MirrorNo4

MirrorNo4 - Scenes of Wonder Encounters with the Present(Continued John Burroughs DIVINE ABYSS John Burroughs's literary interests were wider than

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Scenes of Wonder: Encounters with the Present (Continued) John Burroughs DIVINE ABYSS John Burroughs's literary interests were wider than most modern readers know. There can be no doubt that the Burroughs Medal, given each year to the best work in nature writing, is named well; it was Burroughs, even more than Muir, who brought the genre before the wide public and showed them how to draw the natural world into their hearts. His writings exhibit this skill even now. In his day, though, he was someone the literary establishment willingly reckoned with. Friend and lionizer of Whitman, widely published poet, prolific philosopher of time and religion, Burroughs was someone close to the arbiters of literature–close enough, for example, to have received Oscar Wilde during his sensational American lecture tour in 1882. Of the authors represented in this volume, the reputations of Muir and Burroughs are perhaps the most similar. Yet the two men were markedly different in their approach to nature. Muir was reverent, Burroughs, bookish. They were great friends from the day they met in 1896. "You are a dear anyway, "Burroughs wrote to Muir in 1909, “Scotch obstinacy and all, and I love you, though at times I want to punch you or thrash the ground with you.” Some o f Muir's playful irascibility will be evident in the following excerpt from an article Burroughs wrote for Century in 1911. IN MAKING the journey to the great Southwest,-Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, -if one does not know his geology, he is pretty sure to wish he did, there is so much geology scattered over all these Southwestern landscapes crying aloud to be read. The book of earthly revelation, as shown by the great science, lies wide open in that land, as it does in few other places on the globe. Its leaves fairly flutter in the wind, and the print is so large that he who runs on the California limited may read it. Not being able to read it at all, or not taking any interest in it, is like going to Rome or Egypt or Jerusalem, knowing nothing of the history of those lands. Erosion, erosion-one sees in the West as never before that the world is shaped by erosion. There are probably few or no landscapes in any part of the country from which thousands of feet of rocky strata have not been removed by the slow action of the rain, the frost, the wind; but on our Atlantic seaboard the evidences of it are not patent. In the East, the earth's wounds are virtually healed, but in the West they are yet raw and gaping, if not bleeding. Then there is so much color in the Western landscape, so many of the warm tints of life, that this fact seems to emphasize their newness, as if they had not yet had time to pale or fade to an ashen gray, under the effects of time, as have our older formations. Indeed, the rocks of the Southwestern region are like volumes of colored plates: not till the books are opened do we realize the splendor of the hues they hold.
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This note was uploaded on 01/19/2012 for the course LA 1203 taught by Professor Fryling during the Fall '08 term at LSU.

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MirrorNo4 - Scenes of Wonder Encounters with the Present(Continued John Burroughs DIVINE ABYSS John Burroughs's literary interests were wider than

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