“Nature is the art of God“, says Thomas Browne, and the beauty of nature proclaims the greatness of the Creator. The beautiful objects and aspects of nature have always exercised a profound influence on the human heart, and man has loved nature from the dawn of civilization to the present day. Nature’s beauties appeal to the human heart and fill it with wonder, rapture, and delight. Nature elevates the human soul and ennobles it with its purity, sublimity, and grandeur. Poets, painters, scientists, and philosophers have admired the beauty of nature in their own way. The smiling flowers, the blue expanse of star-bespangled sky, the boundless seas, and the snow-capped hills have reacted differently to poets, scientists, and philosophers. The poet observes nature with imagination and emotion, the scientist with reason and intellect, and the philosopher with his intuitive vision of the higher reality.
The condition of those persons is, indeed, pitiable who fail to enjoy the beauty of nature. But happily, such people are exceptions. For most of us, the early summer has a special charm. We enjoy the sweet-scented air and the glorious sunshine. The songs of birds and the murmur of insects keep us spellbound. The meadows with their golden butterflies, the blooming flowers with their soul-entrancing fragrance, the humming bees, the scent of the new-mown hay, the luxury of the leaves, the unalloyed joy of finch and blackbird,- and all these beauties of nature in a summer-morn thrill us with joy, and we feel with Jefferies, “The hours when the mind is absorbed by the beauties of nature are the only hours when we really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things, so much is snatched from inevitable Time.” These are the only hours that are not wasted- these hours that absorb the soul and fill it with beauty. This is real life, and all else is an illusion or mere endurance. To be beautiful and to be calm, without mental fear, is the idea of Nature.
Poets have been thrilled with delight at the varied beauty of nature, and they have expressed their warm appreciation of these beauties in their admirable poetic work. The imagination of the poet enables him to enjoy Nature with a fullness of heart that no scientist can feel in his life. The poet’s appreciation of nature is not only imaginative but is equally emotional, because the beauty of nature stirs the hearts of the poets to the innermost depth, and sends waves of ecstasy through their frames. Dawn and spring, beautiful landscapes, rippling waves, and floating clouds- all delight the poets. The clouds, the scenes of spring and autumn, the birds and flowers, dawn and sunset are rendered in poem after poem of exquisite beauty by poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Bridges, Davies, Masefield, and many other poets of all times and different countries.
The scientist’s attitude towards the beauty of nature is not that of a poet or mystic. It is the attitude of a realist. The scientist murders the beauty of nature by dissecting them. To him, the beauty of nature does not appear so majestic and grand as they do to the poet. The scientists take off the veil from the charming aspects of nature and go deep into its beauties. The forces of Nature, once so dreaded and dark, are seen by the scientist to be intelligible, orderly, and capable of adapting to the purposes of man. Scientists kill the purely aesthetic and imaginative delight in the beauty of nature. In “Lamia” Keats complains that scientists destroy the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to prismatic colors. The poet complains against the scientist:
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven; We know her woof; her texture; she is given In the dull catalog of common things.
Philosophers and mystics like Wordsworth have found deeper meaning in the beauties of nature. These great philosophic and poetic thinkers have seen in nature the presence of the divine spirit, the Invisible revealing Himself in the visible marvels of nature. Some have found in nature a source of unending mysteries, and others have seen a spirit running through the various objects of Nature. The beauty of nature has furnished men with moral lessons and revealed great truths. Plato regarded the outward forms and beauties of nature as mere copies of the idea.
Wordsworth believed confidently that the divine spirit moves through the objects and beauties of nature. In “Tintern Abbey” he describes how in Nature he felt:
A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply intertwined
The poet-philosophers have derived spiritual and moral lessons from the beauty of Nature. In “The Tables Turned” Wordsworth writes:
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man Of moral evil and of good Than all the sages can.
Nature with its varied beauties has been a source of great inspiration to poets and philosophers as well as ordinary men. Tolstoy in his essay “Condition of Happiness” points out threat one of the condition of happiness in life is the capacity of man to enjoy the beauties of Nature. We enjoy the beauty of Nature, and this ability to enjoy the beauty of nature is the crowning glory of man’s life in the world.