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Thoreau

In: English and Literature

Submitted By chrisgarrett
Words 1350
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Thoreau lived his life in the moment. He did not believe in having material possessions like many of the people of his time and of today. He believed in taking the world in with every breathe and moment he spent on this planet. This led him to value freedom. He believed in never being chained down, never committing oneself to a certain life or lifestyle unless they had lived and experienced life to what he deemed as appropriate prior to doing so. In this passage Thoreau uses a literary analogy to describe a belief that he holds. He compares the act of farming to the act of living life and making the decisions in that life as well as escaping the confines that government places on it’s citizens.

"All that I could say, then, with respect to farming on a large scale, (I have always cultivated a garden,) was, that I had had my seeds ready. Many think that seeds improve with age. I have no doubt that time discriminates between the good and the bad; and when at last I shall plant, I shall be less likely to be disappointed. But I would say to my fellows, once for all, As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.” ~Thoreau, 1024.

This passage occurs right after Thoreau speaks of the only home that he actually purchased in the Hollowell farm. He spoke about how he never wanted to purchase a place because he then was stuck in that one spot. He had planted his roots and could not observe the beauty of other places. However, he chose a place that was nearly a half mile outside of town and gave him the space to be close to nature. When he grew tired of being isolated to one spot despite its beauty he left. He was not ready to plant his seeds that he always carried with him.

There are three main sections of this passage that I would like to analyze. The first is section takes place with the first line of the passage. This line establishes the parallel between the act of farming and living life itself. Thoreau by saying he always had his seeds ready to plant is like him saying that he was always ready to settle in a place and to make it his home. Much like one would do with a new job, a woman, or any other life event that would cause a person to change their way of life and plant their roots and start anew. Thoreau is constantly demonstrating that it was necessary to plan to be ready for things to occur but also that one must live. This is not live as in breathing, eating, and sleeping. This is live as in experience. Experience the beauty of the world around oneself and feel the greatness that is in front of us that we so constantly miss out on because we are so busy. This belief helps to justify Thoreau's fascination with nature and the natural world.

The next section of this passage is the line where Thoreau speaks about the discrimination between the good and bad seeds that he carries with him that have been distinguished by time. He hints at the common phrase that most know as "everything gets sweeter with time." He says that he has no doubt that he will not be disappointed in the outcome of his seeds. This is much like life. As we mature we become better. Our decisions become wiser, and we have experienced enough to know the decisions that we are making are the correct ones or the ones that will produce the most favorable outcome. When we have aged to the right age in where we can be happy with the decisions we make then we can finally choose to make them.

The final line emphasizes Thoreau's thought. “But I would say to my fellows, once for all, As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail." He uses this line as a final support for his belief that one should live life as free as possible for as long as possible. He uses polar examples of what being committed could be with the examples of farming and being in jail. I believe he does this to cover all bases of commitment that one could think of. Something as simple as farming could represent the plainest of commitments, the most bland and basic, while being committed to a county jail would be something people would have stronger feelings about. One demands a life of simple and moral decisions whereas the other demands brash and bold decisions. However, each leads to a concrete life. One that is without freedom. The freedom to live as Thoreau would believe. By being committed to anything one looses his sense of freedom, they are no longer able to do anything they want, they have "planted their seeds".

For the purpose of this paper I would like to offer up another analysis of this passage. Thoreau was an avid advocator of living life in nature. He believed in freeing himself from the constrains of society and not conforming to the rules and lifestyle of an industrialized or modern community. This could be what Thoreau means by being free. Being free from society, not having anyone but one self making decisions that affect how they live life.

Thoreau begins by stating that he knows not much of farming on a large scale but that he was always ready to plant his seeds. This could be seen as Thoreau telling the reader that he had not decided to become part of this modern society and live in a place that confined him to following a specific set of rules or conforming to a certain way of life. He had chosen to be free from all of that at least for the time being. However, when that time comes to do so he will not regret his decision for he had lived life freely for as long as possible. He had lived life free of commitment for as long as he could, and this would be satisfying to him.

As this passage continues he institutes the concept of time. As time advances the "bad seeds" ween themselves out from the good ones and only the good ones are used to plant. This is a consent that Thoreau gives to those that are committed to a certain lifestyle. This could mean that Thoreau can see the potential goods that come from settling down but only after such a period of time passes. As the time passes the bad that comes with settling down is forgotten or thrown off to the side and forgotten about much like the bad seeds whereas the good becomes apparent and is what is seen, produced and valued. The time makes the decision to settle down easier and worth the sacrifices of giving up one's freedom.

He finalizes this section with a piece of advice for the reader. He tells the reader to live free of this commitment for as long as they can. He urges them to live free, to live with no constrains or ties. By not planting one's seeds early one has not roots int he ground that could bind them to one place. By not doing this one is able to experience a fuller life. One that is bound in feeling and a connection with the world, a simpler less chaotic life than the one that is offered by conforming to society.

Thoreau's value of living life freely is evident in this passage. He uses an analogy of farming and planting seeds to illustrate this point. He believes it is better to wait to do so and to live freely for as long as possible. He values the natural world around you more than the material one that comes with anchoring oneself in society.…...

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