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Thanatopsis
Thanatopsis
by William Cullen Bryant

Thanatopsis Man and the Natural World Quotes Page 2

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Quote #4

Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim  
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, (22-23)

There’s nothing in the human body that isn’t part of nature.  Everything that makes us up, every atom of our body, came from the earth, and it’s all going back there when we die.  It’s a simple idea, but also kind of profound, too.  We always think of nature as something that happened "out there," in a field or under the stars.  Of course, Bryant is right – we’re carrying nature around with us all the time in our bodies.  Cool, huh?

Quote #5

Or lose thyself in the continuous woods  
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound, (52-53)

This is a weird and wild little expedition right in the middle of the poem.  Without much warning, we zoom across the continent to the endless forests of the American West.  When Bryant was writing this in Massachusetts in the early 1800s, the West and the Oregon (Columbia) River were almost completely unknown to European-American settlers.  Just think how exciting all that open land would have been to a teenager like Bryant.

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