Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From the Thoreau Project

Apology To Henry

Your were, you claim, born in the very
 nick of time. Time being what it is,
my distant friend, your proposition will
be difficult to defend. What clues did
Past give you that marked Time's passing ribbon,
so you'd know this was your day, July, twelfth,
eighteen seventeen? What had you heard beyond
your mother's heart beat, family voices, organ
music muffled by her flesh? What had you felt
beside your mother's warmth, the womb, your first home,
that had convinced you Concord would be
the most estimable place in all the world?
In retrospect you could renounce past events
through which you would not have to suffer but
those I fear don't count, nor events to be
for you'd not claim to foresee nor control
the Future. But I'll accept what you said
this same day. Friends! Society! I have
an abundance of that I rejoice in 
and men too that I never speak to, and since
what most call bareness and poverty 
you would say is to me simplicity
you'd ignore what you could and with the rest 
"make do", so any nick would do. But for place,
if city bound, I think you would have moved soon.

And I add to this a few lines young friend, Edward Emerson, gave us at the end of his book of remembrances: lines from "your early prayer".

Great God I ask no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself;
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye,
And next in value which thy kindness lends
That I may — greatly — disappoint my friends
Howe're they think or hope that it may be
They may not dream how thou'st distinguished me.