Walden Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Essay.Paragraph)
Ancient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was once a sacred art; but it is pursued with irreverent haste and needlessness by us, our object being to have large farms and large crops merely. (Bean-Field.15)
Here we get an explanation as to why Thoreau decides to farm his small plot. He doesn't do it for food, since he doesn't eat beans. Instead, he does it because it is a "sacred art," a mode by which he can attain some spiritual truth. Who would have guessed the spiritual powers of the tooting fruit?
The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit – not a fossil earth, but a living earth; compared with whose great central life all animal and vegetable life is merely parasitic. (Spring.9)
It is through nature that Thoreau will attempt to discover the truth of life. In this passage, Nature is literally a book, "living poetry." When we think of poetry, we think of poets (humans, usually). So, whatever truth is, it likely has something to do with the correspondence between Nature and man.
Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness (Spring.25)
Here, wildness is described as if it were a kind of anti-depressant. Aha! Now the St. John's wort thing makes much more sense.