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The Sweet Sounds From ‘Thoreau’s Flute’

2 Oct


Hello SK fans,

Thank goodness for Sarah Vernon for letting me know that today is National Poetry Day. Who knew? Probably everyone in the UK because that’s where they’re celebrating. Now my overtired Pub and me are in the mix.

But we’re not too late for the festivities, so we’re going to share a poem I wrote to honor my Beloved Henry David Thoreau, who passed away, way too young, at 44 years old. He always carried a flute in his pocket and a pencil behind one ear.



My next door neighbor, Sophia Hawthorne – Nathaniel’s wife, liked the poem so much, she pitched it to the Atlantic, which published it in 1863, launching my literary career. As I stated in my journal at the time, ‘Thoreau’s Flute’ “was printed, copied, praised and glorified; and paid for!”

I received $10 for the publication. I was thrilled. Enjoy and Happy National Poetry Day!

Thoreau’s Flute

We sighing said, “Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music’s airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost.”

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
“For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man’s aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And turned to poetry life’s prose.

“Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne’er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
‘Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.

“To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him — he is with thee.”


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