The nature of Nature

Nature! great parent! whose unceasing hand
Rolls round the seasons of the changeful year,
How mighty, how majestic are thy works!
With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul,
That sees astonish'd, and astonish'd sings!
              (Thomson, The Seasons: Winter, 106-110)

By ceaseless action all that is subsists.
Constant rotation of th' unwearied wheel
That nature rides upon maintains her health,
Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads
An instant's pause, and lives but while she moves.
Its own revolvency upholds the world.
Winds from all quarters agitate the air,
And fit the limpid element for use,
Else noxious: oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams,
All feel the fresh'ning impulse, and are cleans'd
By restless undulation.
              (Cowper, The Task, Book 1: The Sofa, 358-68)

Sheltered within this little nook, and accustomed to the neighbourhood of the torrent, the boatman unloads his merchandize, and the artisan pursues his toil, regardless of the falling river, and inattentive to those thundering sounds which seem calculated to suspend all human activity in solemn and awful astonishment; while the imagination of the spectator is struck with the comparative littleness of fleeting man, busy with his trivial occupations, contrasted with the view of nature in all her vast, eternal, uncontrolable grandeur.
              (Helen Maria Williams, A Tour in Switzerland (1798), p. 63)

                        Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty!
              (Coleridge, "This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison" (1797), 59-64)

The budding twigs spread out their fan
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
              (Wordsworth, "Lines Written in Early Spring" (1798), 17-20)

From nature does emotion come, and moods
Of calmness equally are nature's gift
              (Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805), XII.1-2)

                        Above all,
One function of such mind had nature there
Exhibited by putting forth, in midst
Of circumstance most awful and sublime:
That domination which she oftentimes
Exerts upon the outward face of things,
So moulds them, and endues, abstracts, combines,
Or by abrupt and unhabitual influence
Doth make one object so impress itself
Upon all others, and pervade them so,
That even the grossest minds must see and hear
And cannot choose but feel.
              (Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805), XIII.73-86)

Dear Nature is the kindest mother still!
Though always changing, in her aspect mild;
From her bare bosom let me take my fill,
Her never-weaned, though not her favoured child.
Oh! she is fairest in her features wild,
Where nothing polished dares pollute her path
              (Byron, Childe Harold, Canto 2 (1812), 325-30)

I am the Earth,
Thy mother; she within whose stony veins,
To the last fibre of the loftiest tree
Whose thin leaves trembled in the frozen air,
Joy ran, as blood within a living frame,
When thou didst from her bosom, like a cloud
Of glory, arise -- a spirit of keen joy!
              (Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1818), I.i.152-8)

I love the verse that mild and bland
Breaths of green fields and open sky
I love the muse that in her hand
Bears wreaths of native poesy
Who walks nor skips the pasture brook
In scoren -- but by the drinking horse
Lean oer its little brig to look
How far the sallows lean accross
              (John Clare, "The Flitting" (1832), 161-168)

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Document created January 3rd 1999