Read Walking (Little Books of Wisdom) by Henry David Thoreau Free Online
Book Title: Walking (Little Books of Wisdom)|
The author of the book: Henry David Thoreau
Edition: Fictionwise Classic
Date of issue: February 18th 2004
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 28.87 MB
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I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.
Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.
Nowadays almost all man's improvements, so called, as the building of houses and the cutting down of the forest and of all large trees, simply deform the landscape, and make it more and more tame and cheap.
I love to walk so I had no problem agreeing with much of what Thoreau says in the first part of this essay. He wanted people to connect with the Wild, which is even harder to do these days than in his own, especially depending on where a person lives. In this particular corner of Mexico, there is not really too much empty space, not like in the vast deserts of Arizona where I used to live. There, just five miles out of town, my husband and I felt like the only two people on the planet. And after ten more we seemed to have become a part of our surroundings: weaving our way between thorny bushes, or following the dry wash where once we saw two deer, or sitting on a rock and simply
listening. Peace and quiet sing in the desert. I miss hearing that music.
Thoreau suggests that West and Wild are essentially the same thing. That man has been drawn to the West even before the discovery of the New World, always seeking to meet that setting sun that is just ahead of us. He even thought that America was discovered just so Man could become more than what he was in the Old World.
I trust that we shall be more imaginative, that our thoughts will be clearer, fresher, and more ethereal, as our sky—our understanding more comprehensive and broader, like our plains—our intellect generally on a grander scale, like our thunder and lightning, our rivers and mountains and forests-and our hearts shall even correspond in breadth and depth and grandeur to our inland seas.
The more I read the news these days, the less I see that vision developing.
I began to get a little confused when after all of this admiration for the Wild, he then says this:
The weapons with which we have gained our most important victories, which should be handed down as heirlooms from father to son, are not the sword and the lance, but the bushwhack, the turf-cutter, the spade, and the bog hoe, rusted with the blood of many a meadow, and begrimed with the dust of many a hard-fought field.
So which is best, Henry? The Wild you love to walk in or the settled land? Because you cannot have both on the same plot of ground. You have either wilderness or farmland or towns. And the more people who venture into the wild, the less wild it becomes, even if you are just walking along ruminating.
Later he talks about watching some cows playing in a field, acting Wild. He thought it was wonderful. But in the very next paragraph 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. Is he rejoicing that the Wild is there? Or that it must be beaten out of both animals and men? And why is it not possible to keep a bit of the Wild in your soul, no matter what else you have going on in your life? Can we not be members of society without being completely submissive?
I feel like I need to read more of Thoreau's work (and maybe argue with him a little more) before I completely understand what he was all about. But I did like the final sentence in this essay (well, I would have said Universe instead of Holy Land, but I guess I am still in a debating mood!):
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, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn.
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Read information about the authorHenry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau) was an American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, philosopher, and abolitionist who is best known for Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.
Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.
In 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born in Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1837, taught briefly, then turned to writing and lecturing. Becoming a Transcendentalist and good friend of Emerson, Thoreau lived the life of simplicity he advocated in his writings. His two-year experience in a hut in Walden, on land owned by Emerson, resulted in the classic, Walden: Life in the Woods (1854). During his sojourn there, Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax in protest of slavery and the Mexican war, for which he was jailed overnight. His activist convictions were expressed in the groundbreaking On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849). In a diary he noted his disapproval of attempts to convert the Algonquins "from their own superstitions to new ones." In a journal he noted dryly that it is appropriate for a church to be the ugliest building in a village, "because it is the one in which human nature stoops to the lowest and is the most disgraced." (Cited by James A. Haught in 2000 Years of Disbelief.) When Parker Pillsbury sought to talk about religion with Thoreau as he was dying from tuberculosis, Thoreau replied: "One world at a time."
Thoreau's philosophy of nonviolent resistance influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. D. 1862.
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