But One Book of Poetry to Contain Them All

Longtime readers know I’m quite the devotee of those dear local philosophs / civic superheroes / transcendentalist romantics, Emerson and Thoreau. I’ve quoted them at length and composed songs inspired by their fiery oratory.

So I was excited to stumble upon (hat tip forgotten) a blog dedicated to posting Thoreau’s journal entries, pegged to the corresponding day of the year (“THIS DATE“). Living quite near where Thoreau would have wandered, I enjoy the shared sense of place that emerges, as when he observes a balmy day in February and we experience the same.

In this bit from yesterday, one of the more striking I’ve read, Thoreau really hits a writerly stride, so disarmingly plainspoken, so alarmingly insightful. Indeed, this short reflection seems to encapsulate his very approach to writing —

I have a commonplace-book for facts and another for poetry, but I find it difficult always to preserve the vague distinction which I had in my mind, for the most interesting and beautiful facts are so much the more poetry and that is their success. They are translated from earth to heaven. I see that if my facts were sufficiently vital and significant, – perhaps transmuted more into the substance of the human mind, – I should need but one book of poetry to contain them all.

Passages like that set a high bar, and we’ve been finding — myself and Rebecca, my better half, who’s begun a similar blog from Emerson’s diaries — that Thoreau is, to this date, the more engaging of the two. Pearls of wisdom aplenty, though. Or should I say barberries?