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5 quotes from Thoreau celebrating October

In February of 1862, as he lay dying in his family home in Concord, Henry David Thoreau worked hard to finish his last major literary project – an extended essay celebrating autumn foliage. "October, or Autumnal Tints," has been reprinted in a lovely edition by W. W. Norton.

"A common view of autumn, then and now, is that autumn is the time of dying and decay, the season of endings," Thoreau scholar Robert D. Richardson tells readers in an introduction to the book. "But the paradoxical, counterintuitive idea that drives 'Autumnal Tints,' the idea that death is not annihilation and something to be feared but rather a necessary stage in the continuing cycle of nature, and thus something to be welcomed as much as any other aspect of nature, is quintessential Thoreau."

The Norton edition includes sublime paintings by artist Lincoln Perry that accompany the text. With another autumn in progress, here are five passages from "Autumnal Tints" to mark the season.

1. The bright reds of autumn

of

"We love to see any redness in the vegetation of the temperate zone. It is the color of colors. This plant speaks to our blood. It asks a bright sun on it to make it show to best advantage, and it must be seen at this season of the year."

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