In Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, what does he mean by the line, “The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child?”

In Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, what he means by the line “The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child” is that men only see nature as an object, whereas the child has a deep spiritual connection to it.

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What Emerson is seeking to highlight in these lines is what he regards as a difference in attitude towards the natural world between adults and children. On this reading, too many adults look at nature and see it as an object, something to be controlled, tamed, and exploited for the benefit of humankind.

There's no sense among contemporary humanity that nature is a powerful spiritual force in its own right, something with which we as humans can develop a close bond. Indeed, for a pantheist like Emerson, humans are an intrinsic part of nature; there is no meaningful separation between ourselves and the natural world we inhabit.

But all too often we no longer feel this. We separate ourselves from nature to the extent that though we might see the world around us, we no longer feel it. And yet the child is different; she feels nature deep inside her heart and in her soul. She doesn't just see the sun, she sees—and feels—what it illuminates.

Children are inherently curious about the world...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 877 words.)

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