Words from Thoreau







Words from Thoreau
on writing,
Journaling,
and Love

Henry David Thoreau's
 journal entries in The Heart of Thoreau's
Journals, edited by Odell Shepard, and Thoreau's book Walden, have been lifelong
companions for me.  

Odell Shepard reflects
that the journals of
Thoreau were raw and authentic,
where the craft in Walden,
that emanated from his Journals
was more "against the grain."

The following are some
of my favorite quotes from the Journals of Thoreau.
His thoughts resonate  with my own writing
and way of being in the world.


"The only remedy for love is to love more."

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us
to see through each other's eyes for an instant?"
--from Walden

October 12, 1837
Age 20

"What are you doing now?" he* asked.
"Do you keep a journal?"  
So I make my first entry today.
  To be alone I find it necessary to escape the present--
I avoid myself.  How could I be alone
in the Roman emperor's
chamber of mirrors.  I seek a garret.
The spiders must not be disturbed,
nor the floor swept, nor the lumber arranged.

(*Emerson)


July 6, 1940
Age 22

All this worldly wisdom was once the unnamable heresy
of some wise man.

Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves
sand and shells on the shore.  So muchincrease of terra firma.
This
may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul;
and on these sheetsas a beach, the waves may cast up pearls
and seaweed.

Nov, 16, 1851
Age 33

In literature it is only wild that attracts us.
Dullness is only another name for tameness...
  My journal should be a 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 have no more distinctness or pointedness
in my yearnings than an expanding bud, which does indeed point to
flower and fruit, to summer and autumn, but is aware of the warm
sun and spring influences only.  I feel ripe for something, yet do
nothing, can't discover what that thing is.  I feel fertile merely,
It is seedtime for me.  I have lain fallow long enough.


Write while the heat in is in you...

Jan 24, 1852
Age 34

Use and commit to life what you cannot commit to memory.
I hear the tones of my sister's piano below.  It reminds me of strains
which once I heard more frequently, when, possessed with the inaudible rhythm, I sought my chamber in the cold and communed with my own
thoughts.  I feel as if I then received the gifts of the gods with too much
indifference.  Why did I not cultivate those fields they introduced me to?
Does nothing withstand the inevitable march of time?  Why did I not
use my eyes when I stood on Pisgah?  Now I hear those grains but seldom.
My rhythmical mood does not endure.  I cannot draw from it and return to it in my thoughts as to a well all the evening or the morning, I cannot dip my
pen into it.  I cannot work the vein, it is so fine and volatile.  Ah, sweet,
ineffable reminiscences!






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