Opening the Book of Nature
Great Poetry and the Book of Nature

As creation reflects the Creator, so the whole world embodies the lessons of life.
During the era of the Enlightment when teaching about lessons in creation faded from the pulpits, this theme was picked up by the inspired poets.

Here are a few examples, among many:



"And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."

     William Shakespeare
     As You Like It, Act II, Sc. 1, 1:125


In your nature observations
One and all want equal station.
Nothing's inside, nothing's outside
For the inside is the outside.

Grasp without procrastination
Patent-occult revelation.
What is it we probers of Nature are seeking?
Out there the God whom within we hear speaking?

     Johann Wolfgang Goethe



"Come forth into the light of things.
Let nature be your teacher..

     William Wordsworth

The Manuscripts of God

And nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying, "Here is a story book
My fath hath writ for thee.

Come, wander with me," she said,
"In regions yet untrod,
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God."

     Henry W. Longfellow



To look at any thing

To look at any thing,
if you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:

To look at this green and say
"I have seen spring in these
woods" will not do -- you must
Be the thing you see.

You must enter in
To the small silences between the leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace they issue from.

      John Moffitt


Up! Up! My Friend, and Quit Your Books
Up! Up! My Friend, and quit Your books;
Or surely you'll grow double.
Up! Up! My Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

   One impulse from a vernal wood
   May teach you more of man,
   Of moral evil and of good,
   Than all the sages can.

Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

     William Wordsworth



Glory in the Commonplace
Enough of Science and of Art;
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees,
takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,...

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning


È Flower in the Crannied Wall È
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,

Little flower -- but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

     Alfred Lord Tennyson



The Birds of Killingworth

How can children be taught compassion,
If there is brutality toward creatures?
How can I teach your children gentleness,
And mercy to the weak, and reverence
For life, which, in its weakness or excess,
Is still a gleam of God's omnipotence.

     Henry W. Longfellow



A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

     Wendell Berry