Reading some essays of Henry David Thoreau, I cant help but marvel at what a genius this man must’ve been. Genius not in the academic sense, but in the ‘life and the meaning of it all’ sense. His most famous work is Walden, a pond somewhere in New England where he decided to live by himself, farming, building, reading, walking and having only the woods for company. Company enough if you ask me. The writing is a lil archaic, way too many sentences merged in one, but its what he says thats more striking. The book has many other essays, on winter, on wild animals, on economy, on solitude, on reading, on fire and on everything he learnt/observed during his 2 year stint close to nature. The book takes time to go through, partly because of the language and partly the structure of the novel. But its worth it.
Below is an excerpt from an essay titled “Walking“. (I’ve been saying the same thing all along ppl :D!). Nicely written piece, nothing much that I can add to it. Right from the begining where he says “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering;”. He talks of why we walk, why the general impulse is towards trees/the likes, and what it does to your character. He concludes with these lines, a lil more dramatic than the other stuff in the book, but nicely said nevertheless.
” We had a remarkable sunset one day last November. I was walking in a meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before setting, after a cold grey day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon, and the softest brightest morning sun- light fell on the dry grass and on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon, and on the leaves of the shrub-oaks on the hill-side, while our shadows stretched long over the meadow eastward, as if we were the only motes in its beams. It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a paradise of that meadow. When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still.
The sun sets on some retired meadow, where no house is visible, with all the glory and splendor that it lavishes on cities, and perchance, as it has never set before,—where there is but a solitary marsh hawk to have his wings gilded by it, or only a musquash looks out from his cabin, and there is some little black-veined brook in the midst of the marsh, just beginning to meander, winding slowly round a decaying stump. We walked in so pure and bright a light, gilding the withered grass and leaves, so softly and serenely bright—I thought I had never bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or a murmur to it. The west side of every wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of elysium, and the sun on our backs seemed like a gentle herdsman, driving us home at evening.
So we saunter toward the Holy Land; till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, so warm and serene and golden as on a bank-side in autumn.”