a goldfinch instant
on the top of a young fir
hit by first sunlight

Paul William Friedrich grew up and was educated in New England; has lived in Europe, India and Mexico; and has taught languages, literature, linguistics and anthropology at many universities. His poetic publications include four chapbooks (e.g., Bastard Moons and Handholds) and two books of poems and translations (old and new): From Root to Flower and Harmony in Babel: Selected Poems and Translations. Other publications include The Meaning of Aphrodite, The Gita within Walden, and Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village. He has seven children and has commuted by car between Chicago and Lexington, Virginia for 19 years.

Recent Books

a goldfinch instant: Concord to India Haikus

Book cover of "A Goldfinch Instant"

Paul William Friedrich’s a goldfinch instant is in the spirit of Basho – but it breathes with Henry David Thoreau as well. Haikus “from Concord to India” are embedded in a prose poem that will be of particular interest to readers familiar with Friedrich’s poetry as well as his work in anthropology and linguistics – and that will be a delight for readers who encounter Friedrich here for the first time. It begins when “a goldfinch instant / on the top of a young fir / hit by first sunlight” triggers a memory of an afternoon with fourteen year old Nicky, one of Friedrich’s children to whom the collection is dedicated. Read more…

Buy a goldfinch instant: Concord to India Haikus

The Gita within Walden

Book cover of "The Gita within Walden"

This book explores and interprets the myriad connections between two spiritual classics, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and the Bhagavad-Gita. Evidence shows that Thoreau took the Gita with him when he moved to Walden Pond. The books have much in common, touching on ultimate ethical and metaphysical questions. Paul William Friedrich looks at how each work speaks to fundamental problems of good and evil, self and cosmos, duty and passion, reality and illusion, political engagement and philosophical meditation, sensuous wildness and ascetic devotion. Read more…

Buy The Gita within Walden

Other Books

Harmony in Babel: Selected Poems and Translations

From Root to Flower

Music in Russian Poetry

The Princes of Naranja: An Essay in Anthrohistorical Method

The Language Parallax: Linguistic Relativism and Poetic Indeterminacy

Proto-Indo-European Trees: The Arboreal System of a Prehistoric People

The Meaning of Aphrodite

Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village


Walden’s Political Thoreau. The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies. v. 16.

A Tragedy of Language and a Language of Tragedy: Madam Bovary and Anna Karenina. In C. O’Neill, et al., eds., Poetics, Self, Place: Essays in Honor of Anna Lisa Crone. Bloomington: Slavica. (Coauthored with Domnica Radulescu)

Alexander Pushkin, Wisdom Poet. Russian Literature. IV: 503-528.

Tolstoy and the Chechens: Problems in Literary Anthropology. Russian History. 30(1-2): 113-145.

Lyric Epiphany. Language in Society. 30: 217-247.