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


of your society, that would find out another farmerís field if yours
were not here. While you are planting the seed, he cries-"Drop it,
drop it-cover it up, cover it up-pull it up, pull it up, pull it up." But
this was not corn, and so it was safe from such enemies as he. You
may wonder what his rigmarole, his amateur Paganini performances
on one string or on twenty, have to do with your planting, and yet
prefer it to leached ashes or plaster. It was a cheap sort of top
dressing in which I had entire faith.

As I drew a still fresher soil about the rows with my hoe, I disturbed
the ashes of unchronicled nations who in primeval years lived under
these heavens, and their small implements of war and hunting were
brought to the light of this modern day. They lay mingled with other
natural stones, some of which bore the marks of having been burned
by Indian fires, and some by the sun, and also bits of pottery and
glass brought hither by the recent cultivators of the soil. When my
hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and
the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an
instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed,
nor I that hoed beans; and I remembered with as much pity as pride,
if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to
attend the oratorios. The nighthawk circled overhead in the sunny
afternoons-for I sometimes made a day of it-like a mote in the eye,
or in heavenís eye, falling from time to time with a swoop and a
sound as if the heavens were rent, torn at last to very rags and tatters,
and yet a seamless cope remained; small imps that fill the air and lay
their eggs on the ground on bare sand or rocks on the tops of hills,
where few have found them; graceful and slender like ripples caught
up from the pond, as leaves are raised by the wind to float in the
heavens; such kindredship is in nature. The hawk is aerial brother of
the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-
inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the
sea. Or sometimes I watched a pair of hen-hawks circling high in the
sky, alternately soaring and descending, approaching, and leaving
one another, as if they were the embodiment of my own thoughts, Or
I was attracted by the passage of wild pigeons from this wood to
that, with a slight quivering winnowing sound and carrier haste; or
from under a rotten stump my hoe turned up a sluggish portentous
and outlandish spotted salamander, a trace of Egypt and the Nile, yet
our contemporary. When I paused to lean on my hoe, these sounds
and sights I heard and saw anywhere in the row, a part of the
inexhaustible entertainment which the country offers.

On gala days the town fires its great guns, which echo like popguns
to these woods, and some waifs of martial music occasionally
penetrate thus far. To me, away there in my bean-field at the other
end of the town, the big guns sounded as if a puffball had burst; and
when there was a military turnout of which I was ignorant, I have
sometimes had a vague sense all the day of some sort of itching and
disease in the horizon, as if some eruption would break out there
soon, either scar-latina or canker-rash, until at length some more
favorable puff of wind, making haste over the fields and up the
Wayland road, brought me information of the "trainers." It seemed
by the distant hum as if somebodyís bees had swarmed, and that the
neighbors, according to Virgilís advice, by a faint tintinnabulum
upon the most sonorous of their domestic utensils, were endeavoring
to call them down into the hive again. And when the sound died
quite away, and the hum had ceased, and the most favorable breezes
told no tale, I knew that they had got the last drone of them all safely
into the Middlesex hive, and that now their minds were bent on the
honey with which it was smeared.

I felt proud to know that the liberties of Massachusetts and of our
fatherland were in such safe keeping; and as I turned to my hoeing
again I was filled with an inexpressible confidence, and pursued my
labor cheerfully with a calm trust in the future.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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