A Letter to the Readers—
I had been teaching for five years in the MFA program at Emerson College (named for its founder Charles Wesley Emerson, distant cousin to Ralph Waldo) before I saw my way to offering a course in Transcendentalism. Although I’d spent two decades researching the lives of the Peabody sisters, three women who were intimately connected with the movement, and another six years on Margaret Fuller, I didn’t feel prepared. I could not quote Emerson chapter and verse, and Thoreau had been only an ancillary character in my narratives of Transcendentalist women—leading Sophia Hawthorne on a tour of an Indian encampment on the banks of the Concord River near the Old Manse, searching for Margaret Fuller’s lost manuscript at Fire Island after her tragic drowning in a shipwreck.
The yellowed newspapers said a woman died in our house a few years after it was built in 1935. She was survived by a father, who said even the sun was in mourning since they found her, a husband, who said it was a tragedy, and a 4-month-old daughter who could only cry.
Everyone seems to be a writer these days. I myself am another young woman haunting coffee shops and European trains, scribbling thoughts in a notebook. In a way it’s embarrassing to admit to the fact.
Time slows with frigid honey bees in wintertime.
In this wooded place
men have all but forgotten the burly tree.
From 10 New Orphic Sayings
The senses are not the enemy of wisdom. The abstract does not exist without the concrete. The mind does not exist without the brain. The miracle of nature would be no miracle whatsoever if it were not possible to experience it. Therefore, one must trust the senses as a gateway to truth, but one must also step through the threshold.