Monday, April 22, 2013

Sic Vita

Morning dew at Walden Pond.

I am a parcel of vain strivings tied
By a chance bond together,
Dangling this way and that, their links
Were made so loose and wide,
Methinks,
For milder weather.

A bunch of violets without their roots,
And sorrel intermixed,
Encircled by a wisp of straw
Once coiled about their shoots,
The law
By which I'm fixed.

A nosegay which Time clutched from out
Those fair Elysian fields,
With weeds and broken stems, in haste,
Doth make the rabble rout
That waste
The day he yields.

And here I bloom for a short hour unseen,
Drinking my juices up,
With no root in the land
To keep my branches green,
But stand
In a bare cup.

Some tender buds were left upon my stem
In mimicry of life,
But ah! the children will not know,
Till time has withered them,
The woe
With which they're rife.

But now I see I was not plucked for naught,
And after in life's vase
Of glass set while I might survive,
But by a kind hand brought
Alive
To a strange place.

That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its hours,
And by another year,
Such as God knows, with freer air,
More fruits and fairer flowers
Will bear,
While I droop here.


– Henry David Thoreau


Who better to represent Earth Day than the first environmentalist of American arts and letters – Henry David Thoreau? Not to be confused with Henry King's Sic Vita, Thoreau's poem owes a debt of gratitude instead to one of Thoreau's early influences, George Herbert (1593-1633). Written in 1837, Sic Vita is considered among the best of Thoreau's poems from this stage of his life in letters.