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What does Thoreau think of poetry in Walden?

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liliw | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted October 4, 2012 at 4:19 PM via web

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What does Thoreau think of poetry in Walden?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:03 PM (Answer #1)

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As a Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau held poetry in high regard, superior to such things as science. His poems, therefore, are significant utterances because of this high regard for poetry as well as his talent.  Although some have been written hastily and others imitate the metaphysicals, many of Thoreau's poem contain the substance of Transcendentalism; that is, they exhibit intuitive, natural and independent thinking.

In Walden, Thoreau returns to nature, and with poetry the inner thoughts and intuitive communication with Nature can easily be explored. His short poem "Each More Melodious Note I Hear" is exemplative of this communion with Nature:

Each more melodious note I hear

Brings this reproach to me,

That I alone afford the ear,

Who would the music be.

Thoreau expressed himself often through poetry.  In his utter sincerity one time, for instance, he expressed his disappointment in a friend for his weakness,

Surely, surely, thou wilt trust me

When I say thou dost disgust me...

For Thoreau, the expression of spirit through poetry transcended matter.

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