Quotations about   wilderness

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Bad roads act as filters. They separate those who are sufficiently appreciative of what lies beyond the blacktop to be willing to undergo mild inconvenience from that much larger number of travelers which is not willing. The rougher the road, the finer the filter.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970) American educator, writer, critic, naturalist
Baja California and the Geography of Hope, Introduction (1967)
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This was a thought that Krutch adapted and repeated in a number of writings.

In The Forgotten Peninsula, A Naturalist in Baja California, Prologue (1961), Krutch quotes an acquaintance as saying, regarding the peninsula's unspoiled beauty, "Baja is a splendid example of how much bad roads can do for a country." This quotation was often misattributed directly to him, and he adopted the sentiment.

Late in his life (Winter 1967-68), Krutch was interviewed by Edward Abbey for Sage magazine (reprinted in One Life at a Time, Please (1988)), and discussed the proposed development of the new Canyonlands National Park:

Too many people use their automobiles not as a means to get to the parks but rather use the parks as a place to take their automobiles. What our national parks need are not more good roads but more bad roads. [...] There’s nothing like a good bad dirt road to screen out the faintly interested and to invite in the genuinely interested.

Added on 14-Jun-22 | Last updated 14-Jun-22
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The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.

Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) British sexologist, physician, social reformer [Henry Havelock Ellis]
The Dance of Life, ch. 5 “The Art of Religion,” sec. 4 (1923)
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Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 17-Mar-22
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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks.

John Muir (1838-1914) Scottish-American naturalist
The Yosemite, ch. 15 “Hetch Hetchy Valley” (1912)
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Added on 21-Oct-20 | Last updated 21-Oct-20
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This cold wilderness was utterly unfamiliar, but it did not feel hostile, just indifferent to her fate. If she fell off this path and was broken into a hundred pieces nothing up here would be one whit interested.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
The Green Mill Murder, ch. 13 (1993)
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Added on 15-Feb-18 | Last updated 15-Feb-18
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In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 1, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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Added on 29-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-22
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A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 12 [tr. FitzGerald, 4th ed. (1879)]

Alternate trans:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness - And Wilderness is Paradise enow. [FitzGerald, 11, 1st ed. (1859)]
Should our day's portion be one mancel loaf, A haunch of mutton and a gourd of wine Set for us two alone on the wide plain, No Sultan's bounty could evoke such joy. A gourd of red wine and a sheaf of poems — A bare subsistence, half a loaf, not more — Supplied us two alone in the free desert: What Sultan could we envy on his throne? [Graves & Ali-Shah, 11-12 (1967)]
Yes, Loved One, when the Laughing Spring is blowing, With Thee beside me and the Cup o’erflowing, I pass the day upon this Waving Meadow, And dream the while, no thought on Heaven bestowing. [Garner, 1.20 (1888)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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