View Full Version : John Muir-Nature Writings

2003-05-21, 03:30
I just got the Library of America volume of John Muir-Nature Writings.In one volume it contains The Story of My Boyhood... and My First Summer in the Sierra, The Mountains of California, Stickeen, and a series of essays. I'm almost ashamed to admit it but I've never read John Muir before. This guy could really write. Apparently theres a reason he is still selling books. hafdome

2003-05-23, 06:58
I only know a few of his quotes, but always figured this one HAD to be the best. Did any one stand out from those you read?

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." ~John Muir

Rage in a Cage
2003-05-23, 13:45
Hey Rick I like the full version of that quote.

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer,.Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Natures peace flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drip off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail." John Muir

I have several that I printed out and keep for inspiration when I need it. Here is one of them-

"There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter." John Muir

And one last quote-

"It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!

If my soul could get away from this so-called prison, be granted all the list of attributes generally bestowed on spirits, my first ramble on spirit-wings would not be among the volcanoes of the moon. Nor should I follow the sunbeams to their sources in the sun. I should hover about the beauty of our own good star. I should not go moping among the tombs, not around the artificial desolation of men. I should study Nature's laws in all their crossings and unions; I should follow magnetic streams to their source and follow the shores of our magnetic oceans. I should go among the rays of the aurora, and follow them to their beginnings, and study their dealings and communions with other powers and expressions of matter. And I should go to the very center of our globe and read the whole splendid page from the beginning. But my first journeys would be into the inner substance of flowers, and among the folds and mazes of Yosemite's falls. How grand to move about in the very tissue of falling columns, and in the very birthplace of their heavenly harmonies, looking outward as from windows of ever-varying transparency and staining!

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and law-givers are ever at their wit's end devising. The hall and the theater and the church have been invented, and compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation? Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. Yet few think of pure rest or of the healing power of Nature.

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, unspendable 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.

On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death...Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony."

I Have always enjoyed writings such as the above. Some may say that they are out of place and out of date in modern society. My thought is that respect for nature does not operate on a dateline. I also believe that in the modern age we have more need of the type of healing that he so often speaks. Not just in nature but in ourselves as well. I know that I push myself to do more every day. At times there seems to be no escape from the injuries that accumulate just from existing in the rat race from day to day. It took me a long time to realize that I shouldn't think of my time in the wilderness as an escape but rather a time of healing. My time hiking and backpacking slows down the pace of my little world allowing my wounds to heal and my outlook on life to become more positive and much more focused.

Thanks hafdome for starting this thread and Thanks Rick for the quote that jarred my memory, reminding me that It is time to go and recieve some healing. Thanks Guys.:)

2003-05-23, 15:39
I'm still reading "My First Summer in the Sierra." I think that writers like Muir, Thoreau, and Emerson are just as good today as they ever were. They have stood the test of time. Wilderness travel isn't about getting away it is about going somewhere. Just one quick quote: "A sheep can hardly be called an animal; an entire flock is required to make one foolish individual."