As most naturalists do, Henry David Thoreau detailed his two-year nature experiment with extensive observations in his book Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. But Thoreau was far more than a common environmentalist he was a revolutionary. Through transcendentalism, simplicity and art Thoreau calls readers to contemplate a paradigm shift in their existence toward a genuine self. To do this, the individuals must remove themselves from a life that is defined by society and enter into a life that is true to them. He makes a call to action to consider a sustainable and virtuous ideology for cultivating nature.
Thoreau was a pioneering transcendentalist. He believed that god is in every aspect of nature; wildlife is a reflection of divine creation. Thoreau’s ideology was radical at this time where Calvinist and Trinitarian religious views were commonplace in upper middle class Massachusetts. Transcendentalism contradicted their view that inspiration could only be achieved miraculously, from god directly as apposed to naturally. In the section of Walden titled The Bean-Field we see his direct connections between the earth and spirituality. Even un-living forces are a replication of god “The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted;” (Walden, 55) His small beans and peas humbled Thoreau. He found it exhilarating to work with his plants seeing“ the results of my presence and influence” (Walden, 101)
He explains how nature “attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus.” (Walden,100). Here he parallels himself to the Greek mythological giant who grappled with Hercules. He explains how plants can teach him more about his own self rather than of the plant. He asks us to reflect on the “ intimate and curious acquaintance one makes with various kinds of weeds…” (Walden 105) He held the belief that transcendentalists true virtue cannot be gained in civilization but by the appreciation of gods creation “The Earth ...has a magnetism in it, by which it attracts … virtue which gives it life…” (Walden, 105) Thoreau elucidates that being able to understand and appreciate nature we gain righteousness.
Thoreau not only was a revolutionist but a romantic scientist who could see agriculture as art. He examines living earth to reveal living poetry. As he cultivated his crops he takes pride in his work and talents. In Walden’s The Bean-Field he personifies his plants as an audience enjoying a concert, “my hoe played the Ranz des Vaches,” (Walden, 102) Thoreau compares farming to virtuosity repeatedly referring to the music produced by his hoe as he overturns the soil rather than to the cultivated profits of weeding. He compares husbandry to music and poetry, exhibiting its severe beauty. As a philosopher Thoreau proposes “husbandry was once a sacred art;” (Walden, 107) Through sweat and dedication, “by the labor of my hands only” he sees beauty in his accomplishments. With such devotion he believed “we should receive the benefit...