“Reading”这一篇中梭罗对古代经典作品的意义进行强调，认为它们才是不朽的神谕。人们对于经典以及对于自然的学习还远远不足。他也区分了书写语言和口头语言的不同("an memorable interval between the spoken and the written language")，认为文字比言语更加高贵，能够与人的具体性更加亲近，同时又比任何艺术形式都更加接近普遍真理（然而期待梭罗说理论证他的任何观点估计都是徒劳的）。一个比喻很有意思：文字是人们的气息留下的铭刻。当然breath这个词的深层含义远比气息要多得多，它与人们的灵魂和内在动力息息相关。另外，梭罗还描绘了这样一个他认为最为丰富的时代，即一个囊括各个时代、各种文化背景下的经典作品的时代——这也符合他的文风中兼收并蓄的倾向。 记录几个有趣的段落吧。 1. "A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips;-not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself." （italics added） 2. "That age will be rich indeed when those relics which we call Classics, and the still older and more than classic but even less known Scriptures of the nations, shall have still further accumulated, when the Vaticans shall be filled with Vedas and Zendavestas and Bibles, with Homers and Dantes and Shakespeares, and all the centuries to come shall have successively deposited their trophies in the forum of the world. By such a pile we may hope to scale heaven at last." 3. "They [the works of the great poets] have only been read as the multitude read the stars, at most astrologically, not astronomically." 4. "This only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to."
“Sounds”这一篇紧随“Reading”，从对于文字的信仰转向讨论对于世界的感官认识，这种感官认识更加接近直觉，因而也就剥去了一切隐喻性。在梭罗看来，这样直觉的“语言”是不容忽视的宝藏。在乡野，时间变得越发模糊，意识在宁静的状态中仅仅接受那些瞬时的感受，这样的体验让他对时间的严格性产生质疑，也对一切外在的娱乐形式越发地不屑。他把乡野间这些时间的奴隶们称为威廉·退尔的子嗣—退尔被迫要用箭射落置于其子头顶的苹果，梭罗把这些箭（bolts）比作时间，称乡野的空气中已经被这些飞射的箭填满，这个比喻实在是任性。平日里，清扫房间令他心情舒畅，所有的家具都被暂时堆到草丛中，吸收着日光、风和草地的精华，这种与自然的贯通和互动是他的娱乐活动。唯一能够提醒他时间的即是每天按时按点经过的火车的声音，而这样的时间像是中世纪教堂的祷钟一样规范着人们的劳作和生产，也控制着人们的生活节奏。梭罗对于火车和机械的声音描写中常常使用大自然的比喻，也在对于机械和商业的溢美之词之下埋藏着批评的意味，当然也不可否认他对于乡村与城市在生产生活上的依存关系给予了肯定，不过每到这时他的这种赞美态度都显得不太真诚。 最令他激动的还是来自自然的声音，不论是怎样的独奏、复调、齐鸣都融合成为宇宙的那把七弦琴的振动。梭罗对于放牧声的描写很是精妙，牛羊的叫声随着牧群移动，就像牧区的山谷自己在前进，小丘则随着牧羊一路小跳—风景因为声音而极富动态，并且真的轻盈地跳跃起来。梭罗还细致记录了长耳鸮、三声夜鹰、猫头鹰、雉鸡、公鸡等等各具特色的鸟鸣，描绘其中蕴含的亢奋、温柔、喜悦与忧愁。越是靠近尾声，他的听觉越发地敏感而细微，这与前半段震耳欲聋的轰鸣声相比显然不同。“Sounds”全篇的音量起伏和音色转变非常丰富，衔接也十分自然。然而在我转述概括的过程中失掉多少乐章之间的连接和乐句内部的转折，以后有时间还是多回归原文吧。----------------1. We are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard.2. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.3. My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of a clock… A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.4. I heard a fresh and tender bough suddenly fall like a fan to the ground, when there was not a breath of air staring, broken off by its own weight. In August, the large masses of berries, which, when in flower, had attracted many wild bees, gradually assumed their bright velvety crimson hue, and by their weight again bent down and broke the tender limbs.5. A fish hawk dimples the glassy surface of the pond and brings up a fish…6. The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer’s yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town, or adventurous country traders from the other side.7. Up comes the cotton, down goes the woven cloth; up comes the silk, down goes the woollen; up come the books, but down goes the wit that writes them.8. When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion—or, rather, like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity and with that direction it will ever revisit this system, since its orbit does not look like a returning curve… as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils…9. I watch the passage of the morning cares with the same feeling that I do the rising of the sun, which is hardly more regular… Their train of clouds… conceals the sun for a minute and casts my distant field into the shade, 10. The starting and arrivals of the cars are now the epochs in the village day. They go and come with such regularity and precision… Have not men improved somewhat in punctuality since the railroad was invented?…To do things “railroad fashion” is now the byword; …We have constructed a fate, an Atropos, that never turns aside.11. [We are like] sons of Tell. The air is full of invisible bolts. Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep on your own track, then.12. Commerce is unexpectedly confident and serene, alert, adventurous, and unwearied. (ironic)13. This carload of torn sails is more legible and interesting now than if they should be wrought into paper and printed books.14. The air is filled with the bleating of calves and sheep, and the hustling of oxen, as if a pastoral valley were going by. When the old bell-wether at the head rattles his bell, the mountains do indeed skip like rams and the little hills like lambs.15. All sound heard at the greatest possible distance produces one and the same effect, a vibration of the universal lyre, just as the intervening atmosphere makes a distant ridge of earth interesting to our eyes by the azure tint it imparts to it. … a melody which the air had strained, and which had conversed with every leaf and needle of the wood… the same trivial words and nots sung by a wood-nymph16. minstrels, by whom I was sometimes serenaded…prolonged into the cheap and natural music of the cow…they were at length one articulation of Nature.17. I distinguished not only the cluck after each not, but often that singular buzzing sound like a fly in a spider’s web, only proportionally louder.