Imago lacus

The picture above was taken by a dear friend, the American poet Debra Kang Dean (please do not use it without permission). I met Debra three years before, when I went to Walden to work with his late husband Brad, a great Thoreau scholar. Once we spent hours tracking this quotation: "Some men go fishing all their lives without ever realizing it's not fish they are after." We concluded that Thoreau never wrote it, but si non è vero...

Friday, June 8, 2012

February 1859

Feb. 5. When we have experienced many disappointments, such as the loss of friends, the notes of birds cease to affect us as they did.

Feb. 16. P. M.-- [...] El halcón y el pino son amigos. Lo que retiene al halcón en los bosques, lejos de las ciudades, me retiene a mí aquí. Ese pájaro se posa confiado en la copa de un pino blanco y no en vuestra veleta. Ese pájaro no será un ave de corral, ni pondrá huevos para vosotros, y siempre ocultará su nido. Aunque decidido, o salvaje, no es deliberado en su salvajismo. El hombre que no simpatiza con ellos considera un pecado el salvajismo de algunos animales, su extrañeza respecto a él; como si toda su virtud consistiera en poder ser domados. Siempre tiene una bala en la recámara para su exterminio. Lo que llamamos salvajismo es una civilización distinta a la nuestra. El halcón rehuye al granjero, pero busca el amistoso cobijo y apoyo del pino. No consentirá en caminar por la era, sino que le encanta planear sobre las nubes. Sigue su propio camino y resulta hermoso, aunque queramos someterlo a nuestra voluntad. Toda obra de arte sobresaliente resulta extraña y salvaje para la masa de los hombres, como el genio mismo. Ninguno de los halcones que planea y roba en nuestro corral es más salvaje que el genio, ni más perseguido o libre de toda persecución. No puede ser un poeta laureado y luego repetir “Lindo lorito” y “Lorito quiere galleta.”

The hen-hawk and the pine are friends. The same thing which keeps the hen-hawk in the woods, away from the cities, keeps me here. That bird settles with confidence on a white pine top and not upon your weathercock. That bird will not be poultry of yours, lays no eggs for you, forever hides its nest. Though willed, or wild, it is not willful in its wildness. The unsympathizing man regards the wildness of some animals, their strangeness to him, as a sin; as if all their virtue consisted in their tamableness. He has always a charge in his gun ready for their extermination. What we call wildness is a civilization other than our own. The hen-hawk shuns the farmer, but it seeks the friendly shelter and support of the pine. It will not consent to walk in the barn-yard, but it loves to soar above the clouds. It has its own way and is beautiful, when we would fain subject it to our will. So any surpassing work of art is strange and wild to the mass of men, as is genius itself. No hawk that soars and steals our poultry is wilder than genius, and none is more persecuted or above persecution. It can never be poet laureate, to say “Pretty Poll” and “Polly want a cracker.”

Feb. 25. [...] Mide tu estado de salud mediante tu sintonía con la mañana y la primavera. Si en ti no hay respuesta al despertar de la naturaleza, si el plan de una caminata matinal no te quita el sueño, si el trino del primer azulejo [Sialia sialis] no te emociona, has de saber que ha pasado ya la mañana y la primavera de tu vida. Puedes tomarte el pulso así.

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature,--if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you,--know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.

H. D. Thoreau
Journal

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