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Thoreau the Land Surveyor$
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Patrick Chura

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034935

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034935.001.0001

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Serving Admetus

Serving Admetus

(p.92) 5 Serving Admetus
Thoreau the Land Surveyor

Patrick Chura

University Press of Florida

Thoreau's journals reflect deep ambivalence about his work, referring to surveying at various times as “insignificant drudgery,” “a vulgar necessity,” “grinding at the mill of the philistines” and “barren work.” The journals also record the sense of loss he felt at the extent of New England's environmental transformation. In a particularly moving passage of November 9, 1850, Thoreau is struck by the beauty of “a young grove of pitch pines” but immediately considers their probable demise. The trees, it is lamented, are “regarded even by the woodman as ‘trash’” and are thus “destined for the locomotive's maw.” The great sadness of the passage, however, stems from Thoreau's discernment of the part he was to play in the destruction of the grove.

Keywords:   journals, land surveying, New England, literary passages, grove, surveying notebook

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