Out of the Past

Thoreau

February 9





Henry David Thoreau,1817-1862,Naturalist
Henry David Thoreau
1817-1862, Naturalist

Walden Pond
Walden Pond

Blue Jays by Audubon
Blue Jays by Audubon

The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau: Volume 1: 1834 - 1848
The Correspondence of Henry D. Thoreau
Volume 1: 1834 - 1848

The Adventures of Henry Thoreau
The Adventures of Henry Thoreau

A Young Man's Unlikely Path to Walden Pond
The Maine Woods
The Maine Woods

Walking
Walking

Transcendentalism: Essential Essays of Emerson & Thoreau
Transcendentalism: Essential Essays of Emerson & Thoreau

Walden's Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science
Walden's Shore
Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science


Essays by Henry David Thoreau
Essays

Walden
Walden

"An Insect View of Its Plain"
"An Insect View of Its Plain"

Insects, Nature and God in Thoreau, Dickinson and Muir




         


The last half of January was warm and thawy. The swift streams were open, and the muskrats were seen swimming and diving and bringing up clams, leaving their shells on the ice. We had now forgotten summer and autumn, but had already begun to anticipate spring. Fishermen improved the warmer weather to fish for pickerel through the ice.

Before it was only the autumn landscape with a thin layer of snow upon it; we saw the withered flowers through it; but now we do not think of autumn when we look on this snow. That earth is effectually buried. It is midwinter. Within a few days the cold has set in stronger than ever, though the days are much longer now. Now I travel across the fields on the crust which has frozen since the January thaw, and I can cross the river in most places . It is easier to get about the country than at any other season, - easier than in summer, because the rivers and meadows are frozen and there is no high grass or other crops to be avoided; easier than in December before the crust was frozen.


I have heard that there is a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It is said that knowledge is power and the like. Methinks there is equal need of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance, for what is most of our boasted so-called knowledge but a conceit that we know something, which robs us of the advantages of our actual ignorance.




For a man's ignorance sometimes is not only useful but beautiful, while his knowledge is oftentimes worse than useless, beside being ugly. In reference to important things, whose knowledge amounts to more than a consciousness of his ignorance? Yet what more refreshing and inspiring knowledge than this?

How often are we wise as serpents without being harmless as doves!

My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated even with the fumes, call it, of that divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant.

It is remarkable how few events or crises there are in our minds' histories, how little exercised we have been in our minds, how few experiences we have had.


1851

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