I finished The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr. last week and have been wandering around with the mental void that comes from living between the end of one book and the start of another.
But the space has let me connect again with this favorite monologue from the book, a favorite for a hundred reasons.
If you'd like to read it, this quick context will help:
Chauntecleer is a rooster, the ring leader of the animals and of the land in the story.
He and his wife Pertelote have just discovered their three chicks dead,
and their discovery introduces the beginning of a great battle between good and evil.
I've typed out sections of the monologue below.
To read more, buy The Book of the Dun Cow here.
"You, God," Chauntecleer finally said; but his iron body did not move. His muscles were taut wire. Had someone touched him at that moment, he would have spun and murdered him.
If I had never had sons, how could I lose sons? If I had never ruled a land, how could I fear to lose the land? It is in the giving that treachery begins. If I had never loved these animals, which the almighty God put into my keeping, I would not die thinking that they may die.
But by your will I am where I am. By your will things are what they are. Now by my will I demand to hear it from your own mouth: Where are my sons? Why is Pertelote weeping underneath me in the coop? And what am I to say to her? Bear them, bless them, watch them; then ball them into tiny balls and stuff them in the earth! I'll tell her. She'll be comforted. I'll tell her the will of God.
Chauntecleer drove hot air deep into his lungs. He roared: "And by my will I demand to know now- it is most certainly time now to know: O God, where are you? Why have you hidden your face from us?"
But you won't tell me. You've dropped us in a bucket and let us be. It wears a person out, you now. Yeah, well.
"Oh my sons!" Chauntecleer suddenly wailed at the top of his lungs, a light flaring before it goes out: "How much I want you with me!"
And then it was that the Dun Cow came to him.
Horns strangely dangerous on one so soft stood wide away and sharp from either side of her head. Her eyes were liquid with compassion-- deep, deep as the earth is deep. Her brow knew his suffering and knew, besides that, worlds more. But the goodness was that, though this wide brow knew so much, yet it bent over his pain alone and creased with it.
Nothing changed: the clouds would not be removed, nor his sons returned, nor his knowledge plenished. But there was this. His grief had become her grief, his sorrow her own. And while he did not grieve one bit less for that, yet his heart made room for her, for her will and wisdom, and he bore the sorrow better.
The Dun Cow lay down next to the rooster and spent the rest of the night with him. She never spoke a word, and Chauntecleer did not sleep. But for a little while they were together.