Thoreau Thursday

It is the unflagging beauty of the writing, day after day, that confirms [Thoreau’s Journals] greatness among writers’ journals. ~ Alfred Kazin

 

Here in the North Country, duck season has opened. In the mornings, we hear the echo of shotgun blasts from the river bottom. I have never been a hunter myself but it is a sound that always leaves me smiling.

Walking along the edge of the wildlife refuge this week we heard the sound of duck-calling and across the river spotted a hunter  standing up in his blind. He was facing south with his back to us and to the steep riverbank and broad river between us. Far below him, swimming unnoticed, a single pied-billed grebe paddled and dived in the slow moving river.

Farther down the trail at one of the beaver ponds that parallel the river, we came across a dozen wild turkeys who tried to move as quietly as they could through the dry leaves. Hiding is difficult in late autumn woodlands.

Thoreau’s Journals read like prose poetry. It is what makes hisJournals for me, my favorite of all his writings. At 47 manuscript volumes and seven million words, his journals are one of the great literary works of the western world. They would be a daunting undertaking if it were not for the number of redacted editions that are available in the public domain.

As I have said before on previous Thoreau Thursdays, I read Thoreau because reading him is “like spending time in the wilderness that he so loved: it restores your soul.”

On an overcast October day, Thoreau seems like just the thing.

Enjoy!

 

A few quotes from Thoreau’s Journals

 

Oct. 24. Every part of nature teaches that the passing away of one life is the making room for another. The oak dies down to the ground, leaving within its rind a rich virgin mould, which will impart a vigorous life to an infant forest. The pine leaves a sandy and sterile soil, the harder woods a strong and fruitful mould. So this constant abrasion and decay makes the soil of my future growth. As I live now so shall I reap. If I grow pines and birches, my virgin mould will not sustain the oak; but pines and birches, or, perchance, weeds and brambles, will constitute my second growth. [Thoreau, Henry David; Searls, Damion (2011-11-16). The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 (New York Review Books Classics) (p. 3). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.]

 

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WHAT TO DO
March 5. But what does all this scribbling amount to? What is now scribbled in the heat of the moment one can contemplate with somewhat of satisfaction, but alas! to-morrow— aye, to-night— it is stale, flat, and unprofitable,— in fine, is not, only its shell remains, like some red parboiled lobster-shell which, kicked aside never so often, still stares at you in the path. [Thoreau, Henry David; Searls, Damion (2011-11-16). The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 (New York Review Books Classics) (p. 6). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.]

 

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COMPOSITION
March 7. We should not endeavor coolly to analyze our thoughts, but, keeping the pen even and parallel with the current, make an accurate transcript of them. Impulse is, after all, the best linguist, and for his logic, if not conformable to Aristotle, it cannot fail to be most convincing. The nearer we approach to a complete but simple transcript of our thought the more tolerable will be the piece, for we can endure to consider ourselves in a state of passivity or in involuntary action, but rarely our efforts, and least of all our rare efforts. [Thoreau, Henry David; Searls, Damion (2011-11-16). The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 (New York Review Books Classics) (p. 6). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.]

 

 

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