the tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe ( henry david thoreau )

It reminded me of the creations of the old epic and dramatic poets, of Atlas, Vulcan, the Cyclops, and Prometheus. Such was Caucasus and the rock where Prometheus was bound. Aeschylus had no dubt visited such scenery as this. It was, Titanic, and such as man never inhabits.

 

Some part of the beholder, even some vital part, seems to escape through the loose grating of his ribs as he ascends. He is more lone than you can imagine. there is less of substantial thought and fair understanding in him than in the plains where men inhabit. His reason is despersed and shadowy, more thin and subtile, like the air. Vast, Titanic, inhuman Nature has got him at disadvantage, caught him alone, and pilfers him of some of his divine faculty.

 

She does not smile on him as in the plains. She seems to say sternly, why came ye here before your time? This ground is not prepared for you. Is it not enough that I smile in the valleys? I have never made this soil for thy feet, this air for thy breathing, these rocks for thy neighbors. I cannot pity nor fondle thee here, but forever relentlessly drive thee hence to where I am kind. why seek me where I have not called thee, and then complain because you find me but a stepmother? Shouldst thou freeze or strave, or shudder thy life away, here is no shrine, nor altar, nor any access to my ear.

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( henry david thoreau , the maine woods , 1846)

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Wednesday May 10 2017


crocodiles in the rivers of maine … hey mr thoreau!

Now sounding in vain for a bottom in fifteen feet of water, while the boat falls back several rods, held straight only with the greatest skill and extertion; or, while the sternman obstinately holds his ground, like a turtle, the bowman springs from side to side with wondeful suppleness and dexterity, scanning the rapids and the rocks with thousand eyes; and now, having got a bite at last, with lusty shove, which makes his pole bend and quiver, and the whole boat tremble, he gains a few feet upon the river.

 

To add to the danger, the poles are liable at any time to be caught between the rocks, and wreched out of their hands, leaving them at the mercy of the rapids,—the rocks, as it were, lying in wait, like so many alligators, to catch them in their teeth, and jerk them from your hands, before you have stolen an effectual shove against their palates.

 

The pole is set close to the boat, and the prow is made to overshoot, and just turn the corners of the rocks, in the very teeth of the rapids.

 

( excerpt from the maine woods by henry david thoreau , august 1846)

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Monday April 10 2017


 

 

 

a scotchman in the woods of maine ( henry david thoreau )

McCauslin was a Kennebec man, of Scotch descent, who had been a water man twenty-two years, and had driven on the lakes and head-waters of the Penobscot five or six springs in succession, but was now settled here to raise supplies for the lumberers and for himself.

 

He entertained us aday or two with true Scotch hospitality, and would accept no recompense for it.

 

A man of a dry wit and shrewdness, and a general intelligence which I had not looked for in the backwoods.

 

In fact, the deeper you penetrate into the woods, the more intelligent, and, in one sense, less countrified do you find the inhabitants; for always the pioneer has been a traveler, and, to some extent, a man of the world; and, as the distances with which he is familiar are greater, so is his information more general and far reaching than the villagers.

 

If I were to look for a narrow, uninformed, and countrified mind, as opposed to the intelligence and the refinement which are thought to emane from cities, it would be amon the rusty inhabitants of an old-settled country, on farms all run and gone to seed with life-everlasting, in the towns about Boston, even on the high-road in Concord, and not in the backwoods of Maine.

 

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(text curated by rinaldo rasa , excerpt from the maine woods by henry david thoreau , 1846 )

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Tuesday March 7 2017


 

somebody & co. ( henry david thoreau – the maine woods)

The day before, we had walked into a shop, over against an inn where we stopped, the puny beginning of trade, which would grow at last into a firm copartnership in the future town or city,— indeed, it was already “Somebody & Co.,” I forget who. The woman came forward from the penetralia of the attached house, for “Somebody & Co.” was in the burning, and she sold us percussioncaps, canalès and smooth, and knew their prices and qualities, and which the hunters preferred. Here was a little of everything in a small compass to satisfy the wants and the ambition of the woods,— a stock selected with pains and care, and brought home in the wagon-box, or a corner of the Houlton team; but there seemed to me, as usual, a preponderance of children’s toys,— dogs to bark, and cats to mew, and trumpets to blow, where natives there hardly are yet. As if a child, born into the Maine woods, among the pine-cones and cedar-berries, could not do without such a sugar-man or skipping-jack as the young Rothschild has.

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(On the 31st of August, 1846)

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Tuesday February 21 2017


henry and henri

A peculiar evergreen overhung our fire, which at first glance looked like a pitch pine (P. rigida), with leaves little more than an inch long, spruce-like, but we found it to be the Pinus Banksiana, — “Banks’s, or Labrador Pine”, also called Scrub Pine, Gray Pine, &c., a new tree to us. These must have been good specimens, for several were 30 or 35 feet high, which is 2 or 3 times the height commonly assigned them. Michaux says that it grows further north than any of our pines, but he did not find it any where more than 10 feet high.

(henry david thoreau, the maine woods, 1857)

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Je ne connais pas le caractère du chêne. Mais le caractère qu’il montre, je le connais, et celui que montrent le hêtre et le tremble et l’orme et tous ses compères des forêts d’Europe. Je connais, je le vois et je ne l’aime pas. Surtout pas celui du hêtre dont j’avais des forêts pleines à quarante minutes de chez moi, et que je vomissais de tout le refus de mon enfance. Grand coffre produisant pour peu de temps une nuée de petites feuilles, qui tombent bientôt et il reste un grand réticent. Avec ça, pas mort, quoiqu’il en l’air, cet avare. Adulte-né, il trouve qu’il met ceux cents ans à mourir.

Quand il y a beaucoup de vent, on perçoit, venant de son haut, un petit murmure qui ne veut rien dire, sur ce grand plier dur.

Tout autre est le caractère que montre l’arbre tropical.

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les dessins d’henri michaux sont extraits de arbres des tropiques, 1942

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Wednesday January 11 2017