Walden Essay By Henry David Thoreau

Most pronouncedly, he announces his social project in terms of his fellow Americans being asleep: “I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.” For Thoreau, especially in the second chapter of , “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” morning becomes a figure for the ever-present possibility of waking to “a poetic or divine life” through both the imaginative constitution of the world and direct contact with its material reality.

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If slavery and industrialization provide the most prominent contexts for Thoreau’s critique, Nature provides the antidote for these moral and social ailments.

He argues that it is through his experiences in the wild, that he gains access to “the most original part of himself,” through a kind of “clarifying process.” In “Spring,” he famously describes such a clarifying process within nature itself through his description of the thawing of the railroad bank.

As with his depiction of morning as reflecting the awakening of the self to the world, so with “Spring” he offers an account of the world coming back to life.

On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau took up residence in a cabin he had constructed on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the shores of Walden Pond, just outside of Concord, Massachusetts.

For the next 27 months, Thoreau would live there, contemplating nineteenth-century American life and the world as a whole as it passed by, compiling notes and thoughts that would eventually form the basis of what has been considered his masterpiece consolidates Thoreau’s two-year experience into one calendrical cycle, but it is far more than a memoir or a naturalist’s report, moving from philosophical and political considerations to short sketches of the people and animals that move in and out of his life to rhapsodic celebrations of the pond and its environs to scientific data on its depth and its climate.


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