Friday, January 9, 2009
Art of Walking
"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved around the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la sainte terre” –to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a sainte-terrer”, a saunterer-a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabounds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant that the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probably derivation. For every walk is sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels."
- Henry David Thoreau. Walking Part 1 paragraph 2