Henry David Thoreau’s Poetry 📜

Poetry was one of the forteś of the socially controversial and prolific author, Henry David Thoreau, and with finesse and style, he wrote several poems which are still considered of great relevance to date.

Henry David Thoreau

American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher

With great poems such as ‘The Summer Rain,’ ‘Mist,’ and ‘Epitaph of the World,’ Henry David Thoreau put himself up top as one of the most outstanding poets the world has ever known. The ideas in Thoreau’s poems continue to serve as helpful references for today’s educational purposes. Let’s take a moment to analyze his best poetic accomplishments.

Henry David Thoreau: Poem Analysis

The Summer Rain

The Summary Rain’ by Henry David Thoreau is, for the most part, a poetic expression of Thoreau’s longstanding love and admiration for nature. This poem isn’t the only piece of Thoreau’s that worships and embellishes the intrigues of the physical world and the living and no living interaction within it, as he has other ones – occluding ‘Walden’ – where he expresses this feeling. 

As is common practice with his works, Thoreau uses himself as an avatar character in ‘The Simmer Rain,’ and calls forth some of the industry’s greatest wordsmiths like Shakespear and Plutarch among a few others as they join him to make up a minimalistic, star-studded character list. 

With ‘The Summer Rain,’ Thoreau’s motive for his readers remains the same, to rehash the beauty and sensuality that lies within natural things and to urge everyone to try and enjoy them in real-time as it’s better than reading them in books. He does so himself by watching the interaction between the sun and summer rain, and is fascinated by how the great and fearless sun shrinks into its hiding at the sight of ‘The Summer Rain.’

The length of ‘The Summer Rain’ makes it similar to a free verse but, in reality, doesn’t amount to much of it as its stanzas follow a fairly consistent ABAB rhyme scheme wrapped in a proper iambic pentameter tone. 

Epitaph of the World

With ‘Epitaph of the World,’ Henry David Thoreau en-enacts the transcendentalist mindset by opining that people’s inability to resign to a life of individualism and self-reliance has a strong, detrimental effect rub off on mother earth. 

Thoreau implies that the world may be dying as a result of combined human actions – which are mostly indiscriminate and driven by underlying selfish motives such as greed. In this poem, Thoreau appears to be the only one who miraculously unplugs from the matrix of a materialistic society, as he stops to factor in how the environment, world, and nature feel.

Henry David Thoreau leaves a stern lesson here for all readers, urging them to be kind and attentive to nature (environment) and, as much as possible, avoid activities that would directly or indirectly harm or cause its death. He goes the transcendentalist way by promoting individualism as the offer people should grab to ensure the world is safe, so he doesn’t have to write an ‘Epitaph of the World’ anymore.

Indeed, Indeed I cannot Tell

Indeed, Indeed I cannot tell’ follows the backstory of Thoreau’s heartbreak from Ellen Sewall, a Cape Codian native, who turned down just marriage proposal. Thoreau, hurt by the experience, takes to paper to vent how frustrated in thought he’s become. 

He writes that it’s hard to place his feelings – whether it’s hate, whether it’s love, he doesn’t know anymore. From the start of the poem, he admits to having something to say but can’t quite bring himself to say it. He hopes that he may one day have the courage to do so and hopefully doesn’t get too much backlash for not divulging such feelings sooner. 


How many poems did Henry David Thoreau write?

Thoreau’s catalog includes a total of more than 20 volumes worth of literary works – including poems, essays, journals, and books.

What is Thoreau’s message in ‘Epitaph of the World’?

In ‘Epitaph of the World,’ Thoreau expresses fears that the matrix system of society may be making it impossible for people to, knowingly or unknowingly, hurt the world (environment). He suggests a transcendentalist approach as a way to be more conscious of curbing it.

What kind of poet is Henry David Thoreau?

Thoreau was a poet inspired by emotionalism, and his naturalistic approach to writing cuts across all aspects of his works, from his poetry to essays to journals to books.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap
Share to...