Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1836
1. To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society.
2. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would
3. be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will
4. separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made
5. transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence
6. of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear
7. one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many
8. generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night
9. come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
10. The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible;
11. but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence.
12. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and
13. lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit.
14. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as
15. they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood.
16. To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least
17. they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines
18. into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward
19. senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into
20. the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.
21. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.
22. Nature says, — he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me.
23. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for
24. every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from
25. breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a
26. mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common,
27. in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence
28. of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear.
29. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of
30. life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a
31. decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should
32. tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that
33. nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature
34. cannot repair.
35. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,
36. — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents
37. of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest
38. friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or
39. servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.
40. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the
41. tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as
42. beautiful as his own nature.
43. The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation
44. between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to
45. them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and
46. yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me,
47. when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. Boston: James Munroe, 1836. Print.
Line 28 (“I am…of fear”) is an example of