Higher Laws


"I had three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society."

- Henry David Thoreau

On September 6, 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond. The said date marked two years, two months, and two days he spent there. Until the publication of "Walden; or, Life in the Woods", little was known of this part of Concord, Massachusetts.

Walden Pond was a kettle hole. The northern shore was owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, another prominent writer of that era. He let Thoreau, his good friend, lived there. The cabin was about two kilometers from the edge of the town, but there was no Wi-Fi back then. It wasn't hard to imagine how isolated the area was. Thoreau carried out his experiment in such conditions.

Give me truth

"Walden; or, Life in the Woods" was an autobiography. He only had a bed, chair, and desk. Then there was the lake and its surrounding, which changed every season. It was simple set-up, but it influenced his values in ways no one could imagined. Authors like John Updike thought his ideas embodied American values. Only a few agreed after the book's release, though. The United States was a young nation, eager to match the old kingdoms on the other side of the Atlantic. Perhaps this progressive mindset was the reason why many didn't see the truth behind Thoreau's words.

"Walden" could also be seen as a compilation of essays. Thoreau and Emerson were transcendentalists, a group of artists who believed in the inherent goodness of people and nature. (Thoreau and Emerson were in good company. The movement also included Emily Dickinson, James Freeman Clarke, and Louisa May Alcott.) It was a protest against religion and political ideas seeping through America's consciousness during the 19th century. This was what the nation inherited from Europe, a by-product of the Reformation. Not that there wasn't anything good about it, but Thoreau and Emerson were purists. This sentiment was not uncommon among his kind, and Thoreau was enlightened after looking at the lake one too many. As he put it, the universe was wider than our views of it.

Essay or autobiography, "Walden" was a spiritual awakening. There was no need to get new things, be it clothes or friends. Walk forward, head up, and believe in what the mind envisioned.

Lord of a realm

Thoreau didn't return to Walden Pond, his experience taught him about going places. Botany became his new interest. He traveled around New England and Quebec, writing about his discoveries. Compared to Emerson, Thoreau didn't live long. He didn't have a celebrated life either. But he did it his own way. He was true to himself. He couldn't do it better.

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The faultfinder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is."


DMCA.com Protection Status

Thank you.

Our representatives will contact
you within 24 hours.