Last modified on 5 September 2014, at 09:22

Nature

Nature, derived from the Latin word natura, for "essential qualities, innate disposition", and in ancient times, this literally referred to "birth"; in a broader sense, it has been applied to the entire physical or material world, and in some mystical or metaphysical uses to realms of relationships beyond these. Natura was a Latin translation of the Greek word φύσις (physis), which originally related to the intrinsic characteristics that plants, animals, and other features of the world develop of their own accord. "Nature" or "the natural world" usually refers to the phenomena of the physical world, including the processes and states of life within it, in ranges of scale from the subatomic to the cosmic. The concepts of nature as a whole being equivalent to the the physical universe and its observed or observable processes involves both expansions and contractions of the original notions; such began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers, and have steadily gained currency ever since, with such usage firmly established during the advent of modern scientific methods in the last several centuries.

For personifications of nature, see the page Mother Nature; not that there may invariably be some overlap between that page and this.

QuotesEdit

  • If there's a power above us, (and that there is all nature cries aloud
    Through all her works) he must delight in virtue.
  • Nature too unkind;
    That made no medicine for a troubled mind!
  • Rich with the spoils of nature.
  • There are no grotesques in nature; not anything framed to fill up empty cantons, and unnecessary spaces.
  • Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature, they being both servants of his providence: art is the perfection of nature; were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos; nature hath made one world, and art another. In brief, all things are artificial; for nature is the art of God.
  • Look abroad through Nature's range,
    Nature's mighty law is change.
  • How Strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!
  • Die Natur verbirgt ihr Geheimnis durch die Erhabenheit ihres Wesens, aber nicht durch List.
    • Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse.
      • Albert Einstein, as quoted in Subtle is the Lord — The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (1982) by Abraham Pais
  • Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.  Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.  To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.
    • Albert Einstein, Response to atheist Alfred Kerr in the winter of 1927, who after deriding ideas of God and religion at a dinner party in the home of the publisher Samuel Fischer, had queried him "I hear that you are supposed to be deeply religious" as quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler, p. 157 London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson
  • Der Glaube an eine vom wahrnehmenden Subjekt unabhängige Außenwelt liegt aller Naturwissenschaft zugrunde.
    • The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science.
      • Albert Einstein
      • First sentence of "Maxwells Einfluss auf die Entwicklung der Auffassung des Physikalisch-Realen". Manuscript at the Hebrew University Jerusalem alberteinstein.info, From "Maxwell's Influence on the Evolution of the Idea of Physical Reality," 1931. Available in Einstein Archives: 65-382.
  • Our experience hitherto justifies us in trusting that nature is the realization of the simplest that is mathematically conceivable.  I am convinced that purely mathematical construction enables us to find those concepts and those lawlike connections between them that provide the key to the understanding of natural phenomena.  Useful mathematical concepts may well be suggested by experience, but in no way can they be derived from it.  Experience naturally remains the sole criterion of the usefulness of a mathematical construction for physics.  But the actual creative principle lies in mathematics.  Thus, in a certain sense, I take it to be true that pure thought can grasp the real, as the ancients had dreamed.
  • I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one.  You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.  I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
    • Albert Einstein, Letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)
  • A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
    • Albert Einstein, Letter of 1950, as quoted in The New York Times (29 March 1972) and The New York Post (28 November 1972).  However, The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (Princeton University Press, 2005: ISBN 0691120749), p. 206, has a different and presumably more accurate version of this letter, which she dates to February 12, 1950 and describes as "a letter to a distraught father who had lost his young son and had asked Einstein for some comforting words":

      A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.  Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

      Letter transcript and photograph
  • To think with fear of the end of one's life is pretty general with human beings.  It is one of the means nature uses to conserve the life of the species.  Approached rationally that fear is the most unjustified of all fears, for there is no risk of any accidents to one who is dead or not yet born.  In short, the fear is stupid but it cannot be helped.
    • Albert Einstein, Letter to Eileen Danniheisser (1953), quoted in Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel by Banesh Hoffman (1973), p. 261.  The exact date, or the name of his correspondent, is not given in the snippet of the book available online, but the quote appears after the letter to the Queen of Belgium from 12 January 1953, and is prefaced by "Nine months later, in words that recall the beliefs of an early atomic speculator, the Roman poet Lucretius, Einstein had written to an inquirer", followed by the quote.  The name "Eileen Danniheisser" is given in Time: Volume 144, where it is mentioned in the snippets here and here that she had written Einstein "about her obsessive thoughts of death as a child".
  • Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.  One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships.  In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.
  • Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift.
  • Never before have I lived through a storm like the one this night.  …  The sea has a look of indescribable grandeur, especially when the sun falls on it.  One feels as if one is dissolved and merged into Nature.  Even more than usual, one feels the insignificance of the individual, and it makes one happy.
  • I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
    • Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1979) by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann, p. 39 - draft of a German reply to a letter sent to him in 1954 or 1955 (also not known if this reply was sent).
  • The whole of nature is life.
    • Albert Einstein, Einstein and the Poet by William Hermanns (1983), second conversation, 1943, p. 64
  • Wait a minute! I am not a mystic. Trying to find out the laws of nature has nothing to do with mysticism, though in the face of creation I feel very humble. It is as if a spirit is manifest infinitely superior to man's spirit. Through my pursuit in science I have known cosmic religious feelings. But I don't care to be called a mystic.
    • Albert Einstein, Einstein and the Poet by William Hermanns (1983), fourth conversation, 1954, p. 117
  • Laughing at mankind is rather weary rot, I think. We shall never meet with anyone nicer. Nature, whom I used to be keen on, is too unfair. She evokes plenty of high & exhausting feelings, and offers nothing in return.
    • E. M. Forster, Selected Letters: Letter 57, to Arthur Cole (7 July 1905)
  • I am not insensible to natural beauty, but my emotional joys center on the improbable yet sometimes wondrous works of that tiny and accidental evolutionary twig called Homo sapiens. And I find, among these works, nothing more noble than the history of our struggle to understand nature — a majestic entity of such vast spatial and temporal scope that she cannot care much for a little mammalian afterthought with a curious evolutionary invention, even if that invention has, for the first time in some four billion years of life on earth, produced recursion as a creature reflects back upon its own production and evolution. Thus, I love nature primarily for the puzzles and intellectual delights that she offers to the first organ capable of such curious contemplation.
  • Mountains are earth's undecaying monuments.
  • Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque revenit.
    • You can drive nature out with a pitchfork, she will nevertheless come back.
    • Horace (65-8 BC), Epistles I.X.24
  • Nature is today more than ever conceived as a mere tool of man. It is the object of total exploitation that has no aim set by reason, and therefore no limit. Man’s boundless imperialism is never satisfied. The dominion of the human race over the earth has no parallel in those epochs of natural history in which other animal species represented the highest forms of organic development. Their appetites were limited by the necessities of their physical existence. Indeed, man’s avidity to extend his power in two infinities, the microcosm and the universe, does not arise directly from his own nature, but from the structure of society. Just as attacks of imperialistic nations on the rest of the world must be explained on the basis of their internal struggles rather than in terms of their so-called national character, so the totalitarian attack of the human race on anything that it excludes from itself derives from interhuman relationships rather than from innate human qualities. The warfare among men in war and in peace is the key to the insatiability of the species and to its ensuing practical attitudes, as well as to the categories and methods of scientific intelligence in which nature appears increasingly under the aspect of its most effective exploitation.
  • In the name of Nature the enlightened Holbach calls for the defense of one’s country not only against external enemies but against internal tyrants. But what does he mean by “Nature"? There is nothing outside her; she is one and all at once. Man shall discover her laws, admire her inexhaustible energy, use his discoveries for his own happiness, and resign himself to his ignorance of her last, her ultimate causes which are impenetrable. With his whole being man belongs to her. The abstract entity which, according to such materialists, forms the basis of right conduct is as indeterminate as the Deus absconditus of the Protestants, and the promise of happiness in this world is as problematical as bliss in the next, which is extremely uncertain. The naturalistic doctrine agrees with the theological doctrine it opposes in identifying what is most permanent and powerful with what is most exalted and worthy of love — as if this were a matter of course.
    • Max Horkheimer, “Theism and Atheism” (1963), in Critique of Instrumental Reason (1974)
  • A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability. "One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever."
  • There's nothing that tastes of death more than the summer sun, the powerful light, exuberant nature. You sniff the air and listen to the woods and know that the plants and animals don't give a damn about you. Everything lives and consumes itself. Nature is death...
  • We might have a chance now to rebuild it all with what we have left. We might have learned that we can exist only as a part of nature, not apart from nature.
  • Nature, even when she is scant and thin outwardly, satisfies us still by the assurance of a certain generosity at the roots.
  • Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.
  • Nature never did betray
    The Heart that Loved her.
  • Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.
    • William Ruckelshaus, first EPA Adminstrator, (1970-1973 and 1983-1985), Business Week (18 June 1990)
  • Perhaps I am just a hopeless rationalist, but isn't fascination as comforting as solace? Isn't nature immeasurably more interesting for its complexities and its lack of conformity to our hopes? Isn't curiosity as wondrously and fundamentally human as compassion?
  • The belief that we can manage the Earth and improve on Nature is probably the ultimate expression of human conceit, but it has deep roots in the past and is almost universal.
    • Rene J. Dubos, (1901-1982), The Wooing of the Earth (1980)
  • When man tries to fight nature, he invariably loses. Nature invariably wins. It is only when man is wise enough to live with nature that he really gets anywhere.
    • Elmer T. Peterson, Cities Are Abnormal (1946)
  • The famous balance of nature is the most extraordinary of all cybernetic systems. Left to itself, it is always self-regulated.
    • Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), Saturday Review (8 June 1963)
  • The true beauty of nature is her amplitude; she exists neither for nor because of us, and possesses a staying power that all our nuclear arsenals cannot threaten (much as we can easily destroy our puny selves).
  • The Wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.
    • Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), Today and All Its Yesterdays (1958)
  • To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.
    • Terry Tempest Williams, testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Forest & Public Lands Management regarding the Utah Public Lands Management Act of 1995 (Washington, D.C., 13 July 1995), published in Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (2001), page 75
  • A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.
  • Children learn the fundamental principles of natural law at a very early age.  Thus they very early understand that one child must not, without just cause, strike or otherwise hurt, another; that one child must not assume any arbitrary control or domination over another; that one child must not, either by force, deceit, or stealth, obtain possession of anything that belongs to another; that if one child commits any of these wrongs against another, it is not only the right of the injured child to resist, and, if need be, punish the wrongdoer, and compel him to make reparation, but that it is also the right, and the moral duty, of all other children, and all other persons, to assist the injured party in defending his rights, and redressing his wrongs.  These are fundamental principles of natural law, which govern the most important transactions of man with man.  Yet children learn them earlier than they learn that three and three are six, or five and five ten.  Their childish plays, even, could not be carried on without a constant regard to them; and it is equally impossible for persons of any age to live together in peace on any other conditions.
  • If justice be not a natural principle, it is no principle at all.  If it be not a natural principle, there is no such thing as justice.  If it be not a natural principle, all that men have ever said or written about it, from time immemorial, has been said and written about that which had no existence.  If it be not a natural principle, all the appeals for justice that have ever been heard, and all the struggles for justice that have ever been witnessed, have been appeals and struggles for a mere fantasy, a vagary of the imagination, and not for a reality.

    If justice be not a natural principle, then there is no such thing as injustice; and all the crimes of which the world has been the scene, have been no crimes at all; but only simple events, like the falling of the rain, or the setting of the sun; events of which the victims had no more reason to complain than they had to complain of the running of the streams, or the growth of vegetation.

    If justice be not a natural principle, governments (so-called) have no more right or reason to take cognizance of it, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance of it, than they have to take cognizance, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance, of any other nonentity; and all their professions of establishing justice, or of maintaining justice, or of rewarding justice, are simply the mere gibberish of fools, or the frauds of imposters.

    But if justice be a natural principle, then it is necessarily an immutable one; and can no more be changed—by any power inferior to that which established it—than can the law of gravitation, the laws of light, the principles of mathematics, or any other natural law or principle whatever; and all attempts or assumptions, on the part of any man or body of men—whether calling themselves governments, or by any other name—to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion, in the place of justice, as a rule of conduct for any human being, are as much an absurdity, an usurpation, and a tyranny, as would be their attempts to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion in the place of any and all the physical, mental, and moral laws of the universe.

    If there be any such principle as justice, it is, of necessity, a natural principle; and, as such, it is a matter of science, to be learned and applied like any other science.  And to talk of either adding to, or taking from, it, by legislation, is just as false, absurd, and ridiculous as it would be to talk of adding to, or taking from, mathematics, chemistry, or any other science, by legislation.

  • If there be such a principle as justice, or natural law, it is the principle, or law, that tells us what rights were given to every human being at his birth; what rights are, therefore, inherent in him as a human being, necessarily remain with him during life; and, however capable of being trampled upon, are incapable of being blotted out, extinguished, annihilated, or separated or eliminated from his nature as a human being, or deprived of their inherent authority or obligation.

    On the other hand, if there be no such principle as justice, or natural law, then every human being came into the world utterly destitute of rights; and coming into the world destitute of rights, he must necessarily forever remain so.  For if no one brings any rights with him into the world, clearly no one can ever have any rights of his own, or give any to another.  And the consequence would be that mankind could never have any rights; and for them to talk of any such things as their rights, would be to talk of things that never had, never will have, and never can have any existence.

  • If there be in nature such a principle as justice, it is necessarily the only political principle there ever was, or ever will be.  All the other so-called political principles, which men are in the habit of inventing, are not principles at all.  They are either the mere conceits of simpletons, who imagine they have discovered something better than truth, and justice, and universal law; or they are mere devices and pretences, to which selfish and knavish men resort as means to get fame, and power, and money.
  • Myriads of rivulets hurrying through the lawn,
    The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
    And murmuring of innumerable bees.
  • I care not, Fortune, what you me deny;
    You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace,
    You cannot shut the windows of the sky,
    Through which Aurora shows her brightening face
    ;
    You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
    The woods and lawns, by living stream, at eve.
  • O nature! * * *
    Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works;
    Snatch me to Heaven.
  • Rocks rich in gems, and Mountains big with mines,
    That on the high Equator, ridgy, rise,
    Whence many a bursting Stream auriferous plays.
  • Qu’est-ce que la tolérance? c’est l’apanage de l’humanité. Nous sommes tous pétris de faiblesses et d’erreurs; pardonnons-nous réciproquement nos sottises, c’est la première loi de la nature.
    • What is tolerance?  It is the consequence of humanity.  We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly—that is the first law of nature.
  • La vertu suppose la liberté, comme le transport d’un fardeau suppose la force active. Dans la contrainte point de vertu, et sans vertu point de religion. Rends-moi esclave, je n’en serai pas meilleur. Le souverain même n’a aucun droit d’employer la contrainte pour amener les hommes à la religion, qui suppose essentiellement choix et liberté. Ma pensée n’est pas plus soumise à l’autorité que la maladie ou la santé.
    • Virtue supposes liberty, as the carrying of a burden supposes active force.  Under coercion there is no virtue, and without virtue there is no religion.  Make a slave of me, and I shall be no better for it.  Even the sovereign has no right to use coercion to lead men to religion, which by its nature supposes choice and liberty.  My thought is no more subject to authority than is sickness or health.
      • Voltaire, "Canon Law: Ecclesiastical Ministry," Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (1771)
  • Calvin: That's the problem with nature. Something's always stinging you or oozing mucus on you. Let's go watch TV.
  • Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature's inexorable imperative.
    • H.G. Wells (1866-1946), Mind at the End of Its Tether, 1945
  • Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.
  • A childish feeling, I admit, but, when we retire from the conventions of society and draw close to nature, we involuntarily become children: each attribute acquired by experience falls away from the soul, which becomes anew such as it was once and will surely be again.
  • In simple hearts the feeling for the beauty and grandeur of nature is a hundred-fold stronger and more vivid than in us, ecstatic composers of narratives in words and on paper.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 544-48.
  • No one finds fault with defects which are the result of nature.
  • Nature's great law, and law of all men's minds?—
    To its own impulse every creature stirs;
    Live by thy light, and earth will live by hers!
  • At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
    And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove,
    When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,
    And nought but the nightingale's song in the grove.
  • I trust in Nature for the stable laws
    Of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant
    And Autumn garner to the end of time.
    I trust in God—the right shall be the right
    And other than the wrong, while he endures;
    I trust in my own soul, that can perceive
    The outward and the inward, Nature's good
    And God's.
  • To him who in the love of Nature holds
    Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
    A various language.
  • See one promontory (said Socrates of old), one mountain, one sea, one river, and see all.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section 2. Memb. 4. Subsec. 7
  • I am a part of all you see
    In Nature: part of all you feel
    :
    I am the impact of the bee
    Upon the blossom; in the tree
    I am the sap — that shall reveal
    The leaf, the bloom — that flows and flutes
    Up from the darkness through its roots.
  • Nature vicarye of the Almighty Lord.
  • Not without art, but yet to Nature true.
  • Ab interitu naturam abhorrere.
    • Nature abhors annihilation.
    • Cicero, De Finibus, V. 11. 3
  • Meliora sunt ea quæ natura quam illa quæ arte perfecta sunt.
    • Things perfected by nature are better than those finished by art.
    • Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II. 34
  • Nature, exerting an unwearied power,
    Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower;
    Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads
    The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads.
  • Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
    Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
    The tone of languid Nature.
  • What is bred in the bone will not come out of the flesh.
    • Quoted by DeFoe, Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
  • Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop.
    • Drive the natural away, it returns at a gallop.
    • Philippe Néricault Destouches, Glorieux, IV, 3. Idea in La Fontaine, Fables, Book II. 18. Chassez les prejugés par la porte, ils rentreront par la fenêtre. As used by Frederick the Great, Letter to Voltaire (19 March 1771)
  • Whate'er he did, was done with so much ease,
    In him alone 't was natural to please.
    • John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part I, line 27
  • By viewing nature, nature's handmaid, art,
    Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow;
    Thus fishes first to shipping did impart,
    Their tail the rudder, and their head the prow.
  • For Art may err, but Nature cannot miss.
  • Ever charming, ever new,
    When will the landscape tire the view?
  • Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
  • By fate, not option, frugal Nature gave
    One scent to hyson and to wall-flower,
    One sound to pine-groves and to water-falls,
    One aspect to the desert and the lake.
    It was her stern necessity: all things
    Are of one pattern made; bird, beast, and flower,
    Song, picture, form, space, thought, and character
    Deceive us, seeming to be many things,
    And are but one.
  • Nature seems to wear one universal grin.
  • As distant prospects please us, but when near
    We find but desert rocks and fleeting air.
  • To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
    One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
  • E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
    E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
    • Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 23
  • What Nature has writ with her lusty wit
    Is worded so wisely and kindly
    That whoever has dipped in her manuscript
    Must up and follow her blindly.
    Now the summer prime is her blithest rhyme
    In the being and the seeming,
    And they that have heard the overword
    Know life's a dream worth dreaming.
  • That undefined and mingled hum,
    Voice of the desert never dumb!
  • Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurrit.
    • You may turn nature out of doors with violence, but she will still return.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 10. 24. ( Expelles in some versions)
  • Nunquam aliud Natura aliud Sapientia dicit.
    • Nature never says one thing, Wisdom another.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIV. 321
  • No stir of air was there,
    Not so much life as on a summer's day
    Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
    But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
  • Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-with-holding and free
    Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
  • O what a glory doth this world put on
    For him who, with a fervent heart, goes forth
    Under the bright and glorious sky, and looks
    On duties well performed, and days well spent!
    For him the wind, ay, and the yellow leaves,
    Shall have a voice, and give him eloquent teachings.
  • And Nature, the old nurse, took
    The child upon her knee,
    Saying: Here is a story-book
    Thy Father has written for thee.

    Come, wander with me, she said,
    Into regions yet untrod;
    And read what is still unread
    In the manuscripts of God.
  • So Nature deals with us, and takes away
    Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
    Leads us to rest so gently, that we go,
    Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
    Being too full of sleep to understand
    How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
  • Nature with folded hands seemed there,
    Kneeling at her evening prayer!
  • I'm what I seem; not any dyer gave,
    But nature dyed this colour that I have.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XIV, Epigram 133. Translation by Wright
  • But on and up, where Nature's heart
    Beats strong amid the hills.
  • Beldam Nature.
    • John Milton, At a Vacation Exercise in the College, 1. 48
  • Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth
    With such a full and unwithdrawing hand,
    Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks,
    Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable,
    But all to please and sate the curious taste?
  • And live like Nature's bastards, not her sons.
  • Into this wild abyss,
    The womb of Nature and perhaps her grave.
  • Thus with the year
    Seasons return, but not to me returns
    Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
    Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
    Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
    But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
    Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
    Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
    Presented with a universal blank
    Of Nature's works to me expunged and rased,
    And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
  • Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part;
    Do thou but thine!
  • Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.
  • And not from Nature up to Nature's God,
    But down from Nature's God look Nature through.
  • There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
    As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet.
  • And we, with Nature's heart in tune,
    Concerted harmonies.
  • Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
    And catch the manners living as they rise.
  • Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
    My footstool Earth, my canopy the skies.
  • All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
    Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
    That chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same,
    Great in the earth as in th' ethereal frame;
    Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
    Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
    Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all extent,
    Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
    Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
    As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart.
  • See plastic Nature working to this end,
    The single atoms each to other tend,
    Attract, attracted to, the next in place
    Form'd and impell'd its neighbor to embrace.
  • Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
    But looks through Nature up to Nature's God.
    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle IV, line 331. (Verbatim from Bolingbroke—Letters to Pope, according to Warton).
  • Ut natura dedit, sic omnis recta figura.
  • Naturæ sequitur semina quisque suæ.
    • Every one follows the inclinations of his own nature.
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegiæ, III. 9. 20
  • Natura abhorret vacuum.
  • Der Schein soll nie die Wirklichkeit erreichen
    Und siegt Natur, so muss die Kunst entweichen.
    • The ideal should never touch the real;
      When nature conquers, Art must then give way.
    • Schiller. To Goethe when he put Voltaire's Mahomet on the Stage, Stanza 6
  • Some touch of Nature's genial glow.
  • Oh, Brignall banks are wild and fair,
    And Greta woods are green,
    And you may gather garlands there
    Would grace a summer queen.
  • To hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to Nature; to shew virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
  • And Nature does require
    Her times of preservation, which perforce
    I, her frail son, amongst my brethren mortal,
    Must give my tendance to.
  • My banks they are furnish'd with bees,
    Whose murmur invites one to sleep;
    My grottoes are shaded with trees,
    And my hills are white over with sheep.
  • Yet neither spinnes, nor cards, ne cares nor fretts,
    But to her mother Nature all her care she letts.
  • For all that Nature by her mother-wit
    Could frame in earth.
    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book IV, Canto X, Stanza 21
  • What more felicitie can fall to creature
    Than to enjoy delight with libertie,
    And to be lord of all the workes of Nature,
    To raine in th' aire from earth to highest skie,
    To feed on flowres and weeds of glorious feature.
  • Once, when the days were ages,
    And the old Earth was young,
    The high gods and the sages
    From Nature's golden pages
    Her open secrets wrung.
  • A voice of greeting from the wind was sent;
    The mists enfolded me with soft white arms;
    The birds did sing to lap me in content,
    The rivers wove their charms,—
    And every little daisy in the grass
    Did look up in my face, and smile to see me pass!
  • In the world's audience hall, the simple blade of grass sits on the same carpet with the sunbeams, and the stars of midnight.
  • Nothing in Nature is unbeautiful.
  • Talk not of temples, there is one
    Built without hands, to mankind given;
    Its lamps are the meridian sun
    And all the stars of heaven,
    Its walls are the cerulean sky,
    Its floor the earth so green and fair,
    The dome its vast immensity
    All Nature worships there!
  • La Nature a toujours été en cux plus forte que l'education.
    • Nature has always had more force than education.
    • Voltaire, Life of Molière
  • And recognizes ever and anon
    The breeze of Nature stirring in his soul.
  • Ah, what a warning for a thoughtless man,
    Could field or grove, could any spot of earth,
    Show to his eye an image of the pangs
    Which it hath witnessed; render back an echo
    Of the sad steps by which it hath been trod!
  • The streams with softest sound are flowing,
    The grass you almost hear it growing,
    You hear it now, if e'er you can.
  • Nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her.
  • As in the eye of Nature he has lived,
    So in the eye of Nature let him die!
  • The stars of midnight shall be dear
    To her; and she shall lean her ear
    In many a secret place
    Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
    And beauty born of murmuring sound
    Shall pass into her face.
  • To the solid ground
    Of Nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye.
  • Such blessings Nature pours,
    O'erstock'd mankind enjoy but half her stores.
    In distant wilds, by human eyes unseen,
    She rears her flowers, and spreads her velvet green;
    Pure gurgling rills the lonely desert trace
    And waste their music on the savage race.
  • Nothing in Nature, much less conscious being,
    Was e'er created solely for itself.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX, line 711
  • The course of nature governs all!
    The course of nature is the heart of God.

    The miracles thou call'st for, this attest;
    For say, could nature nature's course control?
    But, miracles apart, who sees Him not?
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX, line 1,280

Nature and ReligionEdit

  • Because God created the Natural – invented it out of His love and artistry – it demands our reverence.
    • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), God in the Dock, 1948
  • It seems clear at last that our love for the natural world — Nature — is the only means by which we can requite God's obvious love for it.
  • Nature is infallible and is the voice of God, with this difference, that the language of the Holy Scripture can and should be interpreted in many ways (otherwise it would say many things contrary to the evidence of the senses), but the language of Nature is always the same, without metaphor, without allegory, without hyperbole, without doubtful, obscure, mysterious meanings. Nature speaks clearly to him who knows how to understand her, and has no need of interpretation.
  • Nature is the time-vesture of God that reveals Him to the wise, and hides him from the foolish.
  • Green is Nature's favourite colour.
    • Graham D Priest (1939- ) in Poems

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)Edit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • Every object in nature is impressed with God's footsteps, and every day repeats the wonders of creation. There is not an object, be it pebble or pearl, weed or rose, the flower-spangled sward beneath, or the star-spangled sky above, not a worm or an angel, a drop of water or a boundless ocean, in which intelligence may not discern, and piety adore, the providence of Him who took our nature that He might save our souls.
  • If we can hear the voice of God in all sounds, see the sweep of His will in all motions, catch hints of His taste in all beauty, follow the reach of His imagination in all heights and distances, and trace the delicate ministry of His love in all the little graces and utilities that spring and blossom about us as thick as the grass, we shall tread God's world with reverent feet as if it were a temple. The pure and solemn eyes of the indwelling soul will look forth upon us from every thing which His hands have made. Nature will be to us, not some dark tissue of cloth of mystery flowing from some unseen loom, but a vesture of light in which God has enrobed Himself; and with worshipful fingers we shall rejoice to touch even the hem of His garment.
  • When I consider the multitude of associated forces which are diffused through nature — when I think of that calm balancing of their energies which enables those most powerful in themselves, most destructive to the world's creatures and economy, to dwell associated together and be made subservient to the wants of creation, I rise from the contemplation more than ever impressed with the wisdom, the beneficence, and grandeur, beyond our language to express, of the Great Disposer of us all.
  • We might almost accuse nature of falsehood. One sees himself behind a mirror when nothing is there. A straight pole leaning in a pool is bent to appearance. The sun seems to rise and set, but moves not at all. We see it before it rises and after it sets. These and numberless other cases might be adduced to prove the deceitfulness of nature. Nay, they prove rather that education is the law of our being, and that here, as elsewhere, he who would not be self-deceived, must study nature's laws, must become educated.
  • Vast chain of being! which from God began,
    Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
    Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
    No glass can reach, from infinite to Thee,
    From Thee to nothing.
  • I hold that we have a very imperfect knowledge of the works of nature till we view them as works of God,— not only as works of mechanism, but works of intelligence, not only as under laws, but under a Lawgiver, wise and good.
  • So distinguished by a Divine wisdom, power, and goodness, are God's works of creation and providence, that all nature, by the gentle voices of her skies and streams, of her fields and forests, as well as by the roar of breakers, the crash of thunder, the rumbling earthquake, the fiery volcano, and the destroying hurricane, echoes the closing sentences of this angel hymn, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory!
  • There's nothing bright above, below,
    From flowers that bloom, to stars that glow,
    But in its light my soul can see
    Some feature of Thy Deity.
  • All things and all acts and this whole wonderful universe proclaim to us the Lord our Father, Christ our love, Christ our hope, our portion, and our joy. Oh, brethren, if you would know the meaning of the world, read Christ in it. If you would see the beauty of earth, take it for a prophet of something higher than itself.
  • These, as they change, Almighty Father! these
    Are but the varied God. The rolling year
    Is full of Thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring
    Thy beauty walks, Thy tenderness and love.
  • It is well to be in places where man is little, and God is great,— where what he sees all around him has the same look as it had a thousand years ago, and will have the same, in all likelihood, when he has been a thousand years in his grave. It abates and rectifies a man, if he is worth the process.
  • The best thing is to go from nature's God down to nature; and if you once get to nature's God, and believe Him, and love Him, it is surprising how easy it is to hear music in the waves, and songs in the wild whisperings of the winds; to see God everywhere in the stones, in the rocks, in the rippling brooks, and hear Him everywhere, in the lowing of cattle, in the rolling of thunder, and in the fury of tempests. Get Christ first, put Him in the right place, and you will find Him to be the wisdom of God in your own experience.
  • Only let us love God, and then nature will compass us about like a cloud of Divine witnesses; and all influences from the earth, and things on the earth, will be ministers of God to do us good. Only let there be God within us, and then every thing outside us will become a godlike help.
  • The very voices of the night, sounding like the moan of the tempest, may turn out to be the disguised yet tender voices of God, calling away from all earthly footsteps, to mount with greater singleness of eye and ardor of aim the alone ladder of safety and peace — upward, onward, heavenward, homeward.
  • God is infinite; and the laws of nature, like nature itself, are finite. These methods of working, therefore, — which correspond to the physical element in us, — do not exhaust His agency. There is a boundless residue of disengaged energy beyond.
  • Call nature the grand revelation! Is it more to go to nature and know it than to know God? Are there deeper depths in nature, higher sublimities, thoughts more captivating and glorious? In the mineral and vegetable shapes are there finer themes than in the life of Jesus? In the storms and glorious pilings of the clouds, are there manifestations of greatness and beauty more impressive than in the tragic sceneries of the cross? Nature is the realm of things, the supernatural is the realm of powers.

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