Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature" and "Language" From "Nature" explain in detail Emerson's view on what nature is and how it relates to the world. He also gives his views on how language is related to nature. Through nature, one may transcend the worldly and accomplish a rising up to a higher understanding of the world. Language is how nature is displayed and enables one to reach that heightened understanding.
According to Emerson, nature is the natural parts of this world, such as flowers, animals, mountains, or woods. Nature is what is untouched by humans and society, and one must leave his own room as well as society in order to go into solitude. Amidst solitude, one may come to realize nature and achieve a type of spiritual awakening. Emerson suggests looking at the stars as a way of being alone and then examining the natural things of this world in order to realize the wisdom of nature. When we view nature in this way, we see beyond what is apparent to the human eye. We are able to think of things in a “poetical sense in the mind,” where we make connections and have a better awareness of the beauty of nature and can better convey those thoughts. In nature, one loses all of his connections to society and becomes nothing, just a “transparent eyeball” that Emerson suggests is akin to having God’s presence flow through him. It is only in nature, among the untainted wilderness, that this spiritual event can occur. However, this is not always the case with nature. As our perceptions of the world around us change, so does our views of nature. If we are experiencing sadness, then nature may appear dull or resentful. Only when nature and man agree can one achieve a spiritual awakening.
Emerson describes language as the method in which nature conveys itself to mankind. Every word that is used can be traced back to something having to do with nature. The meaning of words used today goes back to the beginning of language, when all words came from things in nature, and it was over the years that these nature words transformed into our language today. The natural meaning of words in language is used to describe spiritual facts. Parallels are used between nature and the spiritual through words. Language in its beginnings was pure, represented only by nature itself. Men today can use the natural aspects of language to empower their conversation. If one really desires to communicate truth and nature without corruption, he can do so using the symbols of nature. Corruption of language occurs when nature is no longer used to convey truth. Excellent writers, through imagery, can display truth of almost a spiritual and transcending nature and create magnificent pieces of work. Emerson goes on to say that it is the will of God and godly ideas that are expressed through pure symbols of nature through words. Nature can effectively display the human mind without loss. Through words of a natural nature, one may effectively write or communicate aspects of a spiritual nature with a simplistic beauty that can only be found in the natural world.