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Archive for September, 2009

>A few minutes ago, my husband texted me to let me know that my (hardcover, embossed, beautiful) copy of Thoreau’s Walden had come in from Paperback Swap. (I must digress here to say this: If you are not a member of Paperback Swap, you should be. It could literally be the best thing to be invented since sliced bread. You post your unwanted books, and swap them, free, for millions of other books posted by other members! A-maz-ing.) Anyhow, Walden reminded me of the very first English class I ever took at UNA… the class that began my lifelong love affair with literature.

My teacher’s name was Rita Galbreath, and the class was Honors English A. We spent the entire semester studying Walden and Resistance To Civil Government (neither of which, I’m sorry to say, I had ever heard of). I had never read anything like Thoreau, and Ms. Galbreath was one of those teachers who made the words leap off the page. I can still remember the feeling of wonder I felt listening to her explain the difficult passages. It’s a cliche, I know, but in that one class, Ms. Galbreath and Thoreau – together – opened up a whole new world to me.
Ms. Galbreath left UNA after that one semester. I never saw her again and I have no idea where she is now. But for what it’s worth, I want to thank her. She did me a great service, and I will always be grateful. 
As a tribute to her, here are a few of my favorite Thoreau quotes:

“To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.”
“It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.”
“I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.”
“Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.”
“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
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>Poor Lion…

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I couldn’t resist a picture of this….

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