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MonkeyNotes-Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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Notes

In this chapter, Thoreau gives credit to sensory experiences - the kind not gained by reading books. He learned to delight in the various sounds heard in the woods, such as the happy song of birds and the distant mooing of cows. Such sounds, like the words of the classics, are able to energize the long dormant creativity in any man. He also delights in observing the plants and animals that surround him and bathing in the fresh waters of the pond. He finds that Nature constantly unfolds numerous joys to be sensed; fortunately, he is able to put away the clocks and calendars and take time to appreciate the natural world.

Thoreau's written record of his experience reveals his transcendental approach. He re-creates so fully his sensory experiences that the retrospective narrative often reads as if he were still at Walden Pond. As he listens to the music of birds and watches their movements, he seems perfectly in tune with his surroundings. He then steps back from the experience and interprets its meaning. He both lives the experience and transcends it.


While in the woods, Thoreau also hears the sounds of commerce and is reminded of the drudgery of society at work. He listens to the distant trains and wagons as they carry travelers and goods in and out of Concord. He accepts them as necessary evils to progress, but regrets that in the progress of advancement, people are drifting away from Nature. He talks about the fading "articulations of Nature" and regrets that they are paid little attention in the contemporary world.

Thoreau then personifies the train as the "iron horse" and compares its engine to man's spirit, which must be fuelled with courage and self-trust. Like the locomotive, man's determination can push forward with great speed in its search for truth. Thoreau believes that the truth will lead man back towards Nature, which offers solace and comfort, far from the civilized evils of society.

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