National Geographic : 1982 Jul
"Singingstraight at the sun, their heads thrown back and their yellow breasts a-quiver," meadowlarks were Cather's emblem for the joys of artistic expression. She accepted her talent as a gift, one that obliged her to touch all aspects of life. Her books teem with bittersweet memories, as nostalgicas they are grim. For every full-throated song, a countering scene of madness or death appears. The feathers on this pheasant (below) were photographedjust moments after the birdflew into barbedwire and died. Art capturessuch images forever: In "0 Pioneers!" a girl held a slain duck "and looked at the live color that still burned on its plumage."