ebb-tide with the scientific reports
...Thoreau's Journal: 5-Mar-1858

We read the English poets; we study botany and zoology and geology, lean and dry as they are; and it is rare that we get a new suggestion. It is ebb-tide with the scientific reports, Professor ______ in the chair. We would fain know something more about these animals and stones and trees around us. We are ready to skin the animals alive to come at them. Our scientific names convey a very partial information only; they suggest certain thoughts only. It does not occur to me that there are other names for most of these objects, given by a people who stood between me and them, who had better senses than our race. How little I know of that arbor-vitae when I have learned only what science can tell me! It is but a word. It is not a tree of life. But there are twenty words for the tree and its different parts which the Indian gave, which are not in our botanies, which imply a more practical and vital science. He used it every day. He was well acquainted with its wood, and its bark, and its leaves. No science does more than arrange what knowledge we have of any class of objects. But, generally speaking, how much more conversant was the Indian with any wild animal or plant than we are, and in his language is implied all that intimacy, as much as ours is expressed in our language. How many words in his language about a moose, or birch bark, and the like!


michael jameson said...

how peculiar so called civilized man be, when we come to the new lands we need Indian scouts and guides , for they are one with nature and know it, when in need they turn to nature and it provides for them, they give thanks and pay homage,we turn to stores and factory's. we study nature, give unnecessary names except to the studiers.the Indian befriends nature,he knows it, therefore he is truly part of it! michael jameson oldantiqueguy@hotmail.com

Brad said...

I know the following doesn't really pertain to the entry, but I have to say it. I lived in MN for most of my life, and then I moved to the one-season South of AZ. I forgot how to appreciate Spring and Summer because I did not have to face winter, but now I live in a place where there has been around a dozen feet so far. I am starting to love the company of the seasons again, and to enjoy each one in its turn until a new one comes along.