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Chapter 14. Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors 
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Post Chapter 14. Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors
Summary

Former Inhabitants:

Cato Ingraham

Zilpha

Brister Freeman

the Stratton family

(John) Breed

the burning of Breed's hut

narcolepsy and fire department

the smoldering cellar

Wyman the potter

Hugh Quoil

cellar dents

a new Village of Walden

Winter Visitors:

winter isolation

paths through the snow

counting steps

continuity of walks

the barred owl

the woodchopper

a long-headed farmer

the poet

the Connecticut philosopher

the one other

the Visitor who never comes

http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendenta ... ter14.html
Walden Study Text



Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:17 pm
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Post Poetry for prose
DW, forgive my jumping ahead, but August is running out. Which reminds me, what is the book for September?

In several posts, DWill has alluded to the poetry in HDT's prose. I think Thoreau's paragraph describing his moving about in deep snow could easily be turned into a poem; in fact it begs.

Here are Thoreau's lines:
[quote]In the deepest snows, the path which I used from the highway to my house, about half a mile long, might have been represented by a meandering dotted line, with wide intervals between the dots. For a week of even weather I took exactly the same number of steps, and of the same length, coming and going, stepping deliberately and with the precision of a pair of dividers in my own deep tracks


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Last edited by Saffron on Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:21 pm
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This chapter has has Thoreau's description of what it means to be a poet. I think he got it just right.

Quote:
The one who came from farthest to my lodge, through deepest snows and most dismal tempests, was a poet. A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by pure love. Who can predict his comings and goings? His business calls him out at all hours, even when doctors sleep.


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Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:23 pm
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Post 
Saffron,

There is what I would call poetry in many of his sentences, largely because they are so full of figurative language. It's interesting to speculate on what he would have thought of the idea that his prose could be presented as poetry. My suspicion--only that--is that for him poetry was a kind of gnomic utterance, with a bit of the quality of the spell, and in a slightly different, more elevated register than prose. The rhyming of traditional verse would have set it apart as well. This reminds me to look up his poetry. I'm not sure how much of it there is. Emerson said in the eulogy that Thoreau was not so fine a poet as a prose writer.

The poet you refer to in the 2nd post is William Ellery Channing, I think. He was supposedly regarded then as the finest transcendental poet (although Thoreau called his style "sublimo-slipshod"), but no one reads him now, and obviously the movement did not produce poets anywhere near the stature of the earlier English Romantics. I suppose that Emerson might now be thought of as the best transcendental poet.
DWill



Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Poetry for prose
Saffron wrote:
Here are Thoreau's lines:
In the deepest snows, the path which I used from the highway to my house, about half a mile long, might have been represented by a meandering dotted line, with wide intervals between the dots.


Isn't Thoreau making a dotted drawing for the reader to complete the dots and realize the meaning? This paragraph is replete with linear objects: barred owl, slits, pennisular, pines, etc. The owl's sensitivity in action makes it a representative of the transcendental person.

Tom



Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:17 pm
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Post 
Well, Tom, he is an artist, so I'm not surprised that you find this in him, whether we call it intention or not.

The chapter reminds me just a bit of "Spoon River Anthology," also of Frost's poem "Directive," describing the former village cultures.
Quote:
Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape! Again, perhaps, Nature will try, with me for a first settler, and my house raised last spring to be the oldest in the hamlet.

Interesting that he agrees that humans are capable of enhancing the beauty of the landscape, as most would agree we can do, ideally. He wonders what factors determined decisively that the former settlement would not survive, while nearby Concord would thrive. He doesn't sound much like a misanthrope here.
DWill



Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:30 am
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Post 
DWill wrote:
Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape! Again, perhaps, Nature will try, with me for a first settler, and my house raised last spring to be the oldest in the hamlet.


Will, yesterday a writer and retired judge whom I greatly admire referred me to this prefatory quote in his first book:

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit.
-- Virgil


"And Perhaps some time it will be pleasant to recall these things."

It's from the Aeneid, which Thoreau knew well. I just found that's it's the college motto of Yale.

http://www.yale.edu/td/about/motto.html

Tom



Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:33 am
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Post 
Tom,
You could expect him almost to be channeling some of these classic books that he'd read in the original language. Thanks for pointing out the similarity.

Will



Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:51 pm
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