July 9, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

“The flower opens, and lo! another year.” [ancient Chinese saying]


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 a 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 former inhabitants of this globe! It is a sentence to be inscribed on vessels of porcelain, suggesting that so many years had gone before, in observation as fit then as now.

July 8, 1851

p1000242.jpg in Thoreau’s Journal:

Here are mulleins covering a field (the Clam shell field) where 3 years were none noticeable—but a smooth uninterrupted pasture sod, 2 years ago it was ploughed for the first time for many years & Millet & corn & potatoes planted—and now where the millet grew these mulleins have sprung up.  Who can write the history of these fields? The millet does not perpetuate itself, but the few seeds of the mullein which perchance were brought here with it, are still multiplying the race.


July 7, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

Now that there is an interregnum in the blossoming of the flowers, so is there in the singing of the birds….With a certain wariness, but not without a slight shudder at the danger oftentimes, I perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair, as a case at court, and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish, to permit idle rumors, tales, incidents, even of an insignificant kind, to intrude upon what should be the sacred ground of the thoughts.

July 6, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

To Beck Stow’s thence to Sawmill Brook, and return by Walden. ––– Now for the shade of oaks in pastures. The witnesses attending court sit on the benches in the shade of the great elm. The cattle gather under the trees. The pewee is heard in the heat of the day, and the red-eye (?). The pure white cymes (?) of the elder are very conspicuous along the edges of meadows, contrasting with the green above and around….


July 5, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

The progress of the season is indescribable…Perhaps the sound of the locust expresses the season as well as anything.  The farmers say the abundance of the grass depends on wet in June. I might make a separate season of those days when the locust is heard.  That is our torrid zone.

July 3, 1852



in Thoreau’s Journal:

The chimaphila umbellata winter-green must have been in blossom some time. The back side of its petals “cream colored tinged with purple” which is turned towards the beholder while the face is toward the earth—is the handsomest.

July 2, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

I am confident that there can be nothing so beautiful in any cultivated garden with all its varieties as this wild clump….


July 1, 1852



in Thoreau’s Journal:

The rich violet purple of the pontederias was the more striking as the blossoms were still rare—  Nature will soon be very lavish of this blue along the river sides—  It is a rich spike of blue flowers with yellowish spots.

June 30, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.

June 29, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.

June 26, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.

June 25, 1852


in Thoreau’s Journal:

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. 

June 24, 1852

in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.

June 23, 1840

 in Thoreau’s Journal:

I cannot see the bottom of the sky, because I cannot see to the bottom of myself.


It is the symbol of my own infinity. My eye penetrates as far into the ether as that depth is inward from which my contemporary thought springs.

June 22, 1851


in Thoreau’s Journal:

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.

June 21, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:


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.