Sometimes our thoughts turn back toward a corner in a forest, or the end of a bank, or an orchard powdered with flowers, seen but a single time on some happy day, yet remaining in our hearts and leaving in soul and body an unappeased desire which is not to be forgotten, a feeling that we have just rubbed elbows with happiness.
Guy de Maupassant
The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.
The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.
And one by one, driven to exhaustion, trapped by fence and horses and bewilderment, under an immaculate sky the mythic creatures died. They died not in mercy, not in the majesty which was their due, but as the least of life, accursed of nature. They died in the dust of insult and the spittle of lead. 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. We are born with buffalo blood upon our hands. In the prehistory of us all, the atavistic beasts appear. They graze the plains of our subconscious, they trample through our sleep, and in our dreams we cry out our damnation. We know what we have done, we violent people. We know that no species was created to exterminate another, and the sight of their remnant stirs in us the most profound lust, the most undying hatred, the most inexpiable guilt. 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 blood 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.