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they look like huge water snakes in motion.

This pond has rarely been profaned by a boat, for there is little in it
to tempt a fisherman. Instead of the white lily, which requires mud,
or the common sweet flag, the blue flag (Iris versicolor) grows thinly
in the pure water, rising from the stony bottom all around the shore,
where it is visited by hummingbirds in June; and the color both of its
bluish blades and its flowers and especially their reflections, is in
singular harmony with the glaucous water.

White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the
earth, Lakes of Light. If they were permanently congealed, and small
enough to be clutched, they would, perchance, be carried off by
slaves, like precious stones, to adorn the heads of emperors; but
being liquid, and ample, and secured to us and our successors
forever, we disregard them, and run after the diamond of Kohinoor.
They are too pure to have a market value; they contain no muck.
How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more
transparent than our characters, are they! We never learned
meanness of them. How much fairer than the pool before the farm-
ers door, in which his ducks swim! Hither the clean wild ducks
come. Nature has no human inhabitant who appreciates her. The
birds with their plumage and their notes are in harmony with the
flowers, but what youth or maiden conspires with the wild luxuriant
beauty of Nature? She flourishes most alone, far from the towns
where they reside. Talk of heaven! ye disgrace earth.


SOMETIMES I rambled to pine groves, standing like temples, or
like fleets at sea, full-rigged, with wavy boughs, and rippling with
light, so soft and green and shady that the Druids would have
forsaken their oaks to worship in them; or to the cedar wood beyond
Flint’s Pond, where the trees, covered with hoary blue berries,
spiring higher and higher, are fit to stand before Valhalla, and the
creeping juniper covers the ground with wreaths full of fruit; or to
swamps where the usnea lichen hangs in festoons from the white
spruce trees, and toadstools, round tables of the swamp gods, cover
the ground, and more beautiful fungi adorn the stumps, like
butterflies or shells, vegetable winkles; where the swamp-pink and
dogwood grow, the red alder berry glows like eyes of imps, the
waxwork grooves and crushes the hardest woods in its folds, and the
wild holly berries make the beholder forget his home with their
beauty, and he is dazzled and tempted by nameless other wild
forbidden fruits, too fair for mortal taste. Instead of calling on some
scholar, I paid many a visit to particular trees, of kinds which are
rare in this neighborhood, standing far away in the middle of some
pasture, or in the depths of a wood or swamp, or on a hilltop; such as
the black birch, of which we have some handsome specimens two
feet in diameter; its cousin, the yellow birch, with its loose golden
vest, perfumed like the first; the beech, which has so neat a hole and
beautifully lichen-painted, perfect in all its details, of which,
excepting scattered specimens, I know but one small grove of sizable
trees left in the township, supposed by some to have been planted by
the pigeons that were once baited with beechnuts near by; it is worth
the while to see the silver grain sparkle when you split this wood; the
bass; the hornbeam; the Celtis occidentalis, or false elm, of which
we have but one well-grown; some taller mast of a pine, a shingle
tree, or a more perfect hemlock than usual, standing like a pagoda in
the midst of the woods; and many others I could mention. These
were the shrines I visited both summer and winter.

Once it chanced that I stood in the very abutment of a rainbow’s
arch, which filled the lower stratum of the atmosphere, tinging the
grass and leaves around, and dazzling me as if I looked through
colored crystal. It was a lake of rainbow light, in which, for a short
while, I lived like a dolphin. If it had lasted longer it might have
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