‘Where I lived and What I Lived For’ – Henry David Thoreau Essay
‘Where I lived and What I Lived For’ – Henry David Thoreau
Many of Henry D. Thoreau’s ideas are clearly seen in his piece of writing ‘Where I Lived and What I Lived For’. Through his work, not only do we learn about his experience in the woods at Walden Pond, but also about his values and the way he sees life, which he shares with his readers all throughout the chapter. In my opinion, of the most significant topics this chapter deals with is ‘the beauty of nature’. As said by Thoreau, “The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears that hear it”. Different ideas are present in this quote. On the one hand, the author is trying to show us how he feels the morning wind is like a beautiful poem, which gives us a hint of how he feels about nature, for in the simplicity of nature he finds the beauty of life. On the other hand, Thoreau’s intention may be to criticize human materialism and skepticism, since he says that “….few are the ears that hear it”, making reference to the “poem of creation”.
What he may intend to transmit to us is that, since we live our lives so busily and always worried about the most trivial things, we forget to enjoy the simple and little beautiful things in life. The following words, in my opinion, reflect this idea in a very concise way: “why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?”. Through his words, and the use of rhetorical questions, he makes us readers think and reflect upon our lifestyles in a very subtle, yet clear way. In another instance of the chapter, the author lets us know the reason why he decided to move to the woods: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. This quote reflects two things; the first of them is the value of life, how important life is, and how the “essential facts of life” can be overshadowed by superficiality.The second idea that is present in this extract is how the only objective in life is, after all, living, and enjoying what life has for us every day. Thoreau gives this advice to the readers in another section in the chapter, where he says “I would say to my fellows, once for all, as long as possible live free and uncommitted”.
Thoreau’s thoughts and experiences of life are shared in this chapter in a very interesting way, and it is the style he uses: the text aesthetic has an aesthetic effect that contributes a lot to the writers’ telling of his adventures. This style present in the chapter opens a door to the readers’ imagination; it helps us depict in our minds what the writer is telling us in a very vivid and realistic way, and we are somehow able to get into his head and feel what he is feeling. The beauty of the language present in this work helps us not only understand better what we read, but also interpret the writer’s connection with nature and the environment surrounding him.
At one point in the chapter he talks about a lake, and he says “This small lake was of most value as a neighbor in the intervals of a gentle rain-storm in August, when, both air and water being perfectly still, but the sky overcast, mid-afternoon had all the serenity of evening, and the wood thrush sang around, and was heard from shore to shore”. The magnificence of this depiction of the place where the writer lives, the beautiful language used to describe what surrounds him, make us feel that we are at the same place where the narrator is, and it is also very appealing to the senses, since we can imagine every detail of what is presented in the extract. To sum up, I have chosen the following quotation:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. I consider this quote encompasses all the topics that have been dealt with in the essay, and I feel that it transmits a very powerful message: we do not have to live our lives just paying attention to what is easier for us to see, nor to what we think is easier to do. This extract from the chapter shows us not only the VALUE OF LIFE, but is also filled with beauty and wisdom. It expresses in a simple and noble way that we need to start enjoying the little things in life, instead of being surrounded by materialism and skepticism, so that when the time comes we can proudly say that we have lived life the way it is supposed to be lived: to the fullest.