liberty is to be served, wherever superstition is to be torn away, wherever the race is to be lifted up--there, I say, will the elements of the soul of her who lies here, the elements of devotion, sincerity, fearlessness, idealism, gleam out purer, stronger, brighter, because she has lived, and been moved by them, and strengthened them in this life. These were the real person, and these deathless. A gift from the past she was, now given to the future. (5)
Insofar as the living embody their beliefs, the dead live on.
De Cleyre also distinguished herself stylistically. Her predilection for writing poetry and short stories shone through in the detailed crafting of her speeches, illustrated by the enumeration in "Why I Am an Anarchist," cited earlier. Quoting from an autobiographical sketch (Wess Papers), Avrich explains:
She considered herself "more of a lecturer than an orator, and more of a writer than either," to quote her own rather modest description. "I am not an orator," she insisted, "and I have a good deal of contempt for extemporaneous speaking, as a rule. It's so disjointed and loaded with repetition. So I usually write my stuff." (41-42)
Consistent with her emphasis on style, she closely guarded her work; editing was not allowed ( Avrich, 1978:79).
De Cleyre's distinctiveness as a rhetorician came from her deep understanding of the plight of women and the case she made for anarchism as the solution to women's problems, her use of emotional appeals, her ability to create rhetorical afterlives for those who had died for anarchism, and her stylistic skills.
De Cleyre is a largely untapped feminist resource. As feminism attempts to grapple with the dangers and pleasures of sexuality, it should turn to thinkers of earlier times who analyzed the problems and conditions of women. As Marsh writes: "Among the anarchist women of a century ago we find the kind of serious probing of sexual and familial relationships that could serve as a preface to a new feminist analysis" ( 1978:5).