A society grows
great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit
The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.
I have argued in this book that we are
human in good part because of the particular way we affiliate with other
organisms. They are the matrix in which the human mind originated and is
permanently rooted, and they offer the challenge and freedom innately
sought. To the extent that each person can feel like a naturalist, the old
excitement of the untrammeled world will be regained. I offer this as a
formula of reenchantment to invigorate poetry and myth: mysterious and
little known organisms live within walking distance of where you sit.
Splendor awaits in minute proportions.
All good things
are wild and free.
contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will
endure as long as life lasts.
I went to the
woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential
facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not,
when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Only after the
last tree has been cut down
Earth provides enough to satisfy
every man's need, but not every man's greed.
Every part of this country is sacred
to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been
hallowed by some fond memory or some sad experience of my tribe. Even the
rocks, which seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent
shore in solemn grandeur thrill with memories of past events connected with
the fate of my people, the very dust under your feet responds more lovingly
to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors,
and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is
rich with the life of our kindred.
Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever
let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin
forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we
drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to
extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean
streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that
never again will Americans be free from noise, the exhausts, the stinks of
human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance
to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world,
part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other
animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it.
Annie Dillard Quotes