2.21.2008

Thoreau's Journal: 20-Feb-1842

I am amused to see from my window here how busily man has divided and staked off his domain. God must smile at his puny fences running hither and thither everywhere over the land.

20 comments:

Ms. Green said...

I look out my window by my computer and see no fence between my neighbor's house and mine, but I can see the one on the opposite side of his house. I know the four-sided puny fence that exists around my yard. Tiny yard. I don't claim to own it, not in the way Thoreau seems to suggest we seem to fool ourselves into thinking we own the land.

I love walking my dog and observing his own lack of the awareness of boundaries as he sniffs his way into every front yard we pass. He denies the concept of ownership of land. It's all his to explore, as far as he's concerned.

Anonymous said...

I don't think thoreau is assuming that everyone who has a fence is saying they own the land. He isn't attacking people because they have fences. He is criticizing the fact that society believes that land can be owned and it cannot. I completely agree with him

Carly said...

I look out my window and see the classic southern pine trees; if i look to my left there is a pecan orchard. I have lived in this house since I was 3 and it has built up from 2 houses to hundreds. It is almost sad in a way to think that what the animals have called their home for so long is now being taken away by others who claim to buy and own it. In a sense they were the owners of the land before we were and now they constantly have to move from home to home for only a temporary amount of time. All this happening while we take away the nature they need to exist.

zlee said...

I really like this quote. I have never thought about it that way before. Man is so eager to block off what is his and then goes so far as to put a fence around it so that it is known to everyone that it is his and so that no one can use it. I also ask the question of is it at all possible to really own land, or is it just something that we are borrowing and using?

clyle said...

I think Thoreau is talking about fences in the sense of divisions. He says that God is probably laughing at the fact that man thinks he can separate himself from nature. Thoreau understands that this can never be achieved; nature and man are eternally united.

Erin Johnson said...

My house also has a fence in our yard from one of our neighbors. I often think how much prettier our yard would be if that wooden fence did not surround it. It seems that it would have so much more room to grow and blossom.

haley said...

i find this excerpt humorous because, we as humans clasp so tightly to what belongs to us and God probably looks down on us and thinks.. "hmm.. they are fighting, clasping to, and protecting what they think is their own but is really all mine.

annaladson said...

I think it is a little ridiculous the extent that we go to about our "boundaries". For example, there are three large azalea bushes separating my driveway from my neighbors' driveway. There is maybe three feet width between our driveways. Every week my neighbors trim their side of the azalea bushes, and every week my dad lets our side grow wild. As you can imagine, the azaleas look a little funny. But is it really necessary to divide nature literally in half? Why is it so hard to share nature?

Graham Davis said...

It seems like Thoreau is turning his nose up somewhat at the things that man has created during his time on God's earth. He seems to be shaking his head at the things that man has tried to do to make himself seem smarter and more in control.

ariel maschke said...

I like the mental picture of God looking down at man laughing at the notion that mankind is trying to claim something that doesn't truly belong to him. It reminds me of a father,mother, elder, etc. looking down at a child doing something odd. But as humorous as the picture is I appreciate the serious underlying statement. It always amazes me when people can say something so profound without truly scribbling the words on paper.

Zach Singletary said...

I like how he identifies how man is quick to claim what is not truly theirs. It is God's world but yet we as people feel it is only ours and we can do whatever we like.

Kaitlin D said...

There must be a million things that we do that God laughs at. We think we're all-important and deserve "our land". Its an inbred notion in America, and Thoreau understood by living in nature that something that majestic could not possibly be owned by any one person. The native Americans shared this idea, that land could not be divided and owned, and I bet it was because they also spent their lives within nature.

lee said...

I think Thoreau is trying to say that people spend so much time trying to block off and claim what they own instead of realizing exactly why we have things, and how we benefit from these belongings. "No materialistic object can compare to the gift of nature"

brad germany said...

It is pretty ironic the way that men stake off everything, quick to claim ownership of it regardless of what the big picture may be. And i agree with Thoreau that God probably looks down upon us with amusement because we think we have control.

Matt said...

Thoreau is acknowledging the supremacy of God. God is beyond the boundaries of men. You could say he transcends it.

Devon Gaydos said...

This is rather Native American of Thoreau. I like. People may think they own land, but when they die, they sure can't take it with them. In this sense, how can we say we own anything but our own bodies and thoughts? The truth is we can't. So why waste our time fighting over material things? I don't know. We all do it though.

Ali Rocco said...

In a similar sense, its like what people have done with the oceans. There is only one ocean, yet people have divided it into four parts and given them all names. For whatever reason, as Thoreau points out, man needs to feel a sense of control in creating boundaries.

Divya said...

I like how Thoreau, once again, outlines the beauty and significance of nature in comparison to humans. We build fences and claim land at high prices, forgetting that all land is just land, just a part of nature.

I wonder how Thoreau would react to the land disputes today, where the price of real estate is as volatile as the economy and civil disputes ensue over land borders. I think he would be quite disappointed in us all.

TigerChung said...

Thoreau thinks that even though man has tried to claim the land as his, in reality it is not his at all, but really God's gift to man.

Peggy said...

I like this quote. Outside of my house, there are pine trees that divide my yard from the neighbors yard. I think that nothing really truly belongs to us, so why do we all create boundries and act this way?