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

Page 83 of 99

March 26, 1846. The change from foul weather to fair, from dark, sluggish hours to serene, elastic ones, is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim. The change from foulness to serenity is instantaneous. Suddenly an influx of light, though it was late, filled my room. I looked out and saw that the pond was already calm and full of hope as on a summer evening, though the ice was dissolved but yesterday. There seemed to be some intelligence in the pond which responded to the unseen serenity in a distant horizon. I heard a robin in the distance,---the first I had heard this spring,---repeating the assurance. The green pitch [pine] suddenly looked brighter and more erect, as if now entirely washed and cleansed by the rain. I knew it would not rain any more. A serene summer-evening sky seemed darkly reflected in the pond, though the clear sky was nowhere visible overhead. It was no longer the end of a season, but the beginning. The pines and shrub oaks, which had before drooped and cowered the winter through with myself, now recovered their several characters and in the landscape revived the expression of an immortal beauty. Trees seemed all at once to be fitly grouped, to sustain new relations to men and to one another. There was somewhat cosmical in the arrangement of nature. O the evening robin, at the close of a New England day! If I could ever find the twig he sits upon! Where does the minstrel really roost? We perceive it is not the bird of the ornithologist that is heard,---the Turdus migratorius.

The signs of fair weather are seen in the bosom of ponds before they are recognized in the heavens. It 401 is easy to tell by looking at any twig of the forest whether its winter is past or not.[440]

We forget how the sun looks on our fields, as on the forests and the prairies, as they reflect or absorb his rays. It matters not whether we stand in Italy or on the prairies of the West, in the eye of the sun the earth is all equally cultivated like a garden, and yields to the wave of an irresistible civilization.

This broad field, which I have looked on so long, looks not to me as the farmer, looks away from me to the sun, and attends to the harmony of nature. These beans have results which are not harvested in the autumn of the year. They do not mind, if I harvest them, who waters and makes them grow? Our grain-fields make part of a beautiful picture which the sun beholds in his daily course, and it matters little comparatively whether they fill the barns of the husbandman. The true husbandman will cease from anxiety and labor with every day, and relinquish all claim to the produce of his fields.[441]

The avaricious man would fain plant by himself.

A flock of geese has just got in late, now in the dark flying low over the pond. They came on, indulging at last like weary travellers in complaint and consolation, or like some creaking evening mail late lumbering in with regular anserine clangor. I stood at my door and could hear their wings when they suddenly spied my light and, ceasing their noise, wheeled to the east and apparently settled in the pond.[442] 402

March 27. This morning I saw the geese from the door through the mist sailing about in the middle of the pond, but when I went to the shore they rose and circled round like ducks over my head, so that I counted them,---twenty-nine. I after saw thirteen ducks.[443] 403

(T. 27-30)

[The small and much mutilated journal which begins here appears to belong to the Walden period (1845-47), but the entries are undated.]


What doth he ask?

Some worthy task,

Never to run

Till that be done,

That never done

Under the sun.

Here to begin

All things to win

By his endeavor

Forever and ever.

Happy and well

On this ground to dwell,

This soil subdue,

Plant, and renew.

By might and main

Health and strength gain,

So to give nerve 404

To his slenderness;

Yet some mighty pain

He would sustain,

So to preserve

His tenderness.

Not be deceived,

Of suff'ring bereaved,

Not lose his life

By living too well,

Nor escape strife

In his lonely cell,

And so find out heaven

By not knowing hell.

Strength like the rock

To withstand any shock,

Yet some Aaron's rod,

Some smiting by God,

Occasion to gain

To shed human tears

And to entertain

Still demonic fears.

Not once for all, forever, blest,

Still to be cheered out of the west;

Not from his heart to banish all sighs;

Still be encouraged by the sunrise;

Forever to love and to love and to love,

Within him, around him, beneath him, above.

To love is to know, is to feel, is to be;

At once 'tis his birth and his destiny.

Having sold all,

Something would get, 405

Furnish his stall

With better yet,---

For earthly pleasures

Celestial pains,

Heavenly losses

For earthly gains.

Still to begin---unheard-of sin

A fallen angel---a risen man

Never returns to where he began.

Some childlike labor

Here to perform,

Some baby-house

To keep out the storm,

And make the sun laugh

While he doth warm,

And the moon cry

To think of her youth,

The months gone by,

And wintering truth.

How long to morning?

Can any tell?

How long since the warning

On our ears fell?

The bridegroom cometh

Know we not well?

Are we not ready,

Our packet made,

Our hearts steady,

Last words said?

Must we still eat 406

The bread we have spurned?

Must we rekindle

The faggots we've burned?

Must we go out

By the poor man's gate?

Die by degrees,

Not by new fate?

Is there no road

This way, my friend?

Is there no road

Without any end?

Have you not seen

In ancient times

Pilgrims go by here

Toward other climes,

With shining faces

Youthful and strong

Mounting this hill

With speech and with song?

Oh, my good sir,

I know not the ways;

Little my knowledge,

Though many my days.

When I have slumbered,

I have heard sounds

As travellers passing

Over my grounds.

'Twas a sweet music

Wafted them by;

I could not tell

If far off or nigh. 407

Unless I dreamed it,

This was of yore,

But I never told it

To mortal before;

Never remembered

But in my dreams

What to me waking

A miracle seems.

If you will give of your pulse or your grain,

We will rekindle those flames again.

Here will we tarry, still without doubt,

Till a miracle putteth that fire out.

At midnight's hour I raised my head.

The owls were seeking for their bread;

The foxes barked, impatient still

At their wan [?] fate they bear so ill.

I thought me of eternities delayed

And of commands but half obeyed.

The night wind rustled through the glade,

As if a force of men there staid;

The word was whispered through the ranks,

And every hero seized his lance.

The word was whispered through the ranks,


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