August 9, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is vain to try to write unless you feel strong in the knees.

Any book of great authority and genius seems to our imagination to permeate and pervade all space. Its spirit, like a more subtle ether, sweeps along with the prevailing winds of the country. Its influence conveys a new gloss to the meadows and the depths of the wood, and bathes the huckleberries on the hills, as sometimes a new influence in the sky washes in waves over the fields and seems to break on some invisible beach in the air. All things confirm it. It spends the mornings and the evenings.

August 8, 1854

in Thoreau’s Journal:

This is a day of sunny water. As I walk along the bank of the river I look down a rod & see distinctly the fishes and the bottom. The cardinals are in perfection—standing in dark recesses of the green shore, or in the open meadow. They are fluviatile & stand along some river or brook—like myself.

August 7, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

We see the rain bow apparently when we are on the edge of the rain just as the sun is setting…

Who does not feel that here is a phenomenon which Natural philosophy alone is inadequate to explain?  

The use of the rain-bow, who has described it.

August 6, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

A man must generally get away some hundreds or thousands of miles from home before he can be said to begin his travels. Why not begin his travels at home?  …. It takes a man of genius to travel in his own country, in his native village; to make any progress between his door and his gate.

August 5, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

The best show of lilies is on the west side of the bay, in Cyrus Hosmer’s meadow, above the willow- row. Many of them are not open at 10 o’clock a. m. I noticed one with the sepals perfectly spread flat on the water, but the petals still held together in a sharp cone, being held by the concave, slightly hooked points. Touching this with an oar, it opens quickly with a spring. The same with many others, whose sepals were less spread. Under the influence of the light and warmth, the petals elevate or expand themselves in the middle, becoming more and more convex, till at last, being released at their overlapping points, they spring open and quickly spread themselves equally, revealing their yellow stamens.

How satisfactory is the fragrance of this flower! It is the emblem of purity. It reminds me of a young country maiden. It is just so simple and unproved. Wholesome as the odor of the cow. It is not a highly refined odor, but merely a fresh youthful morning sweetness. It is merely the unalloyed sweetness of the earth and the water; a fair opportunity and field for life; like its petals, uncolored by any experience; a simple maiden on her way to school, her face surrounded by a white ruff. But how quickly it becomes the prey of insects

August 4, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Here, in sight of Wachusett and these rivers and woods, my mind goes singing to itself of other themes than taxation. The rush sparrow sings still unintelligible, as from beyond a depth in me which I have not fathomed, where my future lies folded up. I hear several faint notes, quite outside me, which populate the waste.

This is such fresh and flowing weather, as if the waves of the morning had subsided over the day.

August 3, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I hear a cricket creak in the shade; also the sound of a distant piano. The music reminds me of imagined heroic ages; it suggests such ideas of human life and the field which it affords as the few noblest passages of poetry. Those few interrupted strains which reach me through the trees suggest the same thoughts and aspirations that all melody, by whatever sense appreciated, has ever done. I am affected. What coloring variously fair and intense our life admits of! How a thought will mould and paint it. Impressed by some vague vision, as it were, elevated into a more glorious sphere of life, we no longer know this, and we can deny its existence. We say we are enchanted, perhaps. But what I am impressed by is the fact that this enchantment is no delusion. So far as truth is concerned, it is a fact such as what we call our actual existence, but it is a far higher and more glorious fact. It is evidence of such a sphere, of such possibilities. It is its truth and reality that affect me.

A thrumming of piano-strings beyond the gardens and through the elms. At length the melody steals into my being. I know not when it began to occupy me. By some fortunate coincidence of thought or circumstance I am attuned to the universe, I am fitted to hear, my being moves in a sphere of melody, my fancy and imagination are excited to an inconceivable degree. This is no longer the dull earth on which I stood. It is possible to live a grander life here; already the steed is stamping, the knights are prancing; already our thoughts bid a proud farewell to the so-called actual life and its humble glories. Now this is the verdict of a soul in health. But the soul diseased says that its own vision and life alone is true and sane. What a different aspect will courage put upon the face of things! This suggests what a perpetual flow of spirit would produce.

August 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

It is a new era with the flowers when the small purple fringed orchis as now is found in shady swamps standing along the brooks. (It appears to be alone of its class— Not to be overlooked it has so much flower though not so high colored as the Arethusa).

August 1, 1841

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Occasionally we rise above the necessity of virtue into an unchangeable morning light, in which we have not to choose in a dilemma between right and wrong, but simply to live right on and breathe the circumambient air.

There is no name for this life unless it be the very vitality of vita.