Hall to McNair: January 18, 1983

Letter from Hall to McNair, January 18, 1983, Colby College Special Collections

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18 January 1983

Wes McNair
Box 43
North Sutton, NH 03260

Dear Wes,

I take it that old Costanzo is keeping you waiting?

I’m not sure that the slaughtered animals comes entirely
together now… And I am sure that it is close. I’m not sure
about the title. The verb “find” doesn’t really work much
with the second stanza. I just think it might be called The
Slaughtered Animals… I like the first stanza perfectly.
In the second stanza, you have two very boring verbs – “are”
and “having.” I don’t think you could stand both of them.
What about: “And the great bull/ remain on their knees/ having
lost the idea/ of how to stand.” I’m not sure about the third
line in my version…

Then the sheep seems to me to give more problem. In the
other cases, the sheep cannot find their heads because they
are slaughtered… That is, the lack of heads and the slaughtering
are two sides of each other… Same with the bulls being unable
to stand… That is an immediate sign of their dying. Well,
things that are dead can’t talk either…but that isn’t what
you first think of. Chickens lose their heads, bulls fall to
the ground…sheep stop bleating? It seems more distant, some-
how. And then these – as opposed to the others, that do what
they really do – keep moving. Chickens do indeed keep moving,
after their heads are gone. And they might well be searching
for their heads… But not the sheep. I mean to say, it is
goofy and exciting – but I don’t think it adds up.

We look forward to seeing you later.

Glad you have been reading that writer you mentioned.
Did you see him in last Sunday’s New York Times, book review,
The Making of a Writer?

Yes, the Haines is wonderful. Maybe the Louis Simpson
is the best of all. Have you seen that one?

Love to you both,