Muir’s writings are among the most passionate and eloquent descriptions of nature in our language. During his life, he published only seven books, but these were supplemented by many dozens of articles in newspapers and magazines. These are now appearing in various collections, supplemented by his letters and journals.
The mountains’ good tidings
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
Our National Parks
His mission in life
As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
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.
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.
“The American Forests”
On going to the wilderness
The tendency nowadays to wander in wilderness is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
Our National Parks
We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of sun — a part of all nature…
My First Summer in the Sierra
On the Hetch Hetchy Dam
These temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and, instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.
Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.
“Hetch Hetchy Valley”