Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature Essay

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature Essay

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"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 eyeball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836)

In his essay, "Nature", Ralph Waldo Emerson describes man's relationship to nature and to God. Early on, he describes himself as a "transparent eyeball." In this passage, he expresses his view that nature is purity. Emerson believes being in pure nature brings mankind closer to the way God intended life to be. Through nature man and God are brought together.
Emerson starts with a description of one who has the ideal relationship with nature, "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." Emerson is saying that man needs to retain wonder of nature, a quality often lost as a person ages. People become too distracted by petty conflicts that in Emerson's eyes, are ultimately insignificant.
Emerson states that "In the woods, we return to reason and faith." He is saying that when separated from human civilization we are pure. Without any distractions, we are able to see the world as it is most true. The world is as we as individuals choose to believe it (hence, faith). Man came from nature; in order to see the truth we have to be in a place that is not corrupted by humanity. Man returns to a simpler place, and thus is able...


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...ng in pure nature the flame of spirituality is re-ignited. The person is in a virtual Eden.
Since man can see all, it seems logical that therefore he can define it however he should choose (Emerson implies this later in the essay). Therefore, man also can define himself Man can create his own world in the world created for him. Unfortunately, this may again lead to the corrupt society that Emerson condemns.
Nature is the means for God and humanity to be reunited wholly. Emerson's enlightenment in the woods and his appreciation of natural beauty is quite profound. By becoming reconnected to the innocence, beauty and purity of nature Emerson had a revelation. He found himself closer to God. Perhaps Emerson is attempting to persuade us into fostering a greater respect for the natural world? He seems to be displeased with the "culturization" of wilderness.

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