Saturday, December 19, 2015

"Often the lone-dweller waits for favor,
mercy of the Measurer, though he unhappy
across the seaways long time must
stir with his hands the rime-cold sea,
tread exile tracks. Fate is established!"

Thus wrote the ancient Anglo-Saxon "wanderer," in words whose poignancy has never been equaled, of the pain of exile. Does it matter if it is voluntary or imposed?

Today I ponder Louis Adamic, a gifted 20th century writer who is not well known these days. Of Slovenian birth, 1899, he emigrated to the United States and threw himself with an immigrant's passion into his new land, becoming known for advocacy of the labor movement. But something must have pained him, some sense of the lost homeland. Two of his books, Native's Return and My Native Land, touched on the subject.

Perhaps that sense of never quite belonging in the new place, of being a stranger even among friends, fueled his founding of the Common Council for American Unity, a group aimed at strengthening ties of human brotherhood.

In one terse line of his entry in Collier's Encyclopedia, the end of his life is summed up: he died an apparent suicide, in 1951. The pain of exile triumphed, albeit in phyrric victory.

Rest in peace, Louis Adamic. You have returned to the homeland from which we never leave again.

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