Henry David Thoreau

Why was Henry David Thoreau such a wonderful writer?
He had many great qualities, but the most important were
his devotion to nature and writing, his desire for
independence, and his experiences he encountered
throughout his life. Henry David Thoreau looked to nature
as the basis of life and writing. He believed that nature is
the reflection of inner spiritual reality. He spent his life in
search of the essentials of reality and of experiences that
would bring him close to these essentials. He lived in a hut
for two years at Walden Pond to rid his body of inessential
things. During Thoreau\'s stay, he completed his first book
titled, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack
Rivers(1849). Here, he also filled his journals with materials
for his most famous piece, Walden. After he left the hut,
and after college, he became a literary apprentice by
writing essays and poems and by helping edit the
transcendentalist journal, The Dial. When success did not
come, Thoreau remained dedicated to his program of
"education" through intimacy with nature, and also through
writing that would express this experience. It was his life in
nature that was his great theme. In order for Thoreau to
write so much on nature he had to be familiar with it. His
knowledge of the woods and fields, of the rivers, the
ponds, and swamps, of every plant and animal was
outstanding. Emerson even stated, "His power of
observation seemed to indicate additional senses."
Thoureau wrote a book titled Walden(1854) in which the
theme of it was the relationship to the order and beauty of
nature in the human mind. This book consists of records of
Thoreau\'s stay at Walden Pond. Thoreau\'s love and
devotion to nature and his writing was a key to his
excellence in writing. Henry David Thoreau also felt that
individualism was a great necessity to his writing style. In
his piece of literature titled "Civil Disobedience", he
expressed his belief in the power and the obligation of the
individual to determine right from wrong, independent of
the dictates of society. Thoreau\'s friends agreed with his
views, but few practiced it in their own lives as consistently
as he. Thoreau demonstrated his idea of independence in
many ways. He worked for pay intermittently, he made
relationships with many of the towns outcasts, he never
married, he signed off from the First Parish Church rather
than be taxed automatically to support it every year, and he
lived alone in the woods for two years, in seclusion. His
nearest neighbor was at least a mile away. While he was
living independently in the woods, he thought of many new
ideas for his literature. Thoreau even tried to encourage
others to assert their individuality, each in his or her own
way. He also believed that independent, well-considered
actions arose naturally from a questing attitude of mind. He
was first and foremost an explorer, of both the world
around him and the world within him. In his most popular
piece ever, Walden, he stated this: "Be a Columbus to
whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new
channels, not of trade, but of thought,"(Walden, p. 321).
Also, Thoreau\'s celebration of solitude was a natural
outgrowth of his commitment to the idea of individual
action. This following idea also brought up a point in
Walden. "The man who goes alone can start today; but he
who travels with another must wait till that other is
ready,"(Walden, pg.72) Many of Thoreau\'s ideas of
individualism can be found as major statements in his
writing. Thoreau came to much of his great literature due to
the amount of experiences he had throughout his life. His
major experience was living at Walden Pond for two years
and learning about his own life and about the wonders of
nature. Thoreau even stated himself, "I learned this, at least,
from experience." Here, he was talking about how he got
all the information for his book Walden totally from
experiences. Although Walden was only moderately
successful in Thoreau\'s lifetime, his experiment in the
wilderness did spark interest in young people. The book
inspired people to follow his example and go to a lonely
spot and wonder the world and find their place in it. For
many, Walden served as a touchstone. Thoreau said that
he went to the pond to write a book in memory of his
brother, John, who had died three years earlier. Thoreau
also stated, "I went to the woods because I wished to live
deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see
if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I
came to die, discover that I had not lived (Walden