Trees were central to Henry David Thoreau’s creativity as a writer, his work as a naturalist, his thought, and his inner life. He admired their beauty, studied how they grew, took them as spiritual companions, and wrote about them as few have. When he said the poet loves the pine tree as his own “shadow in the air,” he was speaking about himself. In short, he spoke their language. In this illustrated talk, based on the new book Thoreau and the Language of Trees (University of California Press, 2017), Richard Higgins explores Thoreau’s deep connections to trees. Using Thoreau’s words, photographs of historic trees, and his own black-and-white photographs of trees today, Higgins looks at Thoreau’s keen perception of trees, the poetry he saw in them, and how they fed his soul. He presents trees as a central thread connecting all parts of Thoreau’s being—heart, mind, and spirit.
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