Women Have I Loved: Mary MacLane

If you haven't read I AWAIT THE DEVIL'S COMING by Mary MacLane, you have missed one of the strongest and most tempestuous voices of the early 20th century. At 19 years old, Mary MacLane presents her manifesto-memoir with the bravado of Marinetti and in the face of his misogyny. She loves her body. She loves her mind. She is in love with the devil, in love with duende. It has the pitch of Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther. But she's woman and American and all her own: 

I have eaten my dinner.

I have had, among other things, fine, rare-broiled porterhouse steak from Omaha, and some fresh, green young onions from California. And just now I am a philosopher, pure and simple––except that there's nothing very pure about my philosophy, nor yet very simple. 

Let the Devil come and go; let the wild waters rush over me; let nations rise and fall; let my favourite theories form themselves in line suddenly and run into the ground; let the little earth be bandied about form one belief to another; but, I say in the midst of my young peripatetic philosophy, I need not be in complete despair––the world still contains things for me, while I have my fine rare porterhouse steak from Omaha––and my fresh green young onions from California. 


I am obscure; I am morbid; I am unhappy; my life is made up of Nothingness; I want everything and I have nothing; I have been made to feel the "lure of green things growing," and I have been made to feel also that something of them is withheld from me; I have felt the deadly tiredness that is among the birthrights of a human being; but with it all the Devil has given me a philosophy of my own––the Devil has enabled me to count, if need be, the world well lost for a fine rare porterhouse steak––and some green young onions. 

pp30-31, The Neversink Library, 2013