Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Outermost House (1). Henry Beston.

The Outermost House (1): A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod. Henry Beston. New York: The Viking Press. 1928 (1956).

Why read it? Like Thoreau at Walden, Beston took up a solitary residence in a cottage on the beach where he could observe the life of the sand and the dunes and the moods of the ocean.

Sample ideas and quotes:

“Bird migrations, the rising of the winter stars out of the breakers and the east, night and storm, the solitude of a January day, the glisten of dune grass in midsummer….” p. viii.

“Man can either be less than man or more than man, and both are monsters, the last more dread.” p. ix.

“On bright moonlit nights, I can see both the whitewashed tower [of the light house] and the light; on dark nights, I can see only the light itself suspended and secure above the earth.” p. 18.

“Animals are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travails of the earth.” p. 25.

“In a world older and more complete than ours they [animals] move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” p. 25.

“…the solemn unrest of the ocean….” p. 37.

“The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.” p. 43.

To be continued.

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