Henry David Thoreau – On the Virtues of Walking

July 13, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau.

Although best known for his books Walden and Civil Disobedience, one of Thoreau’s most poignant works for our fast-paced world is his treatise on walking.

 

Here are five of the most relevant and compelling passages from this work:

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4. Climb a Tree!

We hug the earth–how rarely we mount! Methinks we might elevate ourselves a little more. We might climb a tree, at least. I found my account in climbing a tree once. It was a tall white pine, on the top of a hill; and though I got well pitched, I was well paid for it, for I discovered new mountains in the horizon which I had never seen before–so much more of the earth and the heavens. I might have walked about the foot of the tree for threescore years and ten, and yet I certainly should never have seen them. But, above all, I discovered around me–it was near the end of June–on the ends of the topmost branches only, a few minute and delicate red conelike blossoms, the fertile flower of the white pine looking heavenward. I carried straightway to the village the topmost spire, and showed it to stranger jurymen who walked the streets–for it was court week–and to farmers and lumber-dealers and woodchoppers and hunters, and not one had ever seen the like before, but they wondered as at a star dropped down. Tell of ancient architects finishing their works on the tops of columns as perfectly as on the lower and more visible parts! Nature has from the first expanded the minute blossoms of the forest only toward the heavens, above men’s heads and unobserved by them. We see only the flowers that are under our feet in the meadows. The pines have developed their delicate blossoms on the highest twigs of the wood every summer for ages…; yet scarcely a farmer or hunter in the land has ever seen them.

 

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