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  • Writer's pictureRachel Sherlock

To the Waters and the Wild: 14 Quotes about the Beauty of Nature

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

Paysage (La rivière) by Paul Biva

As we move through spring and head towards summer, the world around us is waking up, sending forth a cacophony of colour. There are endless greens, and bursts of dappled flowers and sunlight. It’s not surprising that the beauty of the natural world has frequently been explored by authors and poets throughout the ages. Now more than ever, it’s important for us to cherish the earth and work to protect its resources and its beauty. With this in mind, here are a selection of quotes from literature that explore the beauty of nature and its impact on human imagination. Please feel free to add your own favourite quotes in the comments below.

Paysage de Riviere by Henri Biva
What would the world be, once bereft / Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left, / O let them be left, wildness and wet; / Long live the weeks and the wilderness yet.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 'Inversnaid'

A Stream in the Forest of Fontainbleau by Gustave Doré
We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Memory of a Wooded Island in the Baltic Sea by Gustav Carus
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.

Alice Walker

Roses by P.S. Krøyer
And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades —they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air.

― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Wild Asters by Dennis Miller Bunker
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures...shoots joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers

Rabindranath Tagore, 'The Stream of Life' Gitanjali (Song Offerings)

Landscape by Asher Durand
But nature, if you place your faith in it, dilutes that compulsion and other vanities. The wiggling gleam of flowing water, the romantic disk of the moon, the soothing enigma of starlight, the sight of wind-blown grass, whirling leaves, and large- crowned trees, the smell of woods soil, the extraordinary comfort, both emotional and physical, delivered by the sun, are free.

Edward Hoagland, 'I Have Seen an Elephant' On Nature: Selected Essay

Point Lobos, Monterey, California by Thomas Moran
The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

Les Nénuphar by Henri Biva
As soon as he had disappeared Deborah made for the trees fringing the lawn, and once in the shrouded wood felt herself safe...It was very quiet. The woods were made for secrecy. They did not recognise her as the garden did.

Daphne du Maurier, 'The Pool', Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories

The Three Tetons by Thomas Moran
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, / There is a rapture on a lonely shore, / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep sea, and music in its roar: / I love not Man the less, but Nature more.

Lord Byron, 'Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage'

The Trout Pool by Whittredge Worthington
The perfume of the flowers and of the bay tree are wafted on high, like incense. The birds sing sweet songs of praise to their Creator. In the tops of the trees, the soughing of the wind is like the hushed prayers of the multitude in some vast cathedral. Here the heart of man becomes impressionable.

William Wendt

A Woodland Stream by Henri Biva
Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.

C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

The Pink Orchard by Vincent Van Gogh
Her eye fell everywhere on lawns and plantations of the freshest green; and the trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state when farther beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination.

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Le Boulot blanc by Antoine Chintreuil
Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.

Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Soluppgång över landskap med vatten by Anna Gardell Ericson
On any other day she would have stood barefoot on the wet grass listening to the mockingbirds' early service; she would have pondered over the meaninglessness of silent, austere beauty renewing itself with every sunrise and going ungazed at by half the world. She would have walked beneath yellow-ringed pines rising to a brilliant eastern sky, and her senses would have succumbed to the joy of the morning.

Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

This article was originally written for and published on April 13, 2018.

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