From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thawing Mud

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Thoreau is inspired by… mud. Yes, mud. The sight of this humble substance thawing initiates Thoreau's reflections on the interconnectedness of everything in life, from the muckiest mud to the most sublime ideas. As it thaws, the mud makes a distinctive web pattern that reminds Thoreau of leaves, which, in turn, makes him think about how certain distinctive patterns recur in nature. For Thoreau, this recurring pattern is nothing less than "living poetry":

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. (Spring.9)

The sight of this pattern confirms Thoreau's belief that natural beauty corresponds to human spiritual truths.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...