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The Outermost House Quotes Showing of Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.
We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err.
For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth. In my world of beach and dunes these elemental presences lived and had their being, and under their arch there moved an incomparable pageant of nature and the year.
I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.
Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself.
With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it.
Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, to-day's civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night.
Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day. It is as impossible to live without reverence as it is without joy. When all has been said, the adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live, and not to have joy in it and awe of it, not to share in it, is to close a dull door on natures's sustaining and poetic spirit.
To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places.
The fortnight ending, I lingered on, and as the year lengthened into autumn, the beauty and mystery of this earth and outer sea so possessed and held me that I could not go. The world to-day is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot. Well, it is not so much of an engine as you think.
As for "red in tooth and fang," whenever I hear the phrase or its intellectual echoes I know that some passer-by has been getting life from books.
I would answer that one's first appreciation is a sense that creation is still going on, that the creative forces are as great and as active to-day as they have ever been, and that to-morrow's morning will be as heroic as any of the world. Creation is here and now. So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note heard in a symphony thundering through debatable existences of time.
Poetry is as necessary to comprehension as science. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
As individuals, we have become far removed from direct participation in the patterns and particularities of the changing seasons. If we think of the year metaphorically at all, it is as a source of sentimental song lyrics and greeting card verses, rather than as a vital, ongoing ritual that includes us.
When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were, a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity. No one came to kill, no one came to explore, no one even came to see. Earth, ocean, and sky, the triune unity of this coast, pursued each one their vast and mingled purposes as untroubled by man as a planet on its course about the sun.
Into every corner, into all forgotten things and nooks, Nature struggles to pour life, pouring life into the dead, life into life itself. That immense, overwhelming, relentless, burning ardency of Nature for the stir of life! And all these her creatures, even as these thwarted lives, what travail, what hunger and cold, what bruising and slow-killing struggle will they not endure to accomplish earth's purpose?
By day, space is one with the earth and with man--it is his sun that is shining, his clouds that are floating past; at night, space is his no more.
It is a sense that every lover of the elemental world ought to use, and, using, enjoy. We ought to keep all senses vibrant and alive. Had we done so, we should never have built a civilization which outrages them, which so outrages them, indeed, that a vicious circle has been established and the dull sense grown duller. It is true that there are grim arrangements.
Beware of judging them by whatever human values are in style. As well expect Nature to answer to your human values as to come into your house and sit in a chair. The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life--all this is its great marvel and has an ethic of its own. Live in Nature, and you will soon see that for all its non-human rhythm, it is no cave of pain. Nature has its unexpected and unappreciated mercies.
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Stay in the loop with Pushkin Press and be entered to win a beautiful Pushkin Collection title every month. We are sorry to say our online shop is closed for now due to circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Henry Beston planned to spend only two weeks in his newly built cottage on the outer beach of Cape Cod. Settled in his isolated house facing the North Atlantic, Beston spent a year immersed in the raw, elemental life of the great beach around him. Observing the migrations of seabirds, savage winter storms and the constantly shifting interactions between sea and shore, he wrote of the passing seasons in ecstatic, riveting detail. Impassioned and richly layered, it is a matchless evocation of the spirit of a place and the enduring appeal of the wild. Catalogues Facebook Twitter Instagram.
The Outermost House Quotes
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The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod
When we think of Henry Beston's Cape Cod, Annie Dillard's Blue Ridge, Rachel Carson's Maine coast or Florida Keys, we imagine not a clinical, purely objective landscape but a personal one, a place colored by the particular sensibility, the individual filter, through which it passed. The American Southwest of Edward Abbey is one place; and although the geographical territory may be the same in the writings of Wallace Stegner or Terry Tempest Williams , our sense of it the things we notice and choose to look at, the way we look at them and the questions we ask is different. With nature-writers, the lens is personality and that makes all the difference. Henry Beston produced a masterpiece on Cape Cod, but he did not say the last word; treading the same sacred ground today, John Hay and Robert Finch point to signs that only they have noticed. This subjective quality distinguishes nature-writing from natural history, and keeps it fresh: the source is inexhaustible, and each inquiry unique as the personality which makes it.