The Mayfield Deer

The Mayfield Deer

The Mayfield Deer

The Mayfield Deer

Excerpt

For the incident from which The Mayfield Deer takes its start I am indebted to two or three pages of an Illinois county history. Turning through this volume several years ago in my brother Frank's office at Tuscola, I came suddenly upon a narrative whose interest for me so much surpassed the interest of anything I had so far read that I went over it again and again, and later on sent back to Illinois for a typescript of the pages which I could keep by me in case I forgot any detail. But I forgot no detail, and it was this fact which convinced me that I had found the subject for a long poem I had hitherto been unable to commence because I could not settle upon a suitable theme. Not that I was convinced at first; I doubted the importance of a theme which had come so accidentally to hand and which presented itself in so local and particular a dress. In the end, however, it was the particulars that possessed me, and I decided to honor their force in a poem whose importance after all would have to be what I could make it.

The particulars were these, as remembered by a doctor who in his youth had been present at the scene. In 1841 an old hunter, straying in search of a doe he had lost, was asked by certain settlers whether she might not have been . . .

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