Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ



<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected
in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an
invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin
to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be
expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he
will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as
he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less
complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor
weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work
need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the
foundations under them.

It is a ridiculous demand which England and America make, that you
shall speak so that they can understand you. Neither men nor
toadstools grow so. As if that were important, and there were not
enough to understand you without them. As if Nature could support
but one order of understandings, could not sustain birds as well as
quadrupeds, flying as well as creeping things, and hush and whoa,
which Bright can understand, were the best English. As if there were
safety in stupidity alone. I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be
extra-vagant enough, may not wander far enough beyond the narrow
limits of my daily experience, so as to be adequate to the truth of
which I have been convinced. Extra vagance! it depends on how you
are yarded. The migrating buffalo, which seeks new pastures in
another latitude, is not extravagant like the cow which kicks over the
pail, leaps the cowyard fence, and runs after her calf, in milking
time. I desire to speak somewhere without bounds; like a man in a
waking moment, to men in their waking moments; for I am
convinced that I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the
foundation of a true expression. Who that has heard a strain of music
feared then lest he should speak extravagantly any more forever? In
view of the future or possible, we should live quite laxly and
undefined in front our outlines dim and misty on that side; as our
shadows reveal an insensible perspiration toward the sun. The
volatile truth of our words should continually betray the inadequacy
of the residual statement. Their truth is instantly translated; its literal
monument alone remains. The words which express our faith and
piety are not definite; yet they are significant and fragrant like
frankincense to superior natures.

Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise
that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men
asleep, which they express by snoring. Sometimes we are inclined to
class those who are once-and-a-halfwitted with the half-witted,
because we appreciate only a third part of their wit. Some would find
fault with the morning red, if they ever got up early enough. "They
pretend," as I hear, "that the verses of Kabir have four different
senses; illusion, spirit, intellect, and the exoteric doctrine of the
Vedas"; but in this part of the world it is considered a ground for
complaint if a manís writings admit of more than one interpretation.
While England endeavors to cure the potato-rot, will not any
endeavor to cure the brain-rot, which prevails so much more widely
and fatally?

I do not suppose that I have attained to obscurity, but I should be
proud if no more fatal fault were found with my pages on this score
than was found with the Walden ice. Southern customers objected to
its blue color, which is the evidence of its purity, as if it were
muddy, and preferred the Cambridge ice, which is white, but tastes
of weeds. The purity men love is like the mists which envelop the
earth, and not like the azure ether beyond.

Some are dinning in our ears that we Americans, and moderns
generally, are intellectual dwarfs compared with the ancients, or
even the Elizabethan men. But what is that to the purpose? A living
dog is better than a dead lion. Shall a man go and hang himself
because he belongs to the race of pygmies, and not be the biggest
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page


Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com