9.01.2014

the rule of existence
...Thoreau's Journal: 01-Sep-1851

Is not disease the rule of existence? There is not a lily pad floating on the river but has been riddled by insects. Almost every shrub and tree has its gall, oftentimes esteemed its chief ornament and hardly to be distinguished from the fruit. If misery loves company, misery has company enough. Now, at midsummer, find me a perfect leaf or fruit.

8.31.2014

through that isosceles door
...Thoreau's Journal: 31-Aug-1839

Made seven miles, and moored our boat on the west side of a little rising ground which in the spring forms an island in the river, the sun going down on one hand, and our eminence contributing its shadow to the night on the other…



From our tent here on the hillside, through that isosceles door, I see our lonely mast on the shore, it may be as an eternity fixture, to be seen in landscapes henceforth, or as the most temporary standstill of time, the boat just come to anchor, and the mast still rocking to find its balance.

No human life is in night,—the woods, the boat, the shore,—yet is it lifelike. The warm pulse of a young life beats steadily underneath all. This slight wind is where one artery approaches the surface and is skin deep.


We begin to have an interest in sun, moon, and stars. What time riseth Orion? Which side the pole gropeth the bear? East, West, North, and South,—where are they? What clock shall tell the hours for us?—Billerica, midnight.

8.30.2014

our broad back-door-stone
...Thoreau's Journal: 30-Aug-1856

How happens it that we reverence the stones which fall from another planet, and not the stones which belong to this,—another globe, not this,—heaven, and not earth? Are not the stones in Hodge’s wall as good as the aerolite at Mecca? Is not our broad back-door-stone as good as any corner-stone in heaven?

It would imply the regeneration of mankind, if they were to become elevated enough to truly worship stocks and stones. It is the sentiment of fear and slavery and habit which makes a heathenish idolatry. Such idolaters abound in all countries, and heathen cross the seas to reform heathens, dead to bury the dead, and all go down to the pit together. If I could, I would worship the parings of my nails. If he who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before is a benefactor, he who discovers two gods where there was only known the one (and such a one!)_ before is a still greater benefactor. I would fain improve every opportunity to wonder and worship, as a sunflower welcomes the light. The more thrilling, wonderful, divine objects I behold in a day, the more expanded and immortal I become. If a stone appeals to me and elevates me, tells me how many miles I have come, how many remain to travel,—and to the more, the better,— reveals the future to me in some measure, it is a matter of private rejoicing. If it did the same service to all, it might well be a matter of public rejoicing.

8.29.2014

empurpled sands
...Thoreau's Journal: 29-Aug-1858

Almost the very sands confess the ripening influence of the August sun, and me thinks, with the slender grasses waving over them, reflect a purple tinge. The empurpled sands. Such is the consequence of all this sunshine absorbed into the pores of plants and of the earth. All sap or blood is wine-colored. The very bare sands, methinks, yield a purple reflection. At last we have not only the purple sea, but the purple land.

8.28.2014

describe the common
...Thoreau's Journal: 28-Aug-1851

The poet is a man who lives at last by watching his moods. An old poet comes at last to watch his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse.

I omit the unusual—the hurricanes and earthquakes—and describe the common. This has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry. You may have the extraordinary for your province, if you will let me have the ordinary. Give me the obscure life, the cottage of the poor and humble, the workdays of the world, the barren fields, the smallest share of all things but poetic perception. Give me but the eyes to see the things which you possess.

8.27.2014

persistent dreaming awake
...Thoreau's Journal: 27-Aug-1859

All our life, i.e. the living part of it, is a persistent dreaming awake. The boy does not camp in his father’s yard. That would not be adventurous enough, there are too many sights and sounds to disturb the illusion; so he marches off twenty or thirty miles and there pitches his tent, where stranger inhabitants are tamely sleeping in their beds just like his father at home, and camps in their yard, perchance. But then he dreams uninterruptedly that he is anywhere but where he is.

8.26.2014

New England color
...Thoreau's Journal: 26-Aug-1856

I rest and take my lunch on Lee’s Cliff, looking toward Baker Farm. What is a New England landscape this sunny August day? A weather-painted house and barn, with an orchard by its side, in midst of a sandy field surrounded by green woods, with a small blue lake on one side. A sympathy between the color of the weather-painted house and that of the lake and sky. I speak not of a country road between its fences, for this house lies off one, nor do I commonly approach them from this side. The weather-painted house. This is the New England color, homely but fit as that of a toadstool. What matter though this one has not been inhabited for thirty years? Methinks I hear the crow of a cock come up from its barn-yard.