12.19.2013

stranger from another sphere
...Thoreau's Journal: 19-Dec-1859

When a man is young and his constitution and his body have not acquired firmness, i.e., before he has arrived at middle age, he is not an assured inhabitant of the earth, and his compensation is that he is not quite earthy, there is something peculiarly tender and divine about him. His sentiments and his weakness, nay, his very sickness and the greater uncertainty of his fate, seem to ally him to a noble race of beings, to whom he in part belongs, or with whom he is in communication. The young man is a demigod; the grown man, alas! is commonly a mere mortal. He is but half here, he knows not the men of this world, the powers that be. They know him not. Prompted by the reminiscence of that other sphere from which he is so lately arrived, his actions are unintelligible to his seniors. He bathes in light. He is interesting as a stranger from another sphere. He really thinks and talks about a larger sphere of existence than this world. It takes him forty years to accommodate himself to the carapax of this world. This is the age of poetry. Afterward he may be the president of a bank, and go the way of all flesh. But a man of settled views, whose thoughts are few and hardened like his bones, is truly mortal, and his only resource is to say his prayers.

3 comments:

Northland said...

May we never be this man of settled views! Though one may be well above the age of Thoreau's accommodation to the carapace of our hard world, may we still remain of a poetic mind.

michael jameson said...

all men take this journey we call life, yet i assume this from myself and what i read, it is the age of understanding! a world before and a world after, one full of wonder, growth and dreams, then fate assumes its role.

Quinton said...

Thoreau was 42 when he wrote this. I wonder how much of it was personal. He did go back into the pencil business. ... He's certainly right about "the age of poetry." A lot of the best poetry is written when people are young.