Nice one. Thanks for that. Since you have opened up "Housewarming," I'll continue. Bear with me (or not!)
What does "the reign of poetry" entail for Thoreau? It seems to be almost a heaven-on-earth condition for him. It's hard for me to say how he envisions this. It might not be simply living in a state of nature, because we have indications that he thinks civilization is on balance a good thing--or at least could
be a good thing. He would be aware, for example, that the classic books he loves would not exist without civilization. So It would be a hybrid of sorts. I picture a kind of Arcadian society, one "under nature" instead of under God.
Good example of Thoreau's humor.
13.7 I sometimes dream of a larger and more populous house, standing in a golden age, of enduring materials, and without gingerbread work, which shall still consist of only one room, a vast, rude, substantial, primitive hall, without ceiling or plastering, with bare rafters and purlins supporting a sort of lower heaven over one's head -- useful to keep off rain and snow, where the king and queen posts stand out to receive your homage
Right, why have your house all sectioned off into little square rooms? Thoreau was much taken with the old, heroic (but lengendary) ways of living that he read of in romances such as the tales of Ossian. But it is an appealing vision, and not one that a hermit would come up with.
I would that our farmers when they cut down a forest felt some of that awe which the old Romans did when they came to thin, or let in the light to, a consecrated grove (lucum conlucare), that is, would believe that it is sacred to some god. The Roman made an expiatory offering, and prayed, Whatever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is sacred, be propitious to me, my family, and children, etc.
This is good Romanticism. The Romantics regretted the loss of wonder and the miraculous that came along with the Enlightment. The sentiment Thoreau expresses is similar to Wordworth's "The World is Too Much With Us" sonnet:
........Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body, in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light, and with a lamp lengthen out the day. Thus he goes a step or two beyond instinct, and saves a little time for the fine arts. Though, when I had been exposed to the rudest blasts a long time, my whole body began to grow torpid, when I reached the genial atmosphere of my house I soon recovered my faculties and prolonged my life. But the most luxuriously housed has little to boast of in this respect, nor need we trouble ourselves to speculate how the human race may be at last destroyed. It would be easy to cut their threads any time with a little sharper blast from the north. We go on dating from Cold Fridays and Great Snows; but a little colder Friday, or greater snow would put a period to man's existence on the globe.
Maybe this is in essence what man gains through his civilized ways: an advantage over the animals that allows us to cultivate our minds. But obviously, we go way beyond what we need to effect this advantage, so that all is superfluity in the well-appointed house. And despite all the luxury and seeming security from nature, that would be useless if nature decided to turn just a bit nastier.