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Thoughts on Thoreau

Several items on my old site went away, and one which I deemed important was the picture and quote I included from one of my mentors, Henry David Thoreau.

The quote, which is from Walden says, “If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal–that is your success.  All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.  The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated.  We easily come to doubt if they exist.  We soon forget them.  They are the highest reality.  Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man.  The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.  It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”

I was nineteen when I first caught a little of Thoreau’s stardust. His deep connection with nature and the quest for deeper meaning in life of the Transcendentalists resonated with me. I was hiking in the woods near where I lived and felt that openhearted connection with the birds, the sky, and the forest itself. It moved me to talk with them, and the words began to weave themselves into a poem. As I captured the words on paper, they began to sing to me. I picked up my guitar and finished the creative process, the result being “Song to Henry David.”

I mentioned this song in my first novel, By the Time I Got There. Often, when I do a reading of this book I love to perform this song as well.

Here’s a reading and performance that appeared on Chaska, Minnesota’s Cable TV Station:


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