Keeping Journals: Remembering Our Best (and Worst) Hours

April 30, 2014

A stack of spiral notebooks -- my daybooks/journals

A stack of spiral notebooks — my daybooks/journals

“Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg, by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentally thrown together become a frame in which more may be developed and exhibited.  Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing, of keeping a journal — that so we remember our best hours and stimulate ourselves. My thoughts are my company.”
— Henry David Thoreau, January 22, 1852, from the Heart of Thoreau’s Journals, edited by Odell Shepard

“We live in a wonderful world, and the wonders of the world without us are matched and more than matched by the wonders of the world within us.  This interior world has its natural history also, and to observe and record any of its facts and incidents, or trace any of its natural processes, is well worthy of our best moments.”
— John Burroughs, from Under the Apple-Trees, 1916

What’s in My Journal
by William Stafford

Old things, like a button drawer.  Mean
Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too.  A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards.  Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska.  Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead to nowhere, that never connected
anyway.  Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius.  Chasms in character.
Loud omissions.  Mornings that yawn above
a new grave.  Pages you know exist
but you can’t find them.  Someone’s terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine.



3 Responses to “Keeping Journals: Remembering Our Best (and Worst) Hours”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I laughed at the line in Stafford’s poem about “deliberate obfuscation.” In a journal? Of course! We’ve all done it – what’s interesting isn’t so much the hidden truth, as the reason for the hiding. Wonderful poem.

  2. […]  You can revisit them here: “Watching Sandhill Cranes,”  “Ask,” “What’s in My Journal,” “Things the Wind Says,” “The Dream of Now,” “Yes,” and […]

  3. […] Keeping Journals: Remembering Our Best (and Worst) Hours, April 30, 2014 […]

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