Nature | Literature homework help



First of all, be sure to read the footnote to
Nature. Emerson’s main point in the introduction (which he makes in several of his works, by the way) is that we should not experience nature (or life) through the eyes of “foregoing generations.” We should experience nature on a personal level. He questions, “Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” Basically, the transcendentalists expressed faith in the intuition of the individual; each individual should experience life for himself or herself and should create a personal philosophy based on insight – not on what tradition has taught. Keep that in mind as you read the excerpt from

Your assignment for
Nature is to express Emerson’s main points in your own words. Summarize chapter 1 (pp. 554 – 557). Follow the format below and consider the questions for each section.

The first two paragraphs. What is his point about the stars? What does he mean by “Nature never wears a mean (there is more than one definition to this word) appearance?”

The third paragraph. What is the difference between the wood-cutter (the natural man) and the poet? How does a poet view nature?

The fourth paragraph. What is the point Emerson makes about children/adults in relation to nature? What does nature do for those who take the time to experience it? What do you make of the following quote?

“Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and

uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a

transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal

Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

The fifth and sixth paragraphs. Focus on this quote from paragraph six: “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” Do you see a similarity in Emerson’s message and these opening lines of “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant? Explain the connection.

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