On my last night in Yosemite I walked alone through the meadows and listened to the bellowing frogs, maddened with moonlight. Out of a notch in the granite cliff I could see Yosemite Falls, that extravagant gush of milky foam dropping 1,400 feet through space, dissolving in mist, regrouping in cascades below to fall 600 feet more to the valley floor. Through the inner smog of figures and problems I dimly imagined Yosemite as it must have been in 1851 when Chief Tenaya and his little band of renegades were driven out. (Renegades: Indians unwilling to camp in officially designated campsites.) No wonder they hid and fought and escaped and fought again and wept and died. Yosemite Valley was a wild, savage, splendid and precious place then.
The Park Service believes that Yosemite Valley is not the proper location for youth festivals, organized or disorganized. No doubt true. (The frogs, having an orgiastic celebration of their own, might not agree.) But I can think of other things that Yosemite Valley is not the proper place for. It is not the proper place for paved roads and motor traffic in any form. It is not the proper place for gas stations and supermarkets, bars, curio shops, barbershops, a hospital, a lodge, a hotel, a convention center, and a small city of permanent and transient residents. Above all Yosemite Valley is not a proper place for a jail, for administrators, for police wearing park ranger uniforms. What should Yosemite Valley be? It should be what it once was: the kind of place where a person would know himself lucky to make one pilgrimage there in his lifetime. A holy place. Keep it like it was.
When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t
blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need
fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we
have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we
know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming
has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and
argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just
understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change.
Fresh air affects children’s constitutions, particularly in
early years. It enters every pore of a soft and tender skin, it has a powerful
effect on their young bodies. Its effects can never be destroyed. So I should
not agree with those who take a country woman from her village and shut her up
in one room in a town and her nursling with her. I would rather send him to
breathe the fresh air of the country than the foul air of the town. He will
take his new mother’s position, will live in her cottage, where his tutor will
follow him. The reader will bear in mind that this tutor is not a paid servant,
but the father’s friend. But if this friend cannot be found, if this transfer
is not easy, if none of my advice can be followed, you will say to me, “What
shall I do instead?” I have told you already—“Do what you are doing;” no advice
is needed there.
Men are not made to be crowded together in ant-hills, but
scattered over the earth to till it. The more they are massed together, the
more corrupt they become. Disease and vice are the sure results of over-crowded
cities. Of all creatures man is least fitted to live in herds. Huddled together
like sheep, men would very soon die. Man’s breath is fatal to his fellows. This
is literally as well as figuratively true.
Men are devoured by our towns. In a few generations the race
dies out or becomes degenerate; it needs renewal, and it is always renewed from
the country. Send your children to renew themselves, so to speak, send them to
regain in the open fields the strength lost in the foul air of our crowded
cities. Women hurry home that their children may be born in the town; they
ought to do just the opposite, especially those who mean to nurse their own
children. They would lose less than they think, and in more natural surroundings
the pleasures associated by nature with maternal duties would soon destroy the
taste for other delights.
Freedom of thought is what all these supposedly wonderful
democracies yack on about but it’s not really what any of them offer us. I
would want a system of open debate, where all subjects can be openly discussed.
This is what’s missing from the current school system and from society as a
whole. Our belief systems are one-sided, engineered by leaders who wish to
control our thoughts, and this inability to think for ourselves leads to mutual
A JOURNEY FROM PATAPSCO IN MARYLAND TO ANNAPOLIS, APRIL 4,
At length the wintry Horrors disappear,
And April views with Smiles the infant Year;
The grateful Earth from frosty Chains unbound,
Pours out its vernal Treasures all around,
Her Face bedeckt with Grass, with Buds the Trees are crown'd.
In this soft Season, 'ere the Dawn of Day,
I mount my Horse, and lonely take my Way,
From woody Hills that shade Patapsco's Head
(In whose deep Vales he makes his stony Bed,
From whence he rushes with resistless Force,
Tho' huge rough Rocks retard his rapid Course,)
Down to Annapolis, on that smooth Stream
Which took from fair Anne-Arundel its Name.
And now the Star that ushers in the Day,
“Begins to pale her ineffectual Ray[”].
The Moon with blunted Horns, now shines less bright,
Her fading Face eclips'd with growing Light;
The fleecy Clouds with streaky Lustre glow,
And day quits Heav'n to view the Earth below.
O'er yon tall Pines the Sun shews half his Face,
And fires their floating Foliage with his Rays:
Now sheds aslant on earth his lightsome Beams,
That trembling shine in many-colour'd Streams.
Slow-rising from the Marsh, the Mist recedes,
The Trees, emerging, rear their dewy Heads;
Their dewy Heads the Sun with Pleasure views,
And brightens into Pearls the pendent Dews.
The Beasts uprising, quit their leafy Beds,
And to the cheerful Sun erect their Heads;
All joyful rise, except the filthy Swine,
On obscene Litter stretch'd they snore supine:
In vain the Day awakes, Sleep seals their Eyes,
Till Hunger breaks the Band and bids them rise.
Meanwhile the Sun with more exalted Ray,
From cloudless Skies distributes riper Day;
Thro' sylvan Scenes my Journey I pursue,
Ten thousand Beauties rising to my View;
Which kindle in my Breast poetic Flame,
And bid me my Creator's Praise proclaim;
Tho' my low Verse ill-suits the noble Theme.
Here various Flourets grace the teeming Plains.
Adorn'd by Nature's Hand with beauteous Stains.
First born of Spring, here the Pacone appears,
Whose golden Root a silver Blossom rears.
In spreading Tufts, see there the Crowfoot blue,
On whose green Leaves still shines a globous Dew;
Behold the Cinque-foil, with its dazling Dye
Of flaming Yellow, wounds the tender Eye.
But there enclos'd the grassy Wheat is seen,
To heal the aching Sight with cheerful Green.
Safe in yon Cottage dwells the Monarch Swain,
His Subject Flocks, close-grazing hide the Plain;
For him they live; and die t' uphold his Reign.
Viands unbought his well-till'd Lands afford,
And smiling Plenty waits upon his Board;
Health shines with sprightly Beams around his Head,
And Sleep, with downy Wings, o'ershades his bed,
His Sons robust his daily Labours share,
Patient of Toil, Companions of his Care.
And all their Toils with sweet Success are crown'd.
In graceful Banks there Trees adorn the Ground,
The Peach, the Plum, the Apple, here are found
Delicious Fruits!—Which from their Kernels rise,
So fruitful is the Soil—so mild the Skies:
The lowly Quince yon sloping Hill o'ershades,
Here lofty Cherry-Trees erect their Heads;
High in the Air each spiry Summit waves,
Whose Blooms thick-springing yield no Space for Leaves;
Evolving Odours fill the ambient Air,
The Birds delighted to the Groves repair:
On ev'ry Tree behold a tuneful Throng,
The vocal Vallies echo to their Song.
But what is He, who perch'd above the rest,
Pours out such various Musick from his Breast!
His Breast, whose Plumes a cheerful White display.
His quiv'ring Wings are dress'd in sober Grey.
Sure all the Muses, this their Bird inspire!
And he, alone, is equal to the Choir
Of warbling Songsters who around him play,
While, Echo like, He answers ev'ry Lay.
The chirping Lark now sings with sprightly Note
Responsive to her Strain He shapes his Throat,
Now the poor widow'd Turtle wails her Mate,
While in soft Sounds He cooes to mourn his Fate.
Oh sweet Musician, thou dost far excel
The soothing Song of pleasing Philomel!
Sweet is her Song, but in few Notes confin'd;
But thine, thou Mimic of the feath'ry Kind,
Runs thro' all Notes!—Thou only know'st them All,
At once the Copy—and th' Original.
My Ear thus charm'd, my Eye with
Hov'ring about the Flow'rs th' industrious Bees.
Like them in Size, the Humming Birds I view,
Like them, He sucks his Food, the Honey Dew,
With nimble Tongue, and Beak of jetty Hue.
He takes with rapid Whirl his noisy Flight,
His gemmy Plumage strikes the Gazer's Sight;
And as he moves his ever-flutt'ring Wings,
Ten thousand Colours he around him flings.
Now I behold the Em'rald's vivid Green,
Now scarlet, now a purple Die is seen;
In brightest Blue, his Breast He now arrays,
Then strait his Plumes emit a golden Blaze.
Thus whirring round he flies, and varying still
He mocks the Poet's and the Painter's Skill;
Who may forever strive with fruitless Pains,
To catch and fix those beauteous changeful Stains;
While Scarlet now, and now the Purple shines,
And Gold to Blue its transient Gloss resigns.
Each quits, and quickly each resumes its Place,
And ever-varying Dies each other chase.
Smallest of Birds, what Beauties shine in thee!
A living Rainbow on thy Breast I see.
Oh had that Bard, in whose heart-pleasing Lines,
The Phœnix in a Blaze of Glory shines,
Beheld those Wonders which are shewn in Thee,
That Bird had lost his Immortality!
Thou in His verse hadst stretch'd thy flutt'ring Wing
Above all other Birds,—their beauteous King.
But now th' enclos'd Plantation I forsake,
And onwards thro' the Woods my Journey take;
The level Road, the longsome Way beguiles,
A blooming Wilderness around me smiles;
Here hardy Oak, there fragrant Hick'ry grows
Their bursting Buds the tender Leaves disclose;
The tender Leaves in downy Robes appear,
Trembling, they seem to move with cautious Fear,
Yet new to Life, and Strangers to the Air.
Here stately Pines unite their whisp'ring Heads,
And with a solemn Gloom embrown the Glades.
See there a green Savana opens wide,
Thro' which smooth Streams in wanton Mazes glide;
Thick-branching Shrubs o'erhang the silver Streams,
Which scarcely deign t' admit the solar Beams.
While with Delight on this soft Scene I gaze,
The Cattle upward look, and cease to graze,
But into Covert run thro' various Ways.
And now the Clouds in black Assemblage rise,
And dreary Darkness overspreads the Skies,
Thro' which the Sun strives to transmit his Beams,
“But sheds his sickly Light in straggling Streams.
Hush'd is the Musick of the wood-land Choir,
Fore-knowing of the Storm, the Birds retire
For Shelter, and forsake the shrubby Plains,
And a dumb Horror, thro' the Forest reigns;
In that lone House which opens wide its Door,
Safe may I tarry till the Storm is o'er.
Hark how the Thunder rolls with solemn Sound!
And see the forceful Lightning dart a Wound
On yon tall Oak!—Behold its Top laid bare!
Its Body rent, and scatter'd thro' the Air
The Splinters fly!—Now—now the Winds arise,
From different Quarters of the low'ring Skies;
Forth issuing fierce, the West and South engage,
The waving Forest bends beneath their Rage:
But where the winding Valley checks their Course,
They roar and ravage with redoubled Force;
With circling sweep in dreadful Whirlwinds move
And from its Roots tear up the gloomy Grove,
Down rushing fall the Trees, and beat the Ground
In Fragments flie the shatter'd Limbs around;
Tremble the Underwoods, the Vales resound.
Follows, with patt'ring Noise the icy Hail,
And Rain, fast falling, floods the lowly Vale.
Again the Thunders roll, the Lightnings fly,
And as they first disturb'd, now clear the Sky;
For lo! the Gust decreases by Degrees,
The dying Winds but sob amidst the Trees;
With pleasing Softness falls the silver Rain,
Thro' which at first faint gleaming o'er the Plain,
The Orb of Light scarce darts a wat'ry Ray
To gild the Drops that fall from ev'ry Spray;
But soon the dusky Vapours are dispell'd,
And thro' the Mist that late his Face conceal'd,
Bursts the broad Sun, triumphant in a Blaze
Too keen for Sight—Yon Cloud refracts his Rays;
The mingling Beams compose th' etherial Bow,
How sweet, how soft, its melting Colours glow!
Gaily they shine, by heav'nly Pencils laid,
Yet vanish swift—How soon does Beauty fade!
The Storm is past, my Journey I renew,
And a new Scene of Pleasure greets my View:
Wash'd by the copious Rain the gummy Pine,
Does cheerful, with unsully'd Verdure shine!
The Dogwood Flow'rs assume a snowy white,
The Maple blushing gratifies the Sight:
No verdant leaves the lovely Red-Bud grace,
Carnation Blossoms now supply their Place.
The Sassafras unfolds its fragrant Bloom,
The Vine affords an exquisite Perfume.
These grateful Scents wide-wafting thro' the Air
The smelling Sense with balmy Odours cheer.
And now the Birds, sweet singing, stretch their Throats,
And in one Choir unite their Various Notes,
Nor yet unpleasing is the Turtle's Voice,
Tho' he complains while other Birds rejoice.
These vernal Joys, all restless Thoughts controul,
And gently soothing calm the troubled Soul.
While such Delights my Senses entertain,
I scarce perceive that I have left the Plain;
'Till now the Summit of a Mount I gain:
Low at whose sandy Base the River glides,
Slow-rolling near their Height his languid Tides;
Shade above Shade, the Trees in rising Ranks,
Cloath with eternal Green his steepy Banks:
The Flood, well pleas'd, reflects their verdant Gleam
From the smooth Mirror of his limpid Stream.
But see the Hawk, who with acute Survey,
Tow'ring in Air predestinates his Prey
Amid the Floods!—Down dropping from on high,
He strikes the Fish, and bears him thro' the Sky.
The Stream disturb'd no longer shews the Scene
That lately stain'd its silver Waves with green;
In spreading Circles roll the troubled Floods,
And to the Shores bear off the pictur'd Woods.
Now looking round I view the outstretch'd Land,
O'er which the Sight exerts a wide Command;
The fertile Vallies, and the naked Hills,
The Cattle feeding near the chrystal Rills;
The Lawns wide-op'ning to the sunny Ray,
And mazy Thickets that exclude the Day.
Awhile the Eye is pleas'd these Scenes to trace,
Then hurrying o'er the intermediate space,
Far-distant Mountains drest in Blue appear,
And all their Woods are lost in empty Air.
The Sun near setting now arrays his Head
In milder Beams, and lengthens ev'ry Shade.
The rising Clouds usurping on the Day
A bright variety of Dies display;
About the wide Horizon swift they fly,
“And chase a Change of Colours round the Sky.
And now I view but half the flaming Sphere,
Now one faint Glimmer shoots along the Air,
And all his golden Glories disappear.
Onwards the Ev'ning moves in Habit grey,
And for her Sister Night prepares the way.
The plumy People seek their secret Nests,
To Rest repair the ruminating Beasts;
Now deep'ning Shades confess th' Approach of Night,
Imperfect Images elude the Sight:
From earthly Objects I remove mine Eye,
And view with Look erect the vaulted Sky,
Where dimly shining now the Stars appear,
At first thin-scatt'ring thro' the misty Air;
Till Night confirm'd, her jetty Throne ascends,
On her the Moon in clouded State attends,
But soon unveil'd her lovely Face is seen,
And Stars unnumber'd wait around their Queen;
Rang'd by their Maker's Hand in just Array,
They march majestic thro' th' etherial Way.
Are these bright Luminaries hung on high
Only to please with twinkling Rays our Eye?
Or may we rather count each Star a Sun,
Round which full peopled Worlds their Courses run?
Orb above Orb harmoniously they steer
Their various Voyages thro' Seas of Air.
Snatch me some Angel to those high Abodes,
The Seats perhaps of Saints and Demigods!
Where such as bravely scorn'd the galling Yoke
Of vulgar Error, and her Fetters broke;
Where Patriots, who to fix the publick Good,
In Fields of Battle sacrific'd their Blood;
Where pious Priests, who Charity proclaim'd,
And Poets whom a virtuous Muse enflam'd;
Philosophers who strove to mend our Hearts,
And such as polish'd Life with useful Arts,
Obtain a Place; when by the Hand of Death
Touch'd, they retire from this poor Speck of Earth;
Their Spirits freed from bodily Alloy,
Perceive a Fore-tast of that endless Joy,
Which from Eternity hath been prepar'd,
To crown their Labours with a vast Reward.
While to these Orbs my wand'ring Thoughts aspire,
A falling Meteor shoots his lambent Fire;
Thrown from the heav'nly Space he seeks the Earth,
From whence he first deriv'd his humble Birth.
The Mind advis'd by this instructive Sight,
Descending sudden from th' aerial Height,
Obliges me to view a different Scene,
Of more importance to myself, tho' mean.
These distant Objects I no more pursue,
But turning inward my reflective View,
My working Fancy helps me to survey
In the just Picture of this April Day,
My Life o'er past,—a Course of thirty Years,
Blest with few joys, perplex'd with num'rous Cares.
In the dim Twilight of our Infancy,
Scarce can the Eye surrounding Objects see.
Then thoughtless Childhood leads us pleas'd and gay,
In life's fair morning thro' a flow'ry Way:
The Youth in Schools inquisitive of Good,
Science pursues thro' Learning's mazy Wood;
Whole lofty Trees, he, to his Grief perceives,
Are often bare of Fruit, and only fill'd with Leaves:
Thro' lonely Wilds his tedious Journey lies,
At last a brighter Prospect cheers his Eyes,
Now the gay Fields of Poetry he views,
And joyous listens to the tuneful Muse;
Now History affords him vast Delight,
And opens lovely Landscapes to his Sight:
But ah! too soon this Scene of Pleasure flies;
And o'er his Head tempestuous Troubles rise.
He hears the Thunders roll, he feels the Rains,
Before a friendly shelter he obtains;
And thence beholds with Grief the furious Storm
The noontide Beauties of his Life deform:
He views the painted Bow in distant Skies;
Hence, in his heart some Gleams of Comfort rise;
He hopes the Gust has almost spent its Force,
And that he safely may pursue his Course.
Thus far my Life does with the Day agree,
Oh! may its coming Stage from Storms be free,
While passing thro' the World's most private Way,
With Pleasure I my Maker's Works survey;
Within my Heart let Peace a Dwelling find,
Let my Good-will extend to all Mankind:
Freed from Necessity, and blest with Health;
Give me Content, let others toil for Wealth.
In busy Scenes of Life let me exert
A careful Hand, and wear an honest Heart;
And suffer me my leisure Hours to spend,
With chosen Books, or a well-natur'd Friend,
Thus journeying on, as I advance in Age
May I look back with Pleasure on my Stage;
And as the setting Sun withdrew his Light
To rise on other Worlds serene and bright,
Cheerful may I resign my vital Breath,
Nor anxious tremble at th' Approach of Death;
Which shall (I hope) but strip me of my Clay,
And to a better World my Soul convey.
Thus musing, I my silent Moments spend,
Till to the River's Margin I descend,
From whence I may discern my Journey's End:
Annapolis adorns its further Shore,
To which the Boat attends to bear me o'er.
And now the moving Boat the Flood divides,
While the Stars “tremble on the floating Tides, [”].
Pleas'd with the Sight, again I raise mine Eye
To the bright Glories of the azure Sky;
And while these Works of God's creative Hand,
The Moon and Stars, that move at his Command
Obedient thro' their circling Course on high,
Employ my Sight,—struck with amaze I cry,
Almighty Lord! whom Heav'n and Earth proclaim
The Author of their universal Frame.
Wilt thou vouchsafe to view the Son of Man,
The Creature, who but Yesterday began,
Thro' animated Clay to draw his Breath,
Tomorrow doom'd a Prey to ruthless Death!
Tremendous God! may I not justly fear,
That I, unworthy Object of thy Care,
Into this World from thy bright Presence tost,
Am in th' Immensity of Nature lost!
And that my Notions of the World above,
Are but Creations of my own Self-Love!
To feed my coward Heart, afraid to die,
With fancied Feasts of Immortality!
These Thoughts, which thy amazing Works suggest,
Oh glorious Father, rack my troubled Breast.
Yet Gracious God, reflecting that my Frame
From Thee deriv'd in animating Flame,
And that what e'er I am, however mean,
By thy Command I enter'd on this Scene
Of Life—thy wretched Creature of a Day,
Condemn'd to travel thro' a tiresome Way;
Upon whose Banks (perhaps to cheer my Toil!)
I see thin Verdures rise, and Daisies smile:
Poor Comforts these, my Pains t' alleviate!
While on my Head tempestuous Troubles beat.
And must I, when I quit this Earthly Scene,
Sink total into Death, and never rise again?
No sure,—These Thoughts which in my Bosom roll.
Must issue from a never-dying Soul;
These active Thoughts, that penetrate the Sky,
Excursive into dark Futurity;
Which hope eternal Happiness to gain,
Could never be bestow'd on Man in vain.
To Thee, O Father, fill'd with fervent Zeal,
And sunk in humble Silence I appeal;
Take me, my great Creator, to Thy Care.
And gracious listen to my ardent Prayer!
Supreme of Beings, omnipresent Pow'r,
My great Preserver from my natal Hour,
Fountain of Wisdom, boundless Deity,
Omniscient God, my wants are known to Thee,
With Mercy look on mine Infirmity!
Whatever State thou shalt for me ordain.
Whether my Lot in Life be Joy or Pain;
Patient let me sustain thy wise Decree,
And learn to know myself, and honour Thee.
Well, if you’re trying as a storyteller to establish some
rapport with your reader, you don’t open by telling him that you have a
headache and indigestion and that you picked up a gravelly rash at Jones Beach.
One of the reasons is that advertising in magazines is much more common today
than it was twenty to thirty years ago. In publishing in a magazine you are
competing against girdle advertisements, travel advertisements, nakedness,
cartoons, even poetry. The competition almost makes it hopeless. There’s a
stock beginning that I’ve always had in mind. Someone is coming back from a
year in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship. His trunk is opened in customs, and
instead of his clothing and souvenirs, they find the mutilated body of an
Italian seaman, everything there but the head. Another opening sentence I often
think of is, “The first day I robbed Tiffany’s it was raining.”
Before Jimmy Buffett became a corporation, he was a rangy
and somewhat ragged country-folk singer/songwriter living a low finance life,
still discovering his marketable Margaritaville persona. One of the projects he
worked on in those early 70s Key West days was the soundtrack for a now mostly
forgotten, but oft-times beautiful impressionistic fishing film / hippie
travelogue called Tarpon. At the time, Buffett was hanging out with a group of fellow
cosmic American artists, all in search of fun and adventure. These included
writers Tom McGuane, Richard Brautigan, and Jim Harrison, painter Russell
Chatham and filmmakers Guy de la Valdene and Christian Odasso. In a 1986 posthumous article about Brautigan in Rolling Stone, this
group was described as a loose collective of “rough cut, highly competitive
Upward, into the pure realm,
Over sun or star,
Over the flickering Dæmon film,
Thou must mount for love,—
Into vision which all form
In one only form dissolves;
In a region where the wheel,
On which all beings ride,
Where the starred eternal worm
Girds the world with bound and term;
Where unlike things are like,
When good and ill,
And joy and moan,
Melt into one.
There Past, Present, Future, shoot
Triple blossoms from one root
Substances at base divided
In their summits are united,
There the holy Essence rolls,
One through separated souls,
And the sunny Æon sleeps
Folding nature in its deeps,
And every fair and every good
Known in part or known impure
To men below,
In their archetypes endure.
The race of gods,
Or those we erring own,
Are shadows flitting up and down
In the still abodes.
The circles of that sea are laws,
Which publish and which hide the Cause.
Pray for a beam
Out of that sphere
Thee to guide and to redeem.
O what a load
Of care and toil
By lying Use bestowed,
From his shoulders falls, who sees
The true astronomy,
The period of peace!
Counsel which the ages kept,
Shall the well-born soul accept.
As the overhanging trees
Fill the lake with images,
As garment draws the garment's hem
Men their fortunes bring with them;
By right or wrong,
Lands and goods go to the strong;
Property will brutely draw
Still to the proprietor,
Silver to silver creep and wind,
And kind to kind,
Nor less the eternal poles
Of tendency distribute souls.
There need no vows to bind
Whom not each other seek but find.
They give and take no pledge or oath,
Nature is the bond of both.
No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,
Their noble meanings are their pawns.
Plain and cold is their address,
Power have they for tenderness,
And so thoroughly is known
Each others' purpose by his own,
They can parley without meeting,
Need is none of forms of greeting,
They can well communicate
In their innermost estate;
When each the other shall avoid,
Shall each by each be most enjoyed.
Not with scarfs or perfumed gloves
Do these celebrate their loves,
Not by jewels, feasts, and savors,
Not by ribbons or by favors,
But by the sun-spark on the sea,
And the cloud-shadow on the lea,
The soothing lapse of morn to mirk,
And the cheerful round of work.
Their cords of love so public are,
They intertwine the farthest star.
The throbbing sea, the quaking earth,
Yield sympathy and signs of mirth;
Is none so high, so mean is none,
But feels and seals this union.
Even the tell Furies are appeased,
The good applaud, the lost are eased.
Love's hearts are faithful, but not fond,
Bound for the just, but not beyond;
Not glad, as the low-loving herd,
Of self in others still preferred,
But they have heartily designed
The benefit of broad mankind.
And they serve men austerely,
After their own genius, clearly,
Without a false humility;
For this is love's nobility,
Not to scatter bread and gold,
Goods and raiment bought and sold,
But to hold fast his simple sense,
And speak the speech of innocence,
And with hand, and body, and blood,
To make his bosom-counsel good:
For he that feeds men, serveth few,
He serves all, who dares be true.
It’s the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service this
year, and record crowds are expected at many of the most popular sites this
Memorial Day weekend. But the throngs of tourists are straining the parks the
agency protects, increasing pollution and creating conflicts between humans and
wildlife. Should the Park Service more widely restrict access to
protected areas, or does that contradict its mission to keep the lands open and
One wishes to go on. On this great river one could go on forever -- and here we discover the definition of bliss, salvation, Heaven, all the old Mediterranean dreams: a journey from wonder to wonder, drifting through eternity into ever deeper, always changing grandeur, through beauty continually surpassing itself ...
Edward Abbey, from The Journey Home
While travelling the world in order to write her
award-winning book Wild, Jay Griffiths became increasingly aware of the huge
differences in how childhood is experienced in indigenous cultures. From
communities in West Papua and the Arctic to the ostracised young people of
contemporary Britain, she asks why we have enclosed our children in a
consumerist cornucopia but denied them the freedoms of space, time and deep
play. She uses anthropology, history, philosophy, language and literature to
illustrate children’s affinity for the natural world, for animals and
woodlands, and examines the quest element of childhood. Arguing that the
risk-averse society enfeebles children, robbing them of the physical freedom
they both want and need, Griffiths illustrates how the stress of overscheduled
lives denies children their hours of unclocked reverie.
What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.0 Space reaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on this day in 1803. WOODS NOTES II As sunbeams stream through liberal space,
And nothing jostle or displace,
So waved the pine tree through my thought,
And fanned the dreams it never brought.
"Whether is better the gift or the donor?
Come to me,"
Quoth the pine tree,
"I am the giver of honor.
My garden is the cloven rock,
And my manure the snow,
And drifting sand heaps feed my stock,
In summer's scorching glow.
Ancient or curious,
Who knoweth aught of us?
Old as Jove,
Old as Love,
Who of me
Tells the pedigree?
Only the mountains old,
Only the waters cold,
Only moon and star
My coevals are.
Ere the first fowl sung
My relenting boughs among,
Ere Adam wived,
Ere Adam lived,
Ere the duck dived,
Ere the bees hived,
Ere the lion roared,
Ere the eagle soared,
Light and heat, land and sea
Spake unto the oldest tree.
Glad in the sweet and secret aid
Which matter unto matter paid,
The water flowed, the breezes fanned,
The tree confined the roving sand,
The sunbeam gave me to the sight,
The tree adorned the formless light,
And once again
O'er the grave of men
We shall talk to each other again
Of the old age behind,
Of the time out of mind,
Which shall come again."
"Whether is better the gift or the donor?
Come to me,"
Quoth the pine tree,
"I am the giver of honor.
He is great who can live by me;
The rough and bearded forester
Is better than the lord;
God fills the scrip and canister,
Sin piles the loaded board.
The lord is the peasant that was,
The peasant the lord that shall be,
The lord is hay, the peasant grass,
One dry and one the living tree.
Genius with my boughs shall flourish,
Want and cold our roots shall nourish;
Who liveth by the ragged pine,
Foundeth a heroic line;
Who liveth in the palace hall,
Waneth fast and spendeth all:
He goes to my savage haunts,
With his chariot and his care,
My twilight realm he disenchants,
And finds his prison there.
What prizes the town and the tower?
Only what the pine tree yields,
Sinew that subdued the fields,
The wild-eyed boy who in the woods
Chants his hymn to hill and floods,
Whom the city's poisoning spleen
Made not pale, or fat, or lean,
Whom the rain and the wind purgeth,
Whom the dawn and the day-star urgeth,
In whose cheek the rose leaf blusheth,
In whose feet the lion rusheth,
Iron arms and iron mould,
That knew not fear, fatigue, or cold.
I give my rafters to his boat,
My billets to his boiler's throat,
And I will swim the ancient sea
To float my child to victory,
And grant to dwellers with the pine,
Dominion o'er the palm and vine.
Westward I ope the forest gates,
The train along the railroad skates,
It leaves the land behind, like ages past,
The foreland flows to it in river fast,
Missouri I have made a mart,
I teach Iowa Saxon art.
Who leaves the pine tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
Cut a bough from my parent stem,
And dip it in thy porcelain vase;
A little while each russet gem
Will swell and rise with wonted grace,
But when it seeks enlarged supplies,
The orphan of the forest dies.
Whoso walketh in solitude,
And inhabiteth the wood,
Choosing light, wave, rock, and bird,
Before the money-loving herd,
Into that forester shall pass
From these companions power and grace;
Clean shall he be without, within,
From the old adhering sin;
Love shall he, but not adulate,
The all-fair, the all-embracing Fate,
All ill dissolving in the light
Of his triumphant piercing sight.
Not vain, sour, nor frivolous,
Not mad, athirst, nor garrulous,
Grave, chaste, contented, though retired,
And of all other men desired.
On him the light of star and moon
Shall fall with purer radiance down;
All constellations of the sky
Shed their virtue through his eye.
Him nature giveth for defence
His formidable innocence,
The mountain sap, the shells, the sea,
All spheres, all stones, his helpers be;
He shall never be old,
Nor his fate shall be foretold;
He shall see the speeding year,
Without wailing, without fear;
He shall be happy in his love,
Like to like shall joyful prove.
He shall be happy whilst he woos
Muse-born a daughter of the Muse;
But if with gold she bind her hair,
And deck her breast with diamond,
Take off thine eyes, thy heart forbear,
Though thou lie alone on the ground:
The robe of silk in which she shines,
It was woven of many sins,
And the shreds
Which she sheds
In the wearing of the same,
Shall be grief on grief,
And shame on shame.
Heed the old oracles,
Ponder my spells,
Song wakes in my pinnacles,
When the wind swells.
Soundeth the prophetic wind,
The shadows shake on the rock behind,
And the countless leaves of the pine are strings
Tuned to the lay the wood-god sings.
If thou wouldst know the mystic song
Chanted when the sphere was young,
Aloft, abroad, the pæan swells,
O wise man, hear'st thou half it tells?
O wise man, hear'st thou the least part?
'Tis the chronicle of art.
To the open ear it sings
The early genesis of things;
Of tendency through endless ages,
Of star-dust, and star-pilgrimages,
Of rounded worlds, of space, and time,
Of the old flood's subsiding slime,
Of chemic matter, force, and form,
Of poles and powers, cold, wet, and warm,
The rushing metamorphosis
Dissolving all that fixture is,
Melts things that be to things that seem,
And solid nature to a dream.
Oh, listen to the under song,
The ever old, the ever young,
And far within those cadent pauses,
The chorus of the ancient Causes.
Delights the dreadful destiny
To fling his voice into the tree,
And shock thy weak ear with a note
Breathed from the everlasting throat.
In music he repeats the pang
Whence the fair flock of nature sprang.
O mortal! thy ears are stones;
These echoes are laden with tones
Which only the pure can hear,
Thou canst not catch what they recite
Of Fate, and Will, of Want, and Right,
Of man to come, of human life,
Of Death, and Fortune, Growth, and Strife."
Once again the pine tree sung;—
"Speak not thy speech my boughs among,
Put off thy years, wash in the breeze,
My hours are peaceful centuries.
Talk no more with feeble tongue;
No more the fool of space and time,
Come weave with mine a nobler rhyme.
Only thy Americans
Can read thy line, can meet thy glance,
But the runes that I rehearse
Understands the universe.
The least breath my boughs which tossed
Brings again the Pentecost;
To every soul it soundeth clear
In a voice of solemn cheer,
'Am I not thine? are not these thine?'
And they reply, 'Forever mine.'
My branches speak Italian,
English, German, Basque, Castilian,
Mountain speech to Highlanders,
Ocean tongues to islanders,
To Finn, and Lap, and swart Malay,
To each his bosom secret say.
Come learn with me the fatal song
Which knits the world in music strong,
Whereto every bosom dances
Kindled with courageous fancies:
Come lift thine eyes to lofty rhymes
Of things with things, of times with times,
Primal chimes of sun and shade,
Of sound and echo, man and maid;
The land reflected in the flood;
Body with shadow still pursued.
For nature beats in perfect tune,
And rounds with rhyme her every rune,
Whether she work in land or sea,
Or hide underground her alchemy.
Thou canst not wave thy staff in air,
Or dip thy paddle in the lake,
But it carves the bow of beauty there,
And the ripples in rhymes the oar forsake.
The wood is wiser far than thou:
The wood and wave each other know.
Not unrelated, unaffied,
But to each thought and thing allied,
Is perfect nature's every part,
Rooted in the mighty heart.
But thou, poor child! unbound, unrhymed,
Whence camest thou, misplaced, mistimed?
Whence, O thou orphan and defrauded?
Is thy land peeled, thy realm marauded?
Who thee divorced, deceived, and left;
Thee of thy faith who hath bereft,
And torn the ensigns from thy brow,
And sunk the immortal eye so low?
Thy cheek too white, thy form too slender,
Thy gait too slow, thy habits tender,
For royal man; they thee confess
An exile from the wilderness,—
The hills where health with health agrees,
And the wise soul expels disease.
Hark! in thy ear I will tell the sign
By which thy hurt thou mayst divine.
When thou shalt climb the mountain cliff,
Or see the wide shore from thy skiff,
To thee the horizon shall express
Only emptiness and emptiness;
There is no man of nature's worth
In the circle of the earth,
And to thine eye the vast skies fall
Dire and satirical
On clucking hens, and prating fools,
On thieves, on drudges, and on dolls.
And thou shalt say to the Most High,
'Godhead! all this astronomy,
And Fate, and practice, and invention,
Strong art, and beautiful pretension,
This radiant pomp of sun and star,
Throes that were, and worlds that are,
Behold! were in vain and in vain;—
It cannot be,— I will look again,—
Surely now will the curtain rise,
And earth's fit tenant me surprise;
But the curtain doth not rise,
And nature has miscarried wholly
Into failure, into folly.'
Alas! thine is the bankruptcy,
Blessed nature so to see.
Come lay thee in my soothing shade,
And heal the hurts which sin has made.
I will teach the bright parable
Older than time,
I see thee in the crowd alone;
I will be thy companion.
Let thy friends be as the dead in doom,
And build to them a final tomb;
Let the starred shade which mighty falls
Still celebrate their funerals,
And the bell of beetle and of bee
Knell their melodious memory.
Behind thee leave thy merchandise,
Thy churches, and thy charities,
And leave thy peacock wit behind;
Enough for thee the primal mind
That flows in streams, that breathes in wind.
Leave all thy pedant lore apart;
God hid the whole world in thy heart.
Love shuns the sage, the child it crowns,
And gives them all who all renounce.
The rain comes when the wind calls,
The river knows the way to the sea,
Without a pilot it runs and falls,
Blessing all lands with its charity.
The sea tosses and foams to find
Its way up to the cloud and wind,
The shadow sits close to the flying ball,
The date fails not on the palm tree tall,
And thou,— go burn thy wormy pages,—
Shalt outsee the seer, outwig the sages.
Oft didst thou thread the woods in vain
To find what bird had piped the strain,—
Seek not, and the little eremite
Flies gayly forth and sings in sight.
Hearken! once more;
I will tell the mundane lore.
Older am I than thy numbers wot,
Change I may, but I pass not;
Hitherto all things fast abide,
And anchored in the tempest ride.
Trendrant time behooves to hurry
All to yean and all to bury;
All the forms are fugitive,
But the substances survive.
Ever fresh the broad creation,
A divine improvisation,
From the heart of God proceeds,
A single will, a million deeds.
Once slept the world an egg of stone,
And pulse, and sound, and light was none;
And God said, Throb; and there was motion,
And the vast mass became vast ocean.
Onward and on, the eternal Pan
Who layeth the world's incessant plan,
Halteth never in one shape,
But forever doth escape,
Like wave or flame, into new forms
Of gem, and air, of plants and worms.
I, that to-day am a pine,
Yesterday was a bundle of grass.
He is free and libertine,
Pouring of his power the wine
To every age, to every race,
Unto every race and age
He emptieth the beverage;
Unto each, and unto all,
Maker and original.
The world is the ring of his spells,
And the play of his miracles.
As he giveth to all to drink,
Thus or thus they are and think.
He giveth little or giveth much,
To make them several or such.
With one drop sheds form and feature,
With the second a special nature,
The third adds heat's indulgent spark,
The fourth gives light which eats the dark.
In the fifth drop himself he flings,
And conscious Law is King of Kings.
Pleaseth him the Eternal Child
To play his sweet will, glad and wild;
As the bee through the garden ranges,
From world to world the godhead changes;
As the sheep go feeding through the waste,
From form to form he maketh haste.
This vault which glows immense with light
Is the inn where he lodges for a night.
What recks such Traveller if the bowers
Which bloom and fade like summer flowers,
A bunch of fragrant lilies be,
Or the stars of eternity?
Alike to him the better, the worse,
The glowing angel, the outcast corse.
Thou metest him by centuries,
And lo! he passes like the breeze;
Thou seek'st in globe and galaxy,
He hides in pure transparency;
Thou askest in fountains and in fires,
He is the essence that inquires.
He is the axis of the star;
He is the sparkle of the spar;
He is the heart of every creature;
He is the meaning of each feature;
And his mind is the sky
Than all it holds more deep, more high."