Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Grief Song of Ellen Porter

The Detroit Free Press, October 8, 1871 (enlarge)
Contrary to the Free Press byline the only thing strange about Ellen Porter's institutionalization was that it took years in the making. Having suffered the death of her husband by an accidental shooting and their only child within a fortnight in 1855 she was taken care of by neighbors and friends between her previous home in Trenton, New Jersey and a residence on George Street in Detroit.

Her insanity was almost instantaneous as she began to frequent the child's grave, hovering about and spreading blankets across it in vain attempts to keep him warm. A decade passed and the grief persisted. During that time she confined herself to a bedroom and began writing verse concerning her dead child's perceived discomfort. The verses were later transferred to parchment which Mrs. Porter kept on her person for cold comfort. Years later when she was finally taken to Eloise the poems were left behind and caused the woman such emotional turmoil that they were retrieved and sent back to her.

1 comment:

Heather Sylvester said...

This absolutely broke my heart. So incredibly sad!