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Gilbert Byron weathered a late September hurricane and again turned his attention to his writing. During the evening of December 31, 1946, Byron wrote “The Lights of St. Michaels.” This was to be the first of forty-five New Year’s Eves alone at his cove-side home. Soon after writing the words of this poem, he must have had second thoughts about his decision to remain in the little cabin by himself, for as he later recalled:

Byron’s Cabin [On] that June [1947] day... I returned to the cove, bearing the knowledge that now I was separated for good ~ or worse ~ from all that had been my life before I had taken to the woods. I was down and almost out, very much alone, yet there was the clear, clean feeling that comes when inevitable decisions are finally made ~ or in this case, made for one. Undated “Decisions,” Unpublished MS chapter fragment

I went to Dover twice and twice failed to make any headway reconciling with Edna ... I do make mistakes. When Edna’s mother fell and broke her hip in 1947, I should have returned to Dover, found a job, and helped her take care of her mother. Edna was very good to my mother and I should have repaid this ~ in spite of everything Edna might have done previously. ...This is my sin since coming to the cove. December 18, 1949, Letter to Betty Talbot

You ask why did Edna and I separate. ...We just drifted apart. Edna enjoyed the company of the successful and gave them her homage and I struggled along with the writing, a garden, chickens, the sail boat, etc. There were human factors earlier in our marriage which cancelled our love for one another but then I am sure that if the love had been right, nothing could have cancelled it. We married very young, with a brief courtship. People who marry later in life should have a better chance. But certainly it was probably more my fault than Edna’s since I gave up my job and placed all on a nag I still

Byron made the first of his brief journeys to Dover during an extremely cold January. He stayed with his wife for most of the month before going back to the cabin. His second attempt to change Edna’s mind was apparently made later in the spring, and again he came back to Maryland alone: 70

July 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times July 2013

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