Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals
(September 15, 1834):
No art can exceed the mellow beauty of one square rood of ground in the woods this afternoon. The noise of the locust, the bee, and the pine; the light, the insect forms, butterflies, cankerworms hanging, balloon-spiders swinging, devils-needles cruising, chirping grasshoppers; the tints and forms of the leaves and trees,—not a flower but its form seems a type, not a capsule but is an elegant seedbox,—then the myriad asters, polygalas, and golden-rods, and through the bush the far pines, and overhead the eternal sky.
Id. (December 2, 1834):
Blessed are the woods. In summer they shade the traveller from the sun; in winter, from the tooth of the wind; when there is snow, it falls level; when it rains, it does not blow in his face. There is no dust, and a pleasing fear reigns in their shade. Blessed are the woods!
Id. (December 14, 1834):
Nature in the woods is very companionable. There, my Reason and my Understanding are sufficient company for each other. I have my glees as well as my glooms alone.
Id. (March 19, 1835):
As I walked in the woods I felt what I often feel, that nothing can befal me in life, no calamity, no disgrace (leaving me my eyes) to which Nature will not offer a sweet consolation.
Id. (September 24, 1839):
Wise are ye, O ancient woods! wiser than
man. Whoso goeth in your paths or into your
thickets where no paths are, readeth the same
cheerful lesson whether he be a young child,
or a hundred years old, comes he in good fortune, or bad, ye say the same things, and from
age to age. Ever the needles of the pine grow
and fall, the acorns on the oak, the maples redden in autumn, and at all times of the year the
ground pine and the pyrola bud and root under
foot. What is called fortune and what is called
Time by men—ye know them not. Men have
not language to describe one moment of your
eternal life. This I would ask of you, O sacred
woods, when ye shall next give me somewhat
to say, give me also the tune wherein to say it.
Give me a tune of your own, like your winds
or rains or brooks or birds; for the songs of
men grow old when they have been often repeated, but yours, though a man have heard
them for seventy years, are never the same,
but always new, like time itself, or like love.
Id. (November 20, 1839):
How old, how aboriginal these
trees appear, though not many years older than
I. They seem parts of the eternal chain of destiny whereof this sundered will of man is the
victim. Is he proud, high-thoughted and reserved sometimes? Let him match if he can the
incommunicableness of these lofty natures, beautiful in growth, in strength, in age, in decay. The
invitation which these fine savages give, as you
stand in the hollows of the forest, works strangely
on the imagination. Little say they in recommendation of towns or a civil, Christian life.
Live with us, they say, and forsake these wearinesses of yesterday. Here no history or church
or state is interpolated on the divine sky and the
Id. (June 29, 1840):
And as I have
looked from this lofty rock lately, our human
life seemed very short beside this ever renewing
race of trees. Your life, they say, is but a few
spinnings of this top. Forever the forest germinates: forever our solemn strength renews its knots and nodes and leaf-buds and radicles.
Grass and trees have no individuals, as man
counts individuality. The continuance of their
race is immortality; the continuance of ours is
not. So they triumph over us; and when we
seek to answer, or to say something, the good
tree holds out a bunch of green leaves in your
face, or the woodbine five graceful fingers, and
looks so stupid-beautiful, so innocent of all argument, that our mouths are stopped and Nature has the last word.