5. Lost in the Woods Again

Coming Home to Wilderness in Bradford, Thoreau, Frost, and Bishop

  1. Elisa New

Published Online: 28 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118854587.ch5

New England Beyond Criticism

New England Beyond Criticism

How to Cite

New, E. (ed) (2014) Lost in the Woods Again, in New England Beyond Criticism, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118854587.ch5

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 MAR 2014
  2. Published Print: 9 MAY 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118854532

Online ISBN: 9781118854587



  • “Brazil, January 1, 1502”;
  • Desert Places;
  • Elizabeth Bishop;
  • Henry David Thoreau;
  • Robert Frost;
  • The Moose;
  • The Village;
  • William Bradford


This chapter observes instances where the wilderness ordeal secures precisely the reverse of individual definition, where migration leads not to solitary individualism but into profounder varieties of filiation and affiliation. The moving out and away into wilderness, the casting off from civilization is figured as a kind of homing, a return that resituates the isolated self on the manifold grounds of its many dependencies. There is a long tradition of seventeenth- through twentieth-century poetic and prose texts – Bradford's “Of Their Voyage and How They Passed the Sea,” Thoreau's “The Village,” Frost's “Desert Places,” and, finally, Elizabeth Bishop's “Brazil, January 1, 1502” and “The Moose” – in which the venture into “howling wilderness” is also a return to what Whitman called the “cradle endlessly rocking” of our deeper nativity.