Thoreau in Reading in Bed

“Reading at Walden” by Henry David Thoreau

This is a new look at poetry.

“The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them. They have only been read as the multitude read the stars, at most astrologically, not astronomically.”

“Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not to be cheated in trade…”

“…[T]his only is reading… what we have to stand on tiptoe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to.”

“I believe that having learned our letters we should read the best that is in literature…”

“Most men are satisfied if they read or hear read, and perchance have been convicted by the wisdom of one good book, the Bible, and for the rest of their lives vegetate adn dissipate their faculties in what is called easy reading.”

Ouch. I think he’s talking to me.

“The best books are not read even by those who are called good readers.”

Excuse me while I go recover. He’s clearly talking to me.

“…our reading, our conversation, and thinking, are all on a very low level, worthy only of pygmies and manikins.”

Yikes. Quite a slam.

“…I confess I do not make any very broad distinction between the illiterateness of my own townsman who cannot read at all and the illiterateness of him who has learned to read only what is for children and feeble intellects.”

Here we have the first, “It’s not that Johnny can’t read it’s that he doesn’t” statement, as far as I know.

“It is not all books that are as dull as their readers.”

Whoa. Hope he’s not talking to me. That’s quite a slam.

“Even the college-bred and so-called liberally educated men here and elsewhere have really little or no acquaintance with the English classics. …to keep up and add to his English …. is about as much as the college-bred generally do or aspire to do, and they take an English paper for this purpose.”

Whew. No, he’s not talking to me. Can you imagine? Only the papers, or the net, for keeping up and adding to your English.