For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Water Is Interestingly Strange

Although many readers will be familiar with Thoreau's Walden, I'd like to put in a plea for his unjustly neglected work A Week On The Concord And Merrimack Rivers. I have an old hardback public library edition published by Harrap & Co and bound in green cloth with handsome gold leaf tooling on the front and spine. However the 1st 1849 edition was hardly a success. Publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript, and it was only published at all because Thoreau agreed to bear the cost. Although I myself can quite happily read it straight through - I love quirky books! - I suppose it's best dipped into and browsed for its literary, natural-historical, self-revealing gems.

To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy.

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.

Another great Thoreau treasure trove is his Journals. I have only a selection of these, published in a 1961 Dover edition called The Heart Of Thoreau's Journals. I would like to read a whole lot more.

We are slow to realize water - the beauty and magic of it. It is interestingly strange to us forever. Immortal water, alive even in the superficies, restlessly heaving now and tossing me and my boat, and sparkling with life!

How fitting to have every day in a vase of water on your table the wild-flowers of the season which are just blossoming!

That last one sounds just like some Chinese aphorism, doesn't it? There are hundreds upon hundreds of aperçus like these to be discovered and delighted over in the Journals...

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