Creative writing

“Where I Lived Was Far off as Many”: Poems and Photographs on Bicentennial Thoreau

Authors: {'first_name': 'Jos\xc3\xa9', 'last_name': 'Duarte'},{'first_name': 'Sara', 'last_name': 'Henriques'}
Keywords: Erasure PoetryThoreauLandscapeNaturePhotography 
 Accepted on 29 Jul 2020            Submitted on 29 Jul 2020

*Where (I)

consider every side of the landscape
summer and winter
each tree my fingers
to speak the truth, to be
a poet of invisible attractions
protected by an interval between
the hollow and the recollection of voyages
ready to carry on like Atlas,
the world on my shoulders,
free and uncommitted
round and round
I do not propose to write an ode
but to wake up.

Where (II)

in the morning my imagination
retained the auroral character of the
airy and unplastered cabin
winds passed over ridges of mountains
bearing music
the poem of creation every where
passing from hand to hand
gone down the stream of time,
a sort suggestive atmosphere arose
I saw ghosts in every direction
both air and water tinged with blue
place and time changed, and I dwelt
nearer to those parts of the universe
where I lived was as far off as many
a region viewed nightly by astronomers
the day a perpetual morning

What (I)

I am awake and there is a dawn in me.
To be awake is to be alive.
I went to the woods because I know most men
error upon error
clout upon clout
life frittered away by detail
clouds and storms and quick-sands
Men should live and forge days and nights
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?

What (II)

music and poetry resound along the streets
we perceive that only great and worthy things
have any permanent and absolute existence –
daily life is built on purely illusory foundations
let us spend one day as Nature
looking another way like Ulysses
Paris and London
New York and Boston
and Concord
face to face
eternity remains
the first letter of the alphabet
my hands rowing somewhere
and here I will begin to mine

*Poems to be read while listening to “Re:Stacks” by Bon Iver, included in the album For Emma, Forever Ago, which was inspired by Walden.

These poems were written by erasing the chapter “Where I Lived, and I What Lived For” published in Walden. For that purpose, the following edition was used: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers Walden; Or, Life in the Woods The Maine Woods Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau. New York: Library of American, 1989.

Poems by José Duarte.
Photographs by Sara Paiva Henriques.

Competing Interests

The authors have no competing interests to declare.