The Country Child, When Overpraised

Hendrick ter Brugghen, "David Praised by the Israelite Women," 1623, oil on canvas, 32 3/16 x 41 1/2 in., North Carolina Museum of Art

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The Country Child, When Overpraised

by Allan Gurganus
Southern Cultures, Vol. 3, No. 2: Summer 1997

"In such heat, this mission sickened him. The killing had been simple, it felt country-necessary, country-right."

And, verily, the head did weigh twenty-seven pounds. And to hold it before him—as you would lift a lantern—costs the young David much strength. Was not his day’s strength already well used by killing so great a warrior? Trumpets sounded on towers of the city that, seen from afar, looked sand-colored, a toy, and perfect. Twelve gates were being opened, slow by vast crowds, even those gates long-bolted against the Philistines.