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Dear Eliot List

Thanks for the words of comfort and support of these last days. It was niced 
to read, especially for those of us in areas of cities that were targets--New 
York and Washington. Thanks, too, for the Yeats and "Hollow Men" references. 
On NPR today someone read Dylan Thomas's "And Death Shall Have No 
Dominion"--readily available in anthologies. Let me add one quote from an 
essay in the anthology I used to use to teach Freshman Composition and 
Literature--Robert DiYanni, ed., _Literature:_Readin
g_Fiction,_Poetry,_Drama,_and_the_Essay_, 4th ed. 
(Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998), pp. 1840-1845:

Loren Eiseley, a naturalist, wrote an essay entitled “The Judgment of the 
Birds.” One beautiful day, Eisley was out hiking, grew tired, and stopped to 
rest with his back against a stump. By accident, he relates, he was concealed 
from a glade that he could see into clearly. He fell asleep and was awakened 
by “some commotion”—”an enormous raven with a red and squriming nestling in 
his beak.” The sound that had awakened him had been “the outraged cries of 
the nestling’s parents, who flew helplessly in circles about the clearing. 
The sleek black monster was indifferent to them.… But suddenly, out of all 
that area of woodland, a soft sound of complaint began to rise. Into the 
glade fluttered small birds of half a dozen varieties drawn by the anguished 
outcries of the tiny parents.

“No one dared to attack the raven. But they cried there in some instinctive 
common misery, the bereaved and the unbereaved. The glade filled with their 
soft rustling and their cries. They fluttered as though to point their wings 
at the murderer. There was a dim intangible ethic he had violated, that they 
knew. He was a bird of death.

“And he, the murderer, the black bird at the at the heart of life, sat on 
there glistening in the common light, formidable, unmoving, unperturbed, 
untouchable.

“The sighing died. It was then I saw the judgment. It was the judgment of 
life against death. I will never see it again so forcefully presented. I will 
never hear it again in notes so tragically prolonged. For in the midst of 
protest, they forgot the violence. There, in that clearing, the crystal note 
of a song sparrow lifted hesitantly in the hush. And finally, after painful 
fluttering, another took the song, and then another, the song passing from 
one bird to another, doubtfully at first, as though some evil thing were 
being slowly forgotten. Till suddenly they took heart and sang from many 
throats joyously together as birds are known to sing. They sang because life 
is sweet and sunlight beautiful. They sang under the brooding shadow of the 
raven. In simple truth they had forgotten the raven, for they were the 
singers of life, and not of death” (1844).

Lee Fjordbotten