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Henry David Thoreau
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News > "Now Comes Good Sailing"

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 644 comments Mod
Henry David Thoreau died in Concord, Massachusetts on this day in 1862, age 44.

"Now comes good sailing."
-- Thoreau's last words


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul (waldenpond) Becky wrote: "Henry David Thoreau died in Concord, Massachusetts on this day in 1862, age 44.

"Now comes good sailing."
-- Thoreau's last words"

I have read a lot of Thoreau and at least 3 bios as well as taken a seminar on him, but I've never heard about him saying those words. I've always heard it was "moose" and "Indians". Or was that supposedly the last full sentence he uttered? Just curious, not trying to start a debate!


message 3: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 644 comments Mod
I have no idea, Paul. :) That was just posted on the Thoreau FB page today!


message 4: by Becky (new)

Becky Norman | 644 comments Mod
Did some hunting online...found this on PoemHunter.com:

Death

Thoreau contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and suffered from it sporadically afterwards. In 1859, following a late night excursion to count the rings of tree stumps during a rain storm, he became ill with bronchitis. His health declined over three years with brief periods of remission, until he eventually became bedridden. Recognizing the terminal nature of his disease, Thoreau spent his last years revising and editing his unpublished works, particularly The Maine Woods and Excursions, and petitioning publishers to print revised editions of A Week and Walden. He also wrote letters and journal entries until he became too weak to continue. His friends were alarmed at his diminished appearance and were fascinated by his tranquil acceptance of death. When his aunt Louisa asked him in his last weeks if he had made his peace with God, Thoreau responded: "I did not know we had ever quarreled."

Aware he was dying, Thoreau's last words were "Now comes good sailing", followed by two lone words, "moose" and "Indian". He died on May 6, 1862 at age 44. Bronson Alcott planned the service and read selections from Thoreau's works, and Channing presented a hymn. Emerson wrote the eulogy spoken at his funeral. Originally buried in the Dunbar family plot, he and members of his immediate family were eventually moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (N42° 27' 53.7" W71° 20' 33") in Concord, Massachusetts.

So apparently both are accurate! :)


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul (waldenpond) Becky wrote: "Did some hunting online...found this on PoemHunter.com:

Death

Thoreau contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and suffered from it sporadically afterwards. In 1859, following a late night excursion to c..."


Thanks for finding and posting this, Becky! It is certainly interesting. I have seen many, many mentions of the two words he said, but I've never heard the previous line. Maybe a lot of people have found the words "moose" and "Indian" rather amusing-that's the impression I've always had. So perhaps the "clear sailing" line has just been overlooked for the most part. Well, it's good to hear about it now! Thanks again!


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul (waldenpond) Becky wrote: "I have no idea, Paul. :) That was just posted on the Thoreau FB page today!"

A Thoreau FB page? I never thought of looking for that! I'll have to check it out. So maybe Henry had a FB page before I did-HA! (Thanks for the tip!)


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