Bless the Beasts and Children
Important Quotations Explained
There was more here than profaned the eye or ear or nose or heart. There was more here than mere destruction. The American soul itself was involved, its anthropology.
For a moment, or moments, it was as it had been in the beginning, before fear, before evil, before death, at the time of the creation, when the earth was new and living things flourished therein, where the earth was fair and all living things dwelt together as kindred. For a moment, or moments, beasts and children were friends, there in the sweetness and silence of the night, there in the calm and lovely fields of the Lord.
A living buffalo mocks us. It has no place or purpose. It is a misbegotten child, a monster with which we cannot live and which we cannot live without. Therefore we slay, and slay again, for while a single buffalo remains, the sin of our fathers, and hence our own, is imperfect. But the slaughter of the buffalo is part of something larger. It is as though the land of Canaan into which we were led was too divine, and until we have done it every violence, until we have despoiled and murdered and dirtied every blessing, until we have erased every reminder of our original rape, until we have washed our hands of the bloods of every other, we shall be unappeased. It is as though we are too proud to be beholden to Him. We cannot bear the goodness of God.
They had a last glimpse of John Cotton's red hair flaming like a torch as the truck seemed to soar and dive and disappear. And that was all, except for the remote but unmistakable concussion of metal and rock and the recognition of its meaning, which, microseconds later, cracked their hearts even as it freed them, too, forever.
Born on this preserve, fear of men had been bred out of them. Inoculated against disease, they were prime. Fed hay when winter snows covered their browse, they followed a feed truck about like sheep. They had never known the arrow or the lance, the lightning or the fire which crazed their ancestors over cliffs and into swollen rivers, nor had they known, until yesterday, the sounds and implication of a gun.
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