Literary Takes on Nature and Environment

Across the ages, writers, poets, artists, filmmakers, photographers, and philosophers express themselves on the wonders and beauty of the natural world and on the harm often done to it. Many inspire us, many teach us, many remind us that while there is much to enjoy in the world, there is work to be done to ensure that it remains and thrives in a robust state not only for its wild denizens, but also for us and our children. As Thoreau asked, “What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

Shakespeare

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin…”

Troilus and Cressida

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

As You Like It

“But I am now about no waste; I am about thrift.”

The Merry Wives of Windsor

“We can never have enough of Nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and Titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets.”

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854)

 

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”

—John Keats

“Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him.”


—H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

“There is Another Sky”

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

—Emily Dickinson

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