Out of the Past

Thoreau
November 23







and Other Natural History Essays



         

To Swamp Bridge Brook mouth.
The cocks are the only birds I hear, but they are a host. They crow as freshly and bravely as ever, while poets go down the stream, degenerate into science and prose.

There is now no sound of early birds on the leafless trees and bushes - willows and alders - along this watercourse. The few that are left probably roost in the evergreen woods. Yet I hear, or seem to hear, the faintest possible lisp or creak from some sparrow, as if from a crack in the mist-clad earth, or some ox-yoke or distant wain. I suspect that the song sparrow lingers as late, here and there alone, as any migrating bird.

By 8 o'clock the misty clouds disperse, and it turns out a pleasant, calm, and springlike morning. The water, going down, but still spread far over the meadows, is seen from the window perfectly smooth and full of reflections. What lifts and lightens and makes heaven of the earth is the fact that you see the reflections of the humblest weeds against the sky, but you cannot put your head low enough to see the substance so. The reflection enchants us, just as an echo does.



If I would preserve my relation to nature, I must make my life more moral, more pure and innocent. The problem is as precise and simple as a mathematical one. I must not live loosely, but more and more continently.

At 5 p.m. I saw, flying southwest high overhead, a flock of geese, and heard the faint honking of one or two. They were in the usual harrow form, twelve in the shorter line and twenty-four in the longer, the latter abutting on the former at the fourth bird from the front.

I hear they were fired at with a rifle from Bunker Hill the other clay. This is the sixth flock I have seen or heard of since the morning of the17th.

1853

Twitter Updates
follow Thoreau on Twitter

Other Entries

January 4
January 6
January 7
January 10
January 11
January 21
January 23
January 24
January 27
January 29
January 30
February 3
February 6
February 9
February 21
February 23
February 25
March 1
March 4
March 5
March 7
March 11
March 12
March 13
March 14
March 15
March 19
March 27
March 29
March 31
April 1
April 3
April 7
April 9
April 11
April 19

May 1
May 3
May 7
May 9
May 10
May 11
May 16
May 19
May 20
May 24
May 26
May 27
May 29
May 31
June 3
June 9
June 10
June 11
June 14
June 16
July 4
July 15
August 13
August 15
August 16
August 18
August 20
August 22
August 23
September 1
September 26
September 29


June 3
June 9
June 10
June 11
June 14
June 16
July 4
July 15
July 24
August 13
August 15
August 16
August 18
August 20
August 22
August 23
September 1
September 15
September 26
September 29
October 11
October 13
October 20
October 23
October 24
October 26
Occtober 27
October 29
October 30
November 1
November 6
November 8
November 9
November 10
November 11
November 14
November 18
November 20
November 23
November 25
November 26
November 27
December 2
December 6
December 16
December 17
December 19
December 31




Outrider