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Thoreau and the Language of Trees$
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Richard Higgins and Robert D. Richardson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520294042

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520294042.001.0001

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A Poet’s Trees

A Poet’s Trees

(p.50) (p.51) 3 A Poet’s Trees
Thoreau and the Language of Trees

Richard Higgins

Richard Higgins

University of California Press

Trees stirred the muse in Thoreau. He saw them as poems themselves, “living poetry,” writ by nature on the landscape. He “browsed” his poetic imagination on them and used the forest as a source of figurative language in which to dip his pen. He said pines and maples encircled Walden Pond like “slender eye-lashes” fringing earth’s “liquid eye.” By moonlight, the shadows of trees checker the ground “like chandeliers of darkness.” The blazing fall sermons of maple trees surpass those of New England ministers. Thoreau also frequently imagined trees as the different kinds of writing—as the leaves of a book, mythic tablets, scrolls, sermons and inscriptions.

Keywords:   stirred poetic, poems, living poetry, browsed, imagination, figurative, pines, maples, Walden Pond, leaves, mythic, sermons

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