May 31, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Some incidents in my life have seemed far more allegorical than actual; they were so significant that they plainly served no other use.  That is, I have been more impressed by their allegorical significance and fitness; they have been like myths or passages in a myth, rather than mere incidents or history which have to wait to become significant.  Quite in harmony with my subjective philosophy. This, for instance: that, when I thought I knew the flowers so well, the beautiful purple azalea or pinxter-flower should be shown me by the hunter who found it. Such facts are lifted quite above the level of the actual. They are all just such events as my imagination prepares me for, no matter how incredible. Perfectly in keeping with my life and characteristic.


Even and anon something will occur which my philosophy has not dreamed of. The limits of the actual are set some thoughts further off. That which has seemed a rigid wall of vast thickness unexpectedly proves a thin and undulating drapery. The boundaries of the actual are no more fixed and rigid than the elasticity of our imaginations.  The fact that a rare and beautiful flower which we never saw, perhaps never heard [of], for which therefore there was no place in our thoughts, may sat length be found in our immediate neighborhood, is very suggestive.