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transparent eyeball; Iam nothing; Iseeall;the currentsoftheUniversalBeingcirculate through me;Iam partorparcel ofGod."(from Emerson,Essays)QHow does Emerson's approach to nature compare withWordsworth's?
CHAPTER TWELVE ROMANTICISM' NATURE. PASSION. AND THE SUBLIME335IdeasandIssuesTHOREAU: NATURE AS TEACHERUIwent to the ~oods because Iwished to live deliberately, to frontonlythe essential facts of life, and seeifIcould not learn whatithadt~teach, ~nd not, when Icame to die, discover that Ihad not lived. Ididn?tWIS~to H.vewhat was not life,livingisso dear; nordidJwish topractice restgnanon, unlessitw~s qUit~ necessary. Iwanted to live deepand suckout allthe marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-likeas to put to rout allthat was not life, to cut a broad swath and shaveclose,to drive lifeinto a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms andifit~rovedto be mean,whythen to get the whole and genuine meannessof rt,and publishitsmeanness to the world; orifitwere sublime toknow it byexperience, and be able to give a true account of itinmynextexcurs~on.Formo~t ~en, it appears to me, are in astrange uncertaintyabout It,whether It ISof the devil or of God, and havesomewhathastilyconcluded that it isthe chief end of man here to 'glorify God and enjoyhimforever,"(from Thoreau,Walden)Q What were Thoreau's aims and ambitionsinretreatingtoWalden Pond?Unitarian minister when he was inhis twenties. Like Words-worth, hecourted nature to "see into the life of things" andto taste its cleansing power.Intheessay entitled "Nature"(1836),Emer-son sets forth a pantheisticcredo:Becoming one with nature, we find true happiness.Emerson's friend Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)carried Transcendentalismto its logical end by literallyreturning to nature. He completed a degree at HarvardUniversity and made his way in the world by tutoring,surveying, and making pencils. An avid opponent of slav-ery,he was jailed briefly for refusing to pay a poll tax to apro-slavery government.Inan influential essay on civildisobedience, Thoreau defends the philosophy of passiveresistance and moral idealism that he himself practiced-a philosophy embraced by the twentieth-centuryleadersMohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Martin Luther King.In1845Thoreau abandonedurban society to liveintheMassachusetts woods near Walden Pond-anexperin1entthat lasted twenty-six months. He describes his love of thenatural world, his nonconformist attitude toward society,and his deep commitmentto monkish simplicity in his"handbookfor living," calledWalden,Thoreau,Waldenor Llifie in the Woods.Inthis intimate(1854)Iifyet forthright diary Thoreau g or resnature as innocent and beneficent-asource of JOYandpractical instruction.