Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Magpie 66 in the woods

Henry Thoreau.

“A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible.” John Updike.

Thoreau's Cabin.

His need for stillness understood,
He built his cabin in the wood.
Came to know his furry friends,
Wrote a book to make amends.

Stayed two years, two months, two days,
Learnt to live in simple ways
Cut some wood and grew some greens
Ate some woodchuck in between

Not for him a gramophone,
The internet or mobile phone
No trains or planes or cars to mar
His perfect peace; his Shangri-la.

More stories and poems can be found on Tess's Bookshelf.


  1. If I lived in a charming little cottage like this I would plant thousands of flowers, add a sleeping porch and live the simple life ~ for the rest of my days.

    Nice Magpie, Mr. Ray.

  2. Hi Ray,
    Nice insight to one advanced in his thinking and his ways, his Nirvana in his own right. Great Magpie

  3. Sounds wonderful and so does your poem :)

  4. A smart man-a poster man for these times...I'd like some time by Walden Pond myself.

  5. Oh, but if only one could find such a cabin as this... the stories that would unfold.

  6. he was listening to his inner voice and true, if more of us would only do that ...
    very lovely poem, happy days!!

  7. I like this write! Thanks Stafford.

  8. This would be an ideal world for me.

    Anna :o]

  9. Isn't it funny how many who hold that as the ideal aren't willing to do simple, practical, and logical things themselves, such as settling for a smaller home or taking a job that pays a little less to reduce their stress level?

  10. woodchuck?

    a note on a previous post:
    Willie Wagtail as messenger/guide/totem

    "The Willie wagtail hops into your life to remind you to be cheerful..Much nourishment can come from taking the time to present yourself as cheerful and gregarious to others, even if you're not particularly feeling either. Willie wagtail also comforts with the knowledge that when you reach out to others with cheerfulness,others will often reach out with the same warmth and a smile.. ..."
    I thought you might find some humor in this..

  11. Oh...I loved the fascinating rhythm of this poem
    tipped right off of my tongue

  12. i said the words out loud of your poem also and founnd it delightfuls as your commenter did up above

  13. Suz, quoting Wiki: "Thoreau eats fish and occasionally salt pork and woodchuck". So I guess he ate 'em!
    All I can add is; "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?!" Wha?

  14. Oh, and Suz, I did go to the Willy Wagtail link. Worth the trip. Thanks.
    dfish, one of the smartest things I ever did when I lived in an outer burb of Sydney, was to move close to my job. Saved fuel, time and sanity not to mention traffic infringements!

  15. dfish ... is right. I live within walking distance of most everything I need in life. That includes my grandchildren!!!

    It helps that I am retired.

  16. Ray,
    Sure looked like pensioners now that you've said it (drab and all unlike brightly coloured paperbacks)

  17. A and I visited that spot at Walden Pond a few years ago, and a few days ago I just happened to look at the photos we took there. Thoreau's cabin has been reconstructed (it's the photo you show). And the pond and its surrounds remain a kind of park, with families swimming and having picnics. I made the trip as a pilgrimage, because Thoreau was an idol of mine. And as a native New Englander, it seemed only fair to pay homage. Thanks for your poem.

  18. I was fascinated by the idea that Thoreau represented too.

    Tess has a very spiritual shelf on display this week!

    And your poem does justice to it.

  19. I'm giggling at the bit about the woodchuck. We have them at the manor, but believe me, don't eat them. The kids called them "woolly boogers" when they were small. We still call them that.

  20. Thoreau once said he could reach his destination faster by walking than the time it would take his neighbors to work to earn the train fare. I like your poem and Updike is probably right.

  21. Ha - I too liked the woodchuck line.


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