Wood body, 4 brass keys, 3 ivory bands, ivory ends. Marked “MEACHAM/ & POND/ ALBANY” on each of its four sections. See Th33f, linen case for flute.
When Louisa May Alcott, nursing in a Washington, D.C. military hospital, heard of the death of her friend and neighbor Henry D. Thoreau, she expressed her sorrow, in part, in a poem, “Thoreau’s Flute.” In it, the flute itself announces Thoreau’s immortality: “Then from the flute, untouched by hands, There came a low, harmonious breath: For such as he there is no death.”
That Thoreau, the flute, and the woods were intertwined in the imaginations of the people who knew him is perhaps not to be wondered at given the nature of the music he seems to have played: “I sailed on the north river [the Assabet] last night with my flute–and my music was a tinkling stream which meandered with the river–and fell from note to note as a brook from rock to rock. I did not hear the strains after they had issued from the flute, but before they were breathed into it–for the original strain precedes the sound–by as much as the echo follows after…Unpremeditated music is the true gage which measures the current of our thought–the very undertow of our life’s stream.” Another term for “unpremeditated music” is “improvisational;” Thoreau was jamming, with his own echo as counterpoint.