Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thoreau on Poet Laureates

Henry has something to say about wildness and hawks and genius and poetry that stopped me in my tracks tonight reading the Journals. This one is worth blogging twice no doubt.
What we call wildness is a civilization other than our own. The hen-hawk shuns the farmer, but it seeks the friendly shelter and support of the pine. It will not consent to walk in the barn-yard, but it loves to soar above the clouds. It has its own way and is beautiful, when we would fain subject it to our will. So any surpassing work of art is strange and wild to the mass of men, as genius itself. No hawk that soars and steals our poultry is wilder than genius, and none is more persecuted or above persecution. It can never be poet laureate, to say “Pretty Poll” and “Polly want a cracker.”
We may not all be geniuses, but there is a genius that resides in all of us. It wants to escape its cage and soar. A little bird just told me so.

2 comments:

Pragmatik said...

That's a wonderful quotation. May I ask where in the journals you found it?

Greg said...

John, it's from Thoreau's Journal: 16-Feb-1859