Henry David Thoreau

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

“I sailed up a river with a pleasant wind, new lands, new people, and new thoughts to find.”

In 1839, with curiosity and wonder, Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) set out with his brother. They drift and row at leisure up two meaningful rivers in northern Massachusetts.

Thoreau wrote A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers before his sojourn at Walden but after he had influenced the Transcendental movement.

In this deeply reflective writing, Thoreau ponders the immediate and the detailed. He writes of religion, humanity, government and nature. He tries to make sense of the disruptive Industrial Revolution. Thoreau suspects a great “Something.” That is to say, a lasting, powerful, thing in which we are all entwined.

To keep that eye on that eternal, read Mary Oliver’s most recent collection of essays (she was a disciple of Emerson) and Van Gogh’s letters to his brother where he writes, “need is for nothing less than the infinite.”