Words matter. These are the best John Burroughs Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature. And the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.
Emerson is the spokesman and prophet of youth and of a formative, idealistic age. His is a voice from the heights which are ever bathed in the sunshine of the spirit. I find that something one gets from Emerson in early life does not leave him when he grows old.
Like tens of thousands of others, I have been a spectator of, rather than a participator in, the activities – political, commercial, sociological, scientific – of the times in which I have lived.
I went to the Lake District to see what kind of a country it could be that would produce a Wordsworth.
If you think you can do it, you can.
The homing instinct in birds and animals is one of their most remarkable traits: their strong local attachments and their skill in finding their way back when removed to a distance. It seems at times as if they possessed some extra sense – the home sense – which operates unerringly.
I am for 100 per cent Americanism, 100 per cent efficiency, and 100 per cent life. I expect to live to be 100 years old.
To strong, susceptible characters, the music of nature is not confined to sweet sounds.
Life is a struggle, but not a warfare.
More than any other poet, Whitman is what we make him; more than any other poet, his greatest value is in what he suggests and implies rather than in what he portrays, and more than any other poet must he wait to be understood by the growth of the taste of himself.
I crave and seek a natural explanation of all phenomena upon this earth, but the word ‘natural’ to me implies more than mere chemistry and physics. The birth of a baby and the blooming of a flower are natural events, but the laboratory methods forever fail to give us the key to the secret of either.
Unadulterated, unsweetened observations are what the real nature-lover craves. No man can invent incidents and traits as interesting as the reality.
Leap, and the net will appear.
We now use the word ‘nature’ very much as our fathers used the word ‘God.’
The type of mind of Whitman’s, which seldom or never emerges as a mere mentality, an independent thinking and knowing faculty, but always as a personality, always as a complete human entity, never can expound itself, because its operations are synthetic and not analytic; its mainspring is love and not mere knowledge.
Even in rugged Scotland, nature is scarcely wilder than a mountain sheep, certainly a good way short of the ferity of the moose and caribou.
The common bees will never use their sting upon the queen; if she is to be disposed of, they starve her to death, and the queen herself will sting nothing but royalty, nothing but a rival queen.
The dog is often quick to resent a kick, be it from man or beast, but I have never known him to show anger at the door that slammed to and hit him. Probably, if the door held him by his tail or his limb, it would quickly receive the imprint of his teeth.
The pond-lily is a star and easily takes the first place among lilies; and the expeditions to her haunts, and the gathering her where she rocks upon the dark, secluded waters of some pool or lakelet, are the crown and summit of the floral expeditions of summer.
A man can get discouraged many times but he is not a failure until he begins to blame somebody else and stops trying.
You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think.
The queen, I say, is the mother bee; it is undoubtedly complimenting her to call her a queen and invest her with regal authority, yet she is a superb creature and looks every inch a queen.
A sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter. It is the fruit of the equal marriage of the sun and frost.
Most young people find botany a dull study. So it is, as taught from the text-books in the schools; but study it yourself in the fields and woods, and you will find it a source of perennial delight.
Women are about the best lovers of nature, after all; at least of nature in her milder and more familiar forms. The feminine character, the feminine perceptions, intuitions, delicacy, sympathy, quickness, are more responsive to natural forms and influences than is the masculine mind.
How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
As with other phases of nature, I have probably loved the rocks more than I have studied them.
Some of the animals outsee man, outsmell him, outhear him, outrun him, outswim him, because their lives depend more upon these special powers than his does; but he can outwit them all because he has the resourcefulness of reason and is at home in many different fields.
I seldom go into a natural history museum without feeling as if I were attending a funeral.
Nearly every season, I make the acquaintance of one or more new flowers. It takes years to exhaust the botanical treasures of any one considerable neighborhood, unless one makes a dead set at it, like an herbalist.
Without the emotion of the beautiful, the sublime, the mysterious, there is no art, no religion, no literature.
No one else looks out upon the world so kindly and charitably as the pedestrian; no one else gives and takes so much from the country he passes through.
The art of the bird is to conceal its nest both as to position and as to material, but now and then it is betrayed into weaving into its structure showy and bizarre bits of this or that, which give its secret away and which seem to violate all the traditions of its kind.
Wisdom cannot come by railroad or automobile or aeroplane, or be hurried up by telegraph or telephone.
In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. Summer is more wooing and seductive, more versatile and human, appeals to the affections and the sentiments, and fosters inquiry and the art impulse.
The life of a swarm of bees is like an active and hazardous campaign of an army: the ranks are being continually depleted and continually recruited.
The spirit of man can endure only so much and when it is broken only a miracle can mend it.
Science has done more for the development of western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred years.
England is like the margin of a spring-run: near its source, always green, always cool, always moist, comparatively free from frost in winter and from drought in summer.
If America wishes to preserve her native birds, we must help supply what civilization has taken from them. The building of cities and towns, the cutting down of forests, and the draining of pools and swamps have deprived American birds of their original homes and food supply.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, but a state of mind.
A somebody was once a nobody who wanted to and did.
If one gains an interest in the history of the earth, he is quite sure to gain an interest in the history of the life on the earth. If the former illustrates the theory of development, so must the latter. The geologist is pretty sure to be an evolutionist.
I am sure I was an evolutionist in the abstract, or by the quality and complexion of my mind, before I read Darwin, but to become an evolutionist in the concrete, and accept the doctrine of the animal origin of man, has not for me been an easy matter.
I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.
Emerson was such an important figure in our literary history, and in the moral and religious development of our people, that attention cannot be directed to him too often.
The animal world seizes its food in masses little and big, and often gorges itself with it, but the vegetable, through the agency of the solvent power of water, absorbs its nourishment molecule by molecule.
Most birds are very stiff-necked, like the robin, and as they run or hop upon the ground, carry the head as if it were riveted to the body. Not so the oven-bird, or the other birds that walk, as the cow-bunting, or the quail, or the crow. They move the head forward with the movement of the feet.
Whitman was Emerson translated from the abstract into the concrete.
Blessed is the man who has some congenial work, some occupation in which he can put his heart, and which affords a complete outlet to all the forces there are in him.
My motto is never to try to imitate anybody: I have always looked inward and followed the inward voice.
A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.
I always feel that I have missed some good fortune if I am away from home when my bees swarm. What a delightful summer sound it is! How they come pouring out of the hive, twenty or thirty thousand bees, each striving to get out first!
Whitman will always be a strange and unwonted figure among his country’s poets, and among English poets generally: a cropping out again, after so many centuries, of the old bardic prophetic strain.
For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.
A plump, well-fed stream is as satisfying to behold as a well-fed animal or a thrifty tree. One source of charm in the English landscape is the full, placid stream the season through; no desiccated watercourses will you see there, nor any feeble, decrepit brooks, hardly able to get over the ground.
One may summon his philosophy when they are beaten in battle, not till then.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
All birds are incipient or would-be songsters in the spring. I find corroborative evidence of this even in the crowing of the cock.
The Infinite cannot be measured. The plan of Nature is so immense, but she has no plan, no scheme, but to go on and on forever. What is size, what is time, distance, to the Infinite? Nothing. The Infinite knows no time, no space, no great, no small, no beginning, no end.
Next to the laborer in the fields, the walker holds the closest relation to the soil; and he holds a closer and more vital relation to nature because he is freer and his mind more at leisure.
Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all – that has been my religion.
The phoebe-bird is a wise architect and perhaps enjoys as great an immunity from danger, both in its person and its nest, as any other bird. Its modest ashen-gray suit is the color of the rocks where it builds, and the moss of which it makes such free use gives to its nest the look of a natural growth or accretion.
I have discovered the secret of happiness. It is work.
The trunk of a tree is like a community where only one generation at a time is engaged in active business, the great mass of the population being retired and adding solidity and permanence to the social organism.
The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.
It is always easier to believe than to deny. Our minds are naturally affirmative.
The love of nature is a different thing from the love of science, though the two may go together.
I have discovered the secret of happiness – it is work, either with the hands or the head. The moment I have something to do, the draughts are open and my chimney draws, and I am happy.
Our flying squirrel is in no proper sense a flyer. On the ground, he is more helpless than a chipmunk, because less agile. He can only sail or slide down a steep incline from the top of one tree to the foot of another.
The red squirrel is more common and less dignified than the gray, and oftener guilty of petty larceny about the barns and grain-fields.
The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds – how many human aspirations are realized in their free, holiday-lives, and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!
Robin is one of the most native and democratic of our birds; he is one of the family, and seems much nearer to us than those rare, exotic visitants, as the orchard starling or rose-breasted grossbeak, with their distant, high-bred ways.
It seems to me that evolution adds greatly to the wonder of life because it takes it out of the realm of the arbitrary, the exceptional, and links it to the sequence of natural causation.
When Darwin published his conclusion that man was descended from an apelike ancestor who was again descended from a still lower type, most people were shocked by the thought; it was intensely repugnant to their feelings.
The naturist must see all things in the light of his experiences in this world.
The Nature Lover is not looking for mere facts but for meanings, for something he can translate into terms of his own life.
To regard the soul and body as one, or to ascribe to consciousness a physiological origin, is not detracting from its divinity; it is rather conferring divinity upon the body.
The human body is a steed that goes freest and longest under a light rider, and the lightest of all riders is a cheerful heart.
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.