Of facts and poetry

Of facts and poetry

Having also tried various neat distinctions which inevitably crumble in the face of precise examples that don’t fit, I liked Thoreau’s conclusion that a ‘beautiful fact’ can’t easily be excluded from a notebook on poetry. For similar...
Wait your turn!

Wait your turn!

This observation of a family of swallows over 150 years ago struck me, along with another surprising tale by Thoreau. Apart from the impressive behaviour of the birds on both counts, in reading these immediate, living accounts, I wonder whether Thoreau had any idea...
Airborne support

Airborne support

This touching account in Thoreau’s journal has a swallow, injured by a shot from a gun, being given airborne support by another swallow. The duly contrite swallow-sniper thereafter showed reverence towards these lovely small birds. I hope the injured one...
Intimate and familiar

Intimate and familiar

A striking idea, that in being true, a book will feel intimate and familiar to all men.  ‘True’ surely means authentic rather than fact-based. Some books feel intimate and familiar to some people, not all, and there is value in that too. It is probably...
Feeding & reading: nuts vs apples

Feeding & reading: nuts vs apples

Thoreau’s observation on the pitfalls of eating nuts.  However, the upside, as far as I gather, is that nuts are packed with brain-food. ‘It is quite too absorbing; you can’t read at the same time, as when you are eating an apple.’ Source:...
Writing time and speeding clocks

Writing time and speeding clocks

Any absorbing activity has this magical effect of taking you almost outside of time, until you look at the clock and feel as if it’s speeded ahead. It seemed appropriate to share this after we have put the clocks forward for summer. ‘Time never passes so...
Of the unspoken

Of the unspoken

A short and thoughtful statement.  He doesn’t elaborate and it is hard to know what drew him to this conclusion.  Given how much religion is spoken, it’s an interesting comment. ‘What is religion?  That which is never spoken.’  18 August 1858  ...
Wrong by a jugful

Wrong by a jugful

A charming way to say that someone is seriously wrong – not right by a jugful.  I will try to slip this into my daily speech and see if anyone notices. ‘… he says that his account is not right by a jugful, that he does not come within half a mile of...
Studying the ways of men

Studying the ways of men

So that’s the secret of the fox’s cunning – they hide out of sight and study us!  Thoreau has dozens of these tiny observations about animals. ‘Farmer said yesterday that he thought foxes did not live so much in the depth of the woods as on...

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