Thursday, July 22, 2010

Essay: "Walking." Henry David Thoreau (3)

Review: Thoreau’s essay is like his walking—meandering. He wanders from topic to topic offering tidbits on everything. He provides the origin of the word “saunter”—probably apocryphal—but interesting anyhow. His man message is that existence of the wilderness is essential to the survival of civilized man. The wild needs to be a part of nature and of man. “I would not have every man nor every part of man cultivated any more than I would have every acre of earth cultivated….”

Quote: “The science of Humboldt is one thing, poetry is another thing; the poet today, notwithstanding all the discoveries of science, and the accumulated learning of mankind, enjoys no advantage over Homer.”

Quote: “I do not know of any poetry to quote which adequately expresses this yearning for the wild.”

Quote: “In short, all good things are wild and free.”

Quote: “I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats still left to sow before they become submissive members of society.”

Quote: “A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful—while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless, besides being ugly.”

Quote: “Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the ;present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the ;passing life….”

Quote: “…but where is he who can excite in us a pure morning joy?”
The end.

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. 1995.

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