William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Thoreau’

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.

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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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Death’s Divine Music

To awaken, as Thoreau once did from a dream, to find oneself a musical instrument, with the last notes dying away. To say, I was borne this day unto death’s divine music, and then pass in a canoe over the brink of a waterfall, only to find, upon landing, that the canoe has become a cabin in the woods and the waterfall a gentle rain on the roof. And now […]

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All Ye Who Enter

In 1851, in a journal entry written in late-September, Thoreau writes in its own separate paragraph the following sentence: The poet writes the history of his body. This statement, or observation, occurs seemingly out of the blue, between references to the growth pattern of pine trees and the tendency of a certain kind of grass to burn slowly and steadily without flame. In Part 2 of Clarel, his 18,000-line poem […]

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Whispers

Dahlia leaves, intensely green after a thunderstorm. Ferns and moss, a fertile, humid prayer. Cleaning the iris bed — old, worn mothers with their fearless children. The scent of mushrooms soon to sprout. A friendly neighbor says a spirit haunts his house. Books — Walt Whitman and John Muir. Melville and Thoreau. And how strange Emerson, if he’d had a beard. September 12, 2019

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Autumnal

Reading Thoreau to the ticking of one’s body clock, until a visitor, upon entering the room, is as likely to find a cricket in the chair as someone with a book in his lap — that’s how it is. Earlier this afternoon, a hummingbird kept returning to the front window to feed on her reflection. As I read the season, I see now that in the earliest chapters, many clues […]

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Front Walk

In his journal, Emerson writes of walking with Hawthorne, talking with Thoreau, Carlyle’s latest book, and Tennyson’s new poems. In mine, I write of you, in terms of my own plain self. And this is our wealth: that we are each a funny blend of science and superstition, of pain, nerve, and luck. And this is our grief — the loss of dear Waldo, Emerson’s five-year-old son. August 4, 2019 […]

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Ask Yourself

At the rate I’m going, steady though it may be, it will take me several years to finish reading all fourteen volumes of Thoreau’s journal. I hope I have those years. But if I don’t, I’m happy to have had those leading up to them. And when I say hope, I mean I’m willing to live them if they’re given me, and that I understand very well they might not […]

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