Thoreau's Journal: 17-Nov-1853

Are not more birds crushed under the feet of oxen than of horses?


Anonymous said...

What is that supposed to mean? Horses, Oxen...What's the difference? What are the birds doing under their feet in the first place? Well, no matter, the birds are just as dead under the hooves of one as the other so I don't get what point he's making. I know oxen are plodding, slow, and heavy and horses are lighter and faster so does that mean don't get in the way of someone moving slowly and and heavily? Are you better off in the way of someone faster and lighter? Please explain your take on this quote. Cate

Greg said...

Cate, your reaction to this is interesting. Because mine was kind of similar but something stuck to me about it despite the simplicity of the thought. It's one of those things that you can see in your periphery. But don't look head on at it. You would think birds could avoid something slow and lumbering. But it's the freedom of the horse I see as key. While enslavement kills the spirit. That's the best I can do. I know it doesn't do it justice. And maybe I'm way off base here. But that's my take. I think it's incredibly wise and poetic, in the real sense of the word. Or words.

Jack Saturday said...

I agree with Greg-- Thoreau's theme wasn't just nature, but human liberty. Birds are an ancient symbol of the freedom of the spirit, the yoke is of course a symbol of the very hard, very cruel work ethic of the Victorian Age in which he wrote. As for how they get under the feet of oxen or horses, he may mean nests in the grass or furrows perhaps.