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WALDEN Or Life In The Woods

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Author Topic: WALDEN Or Life In The Woods  (Read 990 times)
Mindwarp
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« Reply #75 on: March 23, 2009, 02:08:45 am »

Ere long, not only on these banks, but on every hill and plain and
in every hollow, the frost comes out of the ground like a dormant
quadruped from its burrow, and seeks the sea with music, or migrates
to other climes in clouds. Thaw with his gentle persuasion is more
powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other but
breaks in pieces.

  When the ground was partially bare of snow, and a few warm days
had dried its surface somewhat, it was pleasant to compare the first
tender signs of the infant year just peeping forth with the stately
beauty of the withered vegetation which had withstood the winter-life-
everlasting, goldenrods, pinweeds, and graceful wild grasses, more
obvious and interesting frequently than in summer even, as if their
beauty was not ripe till then; even cotton-grass, cat-tails, mulleins,
johnswort, hardhack, meadowsweet, and other strong-stemmed plants,
those unexhausted granaries which entertain the earliest birds- decent
weeds, at least, which widowed Nature wears. I am particularly
attracted by the arching and sheaf- like top of the wool-grass; it
brings back the summer to our winter memories, and is among the
forms which art loves to copy, and which, in the vegetable kingdom,
have the same relation to types already in the mind of man that
astronomy has. It is an antique style, older than Greek or Egyptian.
Many of the phenomena of Winter are suggestive of an inexpressible
tenderness and fragile delicacy. We are accustomed to hear this king
described as a rude and boisterous tyrant; but with the gentleness
of a lover he adorns the tresses of Summer.

  At the approach of spring the red squirrels got under my house,
two at a time, directly under my feet as I sat reading or writing, and
kept up the queerest chuckling and chirruping and vocal pirouetting
and gurgling sounds that ever were heard; and when I stamped they only
chirruped the louder, as if past all fear and respect in their mad
pranks, defying humanity to stop them. No, you don't- chickaree-
chickaree. They were wholly deaf to my arguments, or failed to
perceive their force, and fell into a strain of invective that was
irresistible.

  The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope
than ever! The faint silvery warblings heard over the partially bare
and moist fields from the bluebird, the song sparrow, and the
red-wing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! What
at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all
written revelations? The brooks sing carols and glees to the spring.
The marsh hawk, sailing low over the meadow, is already seeking the
first slimy life that awakes. The sinking sound of melting snow is
heard in all dells, and the ice dissolves apace in the ponds. The
grass flames up on the hillsides like a spring fire- "et primitus
oritur herba imbribus primoribus evocata"- as if the earth sent
forth an inward heat to greet the returning sun; not yellow but
green is the color of its flame;- the symbol of perpetual youth, the
grass-blade, like a long green ribbon, streams from the sod into the
summer, checked indeed by the frost, but anon pushing on again,
lifting its spear of last year's hay with the fresh life below. It
grows as steadily as the rill oozes out of the ground. It is almost
identical with that, for in the growing days of June, when the rills
are dry, the grass-blades are their channels, and from year to year
the herds drink at this perennial green stream, and the mower draws
from it betimes their winter supply. So our human life but dies down
to its root, and still puts forth its green blade to eternity.

  Walden is melting apace. There is a canal two rods wide along the
northerly and westerly sides, and wider still at the east end. A great
field of ice has cracked off from the main body. I hear a song sparrow
singing from the bushes on the shore- olit, olit, olit- chip, chip,
chip, che char- che wiss, wiss, wiss. He too is helping to crack it.
How handsome the great sweeping curves in the edge of the ice,
answering somewhat to those of the shore, but more regular! It is
unusually hard, owing to the recent severe but transient cold, and all
watered or waved like a palace floor. But the wind slides eastward
over its opaque surface in vain, till it reaches the living surface
beyond. It is glorious to behold this ribbon of water sparkling in the
sun, the bare face of the pond full of glee and youth, as if it
spoke the joy of the fishes within it, and of the sands on its
shore- a silvery sheen as from the scales of a leuciscus, as it were
all one active fish. Such is the contrast between winter and spring.
Walden was dead and is alive again. But this spring it broke up more
steadily, as I have said.

  The change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather, from
dark and sluggish hours to bright and elastic ones, is a memorable
crisis which all things proclaim. It is seemingly instantaneous at
last. Suddenly an influx of light filled my house, though the
evening was at hand, and the clouds of winter still overhung it, and
the eaves were dripping with sleety rain. I looked out the window, and
lo! where yesterday was cold gray ice there lay the transparent pond
already calm and full of hope as in a summer evening, reflecting a
summer evening sky in its bosom, though none was visible overhead,
as if it had intelligence with some remote horizon. I heard a robin in
the distance, the first I had heard for many a thousand years,
methought, whose note I shall not forget for many a thousand more- the
same sweet and powerful song as of yore. O the evening robin, at the
end of a New England summer day! If I could ever find the twig he sits
upon! I mean he; I mean the twig. This at least is not the Turdus
migratorius. The pitch pines and shrub oaks about my house, which
had so long drooped, suddenly resumed their several characters, looked
brighter, greener, and more erect and alive, as if effectually
cleansed and restored by the rain. I knew that it would not rain any
more. You may tell by looking at any twig of the forest, ay, at your
very wood-pile, whether its winter is past or not. As it grew
darker, I was startled by the honking of geese flying low over the
woods, like weary travellers getting in late from Southern lakes,
and indulging at last in unrestrained complaint and mutual
consolation. Standing at my door, I could bear the rush of their
wings; when, driving toward my house, they suddenly spied my light,
and with hushed clamor wheeled and settled in the pond. So I came
in, and shut the door, and passed my first spring night in the woods.
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