The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Volume VII (of 20)

Page 15 of 99

Let ours be like the meeting of two planets, not hastening to confound their jarring spheres, but drawn together by the influence of a subtile attraction, soon to roll diverse in their respective orbits, from this their perigee, or point of nearest approach. 40

If thy neighbor hail thee to inquire how goes the world, feel thyself put to thy trumps to return a true and explicit answer. Plant the feet firmly, and, will he nill he, dole out to him with strict and conscientious impartiality his modicum of a response.

Let not society be the element in which you swim, or are tossed about at the mercy of the waves, but be rather a strip of firm land running out into the sea, whose base is daily washed by the tide, but whose summit only the spring tide can reach.

But after all, such a morsel of society as this will not satisfy a man. But like those women of Malamocco and Pelestrina, who when their husbands are fishing at sea, repair to the shore and sing their shrill songs at evening, till they hear the voices of their husbands in reply borne to them over the water, so go we about indefatigably, chanting our stanza of the lay, and awaiting the response of a kindred soul out of the distance.


April 1. The Indian must have possessed no small share of vital energy to have rubbed industriously stone upon stone for long months till at length he had rubbed out an axe or pestle,---as though he had said in the face of the constant flux of things, I at least will live an enduring life.


April 8.

I think awhile of Love, and, while I think,

Love is to me a world, 41

Sole meat and sweetest drink,

And close connecting link

'Tween heaven and earth.

I only know it is, not how or why,

My greatest happiness;

However hard I try,

Not if I were to die,

Can I explain.

I fain would ask my friend how it can be,

But, when the time arrives,

Then Love is more lovely

Than anything to me,

And so I'm dumb.

For, if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,

But only thinks and does;

Though surely out 't will leak

Without the help of Greek,

Or any tongue.

A man may love the truth and practice it,

Beauty he may admire,

And goodness not omit,

As much as may befit

To reverence.

But only when these three together meet,

As they always incline,

And make one soul the seat 42

And favorite retreat

Of loveliness;

When under kindred shape, like loves and hates

And a kindred nature,

Proclaim us to be mates,

Exposed to equal fates


And each may other help, and service do,

Drawing Love's bands more tight,

Service he ne'er shall rue

While one and one make two,

And two are one;

In such case only doth man fully prove,

Fully as man can do,

What power there is in Love

His inmost soul to move


Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side

Withstand the winter's storm,

And, spite of wind and tide,

Grow up the meadow's pride,

For both are strong.

Above they barely touch, but, undermined

Down to their deepest source,

Admiring you shall find 43

Their roots are intertwined



April 15. Thomas Fuller relates that "in Merionethshire, in Wales, there are high mountains, whose hanging tops come so close together that shepherds on the tops of several hills may audibly talk together, yet will it be a day's journey for their bodies to meet, so vast is the hollowness of the valleys betwixt them." As much may be said in a moral sense of our intercourse in the plains, for, though we may audibly converse together, yet is there so vast a gulf of hollowness between that we are actually many days' journey from a veritable communication.


April 24. Men have been contriving new means and modes of motion. Steamships have been westering during these late days and nights on the Atlantic waves,---the fuglers of a new evolution to this generation. Meanwhile plants spring silently by the brooksides, and the grim woods wave indifferent; the earth emits no howl, pot on fire simmers and seethes, and men go about their business.


April 26.

In the midst of the poplar that stands by our door

We planted a bluebird box,

And we hoped before the summer was o'er

A transient pair to coax. 44

One warm summer's day the bluebirds came

And lighted on our tree,

But at first the wand'rers were not so tame

But they were afraid of me.

They seemed to come from the distant south,

Just over the Walden wood,

And they skimmed it along with open mouth

Close by where the bellows stood.

Warbling they swept round the distant cliff,

And they warbled it over the lea,

And over the blacksmith's shop in a jiff

Did they come warbling to me.

They came and sat on the box's top

Without looking into the hole,

And only from this side to that did they hop,

As 'twere a common well-pole.

Methinks I had never seen them before,

Nor indeed had they seen me,

Till I chanced to stand by our back door,

And they came to the poplar tree.

In course of time they built their nest

And reared a happy brood,

And every morn they piped their best

As they flew away to the wood.

Thus wore the summer hours away

To the bluebirds and to me, 45

And every hour was a summer's day,

So pleasantly lived we.

They were a world within themselves,

And I a world in me,

Up in the tree---the little elves---

With their callow family.

One morn the wind blowed cold and strong,

And the leaves went whirling away;

The birds prepared for their journey long

That raw and gusty day.

Boreas came blust'ring down from the north,

And ruffled their azure smocks,

So they launched them forth, though somewhat loth,

By way of the old Cliff rocks.

Meanwhile the earth jogged steadily on

In her mantle of purest white,

And anon another spring was born

When winter was vanished quite.

And I wandered forth o'er the steamy earth,

And gazed at the mellow sky,

But never before from the hour of my birth

Had I wandered so thoughtfully.

For never before was the earth so still,

And never so mild was the sky,

The river, the fields, the woods, and the hill

Seemed to heave an audible sigh. 46

I felt that the heavens were all around,

And the earth was all below,

As when in the ears there rushes a sound

Which thrills you from top to toe.

I dreamed that I was a waking thought,

A something I hardly knew,

Not a solid piece, nor an empty nought,

But a drop of morning dew.

'Twas the world and I at a game of bo-peep,

As a man would dodge his shadow,

An idea becalmed in eternity's deep,

'Tween Lima and Segraddo.

Anon a faintly warbled note

From out the azure deep

Into my ears did gently float

As is the approach of sleep.

It thrilled but startled not my soul;

Across my mind strange mem'ries gleamed,

As often distant scenes unroll

When we have lately dreamed.

The bluebird had come from the distant South

To his box in the poplar tree,

And he opened wide his slender mouth

On purpose to sing to me.

Free Learning Resources