Treasure Island

Henry David Thoreau

(12 July 1817 – 6 May 1862 / Concord, Massachusetts)

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Indeed, Indeed I Cannot Tell


Indeed indeed, I cannot tell,
Though I ponder on it well,
Which were easier to state,
All my love or all my hate.
Surely, surely, thou wilt trust me
When I say thou dost disgust me.
O, I hate thee with a hate
That would fain annihilate;
Yet sometimes against my will,
My dear friend, I love thee still.
It were treason to our love,
And a sin to God above,
One iota to abate
Of a pure impartial hate.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Queeny Gona (10/7/2013 7:37:00 AM)

    Treason to love
    A sin to God


    Inevitable to love
    Against the will of protagonists


    Superb read...... (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (10/7/2013 7:28:00 AM)

    The poet ponders that even if his love betrays him, he will still love her, rather indulge in pure impartial hate. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/7/2012 11:03:00 AM)

    How can his hate for one person be impartial. An impartial hate would be given equally to two or more people. You cannot be impartial towards one person. (Report) Reply

  • Herman Chiu (10/7/2009 7:58:00 PM)

    All I have to say is that I have a friend whose face I sometimes wish to punch in.
    'Indeed, I cannot tell', but I can relate.
    Good poem! (Report) Reply

  • Milica Franchi De Luri (10/7/2009 4:14:00 PM)

    This poem is easy to understand. It is not philosophy, it is not split personality.It is simple honesty. There is some people in our life that we love and hate, for a reason that they can be very charming at times and very annoying at other times, you can not live with them, nor live with out them (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (10/7/2009 10:04:00 AM)

    Is the poet Thoreau writing here as a poet or as the philosopher he so clearly was in such works as his renowned WALDEN? Was he using the literary device of a split persona in 'Indeed I Cannot Tell' to express his own doubts as to his various positions and stances - sometimes for /sometimes against // love vs hate? Does this poem of 14 lines indicate his struggle with doubt? How does one possess strongly held convictions without becoming a fanatic in the process? Was Thoreau like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn in his discovery that the runaway slave was a human being like himself and should not be a slave at all?

    I find the questions the speaker (the persona in the poem!) puts forth as typical of a divided personality, one who cannot find ground to stand on in the shifting winds of his own doubt. Indeed, self-loathing is often the result of such an interior struggle as anyone who has experienced such severe self-doubt can testify to. The 'loved one' that Straw posits is most likely that other self that can so irritate and annoy! How could I have been so blind? the victim cries silently in his anguish. But then again, if I was correct that first time, then what? And so on back and forth, until one cries for release! Am I 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice'? Am I my own DNA? Which has the rights when all is said and done?

    I am suggesting that both Thoreau and Twain (and other serious writers!) were always struggling with such doubts! (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (10/7/2009 6:07:00 AM)

    Words walk the tightrope of love and hate, which is such a thin line. Hate to the point of love or love to the point of hate. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (10/7/2009 5:43:00 AM)

    Sometimes it is possible to loathe a loved one, and love should allow such moments to be said, without diminishing itself. Indeed God himself hates the sin but loves the sinner. One can hear Donne’s voice in this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Daphne Grant (3/12/2007 12:39:00 PM)

    Two sides to the coin, friendship and hate. Like I hate you but I would not be without you! (Report) Reply

Read all 15 comments »

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