Friday, 5 March 2010

And what of nature itself..............

" say - that callous and cruel engine, red in tooth and fang? Well, it is not so much of an engine as you think. As for "red in tooth and fang", whenever I hear the phrase or its intellectual echoes, I know that some passer-by has been getting life from books. It is true that there are grim arrangements. Beware of judging them by whatever human values are in style. As well expect Nature to answer to your human values as to come into your house and sit in a chair. The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life - all this is its great marvel and has an ethic of its own. Live in Nature, and you will soon see that for all its non-human rhythm, it is no cave of pain. As I write I think of my beloved birds of the great beach, and of their beauty and their zest of living. And if there are fears, know also that Nature has its unexpected and unappreciated mercies.
Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be the shadow of an attitude to Nature. A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a tirual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature's ins[piration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world. Do no dishonour to the earth lest you dishonour the spirit of man. Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame. To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valley, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth's and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over ocean from the beach."

This beautiful, stirring and inspirational passage comes from the closing pages of The Outermost House - a year on the great beach of Cape Cod, by Henry Beston. A wonderful book, the writing is faultless all the way through,a completely honest and unsentimental writing on nature and the wider world. A true classic.

1 comment:

Bovey Belle said...

It's a lovely book isn't it? My dear friend in America sent me the book last year and also recorded it on to disc for me so I can listen to Henry Beston's voice as I do the ironing. He was a powerful writer and a great naturalist.