Given nothing but lumps of coal and extreme pressures all his life Hearn forged in the depths of his soul fine diamonds into a keen knife with which he cut loose from the past and traveled far, a refugee from West to East, devout outcast— a lotus flower floating free. Scholar of suffering, he knew what others felt as the Other; short of stature, of olive hue, and abandoned by his mother. An orphan of so many lands, he was a boy born from two climes and tossed between so many hands to become a man of the Times. Blind in one eye, yet he could see more clearly things that mattered most, despising modern industry, and mourning Japan’s ancient ghost. Loathing the Old Testament creed, his heart leapt at pagan creatures, seeing in them the ideal breed of human joy with wild features. He was said to be of those men aloof and adrift in his ties, yet tried to avenge a kitten when a man blinded its eyes. Some claim he stole tongues from the dead whereby to tell tales not his own, but storytelling is well-read in itself—nib of ancient bone. What stories had been given them that gave him in turn, came ago, extending thus from sleeve to hem, till he wrote them for us to know. Should we judge from utopia a wayfarer of unfair fate when, steeped in myopia, living well at a later date? Is he an appropriator of cultures belonging to those who gave him his nomenclature and his set of kimono clothes? Who faults da Vinci his paintings of the Madonna and her child? It is, in life, of the plain things that motifs are copied, then styled. What privileges did he boast (which critics have afterwards claimed) when as an orphan, coast to coast? Not more than “gender” can be named. Before the fortune and the fame he lived many years in a barn, laying upon hay, cold and lame, and only frayed daydreams to darn. A Greek, he witnessed the Banshee faceless upon a flight of stairs; a Celt, he saw Persephone rising from Plutonian lairs. Born to love a well-told story, his soul was half Irish and Greek, he sought what was grim and gory being small, but not at all meek. Like Hearn himself, Japan did take and borrow from other countries, their tales oft of meaning and make as in China, and its sundries. Why should that be a jackdaw flaw for him to know good seeds from bad? To replant a seed breaks no law when fertile crops are to be had. Should we let all be so fallow that all seeds should wither and wane when someone who is not callow should grow the crop with his rain? As for his much-beloved wives, he learned from them of tastes and tones, living as a man of odd lives— a soul reborn which dharma hones. He had a freed-slave wife back when it was a grave crime in the States, but he was a radical then— a rebel against such mandates. True, his ambition would end it and he would leave her all alone, but destiny chomped at the bit and there were yet fields to be sown. Fate took him faraway, not done with his strange life and its strange ride, to the Land of the Rising Sun to find his Mama Sama bride. Soon adopted into a clan of Samurai, to which his wife was a noblewoman, the man found for himself a peaceful life. This is why today he is yet celebrated in Chicago for every gory vignette of that city’s vast crimson glow, and why his cookbook of Orleans is used by Creoles and Cajuns, a French tongue for all tastes and scenes he was loved like other Bay sons, and why, in the land of Japan, he is still respected today, known as the learned Western man who heard what their ghosts had to say. And so Hearn traveled very far, floating like a leaf on the wind, living a story as bizarre as a Kwaidan tale by the end.