I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a Freedom and Culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.
Nature has left nothing to the mercy of man.
Journal, 22 March 1861
Left to herself, nature is always more or less civilized, and delights in a certain refinement; but where the axe has encroached upon the edge of the forest, the dead and unsightly limbs of the pine, which she had concealed with green banks of verdure, are exposed to sight.
“A Walk to Wachusett”
I do not know where to find in any literature, whether ancient or modern, any adequate account of that Nature with which I am acquainted.
Journal, February 1851
For my part, I feel that with regard to Nature I live a sort of border life, on the confines of a world, into which I make occasional and transient forays only, and my patriotism and allegiance to the state into whose territories I seem to retreat are those of a moss-trooper. Unto a life which I call natural I would gladly follow even a will-o’-the-wisp through bogs and sloughs unimaginable, but no moon nor fire-fly has shown me the cause-way to it. Nature is a personality so vast and universal that we have never seen one of her features.
Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! the solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? where are we?
The Maine Woods
There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature and has his sense still.
We, too, are out, obeying the same law with all nature. Not less important are the observers of the birds than the birds themselves.
Journal, 20 March 1858
When I find a new and rare plant in Concord I seem to think it has but just sprung up here — that is is, and not I am, the newcomer — while it has grown here for ages before I was born.
Journal, 2 September 1856
If any part of nature excites our pity, it is for ourselves we grieve, for there is eternal health and beauty. We get only transient and partial glimpses of the beauty of the world. Standing at the right angle, we are dazzled by the colors of the rainbow in colorless ice. From the right point of view, every storm and every drop in it is a rainbow. Beauty and music are not mere traits and exceptions. They are the rule and character. It is the exception that we see and hear.
Journal, 11 December 1855