Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, naturalist, essayist, poet, philosopher, apostle of solitude and eco-visionary, died on this day, May 6th (aged only 44! – but what a remarkable life he packed into those 44 years!)

Walter Harding  (from The Thoreau Society Bulletin  ()):

“I recently wrote the poet Allen Ginsberg asking if I were correct in guessing from his writings and philosophy that he would feel a special affinity for Henry David Thoreau. His reply follows:

Dear Mr. Harding,

Thoreau set first classic US  example of war resistance, back to nature, tax refusal. As at the moment I’m living in country without electric on commune using 19th century techne to move water (hydrolic ram) & we’re doing organic gardening, & I’m a member of the War Tax Refusal group. I find myself more & more indebted to Thoreau  – particularly for his manner & remarks on being in jail — without, oddly, having very much read his texts.

My first association was Kerouac’s association with Thoreau — both denizens of Merrimac river – & Kerouac’s individualistic Dharma Bums derives in part from his appreciation of Thoreau’s solitude. Kerouac was most near Thoreau when with knapsack he settled down by railroad bed or riverbottom under bridge & cooked himself some cornmeal fritters or soup.”

from Jack Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg, June 10 1949:

“I decided someday to become a Thoreau of the Mountains. To live like Jesus and Thoreau , except for women. Like Nature Boy with his Nature Girl. I’ll buy a saddler horse mix for $30, an old saddle on Larimer St., a sleeping bag  at Arm surplus, frying pan, old tin can, bacon, coffee beans, sourdough, matches, etc,,and a rifle. And go away in the mountains forever..”

Allen Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac , Feb 14, 1955:

“And of course the Boston Brahmins, and Transcendentalists, Thoreau, were Buddhists. I think Thoreau and Emerson actually translated some Buddhist scriptures too. A New England tradition..”

Here’s Emerson’s tribute to Thoreau

Here‘s a link to his classic Walden

Here‘s a definitive site on the writings of Thoreau

The planet’s in crisis –  the need to read Thoreau now more than ever.

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