William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Thoreau’

Smoke and Robins

If it takes me as long to read Thoreau’s journal as it did for him to write it, I will never finish. I have, however, read the first four volumes. Ten remain. At the beginning of the fifth, he refers to himself as a mystic, transcendentalist, and natural philosopher, and says that in most cases he finds it best, or at least easiest, to let people think otherwise — that […]

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May Day

I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of […]

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This and a Little Bit Less

Thoreau’s journal entry for July 13, 1852, begins with this one-thought paragraph: A journal, a book that shall contain a record of all your joy, your ecstasy. I found it waiting for me this morning when I opened the book to pick up from where I had left off reading yesterday. Upon reading it, I realized it had waited almost one hundred sixty-eight years. I closed the book. One relishes […]

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The Wise Old Man

Autobiography is the strangest thing. It’s about everything, and nothing, and no one, and everyone, all at the same time. To be of use — is there anything more to ask? March 23, 2020   The Wise Old Man The wise old man noticed he was hungry. Then he remembered he had no food. “Ah, yes,” he said, “there is that.” A very serious-looking man entered his hut. “You owe […]

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Troonk and Hamph

Among other things, in his journal entry for May 25, 1852, Thoreau mentions hearing the first troonk of a bullfrog — a lovely word, although I have for years spelled the sound hamph — this based on my recurring basso profondo imitation of bullfrogs heard while drifting with my father in his twelve-foot aluminum boat down California’s Kings River, in that lazy stretch below the town of Reedley where it […]

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Letters, Journals, and Poems

This afternoon I finished reading the third volume of Thoreau’s journal — the third of fourteen, as published in 1906 by Houghton Mifflin and Company. And I am set to begin The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, after reading the introduction for the fourth or fifth time early this morning. As with Whitman, I continue my habit of reading aloud — except in the case of The Letters of Henry […]

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The Curse

In his journal entry for April 4, 1852, Thoreau begins: I have got to the pass with my friend that our words do not pass with each other for what they are worth. We speak in vain; there is none to hear. He finds fault with me that I walk alone, when I pine for want of a companion; that I commit my thoughts to a diary even on my […]

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Shadows on the Sidewalk

For sidewalk, Walt Whitman liked to use the word trottoir. Offhand, I can think of no other nineteenth century American writer who did so — this, of course, based on my faulty memory and limited reading. Word choice aside, one thing I’m noticing this time through his Specimen Days, is that buildings and trains are every bit as alive to him as oaks and sparrows — indeed, in his poetic […]

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Traces

Thoreau, off on a tramp, writing by moonlight. Whitman, bending a sapling to test his paralyzed strength. Bathing in ponds. Crow-voices. Wild flowers. Bumblebees. The nighttime parade of stars. The names of ferry-boat captains. Snow to the waist. Ice-cakes in the river. Big families. Poetry. Geology. Boot laces. Wild carrots. The end of the war. My hand on the knob. Your knock on the door. [ 606 ]

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The Long Way Home

A clear sky, frost, stars, and a waning moon. While walking this morning it occurred to me again that this body of mine is the world; and that what I notice, and my particular way of noticing it, reflects what is taking place in me on a cellular-spiritual level. The unforgiving concrete and asphalt, the falling leaves, the ripening fruit, the winding paths, the downed trees, and shimmering waterfalls — […]

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