Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's
peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The
winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Our National Parks
, 1901, page 56.
- Full version of above quote: Walk away quietly in any direction and
taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians
of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the
mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine
flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on,
one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it
hitched to everything else in the Universe.
My First Summer in the Sierra
, 1911, page 110. See also: John Muir Misquoted
(referencing the common but inaccurate paraphrase: "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.")
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in
and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body
and soul alike.
The Yosemite (1912), page 256.
Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once
in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the
woods. Wash your spirit clean.
- Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young in Alaska Days with John Muir (1915) chapter 7
"God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful,
so long as it is wild."
Source for this version of this quote is: "The Scenery of California," California Early History: Commercial Position: Climate: Scenery. San Francisco: California State Board of Trade, 1897, 16.
(Available online at archive.org). See John Muir, in His Own Words: A Book of Quotations Compiled and Edited by Peter Browning, (Lafayette: Great West Books, 1988). Browning states: "This strong statement in a little-known state promotional brochure appeared later in a watered-down and grammatically incorrect version in a prominent periodical and a major book."
- None of Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.
- Our National Parks, (1901),
Chapter 1, page 4. Reprinted from The Atlantic Monthly Volume 0081 Issue 483 (January 1898)
"The Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the West" [pp. 15-28, at 17.] (off-site link)
When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop,
striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying
through space with other stars all singing and shining
together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite
storm of beauty.
- Travels in Alaska by John Muir, 1915, chapter 1, page 5.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 313.
I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air,
and the scenes in which pure air is found.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 191.
- Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.
- Muir's marginal note in volume I of Prose Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson (This volume containing marginal notes by John Muir is located at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. See Albert Saijo, "Me, Muir, and Sierra Nevada", in Reinhabiting a Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California, edited by Peter Berg, San Francisco, California: Planet Drum Foundation, 1978, pages 52-59, at page 55, and Frederick W. Turner, Rediscovering America: John Muir in His Time and Ours (1985), page 193.)
There is not a "fragment" in all nature, for every relative
fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.
- A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916), page 164.
Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose
like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower
and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your
knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in
forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to
mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 235.
No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen
carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or
gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of
water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 208.
In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great
fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling
harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 317.
We all flow from one fountain
Soul. All are expressions of one Love. God does not appear, and flow out,
only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored
races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and
boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples
and beasts, saturating all and fountainizing all.
- June 9, 1872 letter to Miss Catharine Merrill, from New Sentinel Hotel,
Yosemite Valley, in Badè's Life and Letters of John Muir.
The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of
ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 429
When one is alone at night in the depths of these woods, the stillness is at once
awful and sublime. Every leaf seems to speak.
- - John
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 295 (quoted in The Wilderness
World of John Muir, edited by Edwin Way Teale, p. 313.)
Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen,
but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty
that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and
appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short
excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse
and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in
balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and
caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is
going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better
what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.
- The Mountains of California (1894) chapter 15.
Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to
My First Summer
in the Sierra
, 1911, page 231.
Man must be made conscious of his origin as a child of Nature. Brought into right relationship with the wilderness he would see that he was not a separate entity endowed with a divine right to subdue his fellow creatures and destroy the common heritage, but rather an integral part of a harmonious whole. He would see that his appropriation of earth's resources beyond his personal needs
would only bring imbalance and beget ultimate loss and poverty for
- by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, describing Muir's remedy for human misery in her book, Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John
Muir (1945) page 188.
Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could,
they would still be destroyed -- chased and hunted down as long as fun
or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or
magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would
planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble
primeval forests. ... It took more than three thousand years to make
some of the trees in these Western woods -- trees that are still
standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the
mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful
centuries ... God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought,
disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and
floods; but he cannot save them from fools -- only Uncle Sam can do
- Our National Parks (1901) chapter 10.
Range of Light:
Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining
morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my
wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever
beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of
California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine,
forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich
furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern
boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty
Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so
radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly
composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city....
Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not
the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after
ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it,
rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams
of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday
radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow,
and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems
above all others the Range of Light.
- The Yosemite (1912) chapter 1.
So extraordinary is Nature with her choicest treasures,
spending plant beauty as she spends sunshine, pouring it
forth into land and sea, garden and desert. And so the
beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and
squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees....
- My First Summer in the Sierra (1911) chapter 4.
Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or
small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming
gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes - all are
warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.
The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, (1913), pages 186-187
Everything is flowing -- going somewhere, animals and so-called
lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in
grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the air in majestic
floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores, with streams of
music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks... While the stars
go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood...in
Nature's warm heart.
- My First Summer in the Sierra (1911) chapter 10.
Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be
dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not
where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no
more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and
stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of
- My First Summer in the Sierra (1911) chapter 2.
By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature
accomplishes her beneficent designs - now a flood of fire,
now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the
fullness of time an outburst of organic life....
- "Mt. Shasta" in Picturesque California (1888-1890), chapter 10 (off-site link) page 148, and in Steep Trails (1918) chapter 3.
This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever
falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,
eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and
islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 438.
Most people are on the world, not in it -- have no conscious
sympathy or relationship to anything about them --
undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of
polished stone, touching but separate.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 320.
I used to envy the father of our race, dwelling as he did in
contact with the new-made fields and plants of Eden; but I
do so no more, because I have discovered that I also live in
"creation's dawn." The morning stars still sing together,
and the world, not yet half made, becomes more beautiful
- "Explorations in the Great Tuolumne Cañon," Overland Monthly, August, 1873;
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 72.
There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient
mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no,
and however covered by cares and duties.
- From Muir's journals - cited in
Wilderness World of John Muir, edited by Edwin Way Teale (1954); and A Passion for Nature by Donald Worster (2008) page 319.
How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this
glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places
standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize
that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like
the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all
dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament
for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without
leaving any track.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 321.
Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one
truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel
is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.
- Letter to wife Louie, July 1888, Life and
Letters of John Muir (1924), chapter 15.
It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to
bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they
never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They
grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast
rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering
forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming
like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million
miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 313.
If my soul could get away from this so-called prison, be
granted all the list of attributes generally bestowed on
spirits, my first ramble on spirit-wings would not be among
the volcanoes of the moon. Nor should I follow the sunbeams
to their sources in the sun. I should hover about the beauty
of our own good star. I should not go moping among the
tombs, not around the artificial desolation of men. I should
study Nature's laws in all their crossings and unions; I
should follow magnetic streams to their source and follow
the shores of our magnetic oceans. I should go among the
rays of the aurora, and follow them to their beginnings, and
study their dealings and communions with other powers and
expressions of matter. And I should go to the very center
of our globe and read the whole splendid page from the
beginning. But my first journeys would be into the inner
substance of flowers, and among the folds and mazes of
Yosemite's falls. How grand to move about in the very tissue
of falling columns, and in the very birthplace of their
heavenly harmonies, looking outward as from windows of
ever-varying transparency and staining!
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), pages 43-44.
Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and
law-givers are ever at their wits' end devising. The hall
and the theater and the church have been invented, and
compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation?
... Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind
us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in
desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal
laws for relief. Yet few think of pure rest or of the
healing power of Nature.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 234.
One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and
fertility of Nature -- inexhaustible abundance amid what
seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her
operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that
no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is
eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher
beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and
rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable
wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the
reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies
about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be
better and more beautiful than the last.
- My First Summer in the Sierra (1911) chapter 10.
On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on
death... Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful
blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable
unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and
streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is
stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no
victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony.
- Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf, p.41-42
Pollution, defilement, squalor are words that never would have been created
had man lived conformably to Nature. Birds, insects, bears die as cleanly and
are disposed of as beautifully as flies. The woods are full of dead and dying
trees, yet needed for their beauty to complete the beauty of the living....
How beautiful is all Death!
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), pg. 222.
The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang-"home-going." So
the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns,
after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them
up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing
living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s
arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit-waited on, watched over, noticed only
by their Maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry
dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called
into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings
folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried.
Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces
to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s
feast-all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are
our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven’s blessings with
us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and
return into eternity. "Our lives are rounded with a sleep."
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), p. 339-340.
The snow is melting into music.
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 107.