Excerpt From Walden by Henry David Thoreau Found in McDougal …

   

From
Walden

Henry David Thoreau

  

We
must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by
mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn,
which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.  I
know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable
ability of people to elevate their lives by conscious
endeavor.  It is something to be able to paint a
particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a
few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve
and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we
look, which morally we can do.  To affect the quality
of the day, that is the highest of arts.  Every person
is tasked to make his or her life, even in its details,
worthy of the contemplation of their most elevated and
critical hour.  If we refused, or rather used up, such
paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly
inform us how this might be done.

I
went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to
front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could
not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live
what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to
practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I
wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to
live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that
was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive
life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, 

and,
if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and
genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the
world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and
be able to give a true account of it in my next
excursion.  For most people, it appears to me, are in a
strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or
of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it
is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy
him forever."

Still
we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we
were long ago changed into humans; like pygmies we fight
with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout,
and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and
evitable wretchedness.  Our life is frittered away by
detail.  Honest people have hardly need to count more
than their ten fingers, or in extreme cases they may add
their ten toes, and lump the rest.  Simplicity,
simplicity, simplicity!  I say, let your affairs be as
two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a
million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your
thumb-nail.  In the midst of this chopping sea of
civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and
quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for,
that people have to live, if we would not founder and go to
the bottom and not make our port at all, by dead reckoning,
and they must be great calculators indeed who succeed. 
Simplify, simplify.  Instead of three meals a day, if
it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes,
five; and reduce other things in proportion. . . .

Why
should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We
are determined to be starved before we are hungry. 
People say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they
take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow. 
As for work, we haven’t any of any consequence. . . .

Let
us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be
thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing
that falls on the rails.  Let us rise early and fast,
or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company
come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children
cry�determined to make a day of it.  Why should we
knock under and go with the stream?  Let us not be
upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool
called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. 
Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the
way is down hill.  With unrelaxed nerves, with morning
vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast
like Ulysses.  If the engine whistles, let it whistle
till it is hoarse for its pains.  If the bell rings,
why should we run?  We will consider what kind of music
they are like.  Let us settle ourselves, and work and
wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of
opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and
appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe. . . .

Time
is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it;
but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how
shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity
remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose
bottom is pebbly with stars.  I cannot count one. 
I know not the first letter of the alphabet.  I have
always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I
was born.
   

Walden
(first published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) is
part personal declaration of independence, social
experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and
manual for self reliance. It details Thoreau’s experiences
of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst
woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson,
near Concord, Massachusetts. Walden emphasizes the
importance of solitude, contemplation, and closeness to
nature in transcending the "desperate" existence
that, he argues, is the lot of most people.

More
on life.

  

It is not death that
we
should fear, but we
should fear never
beginning to live.


Marcus Aurelius

  


 
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Realism and Romanticism in Dead Poets Society

Excerpt from Walden – Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”