, before the awful silence of my God–
I am dismayed!

I cannot, cannot fill my empty ears of silence.
I cannot, cannot stay the parch with dry instants,
Tongueless atoms of the slipping hours.
I cannot, cannot see within the empty arch
A promise writ upon the moon’s face or the sun.
Must I then flatten on the parched earth and die,
Letting my mould become a part of greater moulds.
Waiting some breeze of some far distant morn,
To spray my atoms ‘cross a verdant field,
That they take root and grow anew?

If in the arguments of man
I find an empty cup, and there be a God,
Why doth silence fill the thing?
Shall I live these tedious hours of torment,
Giddily following a phantom promise,
Drunk upon the interlacing of the path
That leads me on, with no conviction, no assurance?
My soul revolts!  My spirit cries aloud unto
The great and awful Power which tortureth it;
The chaos of Eternity flinging it forth
With a question upon its lips—-
And no answer in its ears!

Make a hapless bowl with no office to perform,
Save stand upon a cliff and let the rains
Of heaven descend, or stand and dry
For want of filling;
To feel the awful chill of realization!
Consciousness shrinks at the chaos of eternity!
I, in my finite being may touch the pot,
May feel the cool, the sweating of its cheek;
May tip its lips, and lay them, sweet to mine;
May pour the water of my soul
In a fount of loving forth, embracing,
Embracing its rude clay, but confident,
That I upon my breast do hold the pot.
I, in my finite being may feel
The exaltation of the God-stream touch!

My soul inflates with lurid, vague imaginings,
Half consciousness, half imbued with dreams.
The midnight sky which fits the canopy
Beneath which I seek in blindness, rifts,
And lo, the lightnings descend upon me,
And I find my tongue hath seven points,
And mine eyes behold the pageantry
Of dreams, passing in that mid-land
Twixt the finite and the infinite!
Mine ears deep, and the depths they reach
Make my heart flutter as a bird within
A wicker hung, fearful of the half-gleaned Truth!
Before the awfulness of the silence of my God my lips unlock,
And I blindly prate rust-bitten wisdoms—
A false sling which falleth short to carry
The stone I would hurl at the great God’s heart!

Before this impertinence I confront His silence!
And my foolish lips close, and I wait
With confidence the tide, when my ears shall be
More pitlike, deeper, and I may hear
The still, small voice, singing in The Void-land of Eternity.

I am confused with listening and forget to feel !

Patience the Puritan.

PuritanWomanReading

PuritanWomanReading2Recently William Dorian commented on a recent post about evidence of Patience Worth having lived in England during the 1600s.  Mr. Dorian was a friend of Eileen Curran, daughter of Pearl Curran and Eileen was able to share her remembrances of her mother and Patience Worth with Mr. Dorian.  Part of his comment  to me was that Eileen recalled that  Patience Worth said that, as a Puritan woman she was not allowed to put pen to paper. That sounded about right to me but I wanted to research a little bit about Puritanism before I thought there was any validity to what Patience reportedly said.   As it turned out, after a cursory review of several articles about Puritanism it seemed to be true that the formal education of Puritan girls was very limited.   More than 60 percent of them could not even write their own name.   Most of their education focused on reading the Bible and apparently after about age 5 their education consisted of learning household chores including needlework, spinning yarn, cooking, gardening, obeying their husbands and producing and raising children.  They may have learned a little arithmetic and writing as part of their duties of keeping track of household expenses but creative writing was not taught nor expected of Puritan girls.  (Limited availability of paper and ink in 17th century Puritan society may also have been factor preventing rustic girls from becoming creative writers.)  Boys continued in school with the goal of entering University, provided of course that their family had the means and status to send them for further study,

Now why is this minor detail significant in the Patient Worth/Pearl Curran story?  Well, first of all, Dr. Stephen Braude, Ph.D. in his book Immortal Remains used it as a reason that the Patient Worth persona may have in fact been a secondary personality of Pearl Curran hidden deep in her subsconscious mind to be brought forth whenever Patience Worth was called upon to ‘perform’.   One of his reasons for conjecturing that opinion was because, if there were a real Patience Worth living in England in the 1600s why didn’t she write her novels, poems and aphorisms at that time?  Why didn’t she leave a ‘treasure trove’, so to speak, of her work?  Why don’t we have evidence today by serendipitously finding her writings hidden somewhere in England ?

Well, considering the above comment from Patience, if we can bring ourselves to believe William Dorian and his second-hand information from Eileen Curran—Pearl Curran’s daughter, then Eileen’s comment that Patience Worth had said that she, as a Puritan girl, was not allowed to put pen to paper  and furthermore, if we entertain Worth’s documented comment that ‘What wench ever itched for a pen when she had a tongue to wag’, then, I think we have a reason why Patience Worth did not leave behind a literary portfolio written in the 1600s.

And of course, if the real Patience Worth were a frustrated closeted Puritan female writer living in  the 1600s, wouldn’t that provide a strong motivation to find a way, even if it took another lifetime, to sing out an unending stream of literary masterpieces through her ‘willing harp’, Pearl Curran?

Perhaps Dr. Braude might want to reconsider his comment that the lack of an extant collection of writings from Patient Worth from the 1600s is evidence that she probably was not a real person.

I think there is another relevant point to make concerning Patience as a Puritan.  If children ( and adults) were expected to be well-versed in the Bible, even to the extent that they had to memorize large portions of it and that reading the Bible was the primary, if not the only formal education Puritan girls got: and, that as mothers their duty was to teach the Bible to their children as well as to strictly follow the teachings found therein, then, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think that Patience Worth would have been well acquainted with biblical lore?  Patience Worth, not Pearl Curran knew the Bible well and could easily use that knowledge in writing the detail found in The Sorry Tale, her biblical epic.  The Bible was probably the one thing that Patience Worth knew the most about.

Pearl Curran was, as an adult, an Episcopalian by default who although she went to several Christian denominations as a child stated that both she and her parents did not attend church regularly and although a Bible was found in Pearl Curran’s house, she did not claim that she studied it intently. (Walter Franklin Prince who listed all books found in the home of Pearl Curran during his investigation of the Case of Patience Worth found a Bible stored away in an upstairs closet with a few other books covered with dust.) Perhaps Pearl could be described as a ‘fair-weather Christian’ who occasionally attended church but, in Pearl’s case, she went in her adult life to sing in the choirs, not to listen to the sermons.  Could it be that all of the detail found in the biblical story The Sorry Tale written by Pearl Curran as dictated by Patience Worth really came from the conscious mind of Patience Worth and not the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran?

It was Patience Worth as a Puritan who had the detailed biblical knowledge to write The Sorry Tale, not Pearl Curran.