I have always admired Thoreau. I’ve even considered adopting his name and grafting myself into his family, pretending that I was the only son he ever had. And as I read this essay by him, I discovered as much as I decided that he is my muse. A lot of my fiction and poetry have come from the eery and uncanny devotion he gives to the environment and minimalism. I can’t say that I am a pure disciple, but I will say that my bones resonate with nearly every word he writes. He was one of the original reasons I sought writing out as a way of life. I guess it would be important, for your understanding, to show you what I mean by having Thoreau as my muse. I want to be an artist. And I love the passion that Thoreau exhibits. This quote particularly produced an opportunity to try out a piece of art: “I saw the fences half consumed, their ends lost in the middle of the prairie, and some worldly miser with a surveyor looking after his bounds, while heaven had taken place around him, and he did not see the angels going to and fro, but was looking for an old post-hole in the midst of paradise. I looked again, and saw him standing in the middle of a boggy, stygian, glen, surrounded by devils, and he had found his bonds without a doubt, three little stones, where a stake had been driven, and looking nearer, I saw that the Prince of Darkness was his surveyor.” Now, that is quite a quote, but I love it, and would like to take it and expand it into a much larger story. One of the things that I lament is the fact that Thoreau never, neither did any of the other Transcendentalist, write any fiction. In fact we don’t get much of any fiction from this period. Sure there is Cooper and Irving (who I think was the best in that time), but I still feel that there is a dearth of good fictional prose that could have come from that time. At any rate I do think that Thoreau introduced many stories. In fact every metaphor is a story, a piece of fiction. He compares mother nature to a leopard. He tells a story of men who hand down their blood and sweat stained shovels to their sons instead of their swords. I was delighted to find out that Thoreau had written fiction, but there were all very short, and I may take it upon myself to expand some of them, if not to fill in the void that I believe exist, then to train myself in the same vein that Thoreau’s heart so passionately pumped.
But to say a word on the beauty of that sentence. I enjoyed seeing angels and devils out in the wild. I think that we see them standing in churches or on the side of the road, or we think of them as being wherever people are, but it was delightful to see a backwoodsman angel. Wallace Stephens said that metaphor is how we escape the cliches of reality. I enjoyed this little escape.