chapter sixteen
THE POND IN WINTER

AFTER a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what -- how -- when -- where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward! Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution. "O Prince, our eyes contemplate with admiration and transmit to the soul the wonderful and varied spectacle of this universe. The night veils without doubt a part of this glorious creation; but day comes to reveal to us this great work, which extends from earth even into the plains of the ether."1

Then to my morning work. First I take an axe and pail and go in search of water, if that be not a dream. After a cold and snowy night it needed a divining rod2 to find it. Every winter the liquid and trembling surface of the pond, which was so sensitive to every breath, and reflected every light and shadow, becomes solid to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half, so that it will support the heaviest teams, and perchance the snow covers it to an equal depth, and it is not to be distinguished from any level field. Like the marmots3 in the surrounding hills, it closes its eye-lids and becomes dormant for three months or more. Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there

-230-

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The Variorum Walden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Contents 9
  • A Note on the Text 11
  • Introduction 13
  • Chapter One - Economy 25
  • Chapter Two - Where I Lived, And What I Lived For 82
  • Chapter Three - Reading 96
  • Chapter Four - Sounds 105
  • Chapter Five - Solitude 118
  • Chapter Six - Visitors 126
  • Chapter Seven - The Bean-Field 137
  • Chapter Eight - The Village 146
  • Chapter Nine - The Ponds 151
  • Chapter Ten - Baker Farm 171
  • Chapter Eleven - Higher Laws 177
  • Chapter Twelve - Brute Neighbors 187
  • Chapter Thirteen - House-Warming 198
  • Chapter Fourteen - Former Inhabitants; And Winter Visitors 211
  • Chapter Fifteen - Winter Animals 222
  • Chapter Sixteen - The Pond in Winter 230
  • Chapter Seventeen - Spring 242
  • Conclusion 257
  • Notes 267
  • Bibliography 320
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