In the 1836 edition, for example, Emerson introduced the essay with a quotation from the Roman philosopher Plotinus, but when he reprinted the essay in 1849, he omitted Plotinus' poetic line and inserted one of his own poems.Some of today's literary anthologies do not include either epigraph; others include both.He reprinted it in his 1849 edition of Nature; Addresses, and Lectures.
The 1836 epigraph from Plotinus reads: "Nature is but an image or imitation of wisdom, the last thing of the soul; Nature being a thing which doth only do, but not know." This poetic line emphasizes a theme that runs throughout the essay: Nature does not have a personality of its own.
When we say, for instance, that nature is upset because a storm is violently raging outside, we are projecting a human emotion onto nature that it itself does not possess.
Emerson's earliest reference to an essay on nature occurs in his journal for 1833.
Three years later, in 1836, he anonymously published his now-famous Nature.
But let not a man trust his victory over his nature, too far; for nature will lay buried a great time, and yet revive, upon the occasion or temptation.
Like as it was with AEsop’s damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demutely at the board’s end, till a mouse ran before her.
Essays include “Nature” (1836) and Emerson’s first series, published in 1841: “History,” “Self-Reliance,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Love,” “Friendship,” “Prudence,” “Heroism,” “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” “Intellect,” and “Art.” Nature and Other Essays joins Gibbs Smith’s best-selling Wilderness series.
Standing beside the works of his protégée Henry David Thoreau, as well as John Muir, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Jack London, these essays are reissued to encourage and inspire philosophers, travelers, campers, and contemporary naturalists.
IN MEN NATURE is often hidden; sometimes overcome; seldom extinguished.
Force, maketh nature more violent in the return; doctrine and discourse, maketh nature less importune; but custom only doth alter and subdue nature.