Out of the Past

Thoreau
October 26







and Other Natural History Essays

Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
American Writer

Amphibia (1850)
Amphibia (1850)
The Pool of Bethesda (1862)
The Pool of Bethesda (1862)
Thoreau: A Book of Quotations
Thoreau
A Book of Quotations

Excursions
Excursions
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
The Journal of Henry David Thoreau: 1837-1861
Kindle Edition
Walden
Walden
Thumbing Through Thoreau
Thumbing Through Thoreau
A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

Walden
Walden
Kindle Edition


Walden, or Life in the Woods Poster
Walden, or Life in the Woods
Poster


Kindle
Kindle
6" Display, U.S. & International Wireless



         

I well remember the time this year when I first heard the dream of the toads. I was laying out house-lots on Little River in Haverhill. We had had some raw, cold and wet weather. But this day was remarkably warm and pleasant, and I had thrown off my outside coat. I was going home: to dinner, past a shallow pool, which was green with springing grass, and where a new house was about being erected, when it occurred to me that I heard the dream of the toad. It rang through and filled all the air, though I had not heard it once. And I turned my companion's attention to it, but he did not appear to perceive it as a new sound in the air. Loud and prevailing as it is, most men do not notice it at all. It is to them, perchance, a sort of simmering or seething of all nature. That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.

How watchful we must be to keep the crystal well that we were made, clear - that it be not made turbid by our contact with the world, so that it will not reflect objects. What other liberty is there worth having, if we have not freedom and peace in our minds - if our inmost and most private mail is but a sour and turbid pool? Often we are so jarred by chagrins in dealing with the world, that we cannot reflect. Everything beautiful impresses us as sufficient to itself. Many men who have had much intercourse with the world and not borne the trial well affect me as all resistance, all bur and rind, without any gentleman, or tender and innocent core left. They have become hedgehogs.



Ah! the world is too much with us, and our whole soul is stained by what it works in, like the dyer's hand. A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread. This is The Pool of Bethesda which must be stilled and become smooth before we can enter to be healed. If within the old man there is not a young man - within the sophisticated, one unsophisticated - then he is but one of the devil's angels.

It is surprising how any reminiscence of a different season of the year affects us. When I meet with any such in my Journal, it affects me as poetry, and I appreciate that other season and that particular phenomenon more than at the time. The world so seen is all one spring, and full of beauty. You only need to make
a faithful record of an average summer day's experience and summer mood, and read it in the winter, and it will carry you back to more than that summer day alone could show. Only the rarest flower, the purest melody, of the season thus comes down to us.

1853

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