July 9, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Morton, in his Crania Americana says—referring to Wilkinson as his authority—that “Vessels of porcelain of Chinese manufacture, have of late been repeatedly found in the catacombs of Thebes, in Egypt” some as old as the Pharaonic period. And the inscriptions on them “have been read with ease by Chinese scholars, and in three instances record the following legend:—

The flower opens, and lo! another year.”


There is something sublime in the fact that some of the oldest written sentences should thus celebrate the coming in of Spring. How many times have the flowers opened and new year begun! Hardly a more cheering sentence could have come down to us. How old is spring—a phenomenon still so fresh! Do we perceive any decay in Nature?  How much evidence is contained in this short and simple sentence respecting the form inhabitants of this globe! It is a sentence to be inscribed on vessels of porcelain.  Suggesting that so many years had gone before. An observation as fit then as now.