Each more melodious note I hear
Brings this reproach to me,
That I alone afford the ear,
Who would the music be.
I sailed on the North River last night with my flute, and my music was a tinkling stream which meandered with the river, and fell from note to note as a brook from rock to rock. I did not hear the strains after they had issued from the flute, but before they were breathed into it, for the original strain precedes the sound by as much as the echo follows after, and the rest is the perquisite of the rocks and trees and beasts. Unpremeditated music is the true gauge which measures the current of our thoughts, the very undertow of our life’s stream.
Journal, 18 August 1841
You cannot hear music and noise at the same time.
Journal, 27 April 1854
Listen to music religiously, as if it were the last strain you might hear.
Journal, 12 June 1851
Was awakened in the night to a strain of music dying away, — passing travellers singing. My being was so expanded and infinitely and divinely related for a brief season that I saw how unexhausted, how almost wholly unimproved, was man’s capacity for a divine life. When I remembered what a narrow and finite life I should anon awake to!
Journal, 19 April 1856
The music of all creatures has to do with their loves, even of toads and frogs. Is it not the same with man?
Journal, 6 May 1852
A thrumming of piano-strings beyond the gardens and through the elms. At length the melody steals into my being. I know not when it began to occupy me. By some fortunate coincidence of thought or circumstance I am attuned to the universe, I am fitted to hear, my being moves in a sphere of melody, my fancy and imagination are excited to an inconceivable degree. This is no longer the dull earth on which I stood.
Journal, 3 August 1852
When I hear music I fear no danger, I am invulnerable, I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times and to the latest.
Journal, 13 January 1857
What is there in music that it should so stir our deeps? We are all ordinarily in a state of desperation; such is our life; ofttimes it drives us to suicide. To how many, perhaps to most, life is barely tolerable, and if it were not for the fear of death or of dying, what a multitude would immediately commit suicide! But let us hear a strain of music, we are at once advertised of a life which no man had told us of, which no preacher preaches. Suppose I try to describe faithfully the prospect which a strain of music exhibits to me. The field of my life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, with no death nor disappointment at the end of it. All meanness and trivialness disappear. I become adequate to any deed. No particulars survive this expansion; persons do not survive it. In the light of this strain there is no thou nor I. We are actually lifted above ourselves.
Journal, 15 January 1857