the Thoreau Log.
23 May 1843. Staten Island, N.Y.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

My Dear Friend,

  I was just going to write to you when I received your letter. I was waiting till I had got away from Concord. I should have sent you something for the Dial before, but I have been sick ever since I came here—rather unaccountably, what with a cold, bronchitis, acclimation &c—still unaccountably. I send you some verses from my journal which will help make a packet. I have not time to correct them—if this goes by Rockwood Hoar. If I can finish an account of a winter’s walk in Concord in the midst of a Staten Island summer—not so wise or true I trust—I will send it to you soon.

  I have had no “later experiences” yet. You must not count much upon what I can do or learn in New York, I feel a good way off here—and it is not to be visited, but seen and dwelt in. I have been there but once, and have been confined to the house since. Every thing there disappoints me but the crowd—rather I was disappointed with the rest before I came. I have no eyes for their churches and what else they find to brag of. Though I know but little about Boston, yet what attracts me in a quiet way seems much meaner and more pretending than these—Libraries—Pictures—and faces in the street—You don’t know where any respectability inhabits. It is in the crowd in Chatham street. The crowd is something new and to be attended to. It is worth a thousand Trinity Churches and Exchanges while it is looking at them—and will run over them and trample them under foot one day. There are two things I hear, and am aware that I live in the neighborhood of—The roar of the sea—and the hum of the city. I have just come from the beach (to find your letter) and I like it much. Every thing there is on a grand and generous scale—sea-weed, water, and sand; and even the dead fishes, horses and hogs have a rank luxuriant odor. Great shad nets spread to dry, crabs and horse-shoes crawling over the sand—Clumsy boats, only for service, dancing like sea-fowl on the surf, and ships afar off going about their business.

  Waldo and Tappan carried me to their English alehouse the first Saturday, and Waldo spent two hours here the next day. But Tappan I have only seen I like his looks and the sound of his silence. They are confined every day but Sunday, and then Tappan is obliged to observe the demeanor of a church goer to prevent open war with his father.

  I am glad that Channing has got settled, and that too before the inroad of the Irish. I have read his poem two or three times over, and partially through and under, with new and increased interest and appreciation. Tell him I saw a man buy a copy at Little and Brown’s. He may have been a virtuoso—but we will give him the credit.

  What with Alcott & Lane & Hawthorne too you look strong enough to take New York by storm. Will you tell L. if he asks, that I have been able to do nothing about the books yet.

  Believe that I have something better to write you than this. It would be unkind to thank you for particular deeds

Yr friend
Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 107-108)

Thoreau also writes to his sister Helen:

Dear Helen.

  In place of something fresher I send you the following verses from my journal, written some time ago.

Brother where dost thou dwell?
What sun shines for thee now?
Dost thou indeed farewell?
As we wished here below.

What season didst thou find?
Twas winter here.
Are not the fates more kind
Than they appear?

Is thy brow clear again
As in thy youthful years?
And was that ugly pain
The summit of thy fears?

Yet thou wast cheery still,
They could not quench thy fire,
Thou didst abide their will,
And then retire.

Where chiefly shall I look
To feel thy presence near?
Along the neighboring brook
May I thy voice still hear?

Dost thou still haunt the brink
Of yonder river’s tide?
And may I ever think
That thou art at my side?

What bird wilt thou employ
To bring me word of thee?
For it would give them joy,
’Twould give them liberty,
To serve their former lord
With wing and minstrelsy.

A sadder strain has mixed with their song,
They’ve slowlier built their nests,
Since thou art gone
Their lively labor rests.

Where is the finch—the thrush,
I used to hear?
Ah! they could well abide
The dying year.

Now they no more return,
I hear them not;
They have remained to mourn,
Or else forgot

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 108-110)

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