untried virtue
...Thoreau's Journal: 30-Jul-1853

The tobacco-pipe has also pushed up there amid the dry leaves in the shade. It is abundant now, and here. Both stem and flowers and scales are a pure and delicate crystalline white. What to name it? Sheathed with delicate white scales. It reminded me of a maiden in her robes of purity who has always been nurtured in a shady and vault-like seclusion,—a nun of spotless purity, a daughter of Tellus and Caelum too, making her entrance into the world. Pushing aside the doorway of dry leaves, three sisters of various heights issue from their hidden convent and stand side by side in the presence of the light. We are surprised to see such pure robes come from the bowels of the earth. Yet this white and crystalline purity smacks of the cellar and shade. They come forth to be proved, and stand abashed in presence of the light, with hanging heads and faces toward the ground under their pure white hoods and capes, striving at first to conceal their nakedness and tenderness. A few loose, scant, but beautiful, pearly sheaths alone invested them, and the broader capes of their hoods. The sisters then come forth of spotless purity, but soon, exposed to light and air, their virtue dried black. I was surprised to hear that this was called the tobacco-pipe! Their untried virtue cannot long stand the light and air.

1 comment:

michael jameson said...

how things have changed! yet they stay the same, its the manner that has changed, the exposure with family and suitors has long gone and woman and man do it secretly for the first time,it is sure not to be their last! parents are never in the equation until funds are needed for the first wedding!, and it is the few that marry once not many times!,the people have changed and the rights exploited! for the better? i fear not, it will be the way though!, the outcome is either bitterness or experience,i suppose it depends on which you are left with. michael jameson oldantiqueguy@hotmail.com