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Thoreau believes tradtion to be meaningless in the face of the joys of nature.
The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever! The faint silvery warblings heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the blue-bird, the song-sparrow, and the redwing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! What at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all written revelations.
Thoreau's advice about the way we should live..... we should live simply. He urges "Simplicity! Simplicity! Simplicity!," telling people to simplify their affairs and arguing that so-called "improvements" like railroads, which make life too fast and superficial. Here, with a play on words, he compares the "sleepers" on the railroad to the men who work on it, who are "sleepers" because they are not awake enough to appreciate life.