Tagged: John Burroughs Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • mistermuse 12:05 am on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , early color film, Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, John James Audubon, John Muir, national parks, naturalists, , , Theodore Roosevelt,   


    You’ve heard of Charles Darwin. Also, concordantly, Henry David Thoreau. If you’re really into national parks, naturally you’re familiar with John Muir (“Father of the National Parks”). If you have an avian fixation, you’re birds-of-a-feather with John James Audubon, world famous ornithologist and painter of our feathered friends.  But I suspect that the name of John Burroughs probably drew a blank when you saw it in my last post.

    Fame is fickle. In his day, Burroughs (1837-1921) was as well known as any of the above naturalists who remain well remembered today. But, according to biographer Edward Renehan, he was more “a literary naturalist” than a scientific one, which (along with his rejection of religious orthodoxy) may account somewhat for his fading into relative obscurity.  Whatever the case, Burroughs, who was a contemporary of Thoreau and Audubon, a good friend of Muir (as well as of Walt Whitman and Theodore Roosevelt), and has been called “America’s Darwin,” has been left in their shadow. More’s the pity.

    The last of his many books was ACCEPTING THE UNIVERSE (1920), from whence the quote in my 9/20 post. Other quotes I like from Burroughs’ works include these:

    Nature is not moral. There is no moral law until it is born of human intercourse. The law of the jungle begins and ends in the jungle; when we translate it into human affairs, we must take the cruelty of the jungle out of it, and read it in terms of beneficent competition. Man is the jungle humanized.

    The greatest of human achievements and the most precious is that of the creative artist. In words, in color, in sounds, in forms, man comes closest to emulating the Creative Energy itself. It seems as if the pleasure and the purpose of the Creative Energy were endless invention.

    How beautifully the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

    Only a living tree drops its fruit or its leaves; only a growing man drops his outgrown opinions.

    I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I close with a curio: a 1919 prizmacolor film of “a day in the life of John Burroughs,” which ends with words wise in the ways of what really matters:

    • arekhill1 12:04 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am already campaigning for Darwin Day as a national holiday for rationalists. They should put this guy on a postage stamp, at least. Thanks for bringing him to our attention Sr. Muse

      Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse 1:37 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      An excellent suggestion, Ricardo. Now that America has the “FOREVER” postage stamp, we have a stamp fit for making up to Mr. Burroughs for his country’s forgetfulness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 4:08 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You never know Muse. Sometimes these type of people come back into vogue. Naturalists might become the subject of some documentary or movie. Hey almost no one had heard of Scott Joplin until that movie The Sting. Till then Muse, you keep them alive.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:55 pm on September 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Among Ken Burns’ many great documentaries was THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA (in which John Muir was a major figure), so it wouldn’t be a stretch for him to do one on naturalists.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mike 8:24 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Gifford Pinchot, flawed though he was, created the conservation ethic. He found the way not to wreck the economy of man while at the same time not clearing all the forest in the process.

      He did however oppose Muir a few times and his view was economic only as he didn’t value preservation for the sake of beauty; his biggest flaw in my opinion. Though likely viewed as an enemy by some contemporary conservationists, Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt did help to get the ball rolling in the process of creating National Parks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:12 pm on October 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for pointing that out. I agree with your opinion of Pinchot’s biggest flaw, but, as they say today, whatever works!

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:10 am on September 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: John Burroughs, life journey, , , roots, time and distance, , woods   


    Go in our woods and witness the varying fortunes of the trees. How many are diseased or dying at the top or decaying at the root. How many have been mutilated by the fall of other trees. In fact, the fortunes of individual trees are much like those of men and women. –John Burroughs, naturalist, ACCEPTING THE UNIVERSE


    We see roots
    surge through dirt
    in time-lapse photography
    seed to distance
    in mere moments

    but trees understand
    this above all
    as a long
    journey of attachment
    living with the

    vagaries of fate
    knowing that where
    they are now
    is one with
    where now began…..

    • Don Frankel 4:37 am on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Good one Muse, good one. They get to know more than we do.

      But you know I have to ask this. You had to know. If you were a tree what kind of a tree would you be?


    • mistermuse 6:32 am on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, I suspect that trees know more than we do because they’re more grounded….which might lead yew to think I would be a pun tree (a palm tree that can’t pronounce it’s name correctly), but as a practically life-long Ohioan, I should probably choose loyalty over punditree, and be a Buckeye tree.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 7:49 am on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I thought you would be a Pundittree. Me, I’m an Oak.


      • mistermuse 12:20 pm on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        One thing about being an Oak — you can count on being loved by squirrels (at least, as long as you keep makin’ with the acorns).


    • arekhill1 10:01 am on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Me, I’d rather be a vine–grow fast, get around and maybe get in some strangling on the side.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:25 pm on September 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It might be hard to get away with the strangling part — people might hear it on the grapevine that you did it.

      Liked by 4 people

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