Heaven under our feet (Walden 178)

“Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants. Heaven is under our feet is well as over our heads.” — Henry David Thoreau, “The Pond in Winter,” Walden

“Heaven is under our feet is well as over our heads.” — another Thoreauvian epigram with multiple layers of meaning. One layer is his ongoing blurring of water and sky — the way he describes one in terms of the other, so that by now water and sky seem like natural counterparts, two faces of the same aesthetic thing.

But there’s also the idea of heaven not as “sky” but as… well, as heaven. Thoreau has little or nothing to say about an afterlife. He’s more interested in the here and now — which is exactly is point here, I think. This is heaven, not only under our feet, but under our feet in unexpected places.

(About  “A Year in Walden”)

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