Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thoughts in Privacy

The Journal, 1837-1861
The Journal, 1837-1861 

Friends and companions, get you gone!
'T is my desire to be alone;
Ne'er well, but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacy.
 ------   Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy    

This is a book to read and reread, relishing the thoughts of Henry David Thoreau on life, nature and humanity. He was a complex but simple man, well-read but for all his reading his imagination was on fire with thoughts that were his own and seeds for the ages. He was a journalist in the original sense of the word as one who creates a journal, and his was based on the facts of his life as he lived mainly in Concord and briefly at Walden Pond.
"How simple is the natural connection of events.  We complain greatly of the want of flow and sequence in books, but if the journalist only move himself from Boston to New York, and speak as before, there is link enough.  Is not my life riveted together?  Has it not sequence?  Do not my breathings follow each other naturally?"(Journal, March 20, 1842)
Just as time was "but the stream I go a-fishing in", and his head "is an organ for burrowing," his bean-field produced beans that "have results which are not harvested by me.". We are still reaping these results and, while there are few huts set out beside ponds, there are many people who think about the meaning of a life that is lived with the benefits of Thoreau's seeds of simplicity and thoughtfulness.

"This rain which is now watering my beans and keeping me in the house waters me too. I needed it as much. And what if most are not hoed! Those who send the rain, whom I chiefly respect, will pardon me." (Journal, July 6, 1845)

The Journal, 1837-1861 by Henry David Thoreau, ed. by Damion Searls. New York Review Books, 2009.

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