Cape Cod

by Henry David Thoreau - 1865

            ... an annotated edition  
A Cape Cod introduction by Leila Hatch
Thoreau Reader: 
       Seagull photo © Robert Winkler

"Cape Cod is Thoreau's sunniest, happiest book. It bubbles over with jokes, puns, tall tales, and genial
 good humor ... the model to which all new books about the Cape are still compared." - Walter Harding

Table of Contents

 1.  The Shipwreck
 2.  Stage-Coach Views
 3.  The Plains of Nauset
 4.  The Beach
 5.  The Wellfleet Oysterman
 6.  The Beach Again
  7.  Across the Cape
  8.  The Highland Light
  9.  The Sea & the Desert: Parts A - & B
10.  Provincetown: Parts A - & B
       Appendix A  (from chapter 3)
       Appendix B  (from chapter 10)

Henry reports on a disaster: Thoreau and the Wreck of the St. John
Contemporary reviews of Thoreau's Cape Cod - one very good, and one less enthusiastic
1908 Introduction to Cape Cod - by Clifton Johnson - with material lifted from Emerson
Cape Cod humor: This is Thoreau's funniest book
More information: Links to other Cape Cod sites

Thoreau visits most of Cape Cod's towns...

1890 map by Simeon L. Deyo, editor of "The History of  Barnstable County, Massachusetts"

"A hundred years of warring with the gales and the breakers, a hundred years of struggle with the tides have passed over the rampart wall and made their natural changes, but it still fronts the unappeased, insatiable sea with an earthly strength of sand itself taken from the waves. The volutes of the breakers approach, tumble, and dissolve, and over the glisten, the foam, and moist, sea-fragrant air still fly the small shorebirds hastening. A noble world, and one is glad that it once touched the imagination of the obstinate and unique genius from whom stems the great tradition of nature writing in America." - Henry Beston, 1951

The Fisher’s Boy

    by Henry David Thoreau

My life is like a stroll upon the beach,
   As near the ocean’s edge as I can go;
My tardy steps its waves sometimes o’erreach,
   Sometimes I stay to let them overflow.

My sole employment is, and scrupulous care,
   To place my gains beyond the reach of tides, —
Each smoother pebble, and each shell more rare,
   Which Ocean kindly to my hand confides.

I have but few companions on the shore:
   They scorn the strand who sail upon the sea;
Yet oft I think the ocean they’ve sailed o’er
   Is deeper known upon the strand to me.

The middle sea contains no crimson dulse,
   Its deeper waves cast up no pearls to view;
Along the shore my hand is on its pulse,
   And I converse with many a shipwrecked crew.

(from Thoreau's A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)

Copyright © 2005-2009  Richard Lenat, all rights reserved - Seagull photo © Robert Winkler

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