Music of the cow (Walden 84)

Near Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2013.

Near Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2013.

More about sound heard at a distance. Thoreau can be pretty serious sometimes, but he has a wry sense of humor:

“At evening, the distant lowing of some cow in the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious, and at first I would mistake it for the voices of certain minstrels by whom I was sometimes serenaded, who might be straying over hill and dale; but soon I was not unpleasantly disappointed when it was prolonged into the cheap and natural music of the cow. I do not mean to be satirical, but to express my appreciation of those youths’ singing, when I state that I perceived clearly that it was akin to the music of the cow, and they were at length one articulation of Nature.”

Henry is doing the work of a poet and artist here. He is making the everyday and the trivial seem extraordinary simply by altering our point of view, and by making connections between things that we wouldn’t ordinarily connect. His observation is funny, but then he turns it into something profound by connecting the voices as “one articulation of Nature.”

(About  “A Year in Walden”)


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