Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”
Henry Thoreau’s conversation consisted of a continual coining of the present moment into a sentence and offering it to me. I compared it to a boy, who, from the universal snow lying on the earth, gathers up a little in his hand, rolls it into a ball, and flings it at me.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, May 1844
The succession of native plants in the pastures and roadside, which makes the silent clock by which time tells the summer hours, will make even the divisions of the day sensible to a keen observer.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, “Beauty”
Annie Abrams is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at NYU.