3 P. M. - To Cliffs via Bear Hill.
As I go through the fields, endeavoring to recover my tone and sanity and to perceive things truly and simply again, after having been perambulating the bounds of the town all the week, and dealing with the most commonplace and worldly-minded men, and emphatically trivial things, I feel as if I had committed suicide in a sense. I am again forcibly struck with the truth of the fable of Apollo serving King Admetus, its universal applicability. A fatal coarseness is the result of mixing in the trivial affairs of men. Though I have been associating even with the select men of this and the surrounding towns, I feel inexpressibly begrimed. My Pegasus has lost his wings; he has turned a reptile and gone on his belly. Such things are compatible only with a cheap and superficial life.
The poet must keep himself unstained and aloof. Let him perambulate the bounds of imagination’s provinces, the realms of faery, and not the insignificant boundaries of towns. The excursions of the imagination are so boundless, the limits of towns are so petty.
I scare up the great bittern in meadow by the Heywood Brook near the ivy. He rises buoyantly as he flies against the wind, and sweeps south over the willow with outstretched neck, surveying.
The ivy here is reddened. The dogwood, or poison sumach, by Hubbard’s meadow is also turned reddish. Here are late buttercups and dwarf tree-primroses still. Methinks there are not many goldenrods this year. The river is remarkably low. There is a rod wide of bare shore beneath the Cliff Hill.
Last week was the warmest perhaps in the year. On Monday of the present week water was frozen in a pail under the pump. Yet to-day I hear the locust sing as in August. This week we have had most glorious autumnal weather, - cool and cloudless, bright days, filled with the fragrance of ripe grapes, preceded by frosty mornings. All tender herbs are flat in gardens and meadows. The cranberries, too, are touched.
To-day it is warmer and hazier, and there is, no doubt, some smoke in the air, from the burning of the turf and moss in low lands, where the smoke, seen at sunset, looks like a rising fog. I fear that the autumnal tints will not be brilliant this season, the frosts have commenced so early. Butter-and-eggs on Fair Haven. The cleared plateau beneath the Cliff, now covered with sprouts, shows red, green, and yellow tints, like a rich rug. I see ducks or teal flying silent, swift and straight, the wild creatures. White pines on Fair Haven Hill begin to look parti-colored with the falling leaves, but not at a distance.