Walking
by Henry David Thoreau - 1862 - with annotated text
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"Walking" began as a lecture, delivered at the Concord Lyceum on April 23, 1851 and many other times. It evolved into the essay published in the Atlantic Monthly, after his death in 1862.

An introduction: Simply Walking - by Mark Stabb

Thoreau's "Walking" in three parts: One - Two - Three


"... in Wildness is the preservation of the world"

"Those words cleaved their way forcefully into my being in 1983, the first time I read the great sage of the woods. I had bought a copy of his works at a book sale in Bharatpur, yes, my first visit to that avian shrine, and on returning to Hyderabad, spent numberless hours, blissfully sipping such verbal novelties, such novel ideas, written with a pen that seemed to spring from my very heart, that I trembled unabashedly in the passion and ardor of the author. I feel that the lodestone of his philosophy is encapsulated in this immortal phrase.

"Notice, the man used 'Wildness', with a capital 'W', and not 'wilderness' as he is often misquoted. 'Wildness' has that extra whump to it, which transcends it into a meaning completely different from 'wilderness'." - Aasheesh Pittie, Editor, Indian Birds


"Few writers of any era or discipline have exerted so great and lasting an influence on American culture's configuration of the man-nature relationship as did Henry David Thoreau, whose writings on the subject defined both a literary form the nature essay and a seminal philosophical understanding." - introduction to Excursions, Library of Congress web site.

"'Walking' is a lyrical, meandering essay on the value of sauntering and on the preservation of what is wild in the world. It is an amazing, impassioned work, especially considering it was published well before the automobile came to define the limits of our experience of place. It is a call to participation in the world, for living among that which is untamed." - Zane Parker

A Sort of Introduction... - "What might this more ambitious project have been?"

More information: Links to other "Walking" sites


"... in the distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America, out of my head and be sane a part of every day."
- Thoreau's Journal, January 7, 1857

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