In what ways does Emerson carry out the themes of "eyes" and "children" in his "Nature" essay?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his essay, Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson shows the reader scenes of nature that he loves rather than just tells about his feeling in general; with his sight imagery, the reader shares in the experience of his "transparent eyeball."  With this imagery, also, there is an ingenuousness, for Emerson makes no authorial dictates.  In this manner of presentation, Emerson urges a childlike quality of simple observation and awe.

Emerson writes that "when the mind is open to their influence," as a child would be,

Nature never wears a mean appearance....The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected all the wisdom of hisbest hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood.

He continues, declaring that "few adults can see nature" as they do not see it in its "integrity"; instead, they perceive one man's field, another's woodland, etc., separating the panorama into "warranty deeds."

Further in his essay, Emerson describes himself, "I become a transparent eyeball":

I am nothing.  I see all.  The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God....I am the lover of uncontinued and immortal beauty....Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

Thus, the reader's reaction to Nature may differ from his.  Emerson continues,

To a man laboring under calmity, the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then, there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has just lost by death a dear friend.

But to a man in love, the sky opens its heart, as well.  Having had fewer experiences and fewer hardships, children are at an advantage, Emerson feels, in being able to have direct experiences of nature, for they come to it with no prejudices in their hearts.  Likewise, their eyes are more "transparent"; they do not see property lines or know to whom the land belongs.

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