JOURNAL DRIPPINGS


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

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

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


For the past four years, I have been working my way, very slowly, through
Thoreau’s very long (2 million word), multi-volume journal. Encouraged to
keep one by Emerson, Thoreau later considered his journal as his
indispensable compost pile, from which evolved many of his later and more
famous lectures and essays.

As I’ve made my way through his journal, I’ve been stunned at his lean,
powerful language, at his capacity for analogy, and at the depth of his
insight and the wide-ranging ambit of his thought.

I am launching a new occasional feature on this conference to be known as
JOURNAL DRIPPINGS, with some of the lines and passages I have particularly
liked. Hope you will stop by for an occasional dripping now and then, and
perhaps find something here of interest.

Bill Schechter


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

Vol 1, No. 1 (of Drippings)

My first night in a tent--the riches of night. Who would not be a dog and
bay at the moon? (7/2/38)


***

Does not thought and men’s lives enrich the earth and change the aspect of
things as much as the growth of wood? (7/3/38)

***

He who receives an injury is the accomplice of the wrongdoer. (7/9/38)

***

Never was anything so unfamiliar and startling to me as my own thoughts.
(7/10/38)

***

Let us remember not to strive upward too long, but sometimes drop plumb
the other way...(6/20/38)

***

Nothing goes by luck in composition. The best you can write will be the
best you are. Every sentence is the result of a long probation. The
author’s character is read from the title page to the end. Of this he
never corrects the proofs. (2/28/41)\

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

"One piece of good sense is more memorable than a monument as
high as the moon." -Walden

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol 1., No.2
from Thoreau's Journal


So does each bear witness to all, and the history of all the past may be
read in a single grain of it ashes. (July 8, 1840)

***

What I begin by reading, I must finish by acting. So I cannot stay to hear
a good sermon and applaud at the conclusion, but shall be halfway to
Thermopylae before that. (Feb 18, 1841)

***

In the love of narrow souls, I make many short voyages, but in vain; I
find no sea room. But in great souls, I sail before the wind without a
watch, but never reach shore. (same date)

***

I can not tell you what I am more than a ray of the summer’s sun. What I
am I am, and say not. Being is the great explainer. (Feb. 23, 1841)

***

Friends will not only live in harmony but in melody. (April 3, 1841)

***

My life will wait for nobody..It will cut it its own channel like the
mountain stream...What have I to do with plows. I cut another furrow than
you can see...If corn fails, my crop fails not. (April 7, 1841)

***

The nearest approach to discovering who we are is in dreams. It is as hard
to see oneself as to look backward without turning around. (April 27, 1841)

***

The man of principle never gets a holiday (May 3 1841)

***

The fickle person is he that does not know what is right or true
absolutely--who has not an ancient wisdom for a lifetime, but a new
prudence for every hour. (May 6, 1941)

******************************************************************
JOURNAL DRIPPINGS V. 1, N.3
from Thoreau's Journal

"One piece of good sense is more memorable than a monument as
high as the moon." -Walden

A special contribution to the current L-S building anew vs renovation
debate from Walden, to be interpreted as you will:

"My house never pleased me my eye so much after it was plastered."

******
Who hears the rippling of of rivers will not despair of anything (9/14/41)

****

Heaven is the inmost place. The good have not to travel far (12/26/41)

****

I have often been astonished at the force and passion of style which busy
laboring men, unpracticed in writing, easily attain when they make the
effort. It seems as if their sincerity and plainness were the main thing
to be taught in school... (1/5/42)

****

We cannot do well without our sins; they are the highways of our virtues.
(3/21/42)

****

Men have become the tools of their tools. (7/14/42)

****

All nature is classic and akin to art. The critic must at last stand as
mute before a true poem as before an acorn or vine leaf. (8/6/42)

*****

Why not live a hard and emphatic life, full of adventures and work. Learn
much in it, travel much, though it only be in these woods. I sometimes
walk across a field with unexpected expansion and long-missed content; as
if there were a field worthy of me. The usual boundaries of life are
dispersed, and I see in what field I stand. (8/23/42)

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

‘JOURNAL DRIPPINGS’ Vol. I, No. 4
from Thoreau’s Journal


“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

Under that rod of sky, there is some plot brewing, some ingenuity has
planted itself. It tattles of more things than the boiling of the
plot...All that is interesting in history or fiction is transpiring
beneath that cloud. The subject of all life and death, all happiness and
grief, goes there under. (12/15/42)

***********

Shall I go down this long hill in the rain to fish in the pond? i ask
myself.
And I say to myself: yes, roam far, grasp life and conquer it. Learn much
and live. Your fetters are knocked off.; you are really free. Stay till
late in the night; be unwise and daring...Do not repose every night as
villagers do.
Men come home at night only from the next field or street....But come home
from afar, from ventures and perils, from enterprises and discovery and
crusading, with faith and experience and character. Do not rest much.
Dismiss prudence, fear, conformity. Remember only what is promised, Make
the daylight and the night hold a candle, though you be falling from from
heaven to earth... (8/24/46)

*******

Most men have forgotten that it was ever morning. (Same)

*******

Exaggeration! Was ever any virtue attributed to a man without
exaggeration? Was ever any vice, without infinite exaggeration?Do we not
exaggerate ourselves to ourselves, or do we often recognize ourselves for
the actual men we are. The lightening in an exaggeration of the light. We
live by exaggeration...No truth was ever expressed but with this sort of
emphasis, so that for the first time there was no other truth. The value
of what is really valuable can never never be exaggerated...Who are we?
Are we not all great men? And yet what are we actually? Nothing certainly
to speak of... (12/46)

*********

Love never perjures itself, nor is it mistaken. (1845-7)

*********

There is something pathetic in the sedentary life of men who have
travelled. They most naturally die when they leave the road. (Same)

*********

Many a day spent on the hilltops waiting for the sky to fall that I might
catch something. (Same)

********

All change is a miracle to contemplate, but it is a miracle which is
taking place every minute unobserved. (Same)

********

I know of no rule which holds so true as that we are always paid for our
suspicions by finding what we suspect...Our suspicions exercise a
demonical power over the subject of them. By obscure laws of influence,
when we are perhaps unconsciously the subject of another’s suspicion, we
feel a strong impulse, even when it is contrary to another’s nature, to do
what he expects but reprobates. (1837-1847, undated)

*********

A little girl has just brought me a purple finch...We know it chiefly as a
traveler. It reminds me of many things I have forgotten. Many a serene
evening lies snugly packed under its wing. (Same)


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


'JOURNAL DRIPPINGS' Vol. 1, No. 5

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal

Final issue of the academic year

A Good Summer To All!

“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

By a well-directed silence, I have sometimes seen threatening and
troublesome people routed. (1847)

******

Sometimes I have listened so attentively and with so much interest to the
whole expression of a man, I did not hear one word he was saying...(1847)

******

I pray to be delivered from narrowness, partiality, exaggeration, bigotry.
(1850)

*****

It is as sweet a mystery to me as ever what this world is...The sight of
these budding woods intoxicates me...I had no idea so much was going on in
Heywood’s meadow. (1850)

******

It is a pleasant fact that you will know no man long, however low in the
social scale, however poor, miserable, intemperate, and worthless he may
appear to be, a mere burden to society, but you will find at last that
there is something which he understands and do can better than any other.
(1850)

******

Men talk about Bible miracles because there is no miracle in their life.
Cease to gnaw that crust. There is ripe fruit over your head. (1850)

*******

Woe to him who wants a companion, for he is unfit to be companion even of
himself. (1850)

*******

I find the actual to be far less real to be than the imagined. (1850)

*********

Our thoughts are the epochs of our lives; all else is but a journal of the
winds that blew while we were here. (1850)

***********

Let me say to you and to myself in one breath: Cultivate the tree which
you have found to bear fruit in your soil. (1850)

**********

If you can dive a nail and have many nails to drive, drive them....if you
have experiments you would like to try, try them; nows your
chance...Improve every opportunity to be melancholy; Be as melancholy as
you can be and note the result. Rejoice with fate. As for your health,
consider yourself well, and mind your business. Who knows but you are
already dead. Do not be scared already. There are more terrible things to
come, and ever to come. Men die of fright and live of confidence. (1850)

**********

As for conforming outwardly and living your own life inwardly, I have not
a very high opinion of that course...I have no doubt it will prove a
failure. (1850)

*********

All I can say is that I live, breathe, and have my thoughts. (1850)


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. II, No.1


September 2000

These drippings from the Journal of Henry David Thoreau continue (on
an occasional basis) into their second year.

My journal should be the record of my life. 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 do nothing, can’t discover
what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have
lain fallow long enough. (1850)

****

I pray to be delivered from narrowness, partiality, exaggeration, bigotry.
(1850)

****

A truly good book is something so wildly natural and primitive, mysterious
and marvelous, ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus or lichen. Suppose a
muskrat or beaver were to turn his views to literature–what a fresh view
of nature would be preserved! (1850)

****

What shall we do with a man who is afraid of the woods, their solitude and
darkness? What salvation is there for him? Some of our richest days are
those in which no sun shines outwardly, but so much the more a sun
shining inwardly. I love nature, because it is so sincere. It never cheats
me. It never jests...I lie and rely on the earth. (1850)

****

I begin to see an object when I cease to understand it, and see that I did
not realize or appreciate it before. (1850)


*****

But sometimes it happens that I cannot easily shake off the village..I am
out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return my senses like a bird or
beast. (1850)

****

I must live, above all, in the present.

****

If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, neglecting
my particular calling, there would be nothing left living for. I trust
that I shall never sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. (1851)

***

My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the
spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated even with the fumes, call it, of
that divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights
unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant. (1851)

****

To attain a true relation to one human creature is enough to make a year
memorable. (1851)


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. II, No. 2

OCTOBER 2000

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.


I wish my townsmen to consider that, whatever the human law, neither an
individual or a nation can never deliberately commit the least amount of
injustice without having to pay the penalty for it. (3/30/51)

* * *

Let us entertain opinions of our own. Let us be a town and not a suburb.
(same)

* * *

More fatal, as effecting his [a person’s] good or ill fame, is the
utterance of the least inexpugnable truth concerning him by the humblest
individual, that [is] the sentence of the supremest court in the land.
(4/26/51)

* * *

I do not know but there are some who, if they were tied to the whipping
post and could get one hand free, would use it to ring the bells and fire
the cannon to celebrate their liberty. (94/29/51)

* * *

What is a chamber to which the sun does not rise in the morning? What is a
chamber to which the sun does not set at evening? Such are often the
chambers of the mind, for the most part. (4/30/51)

* * *

What is the singing of the birds or any natural sound compared with the
voice of one we love? To one we love we are related as to nature in the
spring. Our dreams are mutually intelligible. We take the census, and find
that there is one. (Same)

* * *

I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made
slaves of men... (5/6/51)

* * *

How important is a constant intercourse with nature and the contemplation
of natural phenomenon to the preservation of moral and intellectual
health. The discipline of school or of business can never impart such
serenity to the mind. (Same)

* * *

[Thoreau had his teeth extracted. Ether anaesthesia, a fairly recent
innovation, was used in the procedure. Here Thoreau reflects on his drug
experience:]

If you have an an inclination to travel, take the ether; you go beyond the
furthest star...[However] it is not necessary for them to take the ether,
who in their sane and waking hours are ever translated by a thought, nor
for them to see with their hindheads, who sometimes see from their
foreheads; nor listen to spiritual knockings, who attend to intimations of
reason and conscience. (5/12/51)

* * *

If I have got false teeth, I trust that I have not got a false conscience.
(Same)

* * *

“Splendid moonlight”...I am wont to think all men are aware of the
miracle, that they are silently worshipping this manifestation of divinity
elsewhere. But when I go in the house I am undeceived; they are absorbed
in checkers or a novel, though they may have been advertised of the
brightness through the shutters. (5/18/51)

* * *

I think the existence of man in nature as the divinist and most startling
of all facts. It is a fact which few realize. (5/20/51)

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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS VOL. II, NO. 3



December 2000

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.


I have heard now within a few days that peculiar dreaming sound of the
frogs which belongs to summer–their mid-summer night’s dream...Who shall
say there is no god if there is a just man?...(Now) we have not only the
idea and vision of the divine themselves--we have brothers. There is the
representative of the divinity on earth, of whom all things fair and noble
are expected. We have the material of heaven here. I think the standing
miracle to man is man. Beyond the paling wonder, come rain or shine, hope
or doubt, there dwells a man, an actual being who can sympathize with our
sublimest thoughts. The revolutions of nature are infinitely glorious and
cheering, hinting to us of a remote future, of possibilities untold; but
startling near to us, someday we find a fellow man. (May 21, 1851)

***********

My most sacred and memorable life is commonly on awakening in the morning.
I frequently awake with an atmosphere about me as if my unremembered
dreams had been divine, as if my spirit had journeyed to its native place,
and in the act of re-entering its native body had diffused an elysian
fragrance around (May 24)

******

A sane and growing man is revolutionized every day. What institutions of
man can survive a morning experience? A single night’s sleep, if we have
indeed slumbered and forgotten anything and grown in our sleep, puts them
behind us like the River Lethe. It is no unusual thing to see the kingdom
of this world pass away. (Same).

******

Men will pay something to look into a travelling showman’s box, but not
look upon the fairest prospects of earth. A vista where you have the near
green horizon contrasted with the distant blue one, terrestrial with
celestial earth. The prospect of a vast horizon must be accessible in our
neighborhood. Where men of enlarged views must be educated. An
unchangeable kind of wealth, a real estate. (Same)

***********

Now at 8:30pm, I hear the dreaming of the frogs. So it seems to me, so
significantly passes my life away. It is like the dreaming of frogs on a
summer evening. (Same)

***********

I saw an organ grinder this morning before a rich man’s house, thrilling
the streets with harmony, loosening the very paving stones and tearing
the routine of my life to rags and tatters... (May 27)

********

I wonder that I ever get five miles on my way, my walk is so crowded with
events and phenomena. How many questions there are that I have not put to
the inhabitants.
(June 7)

*********

There lies Fairhaven Lake, indistinguishable from fallen sky. (June 11)

*********

There is no French Revolution in nature, no excess; she is warmer or
cooler by a degree or two. (Same)

*********

The woodland paths are never to seen to such advantage as in a moonlit
night, so embowered, still opening before you almost against your
expectation as you walk; you are so completely in the woods and yet your
feet meet no obstacles. It is as if it were not a path, but an open
winding passage through the bushes, which your feet find. ...Ah that life
that I have known! How hard it is to remember what is most memorable! We
remember how we itched, not how our hearts beat. (Same)

*********

[When finally you reach town], "you catch yourself merely walking." (Same)

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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. 2, No. 4

January 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.


The water shines with an inward life, like a heaven on earth. The silent
depth, serenity, and majesty of water. Strange that man should distinguish
gold and diamonds when these precious elements are so common. I saw a
distinct river by moonlight, making no noise, yet flowing to the sea, like
melted silver reflecting the moonlight...There is a certain glory that
attends water at night. By it the heavens are related to earth,
undistinguishable from a sky beneath you. (June 13, 1851)

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

We live but a fraction of our life. Why do we not let on the flood, raise
the gates, and set our wheels in motion. He that hath ears to hear, let
him hear. Employ your senses. (Same)

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

How awful is the least unquestionable meanness. When we cannot deny that we
have been guilty of it. (June 29)

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

A traveller! I love his title. A traveller is to be reverenced as such. His
profession is the best symbol of our lives. Going from...toward-; it is the
history of everyone of us. I am interested in those that travel in the
night. (July 2)

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

[The elms] tower, they arch, they droop over the streets like chandeliers
of darkness. (July 7)

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

How the mind should be kept pure and free of rubbish--shall it be a quarter
of heaven itself?...It is so hard to forget what is less than useless to
remember...Every thought that passes through our mind helps to wear and
tear it, and to deepen the ruts. (Same)

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

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your
engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that
in all places and in all hours, you can hear the sound of crickets in those
seasons when they are to be heard. (Same)

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

I hear the cockerels crow in Hubbard’s yard, and morning is already
anticipated...The sound is wonderfully exhilarating at all times. These
birds are worth more to me for their crowing and cackling than for their
drumsticks and eggs. (July 8)

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

The creaking of crickets seems at the very foundation of all sound. At
least I cannot tell it from a ringing in my ears. It is a sound from
within, not without. You cannot dispose of it by listening to it. It
reminds me that I am a denizen of the earth. (July 12)

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

My life was ecstasy. In youth, before I lost any of my senses, I can
remember that I was all alive, and inhabited my body with inexpressible
satisfaction--both its weariness and its refreshment were sweet...I could
remember how I was astonished. The earth was the most glorious musical
instrument and I was audience to its strains...I wondered if a mortal had
ever known what I knew. ...I was daily intoxicated, and yet no man could me
intemperate. With all your science, can you tell me how it is, and whence
it is, that light comes into the soul? (July 16)

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

I remember how glad I was when I was kept from school a half a day to pick
huckleberries on a neighboring hill all by myself to make a pudding for
family dinner. Ah, they got nothing but the pudding, but I got invaluable
experience beside! A half a day of liberty like that was like the promise
of life eternal. It was emancipation in New England. O, what a day there
was my countrymen! (Same)

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

It is a test question affecting the youth of a person---Have you knowledge
of the morning?...(July 18)


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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. 2, No. 5

February 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

Here I am 34 years old, and yet my life is wholly unexpanded. How much is
in the germ! Methinks my seasons revolve more slowly than those of
nature. I am differently timed...If my curve is large, why bend it to a
smaller circle? If life is a waiting, so be it. (July 19, 1851)

***********

Now I yearn for one of those old, meandering, dry, uninhabited roads,
which lead away from towns, which lead us away from temptation, which
conduct to the outside of the earth...where you may forget what country
you are travelling...It is wide enough, wide as the thoughts it allows to
visit you...There I can walk and stalk and pace and plod. That’s the road
I can travel, that’s the particular Sudbury I am bound for...There I can
walk, and recover the lost child that I am without ringing any bell...The
deliberate pace of a thinker never made a road the worse for travelling
on. (July 21)

***********

With most men, life is postponed to some trivial business, and so
therefore is heaven. Men think foolishly they may abuse and misspend as
they please and when they get to heaven turn over a new leaf. (Same)

***********

Men are generally spoiled by being so civil and well-disposed. You can
have no profitable conversation with them, they are so conciliatory,
determined to agree with you. It is possible for man to wholly disappear
and be merged in his manners....A cross man, a coarse man, an eccentric
man, a silent man, who does not drill well– of him there is some hope.
Your gentlemen are all alike. They utter their opinions as if it was not a
man who uttered them...The laborers whom I know, the loafers, the fishers,
and hunters, I can spin yarns with profitably....(Same)

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

Remember the creator in the days of your youth, i.e., lay up a store of
natural influences. Sing while you may, before the days of evil come. He
that hath ears, let him hear, see, smell, taste while these sense are
fresh and pure. There is always a kind of fine aeolian harp music to be
heard in the air...To ears that have been expanded, what a harp this world
is! (Same)

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

When to resist or disobey laws: “Cut the leather only where the shore
pinches.” (Same)

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

The mind is subject to moods, as the shadows of the clouds that pass over
the earth. Pay not too much heed to them. Let not the traveller stop for
them...I kept on, and in a moment the sun shone on my walk, within and
without. (July 22)

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

What right have parents to beget, to bring up, and attempt to educate
children in a
city? (July 25)

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

I am bothered to walk with those who wish to keep step with me. It is not
necessary to keep step with your companion, as some endeavor to do. (Same)

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

Ah, what a dry compilation is the Annual Scientific Discovery....One
sentence of perennial poetry would make me forget, would atone for,
volumes of mere science...The question is not what you look at, but what
you see. (August 5)

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

A man must generally get away some hundreds or thousands of miles before
he can be said to begin his travels. Why not begin his travels at
home?...It takes a man of genius to travel in his own country, in his
native village. (August 6)

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

I am perchance most and most profitably interested in the things which I
already know a little about; a mere and utter novelty is a mere
monstrosity to me...I do not know that I am very fond of novelty. I wish
to get a clearer notion of what I already have some inkling. (Same)

***********

On describing clouds and the kind of light created: “Men will travel far
to see less interesting sights than these." (August 8)


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. 2, No. 6

March 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

Why should pensiveness be a kin to sadness? There is a certain fertile
sadness which I would not avoid, but rather earnestly seek. It is
positively joyful to me. It saves my life from being trivial. My life flows
with a deeper current. (August 17, 1851)

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

To shave all of the fields and meadows of New England clean! If men did
this but once, we would never hear the last of that labor...Mexico was won
with less exertion and less true valor than are required to do one season’s
haying in New England...Every field is a battlefield to the mower –a
pitched battled too. (Same)

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

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Me
thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to
flow...The writing which consists with habitual sitting is mechanical,
wooden, dull to read (August 19)

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

What if a man were earnestly and widely to set about recollecting and
preserving the thoughts which he has had? How many perchance are
unrecoverable! (Same).

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

I fear that the character of my knowledge is from year to year becoming
more distinct and scientific, that in exchange for views as wide as
heaven’s cope, I am being narrowed down to the field of a microscope. I see
details, not wholes, not the shadow of the whole. I count parts and say, “I
know.” (Same)

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

We are armed with language to describe each leaf in the field...but not to
describe a human character. With equally wonderful indistinctness and
confusion, we describe men. (August 20)

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

That certainly is the best government where the inhabitants are least often
reminded of the government (Where a man cannot be a poet even without
danger of being made a Poet-Laureate! When he cannot be healthily
neglected, and grow up a man, and not an Englishman merely!) (August 21)

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

The intellect of most men is barren....They neither fertilize or are
fertilized. It is the marriage of the soul with nature that gives birth to
imagination. (Same)

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

It is the fault of some excellent writers...that they express themselves
with too great fullness and detail..They say all they mean. Their sentences
are not concentrated and nutty. Sentences which suggest far more than they
say, which have an atmosphere about them, which do not merely report an
old, but make a new impression; sentences which suggest as many things and
are as durable as a Roman Aqueduct; to frame these, that is the art of
writing. (August 22)

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

Do not neglect to speak of men’s low life and affairs with sympathy
....Resolve to read no book, to take no walk, to understand no enterprise,
but such as you can endure to give an account of to yourself. Live thus
deliberately for the most part. (August 23)

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

With what sober joy I stand to let the water drip from me and feel my fresh
vigor, who have been bathing in the same tub as the muskrat! Such a
medicated bath as only nature furnishes...How ample and generous was
nature. My inheritance is not narrow!

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

How can man sacrifice to supper this serene and sacred time. Our customs
turn the hour of sunset to a trivial time...It might be well if our repasts
were taken out of doors, in view of the sunset and the rising stars–...if
with our bread and butter, we took a slice of the red western sky. (Same)

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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. 2, No. 7

April 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.


There is some advantage, intellectually and spiritually, in taking wide
views with the bodily eye and not pursuing an occupation which holds the
body prone. There is some advantages, perhaps, in attending to the general
features of a landscape over studying the particular plants and animals
which inhabit it. A man may walk abroad and no more see the sky than if he
walked under a shed. The poet is more in the air than the naturalist,
though they may walk side by side. Granted that you are out-of-doors; but
what if the the outer door is open, if the inner door is shut! You must
walk sometimes perfectly free, not prying nor inquisitive, not bent on
seeing things. Throw away a whole day for a single expansion, a single
inspiration of air. (August 21, 1851)

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

We cannot write well or truly but what we write with gusto. The body, the
senses, must conspire with the mind. (Sept 2)

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

A writer, a man writing, is the scribe of all nature; he is the corn and
the air and the atmosphere writing. (Same)

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

It is always essential that we love to do what we are doing–do it with a
heart. (Same)

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

There is a reptile in the throat of the greedy man, always thirsty and
faminishing. (Same)

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

What is a horse but an animal that has lost its liberty? What is it but a
system of of slavery? And do you not thus by insensible and unimportant
degrees come to human slavery? Has lost its liberty! and has man got any
more liberty himself for having robbed the horse, or has he lost just as
much as his own and become more like the horse he has robbed. Is not the
other end of the bridle in this case, too, coiled around his own neck?
(Sept 3)

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

Walk often in drizzly weather, for then the small weeds, covered with rain
drops like beads, appear more beautiful than ever. (Same)

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

For roads, I think a poet cannot tolerate more than a footpath through the
fields...It is not for the muse to think of cart paths– Pray, what other
path would you have than a footpath. This is the track of man alone. One
walks in a wheel path with less emotion; he is at a greater distance from
man. But this footpath was perchance worn by the bare feet of human
beings, and he cannot but think with interest of them.

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

It is wise to write on many subjects, to try many themes, that you might
find the right and inspiring one. Be greedy on occasions to express your
thought. Improve the opportunities to draw analogies. There are
innumerable avenues to the perception of the truth. Improve the suggestion
of each object, however humble, however slight and transparent the
provocation. What else is there to be improved? Who knows what
opportunities he may neglect. It is not in vain that the mind turns this
way or that: follow its leading; apply it whither it inclines to go. Probe
the universe in a myriad points. Be avaricious of these impulses. You must
try a thousand themes before you find the right one, as nature makes a
thousand acorns to make one oak. He is a wise man and experienced who
takes many views; to whom stones and plants and animals and a myriad
subjects have each suggested something, contributed something. (Same).

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

A part of autumnal tints, red leaves. Leaves acquire red blood. Red colors
touch our blood and excite us as well as cows and geese. (Sept. 4)

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

All wisdom is the reward of a discipline conscious or unconscious. (Sept.
5)

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

How excited we are, how much recruited, by a great many particular
fragrances. A field of ripening corn, now at night, that has been topped,
with the stalks stacked up to dry–an inexpressibly dry, rich, sweet,
ripening scent. I feel as if I were an ear of ripening corn myself. (Same)


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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. II, No. 8

May 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

**********

Have a good summer!

As many of the recipients of the "Drippings" will soon be leaving their
college campuses (campi?), I'd like to wish everyone a good, restful, and
happy summer. These will be the last Drippings of this year

***********

Nothing is so much to be feared as fear. (Sept 7, 1851)
[Editor: Readers, has Franklin Roosevelt been tracked down to his his
source?]

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

Our moments of inspiration are not lost, though we have no poem to show for
them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are
ever and anon reminded of them. Their truth subsides and in cooler moments
we can make use of them as paint to guild and adorn our prose. (Same)

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

I do not remember the page which will tell me how to spend this afternoon.
(Same).

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

How to live. How to get the most life. As if you were to teach the young
hunter to entrap his game. How to extract its honey from the flower of the
world. That is my every day business. I am busy as a bee about it. I ramble
over all fields on that errand (Same)

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

If by watching a whole year on the city’s walls, I may obtain communication
from Heaven, shall I not do well to shut up my shop and turn a watchman?
...We are surrounded by a rich and fertile mystery. May we not probe it,
pry into it, employ ourselves about it, a little. To devote your life to
the discovery of divinity in nature or to the eating of oysters, would
these not be attended with very different results? (Same)

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

I cannot easily buy a blank book to write thoughts in–they are all ruled
for dollars and cents. (Same)

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

My profession is always to be on the alert to find God in nature, to know
his lurking places, to know all the oratios, the operas in nature. (Same)

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

The life of man is like a dream. (Sept 9)

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

[THIS IS THE LAST DRIPPING DRAWN FROM VOL. II OF THOREAU’S JOURNAL.
VOLUMES I & II COVER 993 PAGES. ONLY TWELVE VOLUMES REMAIN].

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

The inhabitants of Sudbury are farmers almost exclusively, exceedingly
rough and countrified and more illiterate than usual, very tenacious of
their rights and dignities, and difficult to deal with.

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

What can be uglier than a country occupied by grovelling, coarse and
low-lived men? No scenery will redeem it. What can be more beautiful than
any scenery inhabited by heroes? Any landscape would be glorious to me, if
I were assured that its sky was arched over by a single hero. (Sept 27)

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

At 8 o’clock, the frogs have begun, with with the low moon shining on them,
look like cob webs or think white veils spread over the earth. They are the
dreams or visions of the meadow.
(Oct 1)

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

As moonlight is to sunlight, so are fairies to men. (Oct 6)

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

[In regards to Emerson]: “We do not know what hinders each other from
coming together.”
(Oct 10)

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

Now is the time to enjoy the dry leaves. Now all nature is a dried herb,
full of medicinal odors. (Same).

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

Many maples around the edges of the meadows are quite bare, like smoke.
(Same)

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

The echo is to some extent an independent sound and therein is the charm
and magic of it. It is not merely a repetition of my voice, but it is in
some measure the voice of the wood. (Same)

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

The obstacles which the heart meets with are like granite blocks which one
alone cannot move. She who was as the morning light to me is now neither
the morning star or the evening star. We meet but to find each other
further asunder, and the oftener we meet the more rapid our divergence. So
a star of the first magnitude pales in the heavens, not from any fault in
the observer’s eye, nor from any fault in itself, perchance, but because a
progress in its own system has put a greater distance between. The night
is oracular. What have been the intimations of the night? I ask. How have
you passed the night? Good-night! (same)

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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No.1



September 2001

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

YEAR 3 BEGINS


Hope everyone had a pleasant summer...and that all have a good year ahead.
Woe is me. I pressed some computer key and lost my Drippings email list
and have tried to reconstruct it, with partial success. Welcome to those
new on the list. How did you get on it? Don’t ask. Send me your preferred
email address. I am sending everyone two emails. One with the complete
Drippings so far ( v. I & v. II). The second email will be the Sept. 2001
installment. And please do send me the email addresses of those whom you
think would also enjoy these Drippings.

Best wishes,
Bill Schechter
The Lord High Excerptor


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

All of the these and previous excepts appear among– and spring
from–routine but careful observations such as: "The ants appear to be gone
into winter quarters. Here are two bushels of fine gravel, piled up in a
cone. overpowering the grass, which tells of a corresponding cavity."

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

[Year and date cited for first passage is same for all unless otherwise
indicated]


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

It is a rare qualification be able to state a fact simple and adequately,
to digest some experience cleanly, to say “yes” and “no” with authority,
to conceive and suffer the truth to pass through us living and intact,
even as a waterfowl an eel, as it flies over the meadows, thus stocking
new waters. First of all, man must see before he can say. Statements are
made but partially. They are said with reference to certain conventions or
existing institutions, not absolutely. A fact truly and absolutely stated
is taken out of the region of common sense and acquires a mythologic or
universal significance. Save it and have done with it. Express it without
expressing yourself. See not with the eyes of science which is barren, nor
of youthful poetry which is impotent. But taste the world and digest
it...And you see, so at length you say. (Nov 1, 1851).

**********

In your thoughts no more than in your walks do you meet men.

**********

This is on my way to Conantum, 2:30 p.m. It is a bright, clear, warm Nov.
day. I feel blessed. I love my life. I warm toward all nature.


***********

I see so far and distinctively, my eyes seem to slide in clear air.

***********

Dear to me to lie in this sand, fit to preserve the bones of a race for
thousands of years to come. And this is my home, my native soil; and I am
a New Englander...Here I have my habitat. I am of thee. (Nov. 7)

***********

I too would fain set down something besides facts. Facts should only be as
the frame to my pictures; they should be material to the mythology I am
writing; not facts to assist men to make money, farmers to farm,
profitably in any sense; facts to tell who I am and where I have been and
what I have thought. My facts shall be falsehoods to the common sense. I
too cherish vague and misty forms, vaguest when the cloud at which I stare
is dissipated quite, and naught but the skyey depths are seen. (Nov. 9)

***********


It is fatal to a writer to be too much possessed by his thought. Things
must lie a little remote to be described. (Nov. 11)

***********

Write often, write upon a thousand themes, rather than long at a time, not
trying to turn too many somersaults in the air and so come down on your
head at last....Those sentences are good and well-discharged that are like
so many resiliencies from the spring floor of our life, a distinct fruit
and kernel itself, springing from the Terra Firma...Take as many bounds in
a day as possible. Sentences uttered with your back to the wall. There are
the admirable bounds when the performer has lately touched the
springboard. A good bound into the air from the air is a wholesome
experience...Such, uttered or not, is the strain of your sentence.
Sentences in which there are no strain. (Nov. 12)

***********

A cold and dark afternoon, the sun being behind clouds in the west. The
landscape is barren of objects. The trees being leafless, and so little
life in the sky for variety. Such a day as will almost oblige a man to eat
his own heart. A day in which you must hold onto life by the teeth...Now
is the time to cut timber for yokes...Finding yourself yoked to Matter &
Time. Truly a hard day, hard times, these!...What do the thoughts find to
live on? What avails you now the fire you stole from the heavens?...All
fields lie fallow. Shall not your mind? ...[B]ut there are brave thoughts
within you that shall remain to rustle through the winter like oak leaves
on your boughs ...Some warm springs shall still tinkle and fume...Methinks
man came very near being a dormant creature, just as some of these
animals...Now for the oily nuts which you have stored up. (Nov. 13)

***********

It is remarkable that the highest intellectual mood which the world
tolerates is the perception of the truth of the most ancient revelations,
now in some respects out-of-date; but any direct revelation, any original
thoughts, it hates like virtue. The fathers and mothers would rather hear
the young man or young women at their table express reference for some old
statement of the truth than utter a direct revelation themselves. They
don’t want to have any prophets born in their family–damn them!
(Nov. 16)

***********

I rejoice that there are owls. They represent the stark, twilight,
unsatisfied thoughts I have. Let owls do the idiotic and maniacal hooting
for men. (Nov. 18)

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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 2


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.


October 2000

I wished to ally myself to the power that rules the universe. I wished to
dive into some deep stream of thoughtful and devoted life, which meandered
through retired and fertile meadows...I wished to do again, or for
once,things quite congenial to my highest in-most and sacred nature...I
wished to live, ah! as far away as a man can think. I wished for leisure
and quiet to let my life flow in its proper channels, with its proper
currents; when I might not waste the days; might do my own work and not
the work of
Concord and Carlisle. [Dec 12, 1851]

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

We do indeed see through and through each other, through the veil of the
body, and see the real form and character in spite of the garment...How
nakedly men appear to us! [Dec 13]

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

Improve every opportunity to express yourself in writing, as if it were
your last. [Dec 17]

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

One of the best men I know often offends me by uttering made
words...Oh,would you be but simple and downright! Would you but cease your
palaver!...Repeating himself....Shampooing himself. The conversation of
gentlemen after dinner! [same]

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

Nothing stands more free from blame in this world than a pine tree. [Dec.
20]

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

After expressing regret than some of his friends might not find him
affectionate or supportive enough: “But let me say, frankly that, at the
same time, I feel...that I am under an awful necessity to be what I am.”
[Dec 21]

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

I standing twenty miles off, see a crimson cloud on the horizon on the
horizon. You tell me it is a mass of vapor which absorbs all other rays
and reflects the red, but that is nothing to the purpose, for this red
vision excites me, stirs my blood, make my thought flow and I have new and
indescribable fantasies and you have not touched the secret of that
influence. If there is not something mystical in your explanation,
something unexplainable to the understanding of some elements of mystery,
it is quite insufficient. If there is nothing in it which speaks to my
imagination, what boots it? What sort of science in it which enriches the
understanding, but robs the imagination? ...If we should know all things
thus mechanically merely, should we know anything really? [Dec 25]

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

The man is blessed who everyday is permitted to behold anything so pure
and serene as the western sky at sunset, while revolutions vex the world.
[Dec 27]

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

On the January thaw: “It feels warm as in summer; you sit on the
fence-rail and vegetate in the sun, and realize that the earth may produce
peas again.” [Dec. 29]

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

On seeing a great tree cut down: “ And the space it occupied in the upper
air is vacant for the next two centuries. It is lumber. He has laid waste
the air...Why does not the village bell sound a knell? I hear no knell
tolled.” [Dec 30]

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

Treat your friends for what you know them to be. Regard no surfaces.
Consider not what they did, but what they intended. [Dec. 31]

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

In the light of strong feeling, all things take their places, and truth of
every kind is seen for such. [Jan 1, 1852]

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

The worst kind of tick to get under your skin is yourself in an irritable
mood. [Same]


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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 3


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

November 2001



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

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

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


What need to travel? There are no sierra equal to the clouds in the sunset
sky. (Jan 11, 1852)

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

....But swiftly the thought comes to me; go not so far out of your way for
a true life; keep strictly onward on that path alone which your genius
points out. (Jan 12)

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

With respect to writing : "The arrow had best not be loosely shot. The
most transient and passing remark must be reconsidered by a writer, made
sure and warranted, as if the earth had rested on its axle to back it, and
all the natural forces lay behind it. The writer must direct his sentences
as carefully and leisurely as the marksmen his rifle, who shoots sitting,
and with a rest, with patent sights...He must not merely seem to speak the
truth. He must really speak it. If you foresee that part of your essay
will topple down after a lapse of time, throw it down yourself. (Jan. 26)

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

Obey the spur of the moment. These accumulated it is that makes the
impulse and and impetus of the life of genius...Let the spurs of countless
moments goad us incessantly into life. I feel the
spur of the moment thrust deep into my side. (Same)

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

Let all things give way to expression. It is the bud unfolding...Who shall
resist the thaw? (Same)

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

What if all the ponds were shallow? Would it not react on the minds of men
if there were no physical deeps. I thank God that he made the pond deep
and pure for a symbol. (Same)

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

Nature never indulges in exclamations, never says 'ah' or 'alas." She is
not of French descent. She is a plain writer, uses few gestures, does not
add to her verbs, uses few adverbs, uses no expletives. I find I use many
words for the sake of emphasis which really add nothing to the force of my
sentences, and they look relieved the moment I have canceled these. [These
are] words by which I express my mood, my conviction, than the simple
truth. (Same)

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

If you mean by hard times, not when there is no bread, but when there is
no cake, I have no sympathy with you...They showed me Johnny Riordan
today....This little mass of humanity, this tender goblet for the fates,
cast into a cold world with a torn lichen leaf around him–Oh I should
rather hear that America's first born were all slain than that his little
fingers and toes should feel cold while I am warm. (Jan 28)

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

Perhaps those mother o' pearl clouds I described some time ago might be
called rainbow flocks. (Jan 29)

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

I am afraid to travel much or to famous places lest it completely
dissipate the mind. Then I am sure that what we observe at home, if we
observe anything, is of more importance that what we observe abroad....A
wakeful night will yield as much thought as a long journey. (Jan 30)

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

I am a commoner. To me there is something devilish in manners. The best
manners is nakedness of manners. (Jan 31)


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

It depends how a man has spent his day whether he has any right to be in
his bed. (Feb 1)

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

I will resign my life sooner than live by luck. (Same)

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

I suspect that the child plucks its first flower with an insight into its
beauty and significance which the subsequent botanist never retains. (Feb.
5)

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

I found that the shanty was warmed by the simple social relations of the
Irish...What if there is less fire on the hearth if there is more in the
heart. (Feb 8)

**************
If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Dripping" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 4


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

December 2001



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

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

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


Write while the heat is in you...the writer who postpones the recording of
his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled [too much] to burn a hole with.
He cannot inflame the mind of his audience. (February 10, 1852)

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

As we grow older, is it not ominous that we have more to write about
evening, less about morning. We must associate more with the morning hours.
(Feb. 26)

***********

If rivers come out of their icy prisons thus bright, shall I not too resume
by Spring life with joy, sparkle, and hope? ( Same)

***********

I have faith that the man who redeemed some acres of land the past summer
redeemed also some parts of his character. I shall not expect to find him
ever in the almshouse or prison. He is, in fact, so far on his way to to
heaven. (March 1, 1852)

***********

When I hear the telegraph harp, I think I must read the Greek poets. The
sound is like a brighter color....It is prophecies finer senses, a finer
life, a golden age. It is the poetry of the railroad, the heroic and poetic
thoughts which the Irish laborers had of their toil now get expression.
(March 9)

***********

The woods I walked in in my youth are cut off. Is it not time I ceased to
sing? My groves are invaded.

***********

Before sunrise...with what infinite and unwearied expectation and
proclamation the cocks usher in every dawn as if there had never been one
before. . And the dog barks still and the thallus of lichens spings, so
tenacious of life is nature. (March 16)

***********

It is necessary to find out exactly what books to read on a given subject.
Thought there be 1000 books written upon it, it is only important to read 3
or 4 ; they well contain all that is essential, and few pages will show
which they are. Books which are books are all you want, and there are but
half a dozen in any thousand...Decayed literature makes the richest of all
soils.
(Same)

***********

I catch myself philosophizing most abstractly when returning to
consciousness in the night or morning. I make the truest observations and
distinctions then, when the will is yet wholly asleep, and the mind works
like a machine without friction. I am conscious of having, in my sleep,
transcended the limits of individual and made observations and carried on
conversations which in my waking hours I can neither appreciate or recall.
As if in sleep our individual fell into the infinite mind, and at the
moment of awakening we find ourselves on the confines of the
latter....There is a moment in the dawn when the darkness of night is
dissipated and before the exaltation of the day commences to rise, when we
see things more truly, since our senses are purer...By afternoon, all
objects are seen in mirage.
(March 17)

***********

It would be worth the while to tell why a swamp pleases us...Why the
moaning of a storm gives us pleasure. Methinks it is because it puts to
rout the trivialness of our fair weather life and gives it at least a
tragic interest...It is musical and thrilling like the sound of an enemy’s
bugle...What would the the days, what would our life be worth if some
nights were not dark as pitch–-of darkness tangible or that you can cut
with a knife. How else could the light in the mind shine? How could we be
conscious of the light of reason? If it were not for physical cold, how
should we have discovered the warmth of the affections? (March 31)

***********

Do they [the sparrows] go to lead heroic lives in Rupert Island? They are
so small. I think their destinies must be large...God did not make this
world in jest; no, nor in indifference. These migrating sparrows all bear
messages that concern my life. (Same)
***********

What philosopher can estimate the different values of a waking thought or a
dream? (Same).


***********

[If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Dripping" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 5


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

January 2002



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

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

**********

I go forth to to make new demands on life. I wish to begin this summer
well; to do something in it worthy of it and me; to transcend my daily
routine and that of my townsmen; to have my immortality now, that it be
in the quality of my daily life...I will give all I am for my nobility.
I will pay all my days for my success. I pray that the life of this
spring and summer may ever lie fair in my memory. May I dare as I have
never done! May I persevere as I have never done...May my melody not be
wanting for this season. May I gird myself to be a hunter of the
beautiful, that naught escape me...I am eager to report the glories of
the universe, may I be worthy to do it (March 15,1852)

*******

I hear tonight the unspeakable rain, mingled with rattling snow against
the windows, preparing the ground for spring. ( (March 31)

*******

How unexpectedly dumb and poor and cold does Nature look, when, where we
had expected to find a glassy lake reflecting the skies and trees in the
spring, we find only dull, white ice. Such I am, no doubt, to many
friends. (April 1)

*******

The poet says the proper study of of mankind is man. I say, study to
forget all of that; take wider views of the universe...I would fain let
man go by and behold a universe in which man is but a grain of sand...
What is the village, city, state, nation, aye the civilized world, that
it should concern a man so much? The thought of them affects me in my
wisest hours as when I pass a woodchucks hole...It is a test I would
give my companion– can he forget man? I do not value any view of the
universe in which man and the institutions of man enter very
largely...Man is but the place where I stand and the prospect hence is
infinite...The universe is larger than enough for man’s abode. Some
rarely go outdoors, most are always at home at night, very few indeed
have stayed out all night once in their lives, fewer still have gone
behind the world of humanity, see its institutions like toadstools by
the wayside. (Same)

*******

How novel and original must be each new man’s view of the universe! for
though the world is so old, and so many books have been written, each
object appears wholly undescribed to our experience, each field of
thought wholly unexplored...The end of the world is not yet. (Same)

*******

The rain was soothing. so still and sober, gently beating against and
amusing our thoughts, swelling the brooks...The hour is favorable to
thought. (Same)

*******

The bluebird carries the sky on his back. (April 3)

*******

What a grand incident of the night–though hardly a night passes without
such–that between the hours of nine and ten a battalion of of downy
clouds many miles in length and several in width were observed sailing
noiselessly like a fleet, from north to south over land and water, at a
height of a half dozen miles above the earth! Over woods and over
villages they swept along, intercepting the light of the moon , and yet
perchance no man observed them. Now they are all gone. (April 3)

*******

Ducks: “ They are like rolling pins with wings.” (April 10)

*******

On spring: “For a month past, life has been incredible to me. None but
kind god’s can make me sane. If only they will let their south winds
blow on me! I ask to be melted.” (April 11)

*******

Ah! When a man has travelled and robbed the horizon of his native fields
of its mystery and poetry, its indefinite promise, tarnished the blue of
distant mountains with his feet! When he has done this, he may begin to
think of another world. What is this longer to him? (Same)
*******

Looking at the river: “Every object seemed rhymed by reflection.” (Same)

*******

Walden was my forest walk. (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


***********

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Dripping" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 6


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

February 2002

The robin is the only bird as yet that makes a business of singing,
steadily singing-–singing continuously out of pure joy and melody of
soul... (April 13, 1852)

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

On the beauty of our rivers: “There is just stream enough for a flow of
thought; that
is all.” (April 16)

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

I am serene and satisfied when when the birds fly and the fish swim as
in a fable, for the moral is not far off...when the events of the day
have a mythological character, and the most trivial is symbolical.
(April 18)

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

For the first time I perceive this spring that the year is a circle...It
is drawn with a firm line. Every incident is a parable of the Great
Teacher...Why should these sights and sound surround our life? Why
should I hear the chattering of blackbirds? Why smell the skunk each
year? I would fain explore the mysterious relation between myself and
these things. I would at least know what these things unavoidably are,
make a chart of our life, know how its shores trend, that butterflies
reappear and when, know why just this circle of of creatures completes
the world. Can I not by expectation affect the revolutions of nature,
make a day to bring something forth new? (Same)

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

That oak by Derby’s is a grand object, seen from any side. It stands
like an athlete and defies the tempests in every direction. It has not a
weak point. It is an agony of strength. Its branches look like
stereotyped grey lightening on the sky. But I fear a price is set upon
its sturdy trunks and roots for ship-timber, for knees to make stiff the
sides of ships against Atlantic billows. Like an athlete, it shows its
well-developed muscles. (April 19)

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

How sweet is the perception of a new natural fact, suggesting what
worlds remain to be unveiled. I think no man ever detects a principle
without experiencing an inexpressible and quite infinite and sane
pleasure, which advertises him of the pleasure of that truth he has
perceived. (Same)

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

On the the turning of leaves red: “It is a natural magic. These little
leaves are the stained windows in the cathedral of my world. At the
sight of any redness, I am excited like a cow.” (Same)

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

After finding shelter in a haybarn in the midst of a storm: “ Oh what
reams of thought one might have here! The crackling of the hay makes
silence audible. It is so deep a bed, it makes one dream to sit on it,
to think of it.” (Same)

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

During a three day storm: “I hear a robin singing cheerily from some
perch in the wood, in the midst of the rain, where the scenery is now
wild and dreary. His song is a singular antagonism and offset to the
storm. As if Nature said. ‘Have faith, these two things I can do.’ It
sings with power, like a bird of great faith that sees the bight future
through the dark present, to reassure the race of men...They are sound
to make a dying man live. They sing not their despair. It is a pure
immortal melody.” (April 21)

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

After the storm clears: “I see a white pine dimly in the horizon, just
north of Lee’s field. I hear a robin sing. Each enhances the other. The
tree seems the emblem of my life; it stands for the west, the wild. The
sight of it is grateful to me as to a bird whose perch it is to be at
the end of a weary flight. I am not sure whether the music I hear is
most in the robin’s song or in its boughs.” (Same)

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

I know of two species of men. The vast majority are men of society. They
live on the surface...They are interested in the transient and fleeting,
they are like driftwood on the flood. They ask forever and only the
news, the froth, and scum of the eternal sea...Wealth and the
approbation of men is to them success...That which interests a town or
city or any large numbers of men is always something trivial, as
politics. It is impossible to be interested in what interests men
generally. Their pursuits and interests seem to me trivial. (April 23)

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

What different tints of blue in the same sky! It requires to be parted
by white clouds that the delicacy and depth of each part may appear.
Beyond a narrow wisp or feather of mist, how different the sky!
Sometimes it is full of light, especially toward the horizon. The sky is
never seen to be of so deep and delicate a blue as when it is seen
between downy clouds (April 25)

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

The art of life, of a poet’s life, is, not having anything to do, to do
something. (April 29)


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

END OF VOLUME II OF THE JOURNAL


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


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

*******


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


***********

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 7


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

March 2002


Why should pensiveness be a kin to sadness? There is a certain fertile
sadness which I would not avoid, but rather earnestly seek. It is
positively joyful to me. It saves my life from being trivial. My life
flows with a deeper current. (August 17, 1851)

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

To shave all of the fields and meadows of New England clean! If men did
this but once, we would never hear the last of that labor...Mexico was won
with less exertion and less true valor than are required to do one
season’s haying in New England...Every field is a battlefield to the mower
–a pitched battled too. (Same)

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

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. Me
thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to
flow...The writing which consists with habitual sitting is mechanical,
wooden, dull to read (August 19)

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

What if a man were earnestly and widely to set about recollecting and
preserving the thoughts which he has had? How many perchance are
unrecoverable! (Same).

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

I fear that the character of my knowledge is from year to year becoming
more distinct and scientific, that in exchange for views as wide as
heaven’s cope, I am being narrowed down to the field of a microscope. I
see details, not wholes, not the shadow of the whole. I count parts and
say, “I know.” (Same)

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

We are armed with language to describe each leaf in the field...but not to
describe a human character. With equally wonderful indistinctness and
confusion, we describe men. (August 20)

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

That certainly is the best government where the inhabitants are least
often reminded of the government (Where a man cannot be a poet even
without danger of being made a Poet-Laureate! When he cannot be healthily
neglected, and grow up a man, and not an Englishman merely!) (August 21)

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

The intellect of most men is barren....They neither fertilize or are
fertilized. It is the marriage of the soul with nature that gives birth to
imagination. (Same)

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

It is the fault of some excellent writers...that they express themselves
with too great fullness and detail..They say all they mean. Their
sentences are not concentrated and nutty. Sentences which suggest far more
than they say, which have an atmosphere about them, which do not merely
report an old, but make a new impression; sentences which suggest as many
things and are as durable as a Roman Aqueduct; to frame these, that is the
art of writing. (August 22)

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

Do not neglect to speak of men’s low life and affairs with sympathy
....Resolve to read no book, to take no walk, to understand no enterprise,
but such as you can endure to give an account of to yourself. Live thus
deliberately for the most part. (August 23)

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

With what sober joy I stand to let the water drip from me and feel my
fresh vigor, who have been bathing in the same tub as the muskrat! Such a
medicated bath as only nature furnishes...How ample and generous was
nature. My inheritance is not narrow!

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

How can man sacrifice to supper this serene and sacred time. Our customs
turn the hour of sunset to a trivial time...It might be well if our
repasts were taken out of doors, in view of the sunset and the rising
stars–...if with our bread and butter, we took a slice of the red western
sky. (Same)


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


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

*******


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


***********

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

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

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 8


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

April 2002

One man lies in his words and gets a bad reputation; another lies in his
manners and enjoys a good one. (June 24, 1852)

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

As candles are lit on earth, stars are lit in the heavens. (Same)

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

I have not put darkness, duskiness enough into my night and moonlight
walks....The particular dusky serenity of the sentences must not allow the
reader to forget that it is evening or night, without my saying it is
dark. (June 26)

*************
Nature says: “You behold the utmost of what I do.” (Same)

*************
All things, both beautiful and ugly, agreeable and offensive, are
expressed in flowers–all kinds and degrees of beauty and all kinds of
foulness...Each human being has his flower which expresses his character.
In them nothing is concealed, but everything is published.(Same)

*************
Is there not always, when an arch is constructed, a latent reference to
its beauty? The arch supports itself, like the stars, by gravity– by
always fallings, never falls. But it should not be by their architecture
but by their abstract thoughts that a nation should seem to commemorate
itself. ...Methinks there are few specimens of architecture so perfect as
a verse of poetry. To what end, pray, is so much stone hammered?...One
sensible act will be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon. I
love better to see stones in place...All the stone a nation hammers goes
only to its tomb. It buries itself alive. They are too exquisitely
cultured...Their life lacks reality. ( Same)

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

In my experience nothing is so opposed to poetry–not crime–as business. It
is a negation of life.
(June 29)

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

A young man is Sudbury told me that he had heard woodchucks whistle.
(July 1)

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

Last night, as I lay awake, I dreamed of the muddy and weedy river which I
had been paddling., and I seemed to drive some vigor from by day’s
experience, like the lilies which have their roots at the bottom. (July 2)

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

I have not seen a violet for some time. (Same)

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

So floats the Musketequid over its section of the sphere. (July 3)

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

Some birds are poets and sing all summer. (July 5)

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

On eating fresh berries in the summertime: “After I had been eating these
simple, wholesome, ambrosial fruits on this high hillside, I found my
senses whetted. I was young again and whether I stood or sat I was not the
same creature. (July 11)

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

A journal, a book that shall contain a record of all your joy, your
ecstasy. (July 13)

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

A writer who does not speak out of experience uses torpid words, wooden or
lifeless words, such words as “humanitary,” which have a paralysis in
their tails. (July 14)

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

Is it not more attractive to be a sailor than a farmer? The farmer’s son
is restless to go to sea... You may go round the world before the mast but
not behind the plow. (Same)

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

The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or
perchance a palace or temple on earth, and at last the middle aged man
concludes to build a woodshed with them. (same)

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

No one has very put into words what the odor of water lilies expresses. A
sweet, innocent purity. (July 18)

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

Through all these Sudbury [river] meadows, it is a perfect meander where
no wind will serve the sailor long. (Same)

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

Every man says his dog will not touch you. Look out, nonetheless. (July 23)

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

I sympathize with a weed perhaps more than the crop they choke; they
express so much vigor. (Same)

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

If I choose to devote myself to labors that yield real profit, though
little money, they regard me as a loafer...I prefer to finish my education
at a different school. (Same)

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

How often men will betray their sense of guilt and hence their actual
guilt by their excuses, where no guilt necessarily was (Same)

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

The battalions of the fog are continually on the move. (July 25)


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


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

*******


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


***********

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net


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


JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. III, No. 9


Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues.

May 2002


~These are the final drippings for this year.
Best wishes to all for a healthy and happy summer.
Next year, the adventure continues, as we continue to climb,
crawl, and bushwack through the mind of HDT.~

*


The river is silvery, as it were plated and polished smoothly with the
slightly possible tinge of gold tonight. How beautiful the meanders of the
river, thus revealed. How beautiful the hills and vales, the whole surface
of these great cups, falling water from from dry or rocky edges
to gelid green fields and water in the midst where night is already
setting in! (July 27, 1852)

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

I should like to ask the assessors what is the value of that blue mountain
range in the northwest horizon to Concord, and see if they would laugh, or
seriously set about calculating it. How poor, comparatively, should we be
without it. It would be descending to the scale of the merchant to say
it’s worth its weight in gold. The privilege of beholding it, as an
ornament, a suggestion, a provocation, a heaven on earth. If I were one of
the fathers of the town I would not sell this right, which we now enjoy
for all the material wealth and prosperity conceivable. If need were, we
would rather all go down together. (Same)

****************.

What a different aspect will courage put on the face of things.
(August 3, 1852)

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

(On describing a ‘splendid rainbow’): “It is too remarkable to be remarked
on.” (Same)

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

The rainbow after all does not attract an attention proportionate to its
singularity and beauty...It is a phenomenon aside from the common course
of nature....Too distinctly a sign or symbol of something to be
disregarded. What form of beauty could be imagined more strikingly
conspicuous. An arch of the the most brilliant and glorious colors
completely spanning the heavens before the eyes of man! Children look at
it. It is wonderful that all men do not take pains to behold it. At some
waterfalls it is permanent, as long as the sun shines. Plainly thus does
the Maker of the Universe set the seal to his covenant with men....All men
beholding it begin to understand the Greek epithet applied to the
world–name for the world–Kosmos, or beauty. It was designed to impress
man. We live, as it were, within the calyx of a flower. (April 6)

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

Regarding flowers found near a brook: “Many flowers, of course, like the
last, are prominent, if you visit such scenes as these, though one who
confines himself to the road may never see them.” (Same)

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

What is the plant at the brook with hairy undersides, now budded? (Same)

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

If I were to choose a time for a friend to make a passing visit to this
world for the first time, in the full possession of his faculties,
perchance it would be at a moment when the sun is setting with splendor in
the west, his light reflected far and wide through the clarified air after
a rain, and a brilliant rainbow, as now, over arching the eastern
sky....If a man travelling from world to world were to pass through this
world at such a moment, would he not be tempted to take up his abode here?
(April 7)

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

We see the rainbow apparently when we are on the edge of rain, just as the
sun is setting. If we are too deep in the rain, then it will appear dim.
Sometimes it is so near that I see a portion of its arch, this side of the
woods in the horizon, tinging them. Sometimes we are completely within it,
enveloped by it, and experience the realization of the child’s wish. The
obvious colors are red and green. Why green? It is astonishing how
brilliant the red may be. What is the difference between that red and the
red of the evening sky? Who does not feel that here is a phenomenon which
natural philosophy is alone unable to explain. The use of the rainbow, who
has described it? (Same)

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

The whole surface of the earth is now streaked by fog over meadow and
forest alternating...A dewy cob-webbed morning. You observe the geometry
of cobwebs though most are of that gossamer character, close-woven, as if
a fairy had dropped her veil on the grass in the night. (August 8)

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

Men have perchance, detected every kind of flower that grows in this
township, have pursued it with children’s eyes, into the thickets and
darkest woods and swamps, where the painter’s colors have betrayed it.
Have they with proportionate thoroughness plucked every flower of
thought which it is possible for man to entertain, proved every sentiment
which it is possible for man to entertain here? Men have circumnavigated
this globe of land and water, but how few have sailed out of sight of
common sense over the ocean of knowledge? (Same)

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

The entertaining of a single thought of a certain elevation makes all men
of one religion. It is always some base alloy that creates the distinction
of sects. (Same)

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

I only know myself as a human entity, the scene, so to speak, of thoughts
and affections, and am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I stand
as remote from myself as another. However intense my experience, I am
conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of
me which, as it were, is not a part of me, but spectator, sharing no
experience, but taking note of it...When the play–it my be the tragedy of
life– is over, the spectator goes his way. It was a kind of fiction, a
work of the imagination only, so far as he was concerned. (Same)

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

The coloring and reddening of leaves toward fall is interesting, as if the
sun had so prevailed that even leaves, better late than never, were
turning to flowers (August 21)

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

Now I sit on the cliffs and look abroad over the river....I live so much
in my habitual thoughts...that I forget there is an outside to the globe
and am surprised when I behold it as now– yonder hills and moonlight in
the river....Yet it is salutary to deal with the surface of things–What
are these rivers and hills, these hieroglyphics which my eyes behold?
There is something invigorating in this air....I look out my eyes . I come
to my window and breathe the fresh air. It is a fact equally glorious with
the most inward experience (August 23)

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

How grateful to our feeling is the approach of autumn. We have had no
serious story since spring. What a salad to my spirits is the cooler, dark
day. (August 25)

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

Morning is full of promise. Evening is pensive. (August 31)


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


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

*******


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


***********

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date,
just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net


If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date, just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net



All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter