What Humans Leave Behind (In the Thicket of Thoreau)

“As I drew a still fresher soil about the rows with my hoe, I disturbed the ashes of unchronicled nations who in primeval years lived under these heavens, and their small implements of war and hunting were brought to the light of this modern day. They lay mingled with other natural stones, some of which bore the marks of having been burned by Indian fires, some by sun, and also bits of pottery and glass brought hither by the recent cultivators of the soil” (Thoreau page #222).

I found that this quote resonated with me more than I would like to admit. I find it interesting that Thoreau would not only find some sort of reference to the Native Americans but to then describe the remaining artifacts that they left behind. This gives me reason to believe that this passage has more to do about time than it does about the Native Americans. This passage melancholically describes the rise and fall of civilizations and that people may be killed or displaced but their works will remain on Earth. The Earth spectates the changing boundaries of nations and peoples but even if entire civilizations are burnt to the ground, their evidence lays true to the remnants that toil the soil. Even the wording of the broken remains leave the reader with some sort of sorrow for the lost debris like, “mingled” and “ashes”. Certainly, this gives the reader a reason to believe that this is not an observation of random items but a statement on the human’s insignificant time on Earth and its consequences.