Quotations for
Backyard Naturalists


Do you have a quotation reflecting these insights:

  • That we should respect and feel awe for the Earth and its living things
  • That every ecosystem and every culture offers something that can enrich us

Send your quotations by clicking here

Mary Oliver (1935 -      )

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Sent by Alan Beebe in the US

Alice Walker (1944 -      )
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.
Sent by Bea Laporte in Ontario, Canada

David W. Orr (born 1944)
"Our experience of the world is being impoverished to the extent that it is being rendered artificial and prepackaged."
Sent by Jarvis Hudson in North Carolina, USA

George Washington Carver
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
Found at the Nature Writing Web Site

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965):
Until mankind can extend the circle of his compassion to include all living things, he will never, himself, know peace.
sent by Michael J. Cohen in Washington State, USA

Maimonides (1135-1204):
It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of anything else.
found at www.freespeech.org.

Helen Keller (1880-1968):
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the horizon of the spirit.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)
To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night - brothers who see now they are truly brothers.
Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

Anne Frank: (1929-1945)
"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature."
Sent by Andre from someplace in the world.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948):
I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth.
found at www.freespeech.org

Koyukon Indian proverb (northern Alaska, as passed on by Koyukon elder Lavine Williams in the 1970s)
Every animal knows more than you do.
Sent by Carol Weissberg in California

Thomas Berry (1914- ):
The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightening and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees, -- all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.
Sent by Sue Parrish in Cave Junction, Oregon, USA

Traditional Chinese Proverb
Pearls lie not on the seashore. If thou desirest one thou must dive for it.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

unknown author
In the beauty of nature lies the spirit of hope.
Sent by Lara Bubeck from Waterbury, CT, USA

Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978):
As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space - it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.
Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Sent by Bea Laporte in Ontario, Canada

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964):
Flowers and trees and birds and stars and glaciers, and all the other wonderful things that surround us in the world. We have all of this beauty around us and yet grown ups often lose themselves in offices and imagine they are doing very important things. Can you recognize the flowers by their names and the birds by their singing? ... Young people, I hope you will take a long time growing up!
sent by Ana María Palos from Mexico

Lord PhilipDormer Stanhope Chesterfield (1694-1773):
The world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description; one must travel through one's self to be acquainted with it.
found at the Franceonfoot.com site

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914- ):
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1802-1882):
"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."
sent by Michael J. Cohen from Washington State, USA

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928):

Let me enjoy the earth no less
Because the all-enacting Might
That fashioned forth its loveliness
Had other aims than my delight.

Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds along rocks
Found at the Critical Decision Web Site

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (1881-1955):
Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity we shall harness the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

Charles Darwin (1809-1882):
The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
Found at www.freespeech.org

Thomas Berry (1914 -  ):
We will go into the future as a single sacred community, or we will all perish in the desert.
Sent by Marguerite Hampton in California, USA

John Muir (1838-1914):
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything
else in the universe.
Sent by Lynn J. Fancher in Illionois, USA

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Found at the Critical Decision Web Site

George Herbert Read (1893-1968)
Only a people serving an apprenticeship to nature can be trusted with machines.
Sent by Al Lubkowski in British Columbia, Canada

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
One main factor in the upward trend of animal life has been the power of wandering.
Found at the RCM Travelsite

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit - not a fossil earth, but a living earth; compared with whose great central life all animal and vegetable life is merely parasitic. Its throes will heave our exuvi� from their graves ... You may melt your metals and cast them into the most beautiful moulds you can; they will never excite me like the forms which this molten earth flows out into.
Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

Charles de Lint (1951-    )
"... he had understood, better than anyone ... the beauty that grew out of the simple knowledge that everything, no matter how small or large it might be, was a perfect example of what it was."
Sent by Michael Suttkus in Florida, USA

Henry Miller (1891-1980)
What have we achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before? To call such activity progress is utter delusion. We may succeed in altering the face of the earth until it is unrecognizable even to the Creator, but if we are unaffected wherein lies the meaning?
Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

Baba Dioum (1894-1969)
In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught
Sent by Hillary Lennard in California

Juvenal (1st 2nd century AD)
Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.
Found at Charles Daney's Quotation Collection Web Site

K'ung, "The Lun Yu" (Confucius) (551-479 BC)
To learn and and then put it in practice -- isn't that a delight? To have friends come from afar -- isn't that a joy?
sent by Shannon Clery in Oregon, USA

The Bible, Job 12:7-10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will teach you: or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind
sent by Cheryl K. Mast in Michigan, USA

Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965)
We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.
Found at the Critical Decision Web Site

Richard Nelson (? still creating):
It is the ancient wisdom of birds that battles are best fought with song.
Sent by Cindy Mead in Michigan, USA

Mark Twain (1835-1910):
There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.
Sent by Sue Remaley somewhere in Cyberspace

Martin Luther King (1929-1968):
Our age is one of guided missiles and unguided men.
Sent by Warren & Marita Jowett in Staveley, New Zealand

Aldo Leopold  (1887-1948)
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
Found at the Eco Orca Raft Trips Web Site

Albert Szent-Györgyi (1893-1986):
Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

William Blake (1757-1827):

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

sent by Whit Dieterich somehwere in Cyberspace

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use
Found at the Critical Decision Web Site

Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998):
Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
sent by Pieter du Plessis in Yellowwood Park, South Africa

T.S Eliot (1888-1965):

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

sent by Hannah Swithinbank in the United Kingdom

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Found at Charles Daney's Quotation Collection Web Site

Vincent van Gogh (1853 -1890)
“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to.... The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures."
Sent by Bea Laporte in Ontario, Canada

Marcus Aurelius (121-80 BC):
That which is not good for the beehive cannot be good for the bees.
Found at the Nature Quotes Web site

John Muir (1838-1914):
I only went out for a walk and  finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really  going in.
Found at the Alaska Pathways Web Site

St. Augustine (354-430):

The world is a book,
And those who do not travel,
Read only a page.

sent by Melanie Falconer-Brown in Kalbarri, Western Australia

Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
"If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”
Sent by Bea Laporte in Ontario, Canada

John Burroughs (1837-1921):
Every walk to the woods is a religious rite, every bath in the stream is a saving ordinance. Communion service is at all hours, and the bread and wine are from the heart and marrow of Mother Earth.
sent by an anonymous soul somewhere on the Internet

Plato (428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BCE):
The divine intelligence, being nurtured upon mind and pure knowledge, and the intelligence of every soul which is capable of receiving the food proper to it, rejoices at beholding reality, and once more gazing upon truth, is replenished and made glad...
Found in Jim Conrad's Naturalist Newsletter

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
Found at the Nature Writings Web Site

Rachel Carson (1907-1964):
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
found at the Rachel Carson Web site

André Gide (1869-1951):
One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Found at the Happy Otter Web Site

St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380):
All the way to Heaven is Heaven.
sent by Jim Conrad in Mississippi, USA

From the Christian Bible
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?
found at the Critical Decision Web Site

A Kenyan Proverb:
Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.
sent by Joy Casnovsky in Texas, USA

Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
"Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
sent by Michael J. Cohen from Washington State, USA

Victor Hugo (1802-1885):
First it was necessary to civilize man in relation to man. Now it is necessary to civilize man in relation to nature and the animals.
found at www.freespeech.org

William Wordsworth (1770-1850):

"One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man
Of moral evil and of good
Than all the sages can."

Sent by Eric Britton in Paris, France.