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The Killing Season - Websleuths

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  1. #1
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    MA - U.S.'s 1st literary depiction of cold case murder?

    Perhaps the William Cullen Bryant poem
    ....... "The Murdered Traveller"

    When spring, to woods and wastes around,
    Brought bloom and joy again,
    The murdered traveller's bones were found,
    Far down a narrow glen.

    The fragrant birch, above him, hung
    Her tassels in the sky;
    And many a vernal blossom sprung,
    And nodded careless by.

    The red-bird warbled, as he wrought
    His hanging nest o'erhead,
    And fearless, near the fatal spot,
    Her young the partridge led.

    But there was weeping far away,
    And gentle eyes, for him,
    With watching many an anxious day,
    Were sorrowful and dim.

    They little knew, who loved him so,
    The fearful death he met,
    When shouting o'er the desert snow,
    Unarmed, and hard beset;--

    Nor how, when round the frosty pole
    The northern dawn was red,
    The mountain wolf and wild-cat stole
    To banquet on the dead;

    Nor how, when strangers found his bones,
    They dressed the hasty bier,
    And marked his grave with nameless stones,
    Unmoistened by a tear.

    But long they looked, and feared, and wept,
    Within his distant home;
    And dreamed, and started as they slept,
    For joy that he was come.

    So long they looked--but never spied
    His welcome step again,
    Nor knew the fearful death he died
    Far down that narrow glen.

    [Note:
    THE MURDERED TRAVELLER.
    Some years since, in the month of May, the remains of a
    human body, partly devoured by wild animals, were found
    in a woody ravine, near a solitary road passing between the
    mountains west of the village of Stockbridge [MA]. It was
    that the person came to his death by violence, but no traces
    could be discovered of his murderers. It was only recollected
    that one evening, in the course of the previous winter, a traveller
    had stopped at an inn in the village of West Stockbridge; that
    he had inquired the way to Stockbridge; and that, in paying the
    innkeeper for something he had ordered, it appeared that he had
    a considerable sum of money in his possession. Two ill-looking men
    were present, and went out about the same time that the traveller
    proceeded on his journey. During the winter, also, two men of shabby
    appearance, but plentifully supplied with money, had lingered
    for awhile about the village of Stockbridge. Several years afterward,
    a criminal, about to be executed for a capital offence in Canada,
    confessed that he had been concerned in murdering a traveller in
    Stockbridge for the sake of his money. Nothing was ever discovered
    respecting the name or residence of the person murdered.]
    ---
    circa 1829?

    And others in the region (iberkshires.com):

    Cold Case Expert Offers Thoughts on Unsolved Local Murders

  2. #2
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    The alleged killing -- described by Bryant in the note above -- reminds in some of its details of that related by Laurie Lee over a century later in his Welsh memoir 'Cider with Rosie':

    Public Death, Private Murder

  3. #3
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    Addendum

    Quick! O ye poetry lovers -- quick now; name three masterly poets who must have known this one, above.

    What say ye? "Hardy, Frost, and Housman"?? Correct!

    Now -- briefly state, for each, why.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for posting this; I remember reading Bryant's "Snowbound" and "Thanatopsis," but I'm not familiar with "Murdered Traveller." Looking forward to digging in a little more!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    Addendum

    Quick! O ye poetry lovers -- quick now; name three masterly poets who must have known this one, above.

    What say ye? "Hardy, Frost, and Housman"?? Correct!

    Now -- briefly state, for each, why.
    Hints: see Hardy's "The Darkling Thrush"; Frost's "Desert Places";and IX from Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad.'

  6. #6
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    Coda:

    A bit of digging will excavate a fairly recent cold case in the above-mentioned Stockbridge MA,
    hugely interesting in its own right, and with much online to see; AFAIK it lacks a thread on WS.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    Coda:

    A bit of digging will excavate a fairly recent cold case in the above-mentioned Stockbridge MA,
    hugely interesting in its own right, and with much online to see; AFAIK it lacks a thread on WS.
    Until now, of course: MA - Jan Stackhouse, labor leader killed on May Day 2005



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