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Amilcare Cipriani, “A Woman” (1902)

A WOMAN
Nature had been kind in bestowing her gifts on her; beauty, goodness, strength, will and energy, she possessed all these in the highest degree. She might have been happy, she chose instead to embrace and devote herself, to the “cause” which spreads fear amongst cowards and governments.
Life had just commenced to smile on her, when the Italian war of Independence broke out.
Three of her brothers took up arms to deliver their enslaved motherland.
She had already been asked in marriage, but refused. “I cannot think of marriage,” said she, “while my brothers are risking their lives on the battlefield.” And she valiantly remained at home to take care of her mother, her father, and her fourth brother who was blind.
She preferred celibacy to a rich marriage, poverty to luxury, solitude to the empty noise of society, sufferings to the joys which so often prove false in life.
She worked to help her parents, nor ever forgot her brother who was imprisoned and persecuted. She buried her old parents and became the “Antigone” to her blind brother, to whom she was as a mother all her life.
Her love for her brothers, the supervision of their correspondence, their trial, and the many incidents or their lives, became her only care; she embraced their principles with enthusiasm, and became a. Socialist after she had dispersed every vestige of belief in a religion she had learnt to abhor.
Monarchy could not strike at her directly: it took revenge on her remaining brother by throwing him into its prison cells.
She found herself thus alone between the prisons which enclosed her beloved brothers. Known as an Atheist, a Socialist, a revolutionist, government spies forced their way into her house on every occasion, searched everywhere, upset, smashed everything, in the hope of finding compromising papers—which she knew better than to keep.
To terrify and force her into submission, these ignoble searches were, throughout 40 years, carried out during night-time. Ill or Well, she was made to get up; they shook her bedding, knocked about her furniture, in order to search for correspondence from her persecuted brother.
All this only added fuel to her hatred against monarchy, the priests and the bourgeoisie, and increased her attachment to the social cane.
Her home, once filled with a numerous and happy family, had been depopulated by death and persecution. A lonely woman, she calmly withstood the implacable enmity of the monarchy’s secret spies, who respect neither virtue nor honesty, nor sorrow, nor illness, nor death.
But this strong-hearted woman gave way to nothing, bent low before no one; neither the ferocious persecutions directed against and which reflected upon her, nor the misery, nor the solitude, nor even death itself, drew a complaint or a tear from her brave soul.
She did cry, however, but with joy; it was on the day when she embraced her brother after an absence of 30 years spent in battle, in prison, in exile. They had parted as children, they met when old.
In her youth—and even in her last days—her dream was to fight and die for the social cause side by side with her brothers.
But her brothers will not have the consolation of seeing her a standard-bearer in the great fight which is preparing everywhere!
On December 12th of this sad year now drawing to a close, she died.
She died smiling and tranquil, for her blind brother had been by her side day and night.
The Romagnol Socialists, who adored her, gave her a funeral worthy of her virtues, her strength, her courage, and her Socialist convictions, which she retained to her last breath.
Here name was Amelia Cipriani.
She was my sister.
Amilcare Cipriani
(Translated from La Petite Republique for Justice.)
Amilcare Cipriani, “A Woman,” Freedom 16 no, 167 (April-May, 1902):13-14.

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