Course Hero. "Walden Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walden/>.
Course Hero. (2016, October 13). Walden Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walden/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Walden Study Guide." October 13, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walden/.
Course Hero, "Walden Study Guide," October 13, 2016, accessed April 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Walden/.
Thoreau describes a "delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore." He feels at one with nature; he has "a little world all to myself." He reflects that no one who lives in the midst of nature can be truly melancholy or even lonely. As he looks out at the pond, Thoreau says, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." Elaborating, he says that being in constant contact with society cheapens each interaction and makes people get in each other's way, whereas communing with oneself heals. At night, the roaming wild animals are "Nature's watchmen."
In addition to his wild animal companions, Thoreau receives occasional ghostly visitors on winter nights. One is the "original proprietor" who is reported to have dug Walden Pond; another is an invisible elderly woman, an herb gardener whose "memory runs back farther than mythology." The old man entertains Thoreau with stories of the past, the old woman with ancient fables.
What, Thoreau wonders, is the magic pill that will keep us "well, serene, contented?" He finds that tonic in the fresh morning air.
In opening with "this is a delicious evening," Thoreau wants to depict not a particular evening but a typical one; he wants to show the characteristic mood—rapturous yet serene—that evening walks at Walden induce in him.
Nevertheless, the reader senses that Thoreau's solitude may sometimes feel like isolation. Notice that he sometimes uses negative statements where positive ones might be clearer:
The two specific visitors Thoreau mentions—"the original proprietor" and the elderly herb gardener—are clearly not real people. They may embody, respectively, the two most important elements of Thoreau's setting: Walden Pond and the woods. The old man is supposed to have dug the pond and ringed it with ferns; the elderly herbalist knows all about plants. Whatever they may stand for, these ghostly visitors show that, for Thoreau, nature makes as good a companion as any human being.