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Sunday February 26, 2017
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Campbell McGrath

 

continued

His first entries sound almost jaunty-"It is a fine & open country in every aspect hereabouts." After finding the horses, Shannon actually returned to the Missouri ahead of the expedition but assumed he was behind, thus hurrying forward and increasing the distance between himself and his companions. Finally his hunger and despair forced him to stop. As he proceeds, the weight of the experience becomes clear to him-"Alone in these lands I may consider myself / The first American to have walked." By the thirteenth day he has descended into delirium and hears "animals in the darkness all around me / huffing & lowing of the buffalo / sound of their lungs streaming into the light / I am not alone in the darkness." And by the fourteenth day he has learned something from the continent itself, from its size and its indifference to us:

Bear-Gods, Buffalo-Gods, Eagle-Gods-

Do such worthies hold sway

In these unChristianized territories?

Do these little fellows wandering

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