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Rachel Carson (43 items)

  • It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.

  • Beginnings are apt to be shadowy ...

  • For all at last return to the sea — to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.

  • Autumn comes to the sea with a fresh blaze of phosphorescence, when every wave crest is aflame. Here and there the whole surface may glow with sheets of cold fire, while below schools of fish pour through the water like molten metal.

  • When we go down to the low-tide line, we enter a world that is as old as the earth itself — the primeval meeting place of the elements of earth and water, a place of compromise and conflit and eternal change.

  • Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary. The shore has a dual nature, changing with the swing of the tides, belonging now to the land, now to the sea.

  • Nowhere on the shore is the relation of a creature to its surroundings a matter of a single cause and effect; each living thing is bound to its world by many threads, weaving the intricate design of the fabric of life.

  • For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.

  • Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.

  • The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea ... this pollution is for the most part irrecoverable.

  • No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves.

  • As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life — a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways.

  • Under the philosophy that now seems to guide our destinies, nothing must get in the way of the man with the spray gun.

  • In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.

  • The 'control of nature' is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.

  • To have risked to much in our efforts to mold nature to our satisfaction and yet to have failed in achieving our goal would indeed be the final irony. Yet this, it seems, is our situation.

  • Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.

  • If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder ... he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

  • ... the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little.

  • A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.

  • There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

  • A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

  • If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. ... Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response.

  • Then the song of a whitethroat, pure and ethereal, with the dreamy quality of remembered joy.

  • Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

  • ... for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused - a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love - then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he's not ready to assimilate.

  • There is one quality that characterizes all of us who deal with the sciences of the earth and its life — we are never bored.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1963, in Paul Brooks, The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work ()
  • ... we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priestlike in their laboratories. This is not true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1952, in Paul Brooks, The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work ()
  • I still feel there is a case to be made for my old belief that as man approaches the 'new heaven and the new earth' — or the space-age universe, if you will, he must do so with humility rather than with arrogance.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • in Martha Freeman, ed., Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 ()
  • I am always more interested in what I am about to do than in what I have already done.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • in Martha Freeman, ed., Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 ()
  • Help me search for a fairy cave on an August moon and a low, low tide.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1963, in Martha Freeman, ed., Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 ()
  • Darling — I suppose the world would consider us absolutely crazy, but it is wonderful to feel that way, isn't it? Sort of a perpetual springtime in our hearts.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1954, in Martha Freeman, ed., Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 ()
  • It seems as though I had known you for years instead of weeks, for time doesn't matter when two people think and feel in the same way about so many things.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1952, in Martha Freeman, ed., Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman 1952-1964 ()
  • The ocean is a place of paradoxes. It is the home of the great white shark, two-thousand-pound killer of the seas, and of the hundred-foot blue whale, the largest animal that ever lived. It is also the home of living things so small that your two hands might scoop up as many of them as there are stars in the Milky Way.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1937, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • ... the sea is a place of mystery. One by one, the mysteries of yesterday have been solved. But the solution seems always to bring with it another, perhaps a deeper mystery. I doubt that the last, final mysteries of the sea will ever be resolved. In fact, I cherish a very unscientific hope that they will not be.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1937, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • ... I believe that 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.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1954, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • Every mystery solved brings us to the threshold of a greater one.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1954, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • In every grain of sand there is a story of the earth.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • ... I believe natural beauty has a necessary place in the spiritual develpoment of any individual or any society. I believe that whenever we destroy beauty, or whenever we substitute something man-made and artificial for a natural feature of the earth, we have retarded some part of man's spiritual growth.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1954, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • In spite of our rather boastful talk about progress, and our pride in the gadgets of civilization, there is, I think, a growing suspicion — indeed, perhaps an uneasy certainty — that we have been sometimes a little too ingenious for our own good. In spite of the truly marvelous inventiveness of the human brain, we are beginning to wonder whether our power to change the face of nature should not have been tempered with wisdom for our own good, and with a greater sense of responsibility for the welfare of generations to come.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1963, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • ... there remains, in this space-age universe, the possibility that man's way is not always the best.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1963, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one 'less traveled by' — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.

  • One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'

Rachel Carson, U.S. environmentalist, marine biologist, writer

(1907 - 1964)

Full name: Rachel Louise Carson.