Archives for posts with tag: Henry David Thoreau

by Marge Piercy

That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.”Henry Thoreau

The dream of toads: we rarely
credit what we consider lesser
life with emotions big as ours,
but we are easily distracted,
abstracted. People sit nibbling
before television’s flicker watching
ghosts chase balls and each other
while the skunk is out risking grisly
death to cross the highway to mate;
while the fox scales the wire fence
where it knows the shotgun lurks
to taste the sweet blood of a hen.
Birds are greedy little bombs
bursting to give voice to appetite.
I had a cat who died of love.
Dogs trail their masters across con-
tinents. We are far too busy
to be starkly simple in passion.
We will never dream the intense
wet spring lust of the toads.
“Toad dreams” appears in Marge Piercy’s collection Stone, Paper, Knife (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), available at

Image: “Prince” by Shane Holsclaw. Prints available at


July 12, 2013 marks the 196th birthday of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),  an American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, surveyor, historian, and much more. Today,Thoreau is best remembered for his book Walden (1854), a memoir of living in the woods, close to nature. (Read more at Wikipedia.)

During his brief life — he passed away at age 44 — Thoreau spent much of his time writing, leaving behind an extensive body of work.

A written word is…the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.”


“Morning brings back the heroic ages. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night.”  From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond, Beautiful Day” by machris, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond” by Gary Lerude, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond at Sunset” by Meridith Louise, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


“Very warm. Now for a thin coat. This melting weather makes a stage in the year. The crickets creak louder and more steadily; the bullfrogs croak in earnest. The drought begins. The dry z-ing of the locust is heard…” 

From The Writings of Henry David Thoreau: Journal 1837-1846