The Strain of the Wood Thrush

February 1, 2012

“There is a sweet wild world which lies along the strain of the wood thrush — the rich intervales which border the stream of its song — more thoroughly genial to my nature than any other.”

— H.D. Thoreau, Journal entry for May 31st, 1850

“These songs are listenings, as poems must listen and sing simultaneously. They are a progression of hearings of Mahler’s ‘Song of the Earth’ on records, in concert, and in my head. In the intervals of the wood thrush singing, and the silence after.”

— Ronald Johnson, on his book, Songs of the Earth (1970)

Of “Interval,” Webster’s 5th meaning (1844 Ed., see link above) is “A tract of low or plain ground between hills, or along the banks of rivers, usually alluvial land enriched by the overflowings of rivers, or by fertilizing deposits of earth from the adjacent hills. Hutchinson. [Dr. Belknap writes this intervale; I think improperly.]”

“Silence is of various depth and fertility, like soil.”

— H.D. Thoreau, Journal entry for January 21st, 1853

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