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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


Innumerable little streams overlap and interlace one with another,
exhibiting a sort of hybrid product, which obeys half way the law of
currents, and half way that of vegetation. As it flows it takes the
forms of sappy leaves or vines, making heaps of pulpy sprays a foot
or more in depth, and resembling, as you look down on them, the
laciniated, lobed, and imbricated thalluses of some lichens; or you
are reminded of coral, of leopardís paws or birdsí feet, of brains or
lungs or bowels, and excrements of all kinds. It is a truly grotesque
vegetation, whose forms and color we see imitated in bronze, a sort
of architectural foliage more ancient and typical than acanthus,
chiccory, ivy, vine, or any vegetable leaves; destined perhaps, under
some circumstances, to become a puzzle to future geologists. The
whole cut impressed me as if it were a cave with its stalactites laid
open to the light. The various shades of the sand are singularly rich
and agreeable, embracing the different iron colors, brown, gray,
yellowish, and reddish. When the flowing mass reaches the drain at
the foot of the bank it spreads out flatter into strands, the separate
streams losing their semicylindrical form and gradually becoming
more flat and broad, running together as they are more moist, till
they form an almost flat sand, still variously and beautifully shaded,
but in which you call trace the original forms of vegetation; till at
length, in the water itself, they are converted into banks, like those
formed off the mouths of rivers, and the forms of vegetation are lost
in the ripple-marks on the bottom.

The whole bank, which is from twenty to forty feet high, is
sometimes over-laid with a mass of this kind of foliage, or sandy
rupture, for a quarter of a mile on one or both sides, the produce of
one spring day. What makes this sand foliage remarkable is its
springing into existence thus suddenly. When I see on the one side
the inert bank-for the sun acts on one side first-and on the other this
luxuriant foliage, the creation of an hour, I am affected as if in a
peculiar sense I stood in the laboratory of the Artist who made the
world and me-had come to where he was still at work, sporting on
this bank, and with excess of energy strewing his fresh designs
about. I feel as if I were nearer to the vitals of the globe, for this
sandy overflow is something such a foliaceous mass as the vitals of
the animal body. You find thus in the very sands an anticipation of
the vegetable leaf. No wonder that the earth expresses itself
outwardly in leaves, it so labors with the idea inwardly. The atoms
have already learned this law, and are pregnant by it. The
overhanging leaf sees here its prototype. Internally, whether in the
globe or animal body, it is a moist thick lobe, a word especially
applicable to the liver and lungs and the leaves of fat (leibo, labor,
lapsus, to flow or slip downward, a lapsing; lobos, globus, lobe,
globe; also lap, flap, and many other words); externally a dry thin
leaf, even as the f and v are a pressed and dried b. The radicals of
lobe are lb, the soft mass of the b (single-lobed, or B, double-lobed),
with the liquid l behind it pressing it forward. In globe, glb, the
guttural g adds to the meaning the capacity of the throat. The
feathers and wings of birds are still drier and thinner leaves. Thus,
also, you pass from the lumpish grub in the earth to the airy and
fluttering butterfly. The very globe continually transcends and
translates itself, and becomes winged in its orbit. Even ice begins
with delicate crystal leaves, as if it had flowed into moulds which the
fronds of waterplants have impressed on the watery mirror. The
whole tree itself is but one leaf, and rivers are still vaster leaves
whose pulp is intervening earth, and towns and cities are the ova of
insects in their axils.

When the sun withdraws the sand ceases to flow, but in the morning
the streams will start once more and branch and branch again into a
myriad of others. You here see perchance how blood-vessels are
formed. If you look closely you observe that first there pushes
forward from the thawing mass a stream of softened sand with a
drop-like point, like the ball of the finger, feeling its way slowly and
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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