Friday, June 30, 2017

Sages of Concord #56: A Wild & Disobedient Life

N. C. Wyeth

A Wild & Disobedient Life

Henry David Thoreau, on his 200th birthday, is an American immortal who got there the hard way – against the grain of his town and his times.  By now he’s the heroic non-conformist who modeled his brief life on religious convictions: that every human being has an original relation with divine spirit, and that on earth a man must become a majority of one.  So he made a dissenting record living apart, and walking the woods more like a Native American, he felt, than a Yankee.  Never to church, never married, never voted and didn’t pay his taxes.  He talked to the trees as almost-people, and he caressed the fish in his stream like almost-children. Manly and able “but rarely tender,” he won Emerson’s obituary praise that flatters us, too: “no truer American existed,” Emerson said, than Henry Thoreau.  The prophet of Concord is our subject this hour on Open Source. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sages Of Concord #55: The Glory of Friendship

Winslow Homer: Snap The Whip
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, not the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship."
                                                                                                  RW Emerson

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sages of Concord #54: That Devilish Iron Horse


The Boiling spring is turned into a tank for the Iron Horse to drink at, and the Walden Woods have been cut and dried for his fodder. That devilish Iron Horse, whose ear-rending whinner (sic) is heard throughout the town, has defiled the Boiling Spring with his feet and drunk it up, and browsed off all the wood around the pond. . . He robs the country babies of milk, with the breath of his nostrils polluting the air. That Trojan horse, with a thousand men in his belly, insidiously introduced by mercenary Greeks. With the scream of a hawk he beats the bush for men, the man-harrier, and carries them to his infernal home by thousands for his progeny. Where is the country's champion, the Moore of Moore Hall, to meet him at the Deep Cut and throw a victorious and avenging lance against this bloated pest?
from the Journal of HD Thoreau, June 17, 1853

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Sages of Concord #53: The Antony Burns Affair

Thoreau's Journal - June 16, 1854
[After fugitive slave Anthony Burns was captured, arrested, and re-enslaved]
"I had never respected this government. But I had foolishly thought I might manage to live here, attending to my private affairs and forget it....I feel that to some extent the state has fatally interfered with my just and proper business. I am surprised to see men going about their business as if nothing had happened...It is not an era of repose. If we would save our lives, we must fight for them."

thanks to Bill Schecter of the Thoreau Society

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

100 REFLECTIONS:The Sages of Concord #52

"Watson had a colt born about ten or eleven the last evening. I went out to see it early this morning, as it lay in the cold pasture. It got up alarmed and trotted about on its long, large legs, and even nibbled a little grass, and behaved altogether as if it had been an inhabitant of this planet for some years at least.  They are as precocious as young partridges. It ran about most of the day with its mother. Watson was surprise to see it so much larger than the night before. Probably they expand at once on coming to the light and air, like a butterfly that has just come out of its chrysalis."

                                                    HD Thoreu's Journal: June 14, 1857

Monday, June 12, 2017

100 REFLECTIONS: Emancipation and Self-Emancipation #51


Panel from Diego Rivera’s mural at Pennsylvania’s Unity House,

"Freedom is one of the ideas we cannot do without. . . .One of the important meanings of Thoreau's life, and of Walden, is the imperative of freedom or liberation. . .Walden is about self-emancipation, but not at the expense of ignoring the problem of external, physical freedom. The Thoreau who sought his own freedom was, inevitably, involved in the political movement to abolish slavery, and his involvement grew rather than diminished as time went on."
                                            from Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind by Robert Richardson, Jr.

Upon the capture and arrest of abolitionist John Brown, a man ran to the church tower in the center of Concord Massachusetts. He was full of fury and pain. Of lithe and willowy build, this impassioned human being was known locally more as a contemplator than a man of action. Yet here he was streaking to ring a clarion bell.
He was harkening to his fellow citizens, not only an alarm of the week’s events, but also a warning of dark days ahead unless the scourge of slavery was expunged from the land. It was October 30, 1859. That man was Henry David Thoreau.
Some short-lived acts speak volumes of the person. So it was that autumn day in the life of Henry David Thoreau. Its message rung out loud and clear as did the pealing of the bell warning of consequences for his town and country if the inhumanity and genocide of slavery were to continue.
                        from "HD Thoreau: Bright Glows the Pond" by Len Yanielli
 as appearing in Peoples World:

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sages of Concord #50: What Use?

“What use is a house,” Thoreau wrote a friend in 1860, “if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sages of Concord #49 (aka The Walden Pond Society)

Thoreau's Journal: 16-Apr-1857
Almost a month ago, at the post-office, Abel Brooks, who is pretty deaf, sidling up to me, observed in a loud voice, which all could hear, “Let me see, your society is pretty large, ain’t it?” “Oh, yes, large enough,” said I, not knowing what he meant. “There’s Stewart belongs to it, and Collier, he’s one of them, and Emerson, and my boarder” (Pulsifer), “and Channing, I believe, I think he goes there.” “You mean the walkers; don’t you?” “Ye-es, I call you the Society. All go to the woods; don’t you?” “Do you miss any of your wood?” I asked. “No, I hain’t worried any yet. I believe you’re a pretty clever set, as good as the average,” etc., etc.
Telling Sanborn of this, he said that, when he first came to town and boarded at Holbrook’s, he asked H. how many religious societies there were in town. H. said that there were three,—the Unitarian, the Orthodox, and the Walden Pond Society.

from the Blog of Henry David Thoreau:

Winslow Homer: White Mountain Wagon

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

100 REFLECTIONS: The Sages of Concord #48

Photo by Bob Fisher

"When I first paddled a boat on Walden, it was completely surrounded by thick and lofty pine and oak woods, and in some of its coves grape vines had run over the trees next the water and formed bowers under which a boat could pass. . . Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; not do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher's desk. But since I left those shores the woodchoppers have still further laid them waste, and now for many a year there will be no more rambling through the aisles of the wood, with occasional vistas through which you see the water. My muse may be excused if she is silent henceforth. How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?"

                                                                        Walden, The Ponds  by HD Thoreau

Monday, June 5, 2017

THOREAU ON FULLER: The Sages of Concord #47

Margaret Fuller, author of Woman of the Nineteenth Century

Thoreau thought highly of the book, suggesting that its strength came in part from Fuller's conversational ability. As he called it, it was "rich extempore writing, talking with pen in hand." 

from Margaret Fuller: Writing A Woman's Life by Donna Dickenson

Saturday, June 3, 2017


Walden Pond, then and now. Wood Engraving by Michael McCurdy. Photo by Ali Fisher
"In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick, too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line."

                                                                         from Economy, Walden

Friday, June 2, 2017