Orchard House of Alcott's: American Literary Contribution

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      THE NEW VIEW OF NATURE.—To the old Puritan, nature seemed to groan under the weight of sin and to bear the primal curse. To the transcendentalist, nature was a part of divinity. The question was sometimes asked whether nature had any real existence outside of God, whether it was not God's thoughts. Emerson, being an idealist, doubted whether nature had any more material existence than a thought.

Orchard House of Alcott's
Orchard House

      The majority of the writers of Brook Farm did not press this idealistic conception of nature, but much of the nature literature of Orchard House shows a belief in the soul's mystic companionship with the bird, the flower, the cloud, the ocean, and the stars. Emerson says:—

 "The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them."

      Thoreau often enters Nature's mystic shrine and dilates with a sense of her companionship. Of the song of the wood thrush, he says:—

 "Whenever a man hears it, he is young, and Nature is in her spring. Whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him…."

      Thoreau could converse with the Concord River and hear the sound of the rain in its "summer voice." Hiawatha talked with the reindeer, the beaver, and the rabbit, as with his brothers. In dealing with nature, Whittier caught something of Wordsworth's spirituality, and Lowell was impressed with the yearnings of a clod of earth as it

 "Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers."

      One of the chief glories of this age was the Fuller recognition of the companionship that man bears to every child of nature. This phase of the literature has reacted on the ideals of the entire republic. Flowers, trees, birds, domestic animals, and helpless human beings have received more sympathetic treatment as a result. In what previous time have we heard an American poet ask, as Emerson did in his poem Forbearance (1842):—

 "Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
 Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?"

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