'Henry David Thoreau's Walden; or Life in the Woods (1854) is America's nineteenth century scriptural call to establish the foundations of nationhood. The epic event of America underwritten by English literature, politics and economics, alongside the idea to self-realise anew and afresh is pregnant with Transcendentalist notions of self-reliance: the triumph of principles and latent convictions that constitute enlightenment within the self.
In Jam Tree Gully Poems (2011) poet John Kinsella mimics this experimental temperate consciousness to outline degrees of freedom that are yoked to a satirical position on the extent that nature (or humans for that matter) can be autonomous. For Thoreau, free will is answered in terms of improvement - to environment and to the spirit. Improvements are accounted for by framing action and events over time. An issue at stake here is: to what extent does Thoreau's desire to project a Protestant sense of improvement rely upon an externality operating on micro and macro scales that is subservient to human experience? In Walden, seasons do not come first; human emotion and intellect precede chronotopic and atmospheric abstractions. Human autonomy within the midst of nature - the central focus of Kinsella's and Thoreau's experiment - offers a Romanticism, a mode of feeling rather than a choice of subject.' (Author's abstract)