Philosophy of Nature

Student Notes on the Transcendentalist Perspective of Nature

Man learns that Nature is awe-inspiring, all-powerful and full of dangerous beauty. Man is limited by nature's fences; there are some places in Nature that man is incapable of traversing--be it too daunting emotionally, as it was for Thoreau in Ktaadn, or simply a physical impossibility. Thoreau in "Walking" observes, "For my part I feel that with regard to Nature I live sort of a border life, on the confines of a world into which I make occasional and transient forays only. . . ." Man is so insignificant in the face of nature, our existence is untenable: Thoreau's "House-Warming" . . .

Jones Very—Selected Poetry

Poems about Nature


The bubbling brook doth leap when I come by,
Because my feet find measure with its call,
The birds know when the friend they love is nigh,
For I am known to them both great and small;
The flower that on the lovely hill-side grows
Expects me there when Spring its bloom has given;
And many a tree and bush my wanderings know,
And e'en the clouds and silent stars of heaven;
For he who with his Maker walks aright,
Shall be their lord as Adam was before;

Selected quotes from Coleridge relevant to Nature

Emerson and the other Transcendentalists were introduced to the philosophical thought of Coleridge, especially Aids to Reflection, by James Marsh of Vermont, perhaps the American birthplace of Transcendentalism. This connection has been well explored by Diane Yoder in the following excerpt from her thesis on "Satisfying the Head as Well as the Heart: James Marsh, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the American Transcendentalist Movement"

Man Thinking About Nature: The Evolution of the Poet's Form and Function in the Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1837-1852

S. H. Bagley, Honors Thesis, Oberlin College (April 2006)
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I think I could write a poem to be called "Concord." For argument I should have the River, the Woods, the Ponds, the Hills, the Fields, the Swamps and Meadows, the Streets and Buildings, and the Villagers. Then Morning, Noon, and Evening, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, Night, Indian Summer, and the Mountains in the Horizon. (1)

An Introduction to Nature

"The best way to get at Emerson is to come at him all at once, in the ninety-five pages of his little book called Nature, issued anonymously in 1836, which contains the compressed totality of all that he would subsequently patiently reveal. Revelation rather than logic was the instrument used by Emerson to delve toward truth. It was not his intention to create a philosophy or to codify thought. He distrusted logical arguments as man-made, and therefore inadequate because they are imperfect as man is imperfect.

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