Nature in Literature

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism, Romanticism Pages: 3 (1107 words) Published: October 12, 2012
Nature in Literature

Nature is one of the most powerful forces that has ran through literature throughout human history. Ever since the first recorded dramas and philosophical works, man could not avoid being in contact with the world around him, and so his connection to the earth must inevitably be part of his story. In literature, when nature is addressed, it is often in praise or awe, of its terror or of its beauty. Nature can represent the real and visceral as well as the sublime and the mystic. If one examines the work of the Transcendentalists, the Romantic Poets, and certain novelists, it is evident that the underlying feeling is that Nature provides inspiration and bliss, as well as a much-needed refuge from society.

One of the best known schools of thought which dealt with Nature in literature is Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist movement began in America in the 1800s. Transcendentalists believed that the divine could be reached through nature, by any man. The hallmark work of the movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature. The most famous section of the work is when Emerson recalls an experience he had in the woods, and says "I become a transparent eye-ball. . . . I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God." (Cromphout 210) Emerson tapped into an experience of non-being, connecting on a purely spiritual level through nature, without need of church or religion. Equally famed is Henry David Thoreau’s work Walden. In this classic, Thoreau captures the spirit of nature, solitude, and finding joy in both. As an experiment, Thoreau left society and went to live in a cabin on Walden Pond. In this famous statement, Thoreau sums up the mission of his experiment: "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 wanted...
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