Portfolio Assignment 6.2: Transcendental TextWrite
You will be completing a textwrite. First, you will read Ralph Waldo Emersons essay, Self-Reliance, located on the lefthand side of the chart, for comprehension. Once you have done so, read the essay a second time and begin to make notes on the righthand side of the chart. Perhaps you have questions, or you have texttoself connections. Maybe you have questions about what you are readingnote all this down on the right side of the chart. You have plenty of room, so make your notes parallel with the text you are notating. You will turn this assignment in with portfolio 2. Click here to download the assignment (.pdf). Click here to download the assignment (.doc).
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (18171862) was personally mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He spent two years, two months, and two days observing life and nature at Walden Pond, but he didnt spend his time completely alone. He is also known for spending one night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax. True to the transcendentalists belief in conscience, it was not that Thoreau objected to taxes in generalit was that he specifically did not agree with his taxes being used for the war the United States was fighting in Mexico at that time. Also, Thoreau did not agree with his taxes being used to support a government that allowed the oppression of black Southerners.
Thoreau taught himself surveying and created the first accurate rendition of Walden Pond, where he lived for over two years.1
The map of the pond was the first to be created when Thoreau lived there. As you can see by the lack of landmarks, it truly was isolated for the two years he lived there. You will be creating a map of your own in this lesson that will be turned in with your portfolio. While it wont need to be as mathematically accurate as Thoreaus, it will need to be of a place as significant to you as Thoreaus was to him.
To see the original map, click here.
Next, you will be reading selections from Walden, Thoreaus collection of essays, which he wrote in regard to his two-year experiment living on Walden Pond. The pond itself is near Concord, Massachusetts, on property owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. While Thoreau lived in his little cabin for a little over two years, he published his essays as Walden as if it were one year and divided the essays into seasons. Why did he isolate himself in a cabin in the woods? It certainly wasnt to be a hermit. No, he had visitors, ate dinner with his mother, and visited other friends and neighbors in town. He wanted to study nature and isolate himself from society so that he could achieve an objective view and understanding of it. Thoreau wanted to live simply and learn self-reliancelessons we all can learn with or without our own cabin by a lake.
An illustrated reconstruction of Walden Pond
Fig. 6.1. A recreation of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts
There is commonly sufficient space about us. Our horizon is never quite at our elbows. The thick wood is not just at our door, nor the pond, but somewhat is always clearing, familiar and worn by us, appropriated and fenced in some way, and reclaimed from Nature. For what reason have I this vast range and circuit, some square miles of unfrequented forest, for my privacy, abandoned to me by men? My nearest neighbor is a mile distant, and no house is visible from any place but the hill-tops within half a mile of my own. I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself; a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on the one hand, and of the fence which skirts the woodland road on the other. But for the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself. At night there was never a traveler passed my house, or knocked at my door, more than if I were the first or last man; unless it were in the spring, when at long intervals some came from the village to fish for poutsthey plainly fished much more in the Walden Pond of their own natures, and baited their hooks with darknessbut they soon retreated, usually with light baskets, and left the world to darkness and to me, and the black kernel of the night was never profaned by any human neighborhood. I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung, and Christianity and candles have been introduced . . .
Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man . . . I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but once, and that was a few weeks after I came to the woods, when, for an hour, I doubted if the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy life. To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. . . .
What is the pill which will keep us well, serene, contented? Not my or thy great-grandfathers, but our great-grandmother Natures universal, vegetable, botanic medicines, by which she has kept herself young always, outlived so many old Parrs in her day, and fed her health with their decaying fatness. For my panacea, instead of one of those quack vials of a mixture dipped from Acheron and the Dead Sea, which come out of those long shallow black-schooner looking wagons which we sometimes see made to carry bottles, let me have a draught of undiluted morning air. Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountainhead of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world. But remember, it will not keep quite till noonday even in the coolest cellar, but drive out the stopples long ere that and follow westward the steps of Aurora. I am no worshipper of Hygeia, who was the daughter of that old herb-doctor sculapius, and who is represented on monuments holding a serpent in one hand, and in the other a cup out of which the serpent sometimes drinks; but rather of Hebe, cup-bearer to Jupiter, who was the daughter of Juno and wild lettuce, and who had the power of restoring gods and men to the vigor of youth. She was probably the only thoroughly sound-conditioned, healthy, and robust young lady that ever walked the globe, and wherever she came it was spring.
Portfolio Assignment 6.3 Transcendental QuickWrite
When I was a little girl, I would go on nature walks with my father on a preserve that was near where I grew up. As a child I felt like we would walk forever, looking at plants and flowers and all kinds of wildlife. Now that I am older, I can remember the power lines, and I know that the freeway was nearbyit wasnt exactly a pure nature preserve. It is special to me, though, because I spent time with my parents there, and later, I spent time there with my husband and son.
For your assignment, I want you to think of a place in nature that you have visited or that is important to you. It might be a place you have vacationed, a neighborhood park, a pond, or even your own backyard. I also want you to identify five different points of interest from that favorite place that are important to you personally. For example, if I were writing about the nature preserve I visited as a little girl, my five places would be: the flower gardens, the bridge over the duck pond, the fork in the hiking path, the lavender field, and the aspen grove.
Once you have identified a favorite place and the five different points of interest in that place, write your one page essay. Your paper should be thoughtful and explain in detail why this particular place is important to you. Note any special experiences or feelings that explain why the five different points of interest are special or significant. If you like, your essay may include photos of that place (if you have them) or images found online. You will be turning this in with
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