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    When other birds are still, the screech owls take up the strain, like mourning women their ancient u-lu-lu.  Their dismal scream is truly Ben Jonsonian.  Wise midnight hags!  It is no honest and blunt tu-whit tu-who of the poets, but, without jesting, a most solemn graveyard ditty, the mutual consolations of suicide lovers remembering the pangs and the delights of supernal love in the infernal groves.  Yet I love to hear their wailing, their doleful responses, trilled along the woodside; reminding me sometimes of music and singing birds; as if it were the dark and tearful side of music, the regrets and sighs that would fain be sung.  They are the spirits, the low spirits and melancholy forebodings, of fallen souls that once in human shape night-walked the earth and did the deeds of darkness, now expiating their sins with their wailing hymns or threnodies in the scenery of their transgressions.  They give me a new sense of the variety and capacity of that nature which is our common dwelling.  Oh-o-o-o-o that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! sighs one on this side of the pond, and circles with the restlessness of despair to some new perch on the gray oaks.  Then -- that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n! echoes another on the farther side with tremulous sincerity, and -- bor-r-r-r-n! comes faintly from far in the Lincoln woods.
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