Environmental Literature / Nature Writing
7 8.5 01. The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel - Edward Abbey
They spent their wedding night in a grove of aspens a quarter mile from Henry's fire lookout cabin. He had left his truck parked at the door. They made love immediately and then lay awake for a time, still connected, still one flesh, smiling up at the stars and listening to the uproar of gunfire, bongo drums, bugles, coyote howls and drunken song from clearing around the cabin. Still in situ he felt himself swelling within her. She felt it too.
Henry--what're you doing? Who, me? No, him. That hain't me, Honeydew, thats Gawd Hisself entering into you: all ten inches of sacred cock. Ten inches my foot, you blasphemer. It's all I got, but there's more to come; it's the thought that counts. It's the diameter that fulfills. You mean the circumference. Don't be a pedant; if you're the Holy Ghost I'm the Virgin Mary. Not now you're not. Oh Henry, Henry, oh my God Henry I love you...
The leaves of the quaking aspens twinkled above them. A golden meteor soared eastward across the Pleiades. The new moon went down in the western sky and the sounds of the shivaree began to fade.
Nine thousand five hundred feet and ten inches above sea level.
1 10 02. Walden (Everyman's Library Classics) - Henry David Thoreau
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."
Talk of heaven! ye disgrace earth.
67 8.1 03. Moby-Dick or, The Whale - Herman Melville
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
3 10 04. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness - Edward Abbey
No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs--anything--but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.
2 10 05. The Nature of Things - Francis Ponge
Weary of holding back all the winter long, trees suddenly fancy they've been had. They can't keep it up a moment longer: they let fly with their words, a flood of them, an eruption of green. They try to achieve a complete leafing out of words. Who cares! It'll all straighten out as best it can. And in fact it does straighten out! No freedom at all in foliation...They fling out words at random, or so they believe, fling out twigs on which to hang still more words: "Our trunks are there," they think, "to take on everything." They do their best to hide, to blend in with one another. Believing they can say everything, blanket the whole world with a full range of words, they only say "trees." Incapable of even detaining the birds, which take off again, just as they are rejoicing at having produced such odd flowers. Ever the same leaf, ever the same way of unfolding, the same limits, forever identical leaves hung identically! Try one more leaf!--Same thing! Yet Another! Same Thing! Ultimately, nothing could ever stop them but this sudden observation: "There's no getting away from trees by way of trees." A new weariness, another change of mood. "Let it all turn yellow and fall. Comes the time of silence, the denuding, AUTUMN." - The Cycle of Seasons
4 9.3 06. Essays & Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Barne... - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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 acquaintences,--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 the 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.
3 9 07. Leaves of Grass (Barnes & Noble Classics) - Walt Whitman
A California song,
A prophecy and indirection, a thought impalpable to breathe as air,
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing, or hamadryads departing,
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the redwood forest dense.
Farewell my brethren,
Farewell O earth and sky, farewell ye neighboring waters,
My time has ended, my term has come.
Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore and the caves,
In the saline air from the sea in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for base and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes sounding musically driven by strong arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes, there in the redwood
I heard the might tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard not, the camp shanties echoed not,
The quick-ear'd teamsters and chain and jack-screw men heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years to
join the refrain,
But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,
Down from its lofty top rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs, out of its foot-thick bark,
That chant of the seasons and time, chant not of the past only but
You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial hardy life of me with joys 'mid rain and many a summer sun,
And the white snows and night and the wild winds;
O the great patient rugged joys, my soul's strong joys unreck'd by man,
(For know I bear the soul befitting me, I too have consciousness, identity,
And all the rocks and mountains have, and all the earth,)
Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
Our time, our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill'd our time,
With Nature's calm content, with tacit huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long,
For a superber race, they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate, in them ourselves ye forest kings.'
In them these skies and airs, these mountain peaks, Shasta, Nevadas,
These huge precipitous cliffs, this amplitude, these valleys, far Yosemite,
To be in them absorb'd, assimilated.
Then to a loftier strain,
Still prouder, more ecstatic rose the chant,
As if the heirs, the deities of the West,
Joining with master-tongue bore part.
Not wan from Asia's fetiches,
Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and
But come from Nature's long and harmless throes, peacefully builded thence,
These virgin lands, lands of the Western shore,
To the new culminating man, to you, the empire new,
You promis'd long, we pledge, we dedicate.
You occult deep volitions,
You average spiritual manhood, purpose of all, pois'd on yourself,
giving not taking law,
You womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and
love and aught that comes from life and love,
You unseen moral essence of all the vast materials of America, age
upon age working in death the same as life,)
You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould
the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space,
You hidden national will lying in your abysms, conceal'd but ever alert,
You past and present purposes tenaciously pursued, may-be
unconscious of yourselves,
Unswerv'd by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface;
You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts,
Here build your homes for good, establish here, these areas entire,
lands of the Western shore,
We pledge, we dedicate to you.
For man of you, your characteristic race,
Here may he hardy, sweet, gigantic grow, here tower proportionate to Nature,
Here climb the vast pure spaces unconfined, uncheck'd by wall or roof,
Here laugh with storm or sun, here joy, here patiently inure,
Here heed himself, unfold himself, (not others' formulas heed,)
here fill his time,
To duly fall, to aid, unreck'd at last,
To disappear, to serve.
Thus on the northern coast,
In the echo of teamsters' calls and the clinking chains, and the
music of choppers' axes,
The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the groan,
Such words combined from the redwood-tree, as of voices ecstatic,
ancient and rustling,
The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing,
All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving,
From the Cascade range to the Wahsatch, or Idaho far, or Utah,
To the deities of the modern henceforth yielding,
The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanity, the
settlements, features all,
In the Mendocino woods I caught.
The flashing and golden pageant of California,
The sudden and gorgeous drama, the sunny and ample lands,
The long and varied stretch from Puget sound to Colorado south,
Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier air, valleys and mountain cliffs,
The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow, the silent, cyclic chemistry,
The slow and steady ages plodding, the unoccupied surface ripening,
the rich ores forming beneath;
At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession,
A swarming and busy race settling and organizing everywhere,
Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the
To India and China and Australia and the thousand island paradises
of the Pacific,
Populous cities, the latest inventions, the steamers on the rivers,
the railroads, with many a thrifty farm, with machinery,
And wool and wheat and the grape, and diggings of yellow gold.
But more in you than these, lands of the Western shore,
(These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,)
I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years,
till now deferr'd,
Promis'd to be fulfill'd, our common kind, the race.
The new society at last, proportionate to Nature,
In man of you, more than your mountain peaks or stalwart trees imperial,
In woman more, far more, than all your gold or vines, or even vital air.
Fresh come, to a new world indeed, yet long prepared,
I see the genius of the modern, child of the real and ideal,
Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of
the past so grand,
To build a grander future.
1 10 08. The Second Four Books of Poems - W.S. Merwin
Did you exist
our clouds separated while it was still dark
then I could not sleep the sleep of a child
I got up to look for you
bringing my silence
all of it
no father in the house at least
I got my boat
that we had saved for each other
a white creature my
You rustled as it slid
I lay there
looking down while the mist was torn
was the Indian village
said to be drowned there
one glimpse and I would have hung
fixed in its sky
when the dawn was gone
and the morning star
and the wind
and the sun
and the calling around you - The Lake
13 9.2 09. Life on the Mississippi (Signet Classics) - Mark Twain
Here was a thing which had not changed; a score of years had not affected the water’s mulatto complexion in the least; a score of centuries would succeed no better, perhaps. It comes out of the turbulent, bank-carving Missouri, and every tumblerful of it hold nearly an acre of land in solution. I got this fact from the bishop of the diocese. If you will let your glass stand half an hour, you can separate the land from the water as easy as Genesis; and you will find them both good: the one is good to eat, the other is good to drink. The land is very nourishing, the water is thouroughly wholesome. The one appeases hunger; the other thirst. But the natives do not take them separately, but together, as nature mixed them. When they find an inch of mud in the bottom of the glass, they stir it up and then take the draught as they would gruel. It is difficult for a stranger to get used to this batter, but once used to it, he will prefer it to water. This is really the case. It is good for steamboating, and good to drink; but it is worthless for all other purposes, except baptizing.
4 9 010. Black Sun: A Novel - Edward Abbey
Cruising down the river, between gravel bars and submerged boulders, crashing through more minor rapids like the first, he enters deeper and deeper into the gorge, into deep shadows under a sky charged with evening sunlight, toward the beginning of the wilderness.
1 9 011. The Yosemite (Modern Library Classics) - John Muir
These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.
1 10 012. The River Sound: Poems - W.S. Merwin
The friends have gone home far up the valley
of that river into whose estuary
the man from England sailed in his own age
in time to catch sight of the late forests
furring in black the remotest edges
of the majestic water always it
appeared to me that he arrived just as
an evening was beginning and toward the end
of summer when the converging surface
lay as a single vast mirror gazing
upward into the pearl light that was
already stained with the first saffron
of sunset on which the high wavering trails
of migrant birds flowed southward as though there were
no end to them the wind had dropped and the tide
and the current for a moment seemed to hang
still in balance and the creaking and knocking
of wood stopped all at once and the known voices
died away and the smells and rocking
and starvation of the voyage had become
a sleep behind them as they lay becalmed
on the reflection of their Half Moon
while the sky blazed and then the time lifted them
up the dark passage they had no name for - Another River
2 9 013. Mountains and Rivers without End - Gary Snyder
Down the Great Central Valley's
blossoming almond orchard acres
lines of tree trunks shoot a glance through
as the rows flash by--
And the ground is covered with
cement culverts standing on end,
house-high & six feet wide
culvert after culvert far as you can see
mobile homes, pint-size portable housing, johnny-on-the-spots,
concrete freeway, overpass, underpass,
exit floreals, entrance curtsies, railroad bridge,
long straight miles of divider oleanders;
scrappy ratty grass and thistle, tumbled barn, another age
yards of tractors, combines lined up--
new bright-painted units down at one end,
old stuff broke and smashed down at the other,
cypress tree spires, frizzy lonely palm tree,
steep and gleaming
fertilizer tank towers fine-line catwalk in the sky--
covered with walnut ochard acreage
irrigated, pruned and trimmed;
with palleted stacks of cement bricks
waiting for yellow fork trucks;
quarter-acre stacks of wornout car tires,
dust clouds blowing off the new plowed fields,
taut-strung vineyards trimmed out even on the top,
cubic blocks of fresh fruit loading boxes,
long aluminum automated chicken-feeder houses,
spring fur on green weed
comes on last fall's hard-baked ground,
beyond "Blue Diamond Almonds"
come the rows of red-roofed houses
& the tower that holds catfood
with a red / white checkered sign
crows whuff over almond blossoms
beehives sit tight between fuit tree ranks
eucalyptus boughs shimmer in the wind--a pale blue hip-roof
house behind a weathered fence--
crows in the almonds
trucks on the freeways,
Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack,
rumble diesel depths,
like boulders bumping in an outwash glacial river
drumming to a not-so-ancient text
'The Great Central Plain of California
was one smooth bed of honey-bloom
400 miles, your foot would press
a hundred flowers at every step
it seemed one sheet of plant gold;
all the ground was covered
with radiant corollas ankle-deep:
bahia, madia, madaria, burielia,
wherever a bee might fly--'
us and our stuff just covering the ground. - Covers the Ground
3 9 014. Roughing It (Signet Classics) - Mark Twain
As the sun was going down, we saw the first specimen of an animal known familiarly over two thousand miles of mountain and desert--from Kansas clear to the Pacific Ocean--as the "jackass rabbit." He is well named. He is just like any other rabbit, except that he is from one third to twice as large, has longer legs in proportion to his size, and has the most preposterous ears that ever were mounted on any creature but a jackass.
1 9 015. William Wordsworth: Selected Poems - William Wordsworth
--It seems a day
(I speak of one from many singled out)
One of those heavenly days which cannot die;
When, in the eagerness of boyish hope,
I left our cottage threshold, sallying forth
with a huge wallet o'er my shoulder slung,
A nutting-crook in hand; and turned my steps
Toward some far distant wood, a figure quaint,
Tricked out in proud disguise of castoff weeds
Which for that service had been husbanded,
By exhortation of my frugal Dame--
Motley accouterment, of power to smile
At thorns, and brakes, and brambles--and, in truth,
More ragged than need was! O'er pathless rocks,
Through beds of matted fern, and tangled thickets,
Forcing my way, I came to one dear nook
Unvisited, where not a broken bough
Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious sign
Of devastation; but the hazels rose
Tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung,
A virgin scene!--A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and, with wise restraint
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed
The banquet--or beneath the trees I sate
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I played;
A temper known to those who, after long
And weary expectation, have been blessed
With sudden happiness beyond all hope.
Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons reappear
And fade, unseen by any human eye;
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
Forever; and I saw the sparkling foam,
And--with my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees,
Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep--
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
Tribute to ease; and, of its joy secure,
The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,
And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with crash
And merciless ravage: and the shady nook
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower,
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being: and, unless I now
Confound my present feelings with the past,
Ere from the mutilated bower I turned
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings,
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky--
Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades
In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand
Touch--for there is a spirit in the woods. - Nutting
4 9 016. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and ... - Aldo Leopold
Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.
37 8.4 017. The Lorax (Classic Seuss) - Theodor Seuss Geisel,Dr. Seuss
I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,
And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs" --
He was very upset as he shouted and puffed --
"What's that THING you've made out of my Truffula tuft?"
1 8 018. My First Summer in the Sierra (Modern Librar... - John Muir
One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature,--inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unsuspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.
I watched the growth of these red-lands of the sky as eagerly as if new mountain ranges were being built. Soon the groups of snowy peaks in whose recesses lie the highest fountains of the Tuolumne, Merced, and North Fork of the San Joaquin were decorated with the majestic colored clouds like those already described, but more complicated, to correspond with the grand fountain-heads of the rivers they overshadowed. The Sierra Cathedral, to the south of camp, was overshadowed like Sinai. Never before noticed so fine a union of rock and cloud in form and color and substance, drawing earth and sky together as one; and so human is it, every feature and tint of color goes to one's heart, and we shout, exulting in wild enthusiasm as if all the divine show were our own. More and more, in a place like this, we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, kin to everything.
2 9 019. A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Claman... - Edward Abbey
I come more and more to the conclusion that wilderness, in America or anywhere else, is the only thing left that is worth saving.
I'm in favor of animal liberation. Why? Because I'm an animal.
It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.
I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion.
Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and esthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one.
1 8 020. Runes of the North (The Fesler-Lampert Minne... - Sigurd F. Olson
Here, I thought, might be the last stand of man in North America. Should total war come, survivors here, unaware of what had happened down below, would struggle as they had always done, living off the land, building their shelters, and dreaming the long dreams that once again might mean man's rise from the primitive.
A movement beside me and I was back again beside our little fire on the ledge. It was time to go, for in spite of the moonlight, the trail would be rough. We had seen a vale of aspen in the old gold of dusk, a lake turning rose with the sunset, northern lights flaming across the heavens as a prelude to the moonrise itself. In the embers of our tiny flame I had remembered a night in the Athabasca country and on the tundra beyond the Arctic Circle. All this and the calling of a horned owl in the space of a few stolen hours.
1 9 021. No Nature: New and Selected Poems - Gary Snyder
Twin streaks twice higher than cumulus,
Precise plan icetracks in the vertical blue
Cloud-flaked light-shot shadow-arcing
Field of all future war, edging off to space.
Young expert U.S. pilots waiting
The day of criss-cross rockets
And white blossoming smoke of bomb,
The air world torn and staggered for these
Specks of brushy land and ant-hill towns--
I stumble on the cobble rockpath,
Passing through temples,
Watching for two-leaf pine
--spotting that design. - Vapor Trails
2 9 022. Turtle Island (New Directions Book) (New Dir... - Gary Snyder
Earth a flower
A Phlox on the steep
slopes of light
hanging over the vast
small rotten crystals;
Earth a flower
by a gulf where a raven
flaps by once
a glimmer, a color
forgotten as all
Snow-trickle, feldspar, dirt. - For Nothing
4 7.5 023. Walking : An Essay by Thoreau - Henry David Thoreau
We hug the earth,--how rarely we mount! Methinks we might elevate ourselves a little more. We might climb a tree, at least. I found my account in climbing a tree once. It was a tall white pine, on the top of a hill; and though I got well pitched, I was well paid for it, for I discovered new mountains in the horizon I had never seen before,--so much more of the earth and the heavens.
5 8 024. Blue Highways: A Journey into America - William Least Heat-Moon
What is it in man that for a long while lies unknown and unseen only one day to emerge and push him into a new land of the eye, a new region of the mind, a place he has never dreamed of? Maybe it's like the force in spores lying quietly under asphalt until the day they push a soft, bulbous mushroom head right through the pavement. There's nothing you can do to stop it.
2 8 025. The Mountains of California (Modern Library) - John Muir
So exquisitely harmonious and finely balanced are even the very mightiest of these monarchs of the woods in all their proportions and circumstances there never is anything overgrown or monstrous-looking about them. On coming in sight of them for the first time, you are likely to say, "Oh, see what beautiful, noble-looking trees are towering there among the firs and pines!"--their grandeur being in the meantime in great part invisible, but to the living eye it will be manifested sooner or later, stealing slowly on the senses, like the grandeur of Niagara, or the lofty Yosemite domes.
1 8 026. The Singing Wilderness (Fesler-Lampert Minne... - Sigurd F. Olson
There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten.
2 8 027. Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside - Edward Abbey
Machines are domineering, exclusive, destructive and costly; it is they and their operators who would deny the enjoyment of the back country to the rest of us. About 98 percent of the land surface of the contiguous USA already belongs to heavy metal and heavy equipment. Let us save the 2 percent--that saving remnant. Or better yet, expand, recover and reclaim much more of the original American wilderness.
3 7.5 028. Travels with Charley in Search of America: (... - John Steinbeck
I drove as slowly as custom and the impatient law permitted. That's the only way to see anything. Every few miles the states provided places of rest off the roads, sheltered places sometimes near dark streams. There were painted oil drums for garbage, and picnic tables, and sometimes fireplaces or barbeque pits. At intervals I drove Rocinante off the road and let Charley out to smell over the register of previous guests. Then I would heat my coffee and sit comfortably on my back step and contemplate wood and water and the quick-rising mountains with crowns of conifers and the fir trees high up, dusted with snow.
1 9 029. The First Four Books of Poems - W.S. Merwin
We were not even out of sight of land
That afternoon when we saw it. A good day
With the sea making but still light. Not
One of us would have hesitated
As to where we were, or mistaken the brown
cliffs of the town on top. Just after
The noon watch, it was, that it slid
Into our sight: a darkness under
The surface, between us and the land, twisting
Like a snake swimming or a line of birds
In the air. Then breached, big as a church,
Right there beside us. None of us will
Agree what it was we saw then, but
None of us showed the least surprise, and truly
I felt none. I would say its eyes
Were like the sea when the thick snow falls
Onto it with a whisper and slides heaving
On the gray water. And looked at us
For a long time, as though it knew us, but
Did not harm us at that time, sinking at last,
The waters closing like a rush of breath. Then
We were all ashamed at what we had seen,
Said it was only a sea-trick or
A dream we had all had together. As it
May have been, for since then we have forgotten
How it was that, on sea or land, once
We proved to ourselves that we were awake. - Sea Monster
1 8 030. The Log from the Sea of Cortez (Penguin Clas... - John Steinbeck
"Let us go," we said, "into the Sea of Cortez, realizing that we become forever a part of it; that our rubber boots slogging through a flat of eel-grass, that the rocks we turn over in a tide pool, make us truly and permanently a factor in the ecology of the region. We shall take something away from it, but we shall leave something too." And if we seem a small factor in a huge pattern, nevertheless it is of relative importance. We take a tiny colony of soft corals from a rock in a little water world. And that isn't terribly important to the tide pool. Fifty miles away the Japanese shrimp boats are dredging with overlapping scoops, bringing up tons of shrimps, rapidly destroying the species so that it may never come back, and with the species destroying the ecological balance of the whole region. That isn't very important in the world. And thousands of miles away the great bombs are falling and the stars are not moved thereby. None of it is important or all of it is.
1 8 031. Vegetation (French Series) - Francis Ponge
The magnolia blossom erupts in slow motion like a leisurely bubble on the thick skin of syrup that's turning to caramel.
(The caramel color of the leaves on the tree should be noted too.)
Once in full bloom, it represents total satisfaction, in keeping with the significant vegetal mass expressed there.
But it is not sticky; quite the contrary, it is cool and silky, in the same measure that the leaf seems glistening, coppery, dry and brittle. - The Magnolia
1 8 032. Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from ... - Edward Abbey
Sweet sweet wilderness! Soon ah too soon to vanish under noise dirt and confusion--one incredible crime after another: attack murder dishonor and befoulment follow greed, overwhelm this wild innocent and defenseless beauty...
1 8 033. Travels in Alaska (Modern Library Classics) - John Muir
Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.
1 10 034. Present Company - W.S. Merwin
And in the morning you are up again
with the way leading through you for a while
longer if the wind is motionless when
the cars reach where the asphalt ends a mile
or so below the main road and the waves
you rise into is different every time
and you are one with it until you have
made your way up to the top of your climb
and brightened in that moment of that day
and then you turn as when you rose before
in fire or wind from the ends of the earth
to pause here and you seem to drift away
on into nothing to lie down once more
until another breath brings you to birth - To the Dust of the Road
98 7.4 035. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
Sometimes he pursued the call into the forest, looking for it as though it were a tangible thing, barking softly or defiantly.
1 8 036. The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Fr... - Robert Frost
The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;
Not loth to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.
We ran as if to meet the moon
That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves,
Without the birds, without the breeze.
But once within the wood, we paused
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
Ready to run to hiding new
With laughter when she found us soon.
Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard, we knew we heard the brook.
A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fall that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade. - Going for Water
3 8.7 037. Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel and... - Walt Whitman,George 'Lord Byron' Gordon,Edna St. Vincent Millay,Robert Service,Bliss Carman,Robert Louis Stevenson,John Masefield,Langston Hughes,Many Others
A lone gray bird,
Alone in the shadows and grandeurs and tumults
Of night and the sea
And the stars and storms.
Out over the darkness it wavers and hovers,
Out into the gloom it swings and batters,
Out into the wind and the rain and the vast,
Out into the pit of a great black world,
Where fogs are at battle, sky-driven, sea-blown,
Love of mist and rapture of flight,
Glories of chance and hazards of death
On its eager and palpitant wings.
Out into the deep of the great dark world,
Beyond the long borders where foam and drift
Of the sundering waves are lost and gone
On the tides that plunge and rear and crumble.
1 8 038. Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry - Ted Kooser,Jim Harrison
How attentive the big bear resting his chin
on the bird feeder, an eye rolling toward my window
to see if he has permission for sunflower seeds.
1 9 039. Rain in the Trees - W.S. Merwin
Faces are bending over me asking why
they do not live here they do not know anything
there is a black river beyond the buildings
watching everything from one side
it is moving while I touch the tree
the black river says no my father says no
my mother says no in the streets they say nothing
they walk past one at a time in hats
with their heads down
it is wrong to answer them through the green fence
the street cars go by singing to themselves I am iron
the broom seller goes past in the sound of grass
by the tree touching the tree I hear the tree
I walk with the tree
we talk without anything
come late echoes of ferries chains whistles
tires on the avenue wires humming along windows
words flying out of rooms
the stones of the wall are painted white to be better
but at the foot of the tree in the fluttering light
I have dug a cave for a lion
a lion cave so the the cave will be there
among the roots waiting
when the lion comes to the tree - Touching the Tree
2 7 040. PrairyErth: A Deep Map - William Least Heat-Moon
On a rare day of near windlessness, I am sitting on a ridge that opens toward two smaller hills so similar they seem reflections. Unlike a forest, a grassland lets sound carry, and I can count distant prairie voices: a harrier, a meadowlark, an upland plover. Each calls in plaintive phrases as if it admitted the prairie solitude into its notes. When the air does move, it pulls from the bending grass around me a soft outrush like a deep breath slowly vented, the wind giving voice to the grass, and it lending a face to the wind.
1 9 041. Flower and Hand: Poems: 1977-1983 - W.S. Merwin
Against the south wall of a monastary
where it catches the first sun
a fig tree a shadowy fig tree
stands by the door
all around the flowing trunk
it is against
the law of the church to pull them out
nobody remembers why
tree roots older than the monastary - The Fig Tree
1 7 042. The Monkey Wrench Gang (P.S.) - Edward Abbey
"I hate that dam," Smith said. "That dam flooded the most beautiful canyon in the world."
"We know," Hayduke said. "We feel the same way you do. But let's think about easier things first. I'd like to knock down some of them power lines they're stringing across the desert. And those new tin bridges up by Hite. And the goddamned road-building they're doing all over the canyon country. We could put in a good year taking the fucking goddamned bulldozers apart."
"Hear, hear," the doctor said. "And don't forget the billboards. And the strip mines. And the pipeliners. And the new railroad from Black Mesa to Page. And the coal-burning power plants. And the copper smelters. And the uranium mines. And the nuclear power plants. And the computer centers. And the land and cattle companies. And the wildlife poisoners. And the people who throw beer cans along the highways."
"I throw beer cans along the fucking highways,' Hayduke said. 'Why the fuck shouldn't I throw beer cans along the fucking highways."
"Now, now. Don't be so defensive."
"Hell," Smith said, "I do it too. Any road I wasn't consulted about that I don't like, I litter. It's my religion."
1 7 043. A Boy's Will and North of Boston - Robert Frost
Come with rain. O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do tonight,
bath my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door. - To the Thawing Wind
1 7 044. Encounters with the Archdruid - John McPhee
Brower had dropped out of college when he was nineteen, and disapperead into the Sierra Nevada. He had spent his life defending mountain ranges and what, by extension, they symbolized, and one of the ironies of his life was that his love of the mountains had long since drawn him away from them and into buildings impertinently called skyscrapers, into congressional corridors, into temporary offices in hotel rooms, into battle after battle, and out of shape.
2 8 045. The Tracker - Tom Brown
Either by gift or by curse, I have a compulsion to know more about nature. I can never get enough. Everything I learn makes me see how much more there is to know and how little time there is in a lifetime to learn it all.
2 6 046. Down the River (Plume) - Edward Abbey
Before we go we will plant a tree. I cleared away some ragweed yesterday, dug a thigh-deep hole this morning, and planted a young budding cottonwood this afternoon. We soaked the hole with well water, mixed in the peat moss and the carefully set-aside topsoil, and lowered the root ball of the sapling into its new home. The tree shivered as I packed the earth around its base. A shiver of pleasure. A good omen. A few weeks of warm weather and the little green leaves will be trembling in the sunlight. A few good years and the tree will be shading the front porch and then the roof of the house. If the house is still here. If someone, or something, as I hope, is still enjoying this house, this place, this garden of rock and sand and paloverde, of sunshine and delight.
We ourselves may never see this cottonwood reach maturity, probably will never take pleasure in its shade or birds or witness the pale gold of its autumn leaves. But somebody will. Something will. In fifty years Tucson will have shrunk back to what it once was, a town of adobe huts by the trickling Santa Cruz, a happier place than it is now, and our tree will be here, with or without us. In that anticipation I find satisfaction enough. - Planting a Tree
1 7 047. Fire in the Earth - David Whyte
In midsummer, under the luminous
sky of everlasting light,
the laced structures of thought
like the filigrees of the white
dandelion turned pure white and
hovering at the edge of its own
discovery in flight. I'll do the same,
the shimmering dispersal of tented
lodge in the tangled landscape
the least discrimination. So let my own
escape the burning wreck of ambition,
through the hushed air, let them spread
into the tangled part of life that refuses
to be set straight.
Herod searched for days looking for
The mind's hunger for fame will hunt down
Let them find safety in the growing wild.
I'll not touch them there. - Midsummer Prayer
2 6 048. Fire on the Mountain - Edward Abbey
The nighthawks soared and plunged against the light, aware of the imminent sun. A raven croaked like a witch from a dead pine down below, reminding the nighthawks that their time was almost up. Magpies appeared, hungry birds in academic black and white, who squawked and squawled like quarreling theologians as they gathered. A canyon wren woke up, singing her trickling-water song.
"Is Heaven better than this place?" I asked.
"The climate's a little better here," Grandfather answered.
95 7.9 049. Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, 'cause "the West is the best." And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild. - Supertramp
1 7 050. Where Many Rivers Meet - David Whyte
For too many days now I have not written of the sea,
nor the rivers, nor the shifting currents
we find between the islands.
For too many nights now I have not imagined the salmon
threading the dark streams of reflected stars,
nor have I dreamt of his longing
nor the lithe swing of his tail toward dawn.
I have not given myself to the depth to which he goes,
to the cargoes of crystal water, cold with salt,
nor the enormous plains of ocean swaying beneath the moon.
I have not felt the lifted arms of the ocean
opening its white hands on the seashore,
nor the salted wind, whole and healthy
filling the chest with living air.
I have not heard those waves
fallen out of heaven onto earth,
nor the tumult of sound and satisfaction
of a thousand miles of ocean
giving up its strength on the sand.
But now I have spoken of that great sea,
the ocean of longing shifts through me,
the blessed inner star of navigation
moves in the dark sky above
and I am ready like the young salmon
to leave his river, blessed with hunger
for a great journey on the drawing tide. - Song for the Salmon
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