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...
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I observed night before last, as often before, when geese were passing over in the twilight quite near, though the whole heavens were still light and I knew which way to look by the honking, I could not distinguish them. It takes but a little obscurity to hide a bird in the air. How difficult, even in broadest daylight, to discover again a hawk at a distance in the sky when you have once turned your eyes away!
It is not important that the poet should say some particular thing, but should speak in harmony with nature. The tone and pitch of his voice is the main thing.
It appears to me that the wisest philosophers that I know are as foolish as Sancho Panza dreaming of his Island. Considering the ends they propose and the obstructions in their path, they are even. One philosopher is feeble enough alone, but observe how each multiplies his difficulties,--by how many unnecessary links he allies himself to the existing state of things. He girds himself for his enterprise with fasting and prayer, and then, instead of pressing forward like a light-armed soldier, with the fewest possible hindrances, he at once hooks himself on to some immovable institution, as a family, the very rottenest of them all, and begins to sing and scratch gravel towards his objects. Why, it is as much as the strongest man can do decently to bury his friends and relations without making a new world of it. But if the philosopher is as foolish as Sancho Panza, he is also as wise, and nothing so truly makes a thing so or so as thinking it so.
Approaching the side of a wood on which were some pines, this afternoon, I heard the note of the pine warbler, calling the pines to life, though I did not see it. It has probably been here as long as I said before. Returning, I saw a sparrow-like bird flit by in an orchard, and, turning my glass upon it, was surprised by its burning yellow. This higher color in birds surprises us like an increase of warmth in the day.