Henry David Thoreau influenced me. How? It happened when I was a young teen. Thinking back nearly fifty years, I think I identified strongly with his essay ‘Civil Disobedience’ (as I was skeptical about nearly everything, especially the American government) in those troubled times of social upheaval.
I was an impressionable angry adolescent in the 1960’s; a time full of civil discontent, protesting and questioning events like the ‘Vietnam war’. It appears that some of that spirit has returned to modern-day.
I was also interested in another work ‘Walden, a reflection upon simple living amongst nature’. I enjoyed reading about his time spent at ‘Walden Pond’ for two years in a cabin on his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson’s property.
Also, what struck me vividly was his philosophy of ‘Transcendentalism’, which basically speaks of people and nature as inherently good, with humans at their best when independent and self-reliant.
Thoreau graduated with his class in 1837 at Harvard. While Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to have good to say about higher education, legend states Thoreau apparently had misgivings about college.
Even though he was not in the top of his class, it has been said he felt Harvard did not place enough emphasis upon real teaching. Furthermore, he refused to pay a five dollar fee for his diploma additionally turning down an offer receiving an honorary Master’s Degree.
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, devout pacifist, tax resister and transcendentalist.
Poem by Henry David Thoreau
Indeed indeed, I cannot tell,
Though I ponder on it well,
Which were easier to state,
All my love or all my hate.
Surely, surely, thou wilt trust me
When I say thou dost disgust me.
O, I hate thee with a hate
That would fain annihilate;
Yet sometimes against my will,
My dear friend, I love thee still.
It were treason to our love,
And a sin to God above,
One iota to abate
Of a pure impartial hate.
*Note- If you are the copyright holder and object to me displaying it here on poetrymadness.com, email me and I will remove it, asap. As far as I know, this poem exists in the ‘public domain’.