JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. XI, No. 1

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

October 2009


* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

We are interested in the phenomenon of Nature mainly as children are or as we are in games of chance. They are more or less exciting. Our appetite for novelty is insatiable. We do not attend to ordinary things, though they are the most important, but to extraordinary ones. While it is only moderately hot or cold, wet or dry, nobody attends to it. But when nature goes to an extreme in any of these directions, we are all on the alert with excitement. Not that we care about the philosophy or effects of this phenomenon, e.g., when I went to Boston in the early train the coldest morning of last year two topics mainly occupied the attention of the passengers, Morphy’s chess victories and Nature’s vicious cold that morning. The inhabitants of various towns were comparing notes, and that one whose door opened upon a greater degree of cold than any of his neighbor’s doors chuckled not a little…Thus greater degree of cold may be said to warm us more than a less one. (March 19, 1859)

********

In those wet day like the 18th & 19th when the browns culminated, the sun being concealed, I was drawn toward and worshipped the brownish light in the sod–the withered grass, etc, on barren hills. I felt as if I could eat the very crust of the earth. I never felt so terrene, never sympathized so with the surface of the earth. From whatever source the light and heat come, thither we look with love. (March 19)

********

Can you ever be sure you heard the very first wood frog in the township croak?
(March 24)

********

[On his hobby of searching for arrowheads]: “Each one yields me a thought. I come nearer to the maker of it that if I found his bones. His bones would not prove any wit that wielded them such as the work of his bones does. It is humanity inscribed on the face of the earth, patent to my eyes as soon as the snow goes off, not hidden in some crypt or grave or under a pyramid.” (March 28)

********

Time will soon destroy the works of famous painters and sculptors, but the Indian arrowhead will balk his efforts and Eternity will have to come to his aid. They are not fossil bones, but, as it were, fossil thoughts, forever reminding me of the mind that shaped them. I would fain know that I am treading in the tracks of human game,–that I am on the trail of a mind. (Same)

********

The larger pestles and axes may, perchance, grow scarce and be broken, but the arrowhead shall perhaps, never cease to wing its way through the ages to eternity. It was originally winged but for a short flight, but it still, to my mind’s eye wings its way through the ages bearing a message from the hand that shot it. Myriads of arrow-points lie sleeping in the skin of the revolving earth, while meteors revolve in space….The footprint, the mind-print, of the oldest men. (Same)

********

When you pick up an arrowhead and put it in your pocket, it may say, “Eh you think you have got me, do you? But I shall wear a hole in your pocket at last, or if you put me in your cabinet, your heir or great-grandson will forget me or throw me out the window directly, or when the house falls I shall drop into the cellar, and I shall lie quite at home again. Ready to be found again, eh? Perhaps some new red man will fit me to a shaft and make me do his bidding for a bow-shot….” (Same)

********

[Inspired by seeing a vernal pool after a flood]: “In many arrangements, there is a wearisome monotony. We know too well what [we] shall have for our Saturday’s dinner, but each day’s feast in Nature’s year is a surprise to us, and adapted to our appetite and spirit. She has arranged such an order of feasts that never tires. Her motive is not economy, but satisfaction.” (Same)

********

The earth lies now like a leopard during his lichen and moss-spotted skin in the sun, her sleek and variegated hide. I know that the few raw spots will heal over. Brown is the color for me, the color of our coats and our daily lives, the color of the poor man’s loaf. (Same)

********

Whether a man’s work be hard or easy, a bird is appointed to sing to a man while he is is at his work. (April 15)

********

This warbler impressed me as if it were calling the trees to life. (Same)

********

What a pitiful business is the fur trade, which has been pursued now for so many ages…that you may rob some little fellow-creature of its coat to adorn or thicken your own, that you may get a fashionable covering in which to hide your head or a suitable robe in which to dispense justice to your fellow men! Regarded from the philosopher’s point-of-view, it is precisely on a level with rag and bone picking in the streets of the cities. The Indian led a more respectable life before he was tempted to debase himself so much by the white man. (April 8)

********

There is a season for everything, and we do not notice a given phenomenon except at that season, if indeed it can be called the same phenomenon at any other season. There is a time to watch the ripples on Ripple Lake, to look for arrowheads, to study the rocks and lichens, a time to walk on sandy deserts, and the observor of nature must improve the seasons as much as the farmer his. So boys fly kites and play ball and hawkie at particular times all over the state. We must not be governed by rigid rules, as by the almanac, but let the seasons rule us. The moods and thoughts of man are revolving just as steadily and incessantly as nature’s. Take time by the forelock. Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this one or the life of this. Where the good husbandman is, there is good soil. Take any other course and life will be a succession of regrets. Let us see vessels sailing prosperously before the wind, and not simply stranded barks. There is no world for penitent and regretful. (April 24)

********

On the Mill-Dam [Now Main St. in Concord-ed.] a man is unmanned. I love best to meet him in the outskirts. They remind me of wharf rats in other place, Let me see a man a-farming, a-fishing, a-walking–anything but a-shopping. (Same)

********

A mosquito has endeavored to sting me. (April 25)

********

The catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, which of course is applicable mainly to God as seen in his works. Yet the only account of its beautiful insects–butterflies, etc–which God has made and set before us which the state ever thinks of spending any money on is the account of those injurious to vegetation. (May 11)

********

[He sees a whirlwind carry oak leaves high into the sky]: “Methought that instead of decaying on earth, these were being translated and would soon be taken in at the windows of heaven. I never observed this phenomenon. So remarkable this flight of the leaves. (Same)

********

A peetweet and its mate at Manatuket Rock…This bird does not return to our stream until the weather is decidedly pleasant and warm. It’s note peoples the river like the prattle of children once more in the yard of a house that has stood empty. (May 2)

********

At evening I hear the first sultry buzz of a fly in my chamber, telling of sultry nights to come. (May 6)

********

Cat -briar in flower, how long? (June 5)


******************************

“His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.” -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest” –HDT

**************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS
is now available on
FACEBOOK
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Please consider joining the group you find there!

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to:
the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

*********

For L-S Alumni

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http://www.lsrhs.net/publications/HistoryCulture/
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*****

Tenth anniversary poem….

THE NATURE OF WORDS

Fear
no wilderness,

and should you come
upon declivitous rivers crystalline
and lambent, flowing
toward sunsets rosacious
and fuscious, as they wend through
forests ferruginous or
verdurous (depending on
the season), strewn on each side with flowers
tesselated and panicled, some even
crenated, and all this midst rock fields
micacious, surrounded
by stertorous sounds and sweet smells

lilacious, know you are
lost only
in

Thoreau's Journal.

After reading my 2,036th page
February 9, 2002


***********************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 2

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
              The Adventure Continues!

              November 2009

 

******
Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!
* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

I hear that Mr. and Mrs. Such-a-one are “going to the beach for six weeks.” What a failure and defeat this suggests their life to be! Here they live, perchance the rest of the year trying to do as they would be done by and to exercise charity of all kinds, and now at last, the parents not having realized their aspiration in the married state and the misses now began to be old maids, without having found any match at all, succumb and slope to the beach.  Yet so far as being felt to be proof of failure in the lives of these Christians, it is thought to be the culminating point in their activity…They bathe daily and are blown by the sea-breeze. This keeps their courage up for the labors of the year. This recess which the Sabbath school teachers take! What if they were to abide, instead, with the caravan of sweltering pilgrims making their way out of this Sahara to their Mecca?
(July 10, 1859)

*********

I suspect that a fall of two or three inches (in a river) in a mile will produce a different fauna and flora to some extent… (July 16)

*********

[After observing that Nutting went under water to build Hunt’s Bridge]: “Nothing has got built without labor. Past generations have spent their blood and strength for us. They have cleared the land, built roads, etc, for us. Men are industrious as ants.”
(July 18)

*********

The architect of the river builds with sand chiefly, not mud. (July 19)

*********

[On the local rivers and their current flow]: “It’s a mere stream of lakes which have not made up their minds to be rivers. As near as possible to a standstill.” (Same)

*********

Yet the river in the middle of Concord is swifter than above or below, and if Concord people are slow in consequence, the people of Sudbury and Carlisle should be slower still. (Same)

*********

[On a motionless pickerel]: “It is an enchanter’s wand ready to surprise you with life.” (Aug. 8)

*********

That was purple grass I saw today. (Aug. 17)

*********

The creak of the mule cricket is a very afternoon sound. (Aug. 26)

*********

The first significant event (for a long time) was the frost of the 17th. That was the beginning of winter, the first summons to summer. Some of her forces succumbed to it. (Aug. 26)

*********

The first frost on the 17th was the first stroke of winter aiming at the scalp of summer. Like a stealthy and insidious aboriginal enemy, it made its assault just before daylight in some deep and far-away hollow and then silently withdrew. Few have seen the drooping plants, but the news of this stroke circulates rapidly through the village. Men communicate it with a tone of warning. The foe is gone by sunrise…The foe will go on steadily increasing in strength and boldness, till his white camps will be pitched all over the fields and we shall be compelled to take refuge in our strongholds. (Same)

*********

All our life, i.e., the living part of it, is a persistent dreaming awake. (Aug. 27)

*********

I served my apprenticeship and have since done considerable journeywork in the huckleberry field, though I never paid off my schooling and clothing in that way. It was itself some of the best schooling I got and paid for itself. Occasionally in still summer forenoons, when perhaps a mantua-maker was to be dined and a huckleberry pudding had been decided on, I a lad of 10 was dispatched to the huckleberry field all alone. My scholastic education could be thus far tampered with and an excuse found. (Aug 28)

*********

I hear that some of the villagers were aroused from their sleep before light by the groans or bellowings of a bullock which an unskillful butcher was slaughtering at the slaughterhouse. What morning or Memnonian music was that to ring through the quiet village. What did that clarion sing of? What a comment on our village life! Song of the dying bullock! But no doubt those who heard it inquired as usual of the butcher the next day, “What have you got to-day?” “Sirloin, good beefsteak, rattleran,” etc. (Same)

*********

[Autumn is coming]: “Now, too, poets nib their pens afresh…Man, too, ripens with the grapes and apples.”

*********

There was another shower in the night (at 9 pm). It was absolutely one cloud thus broken into six parts, with some broad intervals of clear sky and fair weather. It would have been convenient for us, if it had been printed on the first cloud, “Five more to come!” Such a shower has a history which has never been written. One would like to know how and where the first cloud gathered. What lands and water it passed over and where and when it ceased to rain and was finally dissipated. (Aug. 31)

*********

(The state muster of militias takes place in Concord this year, and Thoreau tells this story]: “I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for, as I told the storekeeper, the Governor is coming here. ‘Aye,’ said he, ‘and the legislature too.’ ‘Then I will take two bolts,’ I said. He said there has been a steady demand for bolts an locks of late, for our protectors are coming.” (Sept. 8)

*********

No fruit is handsomer than the acorn. (Sept 11)

*********

 

There are various degrees of living out-of-doors. You must be outdoors long-early and late, and travel far and earnestly in order to perceive the phenomena of the day. Even then much will escape you. Few live so far outdoors as to hear the first geese go over. (Sept 13)

*********

Think of the numbers–men and women who want and will have and do have (how do they get it?!) what they will not earn! The non-producers. How many of these blood suckers are fastened to every helpful man or woman in this world!

*********

The mass of men, just like sausages, strive always after the outside, the clothes and finery of civilized life, the blue beads and tinsel and centre-tables. It is a wonder that any load ever gets moved men are so prone to put the cart before the horse. (Same)

*********

I am invited to some party of ladies or gentleman for an excursion–to walk, to sail, or the like,–but by all kinds of evasions I omit it, and am thought to be rude or unaccommodating therefore. They do not consider that the wood-path and the boat are my studio, where I maintain a sacred solitude and cannot admit promiscuous company. I see them occasionally in an evening or at the table, however. They do not think of taking a child away from its school to go a-huckleberrying with them. Why should I not, then, have my school and school hours to be respected? Ask me for a certain number of dollars if you will, but do not ask me for my afternoons. (Same)

 

*   *   *   *

“His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to:
 the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

****************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 3

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal
The Adventure Continues!

     December 2009

******
Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!

* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

What an army of non-producers society produces–ladies generally (old and young) and gentlemen of the leisure, so-called! Many think themselves well-employed as charitable dispensers of wealth which somebody else earned, and who produce nothing, being of the most luxurious habits, are precisely those who want the most, who complain loudest when they do not get what they want. (September 23, 1859)

**********

It is not by compromise, it is not by timid and feeble repentance that a man will save his soul and live free at last. He has got to conquer a clear field and let Repentance and Co. go...You need to fight in a field where no allowances will be made, no courteous bowing to one-handed knights. You are expected to do your duty, not in spite of everything but one, but in spite of everything. (Sept. 24)

**********

[He writes about a dickinsonia fern he picked while walking along a cow-path]: “The very scent of it, if you have a decayed frond in your chamber, will take you far upcountry in a twinkling. You would think you had gone after the cows there, or were lost on the mountains. I will make you as cool and as well as a frog–a wood frog, Rana Sylvatica.” (Same)

**********

Though you may have sauntered near to Heaven’s Gate, when at length you return to the village you give up the enterprise a little and you begin to fall into old ruts of thought, like a regular roadster. Your thoughts very properly fail to report themselves to headquarters. Your thoughts turn toward evening and the evening mail and become begrimed with dust, as if you were just going to put up at (with?) the tavern, or even come to make an exchange with a brother clergyman here or on the morrow. (Same)

**********

Road–that old Carlisle one–that leaves towns behind; there you put off worldly thoughts; where you do not carry a watch; nor remember the proprietor; where the proprietor is the trespasser,–looking after his apples... (Same)

**********

Nature, the earth herself, is the only panacea. (Same)

**********

In proportion as a man has a poor ear for music, or loses his ear for it, he is obliged to go far for it or fetch it from far and pay a great deal of price for such as he can hear. Operas, ballet singers, and the like only affect him. (Sept. 28)

**********
Horse-chestnuts strew the roadside, very handsome-colored, but simply formed nuts, looking like mahogany knobs, with the waved and curled grain of knots. (Sept. 29)

**********

[On one of his walks through the woods, he sees a roof and a plume of smoke rising from a chimney]: “There are few more agreeable sights to a pedestrian traveler. No cloud is fairer to him than that little bluish one which issues from the chimney. It suggests all of domestic felicity beneath. There beneath, we suppose, that life is lived of which we have only dreamed. In our minds we clothe the inhabitants of all the success, of all the serenity, which we can conceive of.” (Oct. 3)

**********

Why are distant valleys, why lakes, why mountains in the horizon, ever fair to us? Because we realize for a moment that they may be the home of man, and that man’s life may be in harmony with them. Shall I say that we thus forever delude ourselves?...The sky and clouds, and the earth itself, with their beauty forever preach to us, saying, Such an abode we offer you, to such and such a life we encourage you...There is not haggard poverty and harassing debt. There is not intemperance, moroseness, meanness, or vulgarity. We are ever busy hiring housing and lands and peopling them with our imaginations. There is not beauty in the sky but in the eye that sees it...When I see the roof of a house above the woods, and do not know whose it is, I presume that one of the worthies of the world dwells beneath, and for a season I am exhilarated at the thought. I would fain sketch it that others may share my pleasure. But commonly if I see or know the occupant, I am affected as by the sight of the almshouse or hospital. (Same)

**********

How all poets have idealized the farmer’s life! ...When I look down on the roof, I am not reminded of the mortgage which the village bank has had on the property,–and the family long since sold itself to the devil and wrote the deed with their blood. I am not reminded...that the man at the pump is watering the milk. I am not reminded of the idiot who sits by the kitchen fire. (Same)

**********

I have always found that what are called the best manners are the worst, for they are simply the shell without the meat. They cover no life at all. They are the universal slave-holders who treat men as things. Nobody holds you more cheap than the man of manners. They are marks by the help of which wearers ignore you and conceal themselves. Are they such great characters that they feel obliged to make the journey of life incognito? Sailors swear; gentlemen make their manners to you. (Oct. 4)

**********

In the summer, greenness is cheap, now it is something comparatively rare, and is the emblem of life to us.

**********

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. I do not get nearer by a hair’s breadth to any natural object so long as I presume that I have an introduction to it from some learned man. To conceive of it with a total apprehension I must for the thousandth time approach it as something totally strange. If you make acquaintance with the ferns you must forget your biology. You must get rid of what is commonly called knowledge of them. Not a single scientific term or distinction is the least to the purpose, for you would fain perceive something, and you must approach the object totally unprejudiced. You must be aware that no thing is what you have taken it to be. In what book is this world and its beauty described? Who has plotted the steps toward the discovery of beauty? You have got to be in a different state than common. Your greatest success will be simply to perceive that such things are, and you will have no communication to make to the Royal Society. If it were required to know the position of the fruit dots or the character of indusium, nothing could be easier than to ascertain it; but if it required that you be affected by ferns, that they amount to anything, signify anything, to you, helping to redeem your life, this end is not so surely accomplished. In the one case you take a sentence and analyze it, you decide if it is printed in large primer or small pica; if it is long or short, simple or compound, and how many clauses it is composed of; if the i’s are all dotted, or some for variety without dots; what the color and composition of the ink and paper; and it is considered a fair or mediocre sentence accordingly, and you assign its place among the sentences you have seen and kept specimens of. But as for the meaning of the sentence, that is as completely overlooked as if it had none. This is the Chinese, the Aristotelian, method. But if you should ever perceive the meaning you would disregard all the rest. So far science goes, and it punctually leaves off there,–tells you finally where it is to be found and its synonyms, and rests from its labors. (Same)

**********

[On seeing a leafy-shad bush]: “In fall I will take this for my coat-of-arms. It seems to detain the sun that expands it. These twigs are so full of life that they can hardly contain themselves. They ignore winter. They anticipate spring. What faith...In my later years, let me have some shad-bush thoughts.” (Oct. 13)

**********

As the shadows of these cold clouds flit across the landscape, the red banners of distant forests are lit-up or disappear like the colors of a thousand regiments. (Oct 15)

**********************************

“His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to:
 the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

***********************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 4

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
              The Adventure Continues!

              January 2010

 

******
Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!
* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

**********

[Here the idea of national/state/town parks is born]: “Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation. We hear of cow commons and ministerial lots, but we want men-commons and lay lots, inalienable forever. Let us keep the New World new, preserve all the advantages of living in the country. There is meadow and pasture and wood-lot for the town’s poor. Why not a forest and huckleberry field for the town’s rich? All Walden Wood might have been preserved for our park forever, with Walden in its midst, and the Easterbrooks Country, an unoccupied area of some four square miles, might have been our huckleberry-field. If any owners of these tracts are about to leave the world without natural heirs who need or deserve to be specially remembered, they will do wisely to abandon their possession to all, and not will them to some individual who perhaps has enough already. As some give to Harvard College or another institution, why might not another give a forest or huckleberry-field to Concord? A town is an institution which deserves to be remembered. We boast of our system of education, but why stop at schoolmasters and schoolhouses? We are all schoolmasters, and our schoolhouse is the universe. To attend chiefly to the desk or schoolhouse while we neglect the scenery in which it is placed is absurd. If we do not look out we shall find our fine schoolhouse standing in a cow-yard at last.” (October 15, 1859)

********

When I get to Willow Bay, I see the new musquash[muskrat]-houses erected conspicuously on the now leafless shores. To me this is an important and suggestive sight, as perchance in some countries new haystacks in the yards…I remember this phenomenon for thirty years. A more constant phenomenon here than the new haystack in the yard, for they were erected here probably before man dwelt here and may still be erected here when man had departed. For thirty years I have annually observed, about this time of year or earlier, the freshly erected winter lodges of the musquash along the riverside, reminding us that, if we have no gypsies, we have a more indigenous race of furry, quadrapedal men maintaining their ground in our midst. This may not be an annual phenomenon to you. It may not be in Greenwich Almanac or Ephemeris, but it has an important place in my calendar.  [Oct. 16)

********

What if there were a tariff on words, for the encouragement of home manufactures? Have we not the genius to coin our own? Let the schoolmaster distinguish the true from the counterfeit. (Same)

********

They go on publishing the “chronological cycles” and the “moveable festivals” of the church and the like from mere habit, but how insignificant are these compared with the annual phenomena of your life, which fall within your experience! The signs of the zodiac are not nearly of that experience to me that the sight of a dead sucker in spring is. (Same)

********

Men attach a false importance to celestial phenomena as compared to terrestrial, as if it were not more respectable to watch your neighbors than to mind your own affairs. The nodes of the stars are not the knots we have to untie. (Same)

********

This cold condenses us. Our spirits are strong,–like that pint of cider in the middle of a frozen barrel. (Same)

********

Each ball of button bush reflected in the silvery water by the riverside appears to me as distinct and important as a star in the heavens viewed through “optic glass.” This too deserves its Kepler and Galileo. (Same)

********

What I put into my pocket, whether berry or apple, generally has to keep company with an arrowhead or two. I hear the latter chinking against a key as I walk. These are the perennial crop of Concord fields. If they were sure it would pay, we should see farmers raking the leaves for us. (Oct. 17)

********

I hear that ten geese went over New Bedford some days ago. (Same)

********

Why we cannot oftener refresh each other with original thoughts? If the fragrance of the dikensonia fern is so grateful and suggestive to us, how much more refreshing and encouraging–re-creating–would be fresh and fragrant thoughts communicated to us fresh from a man’s experienced life! I want none of his pity, nor sympathy, in the common sense, but that he should emit and communicate to me his essential fragrance, that he should not be forever repenting and going to church (when not otherwise sinning), but, as it were, going a-huckleberrying in the fields of thought, and enrich all the world with his visions and joys. (Oct. 18)

********

Why do you flee so soon, sir, to the theaters, lecture-rooms and museums of the city? If you will stay here a while, I will promise you strange sights. You shall walk on water, all these brooks and ponds will be your highway. You shall see the whole earth covered a foot or more deep with the purest white crystals, in which you slump or over which you glide, and all the trees and stubble glittering in icy armor. (Oct. 18)

********

[Here Thoreau begins to write down his thoughts for what will later become his great essay on John Brown, who presently sits in a Virginia jail awaiting his execution. These musings would almost crowd out all others in the journal–including nature observations–for the next two weeks. Thoreau wrote elsewhere that his mind was so seized by this impending event that he had to sleep with pencil and paper by his bed. December 2009 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of Brown’s hanging]: “When a government puts forth its strength on the side of injustice as ours (especially today) to maintain slavery and kill the liberators of the slave, what a merely brute, or worse than brute force it is seen to be. A demoniacal force!” (Oct. 19)

********

C. says he saw a loon at Walden the 15th. (Oct.19)

********

Our foes are in our midst and all about us. Hardly a house but is divided against itself. For our foe is the all but woodenness (both of head and heart), the want of vitality of man–the effect of vice­ whence are begotten fear and superstition and bigotry and persecution and slavery of all kinds. (Same)

********

[After finally turning from Brown]: “Swamp pink and waxwork were bare Oct. 23rd; how long?” (Oct.22)

********

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life we imagine we are? Fear creates danger, and courage dispels it. (Nov 12)

********

There was a remarkable sunset, I think the 25th of October. The sunset sky reached quite from West to East, and it was the most varied in its forms and colors of any that I remember to have seen. At one time the clouds were most softly and delicately rippled, like the ripple marks on sand, But it was hard for me to see its beauty then, when my mind was filed with Captain John Brown. So great a wrong as his fate implied overshadowing all beauty in the world. (Same)

********

How private and sacred a place a grove becomes!–merely because its denseness excluded man. It is worth the while to have these thickets on various sides of the town where the rabbit lurks and the jay builds its nest. (November 26)

********

[His request was refused]: “I am one of a committee of four...instructed by a meeting of citizens to ask liberty of the selectmen to have the bell of the First Parish tolled at the time Captain Brown is being hung, and while we shall be assembled in the Town House to express our sympathy with him…Indeed a considerable part of Concord are in the condition of Virginia today,­–afraid of their own shadow.” (Nov. 28)

*   *   *   *

“His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to:
 the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

*********

For L-S Alumni

LS HISTORY/CULTURE PAGE
http://www.lsrhs.net/publications/HistoryCulture/
ALUMNI PAGE
http://www.lsrhs.net/alumni/default.html
FACEBOOK
The LS Alumni Association
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6467891635

**********************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 5

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
              The Adventure Continues!

              February 2010

 

******

Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!

* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

Still pre-occupied with John Brown. Please note that we just passed the 150th anniversary of his hanging this past December. It is very unusual for Thoreau to allow politics to intrude into his mind and journal for so long a time.


********

When I hear of John Brown and his wife weeping at length, it as if the rocks sweated. (December 3, 1859)

********

[Walking in fresh, deep snow]: “It is as if you had stepped from a withered garden into the yard of a sculptor or worker in marble, crowded with delicate works, rich and rare.”
(Dec 4)

********

His late career [Brown’s]–these six weeks I mean–has been meteor-like, flashing through the darkness in which we live. I know of nothing more miraculous in all history. (Dec. 5)

********
Of all the men who are my contemporaries, it seems to me that John Brown is the only one who has not died. I meet him at every turn. (Same)

********

It is somewhat of a lichen day. (Dec 6)

********

[On Brown]: “What avail all your scholarly accomplishments and learning compared with wisdom and manhood? To omit his other behavior, see what a work this comparatively unread and unlettered man has written within six weeks! Where is our professor of belle-lettres or of logic or rhetoric, who can write so well?” (Same)

********

It suggests that the one great rule of composition–and if I were a professor of rhetoric I would insist on this–is to speak the truth. The first, the second, the third. (Same)

********

I took out my boots, which I have not worn since last spring. With the mud and dust of spring still on them, and went forth in the snow. That is an era when in the beginning of winter, you change from the shoes of summer to the boots of winter. (Same)

********
How can a man perceive the light who has no answering inward light? (Dec 8)

********

[His townsmen’s feeling about Brown]: “They seem to know nothing about living or dying for a principle.” (Dec 9)

********           
It is a scene for variety, for beauty and grandeur out of all proportion to the attention it gets. Who watched the forms of the clouds over this part of the earth a thousand years ago? Who watches them today? (Dec 13)

********

Now that the river is frozen, we have a sky under our feet. (Same)

********

[Thoreau tells us: ‘Philosophy is a Greek word by good rights, and it stands for a Greek thing. Yet some rumor of it has reached the commonest mind.’ He goes on to relate what a woodcutter said when Thoreau complained about the quality of his wood]: “I handled a good deal of wood and I think I understand the philosophy of it.” (Dec 15)

********

I ascended Ball Hill to see the sunset. How red its light at this hour! I covered its orb with my hand and let its rays light up the fine woolen fibres of my glove. They were a dazzling rose color. (Dec 23)

********

How vain to try to teach youth or anybody truths! They can only learn them after their own fashion when they are ready. I do not mean by this to condemn our system of education, but to show what it amounts to. A hundred boys are drilled in physics and metaphysics, language, etc. They get a valuable drilling to be sure, but they do not learn what you profess to teach. They at most learn where the arsenal is should they ever want to use any of the weapons. The young men being young, necessarily listen to the lecturer in history, just as they do to the singing of the birds. They expect to be affected by something he may say. It is a kind of poetic pabulum and imagery they get. Nothing comes quite amiss to their mill. (Dec 31)

********

A man may be old and infirm. What then are the thoughts he thinks? What the life he lives? They and it are, like himself, infirm. But a man may be young, athletic, active, beautiful. Then, too, his thoughts will be like his person. (Same)

********

[Thoreau journal entries now begin his last two years of life]

A man receives only what he is ready to receive, whether physically or intellectually, or morally, as animals conceive at certain seasons their own kind. We hear and apprehend only what we already half know. If there is something which does not concern me, which is out of my line, which by experience, or by genius my attention is not drawn to, however novel or remarkable it may be, if it is spoken, we hear it not, if it is written, we read it not, if it does not detain us. Every man thus tracks himself through life, in all his hearing and reading and observation and traveling. His observations make a chain. The phenomenon or fact which cannot in any wise be linked with the rest which he has observed, he does not observe. By and by we may be ready to receive what cannot be received now. (January 4, 1860)

********

We discover a new world every time that we see the earth again after it has been covered for a season with snow. (Jan 7)

********

Alcott said the other day that this was his definition of heaven: “A place where you have a little conversation.” (Jan 17)
********

The snow looks just like vapor curling over the surface in long waving lines producing the effect of a watered surface, very interesting to look at, when you face the sun, waving or curling about swellings in the ice like the grain of wood, the whole surface in motion, like a low, thin, but infinitely broad stream made up of myriad meandering rills of vapor flowing over the surface. (Jan 19)

********

Each pleasant morning like this all creatures recommence like new resolutions­–even these minnows methinks. (Jan 22)

********

[Of winter clouds]: “What hieroglyphics in the winter sky!” (Jan 25)

********

When you think that your walk is profitless and a failure, and you can hardly persuade yourself not to return, it is on the point of being a success, for then you are in that subdued and knocking mood to which Nature never fails to open. (Jan 27)

********

[On the ‘myriad crystalline mirrors on the surface of the snow’]: “What miracles, what beauty surround us!”

 

********************

 “His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

 

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.neor go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm
or to:
 the Thoreau Institute's web site:
http://www.walden.org/education/index_Schechter_Journal_Drippings.htm

*******************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 6

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
          The Adventure Continues!

              March 2010

 

******

Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!

* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

The crow, flying high, touches the tympanum of the sky for us, and reveals the tone of it. What does it avail to look at back at the thermometer or barometer compared to listening to this note? He informs me that Nature is in the tenderest mood possible and I hear the very fluttering of her heart. (January 31, 1860)

********

Crows have wild and suspicious ways. You will [see] a couple flying high, as if about their business, but, lo, they turn and circle and caw over your head again and again for a mile; and this is their business,­– and if a mile and an afternoon were nothing for him to throw away. This even in winter when they have no nest to be anxious about. But it is affecting to hear them cawing about their ancient seats (as at F. Wheelers woods) which the choppers are laying low. (Same)

********

A rainbow right overhead. Is this what is called a parhelion? (Feb 2)

********

It is remarkable that the straw-colored sedge of the meadows which in the fall is one of the least noticeable colors, should, now that the landscape is most covered with snow, be perhaps the most noticeable of all objects for its color, and an agreeable contrast to the snow. (Same)

********

[On foxes]: “Compared with the dog, he affects me as high-bred unmixed. There is nothing of the mongrel in him. He belongs to a noble family which has seen its best days,–a younger son.” (Same)

********

When I read of some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly­ as that a sentence must never end with a particle–and perceive how implicitly the learned obey it, I think–
“Any fool can make a rule,
And every fool will mind it.”
(Feb. 3)

********

[He described how he is able to recognize a neighbor in the dark even though he cannot see his face or clothing]: “It was because the man within the clothes moved them in a peculiar manner that I knew him thus at once at a distance and in the twilight. He made a certain figure in any clothing he might wear, and moved in it in a peculiar manner. Indeed we have a very intimate knowledge of one another; we see through the thick and thin; spirit meets spirit.” (Feb 5)

********

It may always be a question how much or how little of a man goes to any particular act. It is not merely by taking time and by a conscious effort that he betrays himself. A man is revealed and a man is concealed in a myriad of unexpected ways; e.g., I can hardly think of a more effectual way of disguising neighbors to one another than by stripping them naked. (Same)

********

[He describes how leaves fall on the ice and sink into it–and how after the snow melts a bas relief is formed]: “The smallest and lightest-colored object that falls on the ice begins thus at once to sink through it, the sun as it were driving it; and a great many, no doubt, go quite through.” (Feb. 8)

********

Pliny could express a natural wonder. (Same)

********

In the cold, clear, rough air from the northwest we walk amid what simple surroundings! Surrounded by our thoughts or imaginary objects, living in our ideas, not one in a million even sees the objects which are actually around him. (Feb. 10)

********

[Just a day he looks around and records what he sees…now look with him]: “Above me is a cloudless blue sky; beneath, the sky-blue, i.e., sky-reflecting ice with patches of snow-scattered over it like mackerel clouds. At a distance in several direction, I see the tawny earth streaked or spotted with white where banks or hills appear, or else the green-black evergreen forests, or the brown or russet, or tawny deciduous woods, and here and there, where the agitated surface of the water is exposed, the blue-black water. That dark-eyed water. Especially when I see it at right angles with the direction of the sun, is it not the first sign of spring? How its darkness contrasts with the general lightness of the winter! It has more life in it than any part of the earth’s surface. It is where one of the arteries of the earth is palpable, visible.” (Feb 12)

********

It excites me to see early in the spring that black artery leaping once more through the snow-clad town. All is in tumult and life there, not to mention the rails and cranberries that are drifting in it…They are the wrist, temples of the earth where I feel the pulse with my eye. The living waters, not the dead earth. It is as if the dormant earth opened its dark and liquid eye upon us. (Same)

********

[Nature’s pallet as described by Thoreau]: “When crossing Hubbard’s broad meadow, the snow-patches are a most crystalline purple, like the petals of some flowers or as if tinged with cranberry juice. It is a quite a faery scene, surprising and wonderful, as if you walked amid those rose and purple clouds that you see float in the evening sky. What need to visit the crimson cliffs of Beverly? I thus find myself returning over a green sea, winding amid purple islets, and the low sedge of the meadow on one side is really a burning yellow.” (Same)

********

I walk over a smooth green sea, or aequor, the sunset disappearing in the cloudless horizon, amid thousands of these flat islets as purple as the petals of a flower. It would not be more enchanting to walk amid the purple clouds of the sunset sky. And, by the way, this is but a sunset sky under our feet produced by the same law, the same slanting rays and twilight. Here the clouds are the patches of snow on frozen vapor, and the ice is the greenish between them.  Thus all of heaven is realized on earth. You have seen those fortunate purple isles in the sunset heavens, and that green and amber sky between them. Who would have believed you could walk amid those isles? You can on many a winter evening. I have done so a hundred times. The ice is a solid crystalline sky under our feet. (Same)

********

Whatever aid is to be derived from the use of a scientific term, we can never begin to see anything as it is so long as we remember the scientific term which always our ignorance has imposed on it.  Natural objects and phenomena are in this sense forever wild and unnamed by us. (Same)

********

We have a habit of looking away that we see not what is around us. How few are aware that in winter, when the earth is covered with snow and ice, the phenomenon of the sunset sky is doubled, the one is on the earth around us, the other in the horizon. (Same)

********

The winter is coming when I shall walk the sky. (Same)

********

There is nothing more affecting and beautiful to man, a child of the earth, than the sight of naked soil in the spring. I feel a kindredship with it. (Feb 13)

********

Always you have to contend with the stupidity of men. (Same)

********

The scripture rule: “Unto him that hath shall be given,” is true of composition. The more you have thought and written on a given theme, the more you can still write. Thought breeds thought. It grows under your hands. (Same)

********

It would seem as if the more odd and whimsical the conceit, the more credible to the mass. They require a surprising truth, though they will be surprised of any truth.
(Feb. 18)

********************

 “His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

******************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XI, No. 7

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
              The Adventure Continues!

              April 2010

 

******

Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!

* * *

“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

I feel very ignorant, of course, in a museum. I know nothing about the things they have there–no more than I should know about my friends in the tomb. I walk amid those jars of bloated creatures which they label frogs a total stranger, without the least froggy thought being suggested. Not one of them can croak. (February 18, 1860)

********

Sometimes when I go forth at 2 p.m. there is scarcely a cloud in the sky, but soon one will appear in the west and steadily advance and expand itself, and so change the whole character of my thoughts. The history of the sky for that afternoon will be but the development of that cloud. (Same)

********

Science in many departments of natural history does not pretend to go beyond the shell...A history of animated nature must itself be animated. (Same)

********

The ancient ones, one would say, with their gorgons [dragons?], sphinxes, satyrs, and mantichora, etc, could imagine more than existed, while moderns cannot imagine so much as exists. (Same)

********

We are often injured as benefited by our systems, for, so to speak, no human system is a true one, and a name is at most a convenience and carries no information with it. As soon as I began to be aware of the life of any creature, I at once forget its name. To know the name of a creature is only a convenience to us at first, but so soon as we have learned to distinguish them, the sooner we forget their names the better, so far as any appreciation of them is concerned. I think therefore that the best and least harmful names are those which are an imitation of the voice or note of an animal, or the most poetic ones…There is always something ridiculous in the name of a great man ­as if he were named John Smith. The name is convenient in communicating with others but it is not to be remembered when I communicate with myself. (Same)

********

A fact stated barely is dry. It must be the vehicle of some humanity in order to be of interest to us. It is like giving a man a stone when he asks you for bread. (Feb. 23)

********

The squirrel always begins to gnaw a cone thus at the base, as if it were a stringent law among the squirrel people,– as it the old squirrels taught the young ones a few simple rules like this. (Feb. 28)

********

As it is important to consider Nature from the point of view of science, remembering the nomenclature and system of men, and so, if possible, go a step further in that direction, so it is equally important often to ignore or forget all that we presume that they know, and take an original and unprejudiced view of Nature, letting her make what impression she will on you, as the first men, and all children and natural men, still do. For our science, so called, is always more barren and mixed up with error than our sympathies are. (Same)

********

[He sees a poor man splitting wood and reflects]: “How rarely we are encouraged by the sight of simple actions in the street! We deal with banks and other institutions, where the life and humanity are concealed,–what there is. I like at least to see the great beams half exposed in the ceiling or in the corner.” (Same)

 

********

[He watches the wind blow billows on the water]: “ I know of no checkerboard more interesting.” (March 2)

********

[He sees a flock of grackles]: “How they sit and make a business of chattering! for it cannot be called singing, and no improvement from age to age perhaps. Yet, as nature is a becoming their notes may become more melodious at last.” (March 8)

********

I meet some Indians just camped on Brister’s Hill. As usual, they are chiefly concerned to find where black ash grows for their baskets. This is what set about to ascertain as soon as they arrive in any strange neighborhood. (Same)

********

[He watches Walden melt]: “It is affecting to see Nature so tender, wearing none of the wrinkles of old age. Ice dissolved is the next moment as perfect water as if it had been melted a million years. To see that which was so hard and immoveable, now so soft and irrepressible! What if our moods could dissolve thus completely! It is like a flush of life in a cheek that was dead. It seems as if it must rejoice in its own newly acquired fluidity, as it affects the beholder with joy.” (March 14)

********

Some, seeing and admiring the neat figure of a hawk, sailing two or three hundred feet above their heads, wish to get nearer and hold it in their hands, perchance not realizing they can see it best at this distance, better now perhaps than ever they will. What is an eagle in captivity!–screaming in the courtyard! I am not the wiser respecting eagles for having seen one there. I do not wish to know the length of its entrails. (March 15)

********

As I walk the street I realize that a new season has arrived. It is time to begin to leave your great coat at home, to put on shoes instead of boots and feel light-footed.
(March 30)

********

Sit without fire. (March 31)

********

The purple finch,­–if not before (April 7).

********

[After describing how New Englanders would first build a basement for cider barrels and then build the house over it]: “The first settlers made preparations to drink a good deal, and they did not disappoint themselves.” (April 16)

********

[Discussed how bird behavior and color aided in concealment]: “It is a question whether the bird consciously cooperates in each instance with its Maker who contrived the concealment. I can never believe this resemblance is a mere coincidence, not designed to answer this very end–which it does so perfectly and usefully.” (April 17)

[Note: Darwin’s Origin of Species was published the year before. Thoreau was one of the first Americans to read it, but I am sure if he read it before writing this entry-Ed.].

********

The air is not only warmer and stiller, but has more of meaning or smothered voice to it, now that the hum of insects begins to be heard. You seem to have a great companion with you, are assured by the scarcely audible hum, as it were the noise of your own thinking. (April 28)

********

I listen to the concert of red-wings,–their rich spayey notes, amid which a few more liquid, and deep in a lower tone, as if bubbled up from the very water beneath the button bushes; as if those singers sat lower. Some old and skillful performer touches these deep and liquid notes, and the rest seem to get up a concert just to encourage him. Yet it is ever a prelude or essay with him, as are all good things, and the melody he is capable of, and which we did not hear this time, is what we will remember. The future will draw him out. The different individuals sit singing and pluming themselves and not appearing to have any conversation with each other. They are only tuning all at once; they never seriously perform; the hour has not arrived. They all go off with a hurried and perhaps alarmed tchuck-tchuck. (April 29)

********************

 “His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

**********

“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only  of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.”   -HDT

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

 bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

***************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. XI, No. 8

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

May 2010

******

Journal Drippings is now available on Facebook, at:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202
Please consider joining the group you find there!

* * *
“Says I to myself” should be the motto of my journal.”
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts." –HDT

**********

These are the last Journal Drippings of the year, as a trip to Asia will make it impossible for me to prepare the usual June offering. But this is just as well. With the arrival of spring, we need to put our Thoreau down and go outside to see things for ourselves! Journal Drippings will return on October 1.

Two sad notes.

First, it appears next year may well be the final year of JD. The Drips will just stop dripping for the simple reason that I will have finished the Journal. (There may be some improvement of the earliest offerings I sent out and some re-publication). I began reading the Journal in 1997. For the past thirteen years, Thoreau has been such a wonderful companion. I am grateful that he allowed me to accompany him on his mind-saunters and pried my eyes open to the miracle around us. Still, all good things must come to an end, even when it has taken the reader 7,000 pages and 2 million words to get there. What a mind! What a masterpiece! What a journey!

I leave for Asia on May 9, which happens to be, as I later recalled, the anniversary of Thoreau’s death in 1862. Given what he accomplished, we can only imagine all that he might have done had he lived past the age of 44. As in previous years, let’s add our own private remembrances of Thoreau this month to that of his contemporary, Louisa May Alcott, who, as a child, enjoyed many a woodland outing with her Concord neighbor:

Thoreau's Flute
Written soon after his death

We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost."

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
"For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man's aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And tuned to poetry life's prose.

"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.

"To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him -- he is with thee."

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A crowd of men seem to generate vermin even of a human kind. In great towns, there is degradation undreamed of elsewhere,–gamblers, dog-killers, rag-pickers. Some live by robbery or by luck. (May 2, 1860)

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The sun sets red, shorn of its beams. (May 4)

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[He notices dew-laden grass where dry, withered grass had been]: “The surface of the earth is this tremblingly alive.”(May13)

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How perfectly new and fresh the world is seen to be, when we behold a myriad sparkles of brilliant, white sunlight on a rippled stream. So remote from dust and decay, more bright than the flash of an eye. (May 24)

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The time has come now when the laborers, having washed and put on their best suits, walk into the fields on the Sabbath, and lie on the ground at rest. (June 4)

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See to-night three dead (fresh) suckers on the Assabet. What has killed them? (June 6)

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Why have the mountains usually a peak? This is not the common form of hills. (June 8)

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Now perceive the smell of red-clover blossoms.

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[He hears an unusual bird song]: “It was the same note I heard so well on Cape Cod in July ’55 and probably the same in the Shawsheen Valley, May 15, 1858.”

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Also the great bullfrog which sit out on the stones very two or three rods all around the pond are singularly clean and handsome bullfrogs, with fine yellow throats sharply separated from their pickle green heads by their firmly shut mouths, and with beautiful eyes. (July 19)
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[He looks at a field with different colored grasses and provided his own crude sketch]: “You thus have a sort of terrestrial rainbow. The farmer accustomed to look at his crops from a mercenary point-of-view is not aware of how beautiful they are.” (July 22)

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So far as leaves are concerned, one of the most noticeable phenomena of this green- leaf season is the conspicuous reflection of light, in clear breezy days from the silvery undersides of some. (July 23)

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There is a great deal of life in this landscape. (Same)

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Is it not the height of summer when the locust in heard? (July 30)

VOLUME XIV/ FINAL VOLUME OF THOREAU’S JOURNAL

How much of beauty–of color, as well as form–on which our eyes daily rest goes unperceived by us! No one but a botanist is likely to distinguish nicely the different shades of green with which the open surface of the earth is clothed,–not even a landscape painter if he does not know the species of sedges and grasses which paint it.
(Aug.1)

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When your attention has been drawn to them, nothing is more charming than the common colors of the earth’s surface. (Same)

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[He is camping hear the top of Monadnock. He says he hears a few sounds from below: a church bell, a dog barking, an occasional cow or sheep. But he notes the loudest farm house sound: the crowing of the cock]: “It seems to wind its way through the layers of air as a sharp gimlet through soft wood and reached our ears with amusing distinctness.” (Aug. 6)

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[He hears nighthawks]: “I suspect that their booming on a distant part of the mountain was the sound which I heard the first night, which was like very distant thunder, or the fall of a pile of lumber.” (Aug. 9)
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Those who simply climb the peak of Monadnock have seen but little of the mountain. I came not to look off from it but to look at it. (Same)

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When I used to pick the berries for dinner on the East Quarter hills I did not eat one till I had done, for going a-berrying implies more things than eating the berries. They at home got only the pudding: I got the forenoon out of doors, and the appetite for the pudding. (Aug. 22)

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It is true, as is said, that we have as good a right to make berries private property, as to make grass and trees such. But what I chiefly regret is the, in effect, dog-in-the-manger result, for at the same time that we exclude mankind from gathering berries in our field, we exclude them from gathering health and happiness and inspiration and a hundred other far finer and nobler fruits than berries, which yet we shall not gather ourselves there, nor even carry to market. We strike only one more blow at a simple and wholesome relation to nature…If were left to the berries to say who shall have them, is it not likely that they would prefer to be gathered by the party of children in the hay-rigging who have come to have a good time merely? (Same)

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I do not see clearly that these successive losses are ever quite made up to us. This is one of the taxes which we pay for having a railroad. Almost all of our improvements, so-called, tend to convert the country into the town. (Same)

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“His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been
able to understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care
so much about being a writer? Why did he pay so much
attention to his own thoughts? Why was he so
dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested
in the river and the woods
and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge.”

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

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“My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I
love to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with
me. I have lain fallow long enough.” -HDT

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“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest” –HDT

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If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at:

bill_schechter@lsrhs.net
or go to :
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/ht.htm

 

 



 

 


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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