August 11, 1853

in Thoreau’s Journal:


What shall we name this season–– This very late afternoon––or very early evening?  This severe & placid season of the day most favorable for reflection––after the insufferable heats and the bustle of the day are over––& before the dampness & twilight of the evening! The serene hour––the Muses’ hour––the season of reflection.––  It is commonly desecrated by being made tea-time. It begins perhaps with the very earliest condensation of moisture in the air––when the shadows of hills are first observed.––  & the breezes begin to go down––& birds begin again to sing. The pensive season. It is earlier than the “chaste Eve” of the poet. Bats have not come forth–– It is not twilight–– There is no dew yet on the grass––& still less any early star in the heavens. It is the turning point between afternoon & evening. The few sounds now heard far or near––are delicious. It is not more dusky & obscure, but clearer than before–– The clearing of the air by condensation of mists more than balances the increase of shadows. Chaste Eve is merely preparing with “dewy fingers” to draw o’re all “the gradual dusky veil.” Not yet “The ploughman homeward plods his weary way” nor owls nor beetles are abroad. It is a season somewhat earlier than is celebrated by the poets–– There is not such a sense of lateness & approaching night as they describe. I mean when the first emissaries of Evening come to smooth the lakes and streams. The poet arouses himself and collects his thoughts. He postpones tea indefinitely. Thought has taken his siesta. 

Each sound has a broad & deep relief of silence.