"Nature" is an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson that was first published in 1836. In this work, Emerson reflects on the beauty and power of nature and argues that it can serve as a source of inspiration and enlightenment for individuals. He encourages readers to look beyond the surface of nature and appreciate its underlying spiritual essence. He also asserts that nature is not separate from the individual but instead is an integral part of the self and can be perceived through spiritual intuition. "Nature" is considered a seminal work in the American Transcendentalist movement and is often seen as an expression of Emerson's philosophical beliefs about the interconnectedness of all things.
The Beauty About The Nature
To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
The Stars Awaken a Certain Reverence, Because Though Always Present, They Are Inaccessible;
but all natural objects make a kindred impression when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood. When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet. The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this, their warranty deeds give no title. To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.
The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other;
who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, — he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight.
Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith.
There I feel that nothing can befall me in life,
— no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.
The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.
I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.
Yet it is certain that the power to produce this delight, does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both. It is necessary to use these pleasures with great temperance. For, nature is not always tricked in holiday attire, but the same scene which yesterday breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic of the nymphs, is overspread with melancholy today. Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. To a man laboring under calamity, the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then, there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has just lost by death a dear friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down over less worth in the population.
Chapter I from Nature, published as part of Nature; Addresses and Lectures
What Is The Meaning Behind Nature, The Poem?
Emerson often referred to nature as the "Universal Being" in his many lectures. It was Emerson who deeply believed there was a spiritual sense of the natural world which felt was all around him.
Going deeper still in this discussion of the "Universal Being", Emerson writes, "The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship."
It's common sense that "nature" is everything you see that is NOT man-made, or changed by man (trees, foliage, mountains, etc.), but Emerson reminds us that nature was set forth to serve man. This is the essence of human will, for man to harness nature. Every object in nature has its own beauty. Therefore, Emerson advocates to view nature as a reality by building your own world and surrounding yourself with natural beauty.
- The purpose of science is to find the theory of nature.
- Nature wears the colors of the Spirit.
- A man is fed, not to fill his belly, but so he may work.
- Each natural action is graceful.
"Material objects are necessarily kinds of scoriae of the substantial thoughts of the Creator, which must always preserve an exact relation to their first origin; in other words, visible nature must have a spiritual and moral side."
This quote is cited in numerous works and it is attributed to a "French philosopher." However, no name can be found in association with this quote.
The central theme of Emerson's famous essay "Nature" is the harmony that exists between the natural world and human beings. In "Nature," Ralph Waldo Emerson contends that man should rid himself of material cares and instead of being burdened by unneeded stress, he can enjoy an original relation with the universe and experience what Emerson calls "the sublime."
For Emerson, nature is not literally God but the body of God’s soul. ”Nature,” he writes, is “mind precipitated.” Emerson feels that to realize one’s role in this respect fully is to be in paradise (similar to heaven itself).
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Ralph Waldo Emerson left the ministry to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. Emerson became one of America's best known and best-loved 19th-century figures.
More About Emerson
"Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson