A man’s life should be a stately march to a sweet but unheard music, and when to his fellows it shall seem irregular and inharmonious, he will only be stepping to a livelier measure, or his nicer ear hurry him into a thousand symphonies and concordant variations. There will be no halt ever, but at most a marching on his post, or such a pause as is richer than any sound, when the melody runs into such depth and wildness as to no longer be heard, but simply consented to with the whole life and being. He will take a false step never, even in the most arduous times, for then the music will not fail to swell into greater sweetness and volume, and itself rule the movement it inspired.
I thought that one peculiarity of my “Week” was its hypaethral character—to use an epithet applied to those Egyptian temples which are open to the heavens above—under the ether— I thought that it had little of the atmosphere of the house about—but might wholly have been written, as in fact it was to a considerable extent—out of doors. It was only at a late period in writing it, as it happened, that I used any phrases implying that I lived in a house, or lead a domestic life.
I trust it does not smell of the study & library—even of the Poets attic, as of the fields & woods.— that it is a hypaethral or unroofed book—lying open under the ether—& permeated by it. Open to all weathers—not easy to be kept on a shelf.
The Nymphaea odorata, sweet water lily, pond lily, in bloom. A superb flower, our lotus, queen of the waters.Now is the solstice in still waters. How sweet, innocent, wholesome its fragrance, how pure its white petals, though its root is in the mud.
Methinks roses oftenest display their high colors, colors which invariably attract all eyes and betray them, against a dark ground, as the dark green or the shady recesses of the bushes and copses, where they show to best advantage. Their enemies do not spare the open flower for an hour. Hence, if for no other reason, their buds are most beautiful. Their promise of perfect and dazzling beauty, when their buds are just beginning to expand, – beauty which they can hardly contain, – as in most youths, commonly surpasses the fulfillment of their expanded flowers. The color shows fairest and brightest in the bud. The expanded flower has no higher or deeper tint than the swelling bud exposed.
The drifting white downy clouds are to the landsman what sails on the sea are to him that dwells by the shore, – objects of a large, diffusive interest. When the laborer lies on the grass or in the shade for rest, they do not too much tax or weary his attention. They are unobtrusive. I have not heard that white clouds, like white houses, made any one’s eyes ache. They are the flitting sails in that ocean whose bounds no man has visited. They are like all great themes, always at hand to be considered, or they float over us unregarded. Far away they float in the serene sky, the most inoffensive of objects, or, near and low, they smite us with their lightnings and deafen us with their thunder. We know no Ternate nor Tidore grand enough whither we can imagine them bound. There are many mare’s-tails to-day, if that is the name. What could a man learn by watching the clouds?
The objects which go over our heads unobserved are vast and indefinite. Even those clouds which have the most distinct and interesting outlines are commonly below the zenith, somewhat low in the heavens, and seen on one side. They are among the most glorious objects in nature. A sky without clouds is a meadow without flowers, a sea without sails. Some days we have the mackerel fleet. But our devilishly industrious laborers rarely lie in the shade. How much better if they were to take their nooning like the Italians, relax and expand and never do any work in the middle of the day, enjoy a little sabbath in the middle of the day.
To be calm, to be serene! There is the calmness of the lake when there is not a breath of wind; there is the calmness of a stagnant ditch. So it is with us. Sometimes we are clarified and calmed healthily, as we never were before in our lives, not by an opiate, but by some unconscious obedience to the all-just laws so that we become like a still lake of purest crystal and without an effort our depths are revealed to ourselves. All the world goes by us and is reflected in our deeps. Such clarity! obtained by such pure means! by simple living, by honesty of purpose. We live and rejoice. I awoke into a music which no one about me heard. Whom shall I thank for it? The luxury of wisdom! the luxury of virtue! Are there any intemperate in these things? I feel my Maker blessing me. To the sane man the world is a musical instrument. The very touch affords an exquisite pleasure.
That solitude was sweet to me as a flower. I sat down on the boundless level and enjoyed the solitude, drank it in, the medicine for which I had pined, worth more than the bear-berry so common on the Cape.
A comfortable breezy June morning. No dust to-day. To explore a segment of country between the Stow hills and the railroad in Acton, west to Boxboro. A fine, clear day, a journey day. A very small blue veronica in the bank by the roadside at Mrs. Hosmer’s, apparently the same with that I saw on the Cliffs with toothed leaves. Interesting from being blue. The traveller now has the creak of the cricket to encourage him on all country routes, out of the fresh sod, still fresh as in the dawn, not interrupting his thoughts. Very cheering and refreshing to hear so late in the day, this morning sound. The whiteweed colors some meadows as completely as the frosting does a cake. The waving June grass shows watered colors like grain. No mower’s scythe is heard. The farmers are hoeing their corn and potatoes. Some low blackberry leaves are covered with a sort of orange-colored mildew or fungus. The clover is now in its glory. Whole fields are rosed with it, mixed with sorrel, and looking deeper than it is. It makes fields look luxuriant which are really thinly clad. The air is full of its sweet fragrance. I cannot find the linnæa in Loring’s; perhaps because the woods are cut down; perhaps I am too late. The robins sing more than usual, maybe because of the coolness. Buttercups and geraniums cover the meadows, the latter appearing to float on the grass, – of various tints. It has lasted long, this rather tender flower. Methinks there are most tall buttercups now. These and the senecio, now getting stale, prevail in the meadows. Green early blueberries on hillsides passim remind you of the time when berries will be ripe. This is the ante-huckleberry season, when fruits are green. The green fruit of the thorn is conspicuous, and of the wild cherry and the amelanchiers and the thimble-berry. These are the clover days.
Maybe the huckleberry- bird best expresses the season, or the red-eye.
What subtle differences between one season and another! The warmest weather has, perchance, arrived and the longest days, but not the driest. When I remember gathering ripe blackberries on sandy fields or stones by the roadside, the very berries warmed by the sun, I am convinced of this. The seasons admit of infinite degrees in their revolutions.Found one of the purple orchises in an open meadow.
Moon not quite full– Going across Depot Field – The western sky is now a crescent of saffron inclining to salmon–a little dunnish perhaps. The grass is wet with dew–the evening star has come out but no other– There is no wind– I see a night hawk in the twilight flitting near the ground– I hear the hum of a beetle going by– The greenish fires of lightning bugs are already seen on the meadow– I pass through Hubbardston along the side of a field of oats–which wet one leg. I perceive the smell of a burning far off by the river, which I saw smoking 2 days ago. The moon is laboring in a mackerel cloud and my hopes are with her. Why do I hear no bull frogs yet– Do they ever trump as early and as universally as on that their first evening? I hear the whipper wills on different sides – White flowers alone show much at night–white clover–& white-weed It is commonly still at night as now– The day has gone by with its wind like the wind of a cannon ball–and now far in the west it blows–by that dun colored sky you may track it– There is no motion nor sound in the woods (Hubbards Grove) along which I am walking. The trees stand like great screens against the sky.
The distant village sounds, are the barking of dogs, that animal with which man has allied himself, and the rattling of wagons– For the farmers have gone into town shopping this Saturday night– The dog is the tamed wolf–as the villager is the tamed savage But here the crickets are heard in the grass chirping from everlasting to everlasting, a mosquito sings near my ear–and the humming of a dawbug drowns all the noise of the village. So roomy is the universe the moon comes out of the mackerel cloud and the traveller rejoices.
How can a man write the same thoughts by the light of the moon–resting his book on a rail by the side of a remote potato field–that he does by the light of the sun, on his study table. The light is but a luminousness– My pencil seems to move through a creamy mystic medium – The moonlight is rich & somewhat opaque like cream but The day light is thin & blue like skimmed milk– I am less conscious than in the presence of the sun–my instincts have more influence…
There are some fine large clusters of lambkill close to the shore of Walden and in the Peak fronting the south–– They are early there & large ap. both on account of the warmth & the vicinity of the water –– These flowers are in perfect cylinders sometimes 6 inches long by 2 wide––and 3 such raying out or upward from one centre i.e. 3 branches clustered together.
Examined closely I think this handsomer than the mt. Laurel which we have.The color is richer––but they do not show so well at a little distance and the corymbs are somewhat concealed by the green shoot and leaves rising above them, and also injured by the mixture of the dry remains of last years flowers––
By half past fives robins more than before–crows of course & jays. Dogsbane is just ready to open. Swallows. It is pleasant walking through the June grass (in Pleasant meadow) so thin & offering but little obstruction. The night hawk squeaks & booms. The veratrum viride top is now a handsome green cluster 2 feet by 10/12. Here also at well meadow head I see the fringed purple orchis–unexpectedly beautiful–though a pale lilac purple–a large spike of purple flowers. I find two–one answers to the O. fimbriata of Big & Psycodes of Gray–the other the grandiflora of Big– & fimbriata of Gray. Big. thinks it the most beautiful of all the orchises. I am not prepared to say it is the most beautiful wild flower I have found this year– Why does it grow there only–far in a swamp remote from public view? It is somewhat fragrant reminding me of the ladies slipper. Is it not significant that some rare & delicate beautiful flowers should be found only in unfrequented wild swamps.– There is the mould in which the orchis grows. Yet I am not sure but this is a fault in the flower– It is not quite perfect in all its parts– a beautiful flower must be simple–not spiked.– It must have a fair stem & leaves– This stem is rather naked & the leaves are for shade & moisture. It is fairest seen rising from amid brakes & hellebore, its lower part or rather naked stem concealed. Where the most beautiful wild flowers grow–there Man’s spirit is fed–& poets grow– It cannot be high-colored growing in the shade. Nature has taken no pains to exhibit–and few that bloom are ever seen by mortal eyes. The most striking & handsome large wild flower of the year thus far the I have seen.
Went through the woods along the old Canal to Haynes’ Pasture from the height of which we looked down on the rich New-Hampshire wood we had come out of––the ground rising within the wood gave it the appearance of woods rising by successive stages from a smaller growth on the edge to stately trees in the middle.& Nobscot was seen in the S.W. through the blue furnace mist. This seems the true hour to be abroad sauntering far from home–– Your thoughts being already turned toward home––your walk in one sense ended–– You are in that favorable frame of mind described by De Quincy, open to great impressions––& you see those rare sights with the unconscious side of the eye––which you could not see by a direct gaze before–– Then the dews begin to descend in your mind & its atmosphere is strained of all impurities –– And home is farther away than ever––here is home ––the beauty of the world impresses you–– There is a coolness in your mind as in a well–– Life is too grand for supper.––
The wood-thrush launches forth his evening strains from the midst of the pines. I admire the moderation of this master–– There is nothing tumultuous in his song––he launches forth one strain with all his heart & life & soul––of pure & unmatchable melody––and then he pauses and gives the hearer & himself time to digest this and then another & at suitable intervals.Men talk of the rich song of other birds––the thrasher––mocking bird––nightingale––but I doubt I doubt–– They know not what they say; There is as great an interval between the Thrasher & the Wood Thrush as between Thompson’s Seasons & Homer.–– The sweetness of the day crystalizes in this morning coolness.
No one to my knowledge, has observed the minute differences in the seasons. Hardly two nights are alike. The rocks do not feel warm to-night, for the air is warmest; nor does the sand particularly. A book of the seasons, each page of which should be written out-of-doors, or in its own locality wherever it may be.
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