January 27, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:
To Hill and beyond. It is so mild and moist as I saunter along by the wall and east of the hill that I remember or anticipate one of those warm rain storms in the spring when the earth is just laid bare, the wind is south, and the Cladonia lichens are swollen and lusty with moisture, your foot sinking into them, and pressing the water out as from a sponge, and the sandy places also are drinking it in. You wander indefinitely in a beaded coat, wet to the skin of your legs, sit on moss-clad rocks and stumps, and hear the lisping of migrating sparrows flitting amid the shrub oaks, sit long at a time, still, and have your thoughts. A rain which is as serene as fair weather, suggesting fairer weather than was ever seen. You could hug the clods that defile you. You feel the fertilizing influence of the rain in your mind. The part of you that is wettest is fullest of life, like the lichens.


You discover evidences of immortality not known to divines. You cease to die. You detect some buds and sprouts of life. Every step in the old rye field is on virgin soil. ––– And then the rain comes thicker and faster than before, thawing the remaining part of the ground, detaining the migrating bird, and you turn your back to it, full of serene, contented thoughts, soothed by the steady dropping on the withered leaves, more at home for being abroad, sinking at each step deep into the thawing earth, gladly breaking through the gray rotting ice. The dullest sounds seem sweetly modulated by the air. You leave your tracks in fields of spring rye, scaring the fox-colored sparrows along the woodsheds,…full of joy and expectation, seeing nothing but beauty, hearing nothing but music, as free as the fox-colored sparrow,….not indebted to any academy or college for this expansion, but chiefly to the April sun which shineth on all alike, not encouraged by men in your walks, not by the divines or the professors, and to the lawgiver an outlaw….Steadily the eternal rain falls, drip, drip, drip, the mist drives and clears your sight, the wind blows and warms your sitting on that sandy upland that April day.

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