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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 Kingdom of Primitive Oaks

A Kingdom of Primitive Oaks

(p.148) (p.149) 8 A Kingdom of Primitive Oaks
Thoreau and the Language of Trees

Richard Higgins

Richard Higgins

University of California Press

In 1860, Thoreau’s life was focused on trees. In October, he surveyed Concord’s woods and concluded it had no old-growth trees. In November he was amazed to find a forest of old-growth oaks “waving and creaking in the wind” only eight miles away in Boxborough. It was Inches Wood, a forest that had not been cut. He saw the ancient oaks as vestiges of how nature looked in pre-colonial New England and he portrayed them as symbols of hidden riches that we do not value. The oaks elicited some of Thoreau’s strongest calls to preserve trees. But his prediction they would be cut down proved true. They were made into ships timbers for the Union Navy in the Civil War.

Keywords:   1860, November, focused, trees, woods, old-growth, oak, oaks, waving, creaking, Boxborough, Henderson Inches, Inches Wood, ancient, primitive, riches, preserve, preservation

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