Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

169 Inspiring Quotes by John Muir

Welcome to our collection of quotes by John Muir.

Wikipedia Summary for John Muir

John Muir ( MEWR; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) also known as "John of the Mountains" and "Father of the National Parks", was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America.

His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, and his example has served as an inspiration for the preservation of many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he co-founded, is a prominent American conservation organization.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. As part of the campaign to make Yosemite a national park, Muir published two landmark articles on wilderness preservation in The Century Magazine, "The Treasures of the Yosemite" and "Features of the Proposed Yosemite National Park"; this helped support the push for U.S. Congress to pass a bill in 1890 establishing Yosemite National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas.

John Muir has been considered "an inspiration to both Scots and Americans". Muir's biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become "one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity", both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he has often been quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. "Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world", writes Holmes.

Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for many people, making his name "almost ubiquitous" in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified "the archetype of our oneness with the earth", while biographer Donald Worster says he believed his mission was "saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism". On April 21, 2013, the first John Muir Day was celebrated in Scotland, which marked the 175th anniversary of his birth, paying homage to the conservationist.

white

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.


grayscale photo of woman wearing collared shirt

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.

--John Muir

Arizona landscape rocks

Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.

--John Muir


leafless tree on snow covered ground

When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.

--John Muir

green leaf in close up photography

One may as well dam for water tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.

--John Muir

lone tree in grassland

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.






purple flowers under sunny sky

It is a vast wilderness of rocks in a sea of light, colored and glowing like oak and maple in autumn, when the sun gold is richest.

--John Muir

three clear glass cups

Listen to them! How wholly infused with God is this one big word of love that we call the world!

--John Muir

red tulips

But to gain a perfect view, one must go yet further, over a curving brow to a slight shelf on the extreme brink.

--John Muir

silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

This time it is real -- all must die, and where could mountaineer find a more glorious death!

--John Muir

white and black floral textile

Winds are advertisements of all they touch, however much or little we may be able to read them; telling their wanderings even by their scents alone.

--John Muir

white flowers

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

--John Muir

closeup photography of brown and gray concrete bricks

Raindrops blossom brilliantly in the rainbow, and change to flowers in the sod, but snow comes in full flower direct from the dark, frozen sky.

--John Muir

silhouette of hugging couple

The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.

--John Muir

brown wooden surface

Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go; for the mountains are fountains -- beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal ken.

--John Muir




yellow sunflowers under white clouds and blue sky

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

--John Muir

man in black suit jacket and woman in blue dress kissing during daytime

What wonders lie in every mountain day!

--John Muir

closeup photo of white petaled flowers

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.


green leaf tree on shore

I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness. Heaven knows that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God's mountains.


yellow sunflower in close up photography

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,-a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.‎.


blue sky with white clouds

In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars.

--John Muir

woman singing on stage

I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling?

--John Muir

person standing on top of mountain

Tug on anything in nature and you will find it connected to everything else.

--John Muir

brown and white dog in close-up photography

Go quietly alone, no harm will befall you.

--John Muir


library shelf near black wooden ladder

One day's exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.


white and blue building under clear sky

Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarse senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.

--John Muir

white wooden dock on white sand

Ink cannot tell the glow that lights me at this moment in turning to the mountains. I feel strong enough to leap Yosemite walls at a bound.

--John Muir

person shadow boxing grayscale

I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if aware of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathise with the bears.

--John Muir

green leafed plants on forest

Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

--John Muir


red tulips flower

The substance of the winds is too thin for human eyes, their written language is too difficult for human minds, and their spoken language mostly too faint for the ears.

--John Muir


orange flowers

There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation's braggart lords.

--John Muir

pink tulips on gray wooden surface

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe ... The whole wilderness is unity and interrelation, is alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly.


silver round analog wall clock

I bade adieu to mechanical inventions, determined to devote the rest of my life to the study of the inventions of God.

--John Muir


flat lay photography teacup on top of saucer

When California was wild, it was the floweriest part of the continent.

--John Muir




white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains.

--John Muir

white wall paint beside white wall

Heaven knows that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God's mountains.

--John Muir

group of people waving their hands

As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.


closed door

The practical importance of the preservation of our forests is augmented by their relations to climate, soil and streams.

--John Muir

low angle photography of gray concrete building

The grand show is eternal
It is always sunrise somewhere.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round.


white ceramic pencil organizer on top of stack of books

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!


mountain dew during sunrise

Of all the paths you take in life,
make sure a few of them are dirt.

--John Muir

a man walks alone in the haze

Gigantic second and third growth trees are found in the redwoods, forming magnificent temple-like circles around charred ruins more than a thousand years old.

--John Muir

green grass field with smoke

The radiance in some places is so great as to be fairly dazzling... every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator.

--John Muir



yellow rose flower

What a psalm the storm was singing, and how fresh the smell of the washed earth and leaves, and how sweet the still small voices of the storm!

--John Muir

a couple holding hands with a wedding ring visible

A little pure wildness is the one great present want, both of men and sheep.

--John Muir


clear hour glass

My meals were easily made, for they were all alike and simple, only a cupful of tea and bread.

--John Muir

selective focus photo of iceberg on large body of water at winter

See how God writes history. No technical knowledge is required; only a calm day and a calm mind.

--John Muir

silhouette of man standing on rock while looking in sky

We live with our heels as well as head and most of our pleasure comes in that way.

--John Muir


white wall paint with black shadow

A lifetime is so little a time that we die before we get ready to live. I should like to study at a college, but then I have to say to myself: "You will die before you can do anything else."

--John Muir

photo of white and brown bricked wall during daytime

The last days of this glacial winter are not yet past; we live in 'creation's dawn.' The morning stars still sing together, and the world, though made, is still being made and becoming more beautiful every day.

--John Muir

empty seashore near high-rise building

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.

--John Muir

green leafed plant on clear glass vase filled with water

I suppose we need not go mourning the buffaloes. In the nature of things, they had to give place to better cattle, though the change might have been made without barbarous wickedness.

--John Muir


grayscale photography of woman

But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life...as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures.

--John Muir

woman on seashore near island under blue sky

Yosemite Park... None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.

--John Muir

raging waves through shores

The battle we have fought, and are still fighting, for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong.

--John Muir



rock formation surrounding by body of water

Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds or the music of water written in river-lines?

--John Muir


solid background

A queer fellow and a jolly fellow is the grasshopper. Up the mountains he comes on excursions, how high I don't know, but at least as far and high as Yosemite tourists.

--John Muir

blue and black abstract painting

None of Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.

--John Muir

purple and white clouds during night time

Only spread a fern-frond over a man's head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in.

--John Muir

round analog watch with black leather strap on top of white wooden surface

By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs -- now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life.

--John Muir

brown wooden surface

When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell... I asked the boulders I met, whence they came and whither they were going.

--John Muir

four person standing beside wall

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life...Awful in stern, immovable majesty, how softly these rocks are adorned, and how fine and reassuring the company they keep: Their feet among beautiful groves and meadows, their brows in the sky, a thousand flowers leaning confidingly against their feet, bathed in floods of water, floods of light.




black and white abstract illustration

How narrow we selfish conceited creatures are in our sympathies! How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!

--John Muir


yellow sunflower under blue sky during daytime

Galen Clark was the best mountaineer I ever met, and one of the kindest and most amiable of all my mountain friends.

--John Muir

white wall paint with black shadow

It is easier to feel than to realize, or in any way explain, Yosemite grandeur. The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so delicately harmonized, they are mostly hidden.

--John Muir

silhouette photography of person in gray sailing boat in the middle of body of water

Sequoia seeds have flat wings, and glint and glance in their flight like a boy's kite.

--John Muir

white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

In this silent, serene wilderness the weary can gain a heart-bath in perfect peace.

--John Muir


backdrop

No words will ever describe the exquisite beauty and charm of this mountain park -- Nature's landscape garden at once tenderly beautiful and sublime. No wonder it draws nature-lovers from all over the world.

--John Muir

Arizona landscape

I...am always glad to touch the living rock again and dip my hand in the high mountain air.

--John Muir



silhouette of grass under moonlight

When a man plants a tree, he plants himself.

--John Muir

two white flowers

God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.

--John Muir


pet dog sitting down on snow

One can make a day of any size.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

One can make a day of any size and regulate the rising and setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining.


purple flowered hedge plants

Many of Nature's finest lessons are to be found in her storms, and if careful to keep in right relations with them, we may go safely abroad with them, rejoicing in the grandeur and beauty of their works and ways.

--John Muir

beach during daytime

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.


black Corona typewriter on brown wood planks

Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence?

--John Muir

None

The world, we are told, was made especially for man -- a presumption not supported by all the facts.

--John Muir

solid background

So also there are tides and floods in the affairs of men, which in some are slight and may be kept within bounds, but in others they overmaster everything.

--John Muir

yellow, orange, red, green, and blue abstract painting

Strange the faithless fuss made about taking a walk in the safest and pleasantest of all places, a wilderness.

--John Muir


river painting

Hidden in the glorious wildness like unmined gold.

--John Muir

smiling woman

The finest of the glacier meadow gardens lie ...imbedded in the upper pine forests like lakes of light.

--John Muir

brown and white butterfly on purple petaled flower

The world's big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.

--John Muir

brown grass field during daytime

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.

--John Muir




pink flower

Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.

--John Muir

full moon in the sky

One should go to the woods for safety, if for nothing else.

--John Muir

woman holding Pug puppy

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.


A view of the night showing stars

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings.


brown butterfly perched on flower

Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.

--John Muir

closeup photo of violin on brown surface

We all flow from one fountain.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

We all flow from one fountain- Soul. All are expressions of one love.



backdrop

Nothing can be done well at a speed of forty miles a day. The multitude of mixed, novel impressions rapidly piled on one another make only a dreamy, bewildering, swirling blur, most of which is unrememberable.

--John Muir

sunset

Writing is like the life of a glacier; one eternal grind.

--John Muir


man in black suit jacket and woman in blue dress kissing during daytime

Most people are on the world, not in it.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Most people are on the world, not in it-- having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them-- undiffused seporate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but seporate.


cumulus clouds

I never saw a discontented tree.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.


three clear drinking glasses with brown liquid

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening - still all is Beauty!


multicolored heart LED light on wall

Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best.

--John Muir

snow-capped mountain at the horizon viewed from lake dock

Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.

--John Muir

green leafed seedlings on black plastic pots

I always enjoyed the hearty society of a snowstorm.

--John Muir



yellow sunflower under blue sky during daytime

Lizards of every temper, style, and color dwell here, seemingly as happy and companionable as the birds and squirrels.

--John Muir

shallow focus photography of snowflake

In the eternal youth of Nature, you may renew your own.

--John Muir

yellow green leaf

How terribly downright must be the utterances of storms and earthquakes to those accustomed to the soft hypocrisies of society.

--John Muir

two gold-colored skeleton keys

The power of imagination is infinite.

--John Muir


landscape photography of mountain

It may not be easy, life isn't easy, but dreams keep you alive.

--John Muir


forest trees photograph

Men use care in purchasing a horse, and are neglectful in choosing friends.

--John Muir

man standing outdoors

In every country the mountains are fountains, not only of rivers but of men. Therefore we all are born mountaineers, the offspring of rock and sunshine.

--John Muir


person shadow boxing grayscale

Hiking. I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains...the se mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them.

--John Muir

pink tulips in close up photography

Memories may escape the action of the will, may sleep a long time, but when stirred by the right influence, though that influence be light as a shadow, they flash into full stature and life with everything in place.

--John Muir

brown grass field during daytime

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.

--John Muir

brown wooden hanging bridge surrounded by green trees during daytime

The blessings of one mountain day, whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.

--John Muir

brown, black, and white butterfly on purple petaled flower photo

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes- all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.




green fruit in macro lens photography

Look! Nature is overflowing with the grandeur of God!

--John Muir

starry night in Texas

I wish I knew where I was going. Doomed to be carried of the spirit into the wilderness, I suppose. I wish I could be more moderate in my desires, but I cannot, and so there is no rest.

--John Muir

yellow flower field during sunset

You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.

--John Muir

round analog watch with black leather strap on top of white wooden surface

The water in music the oar forsakes. The air in music the wing forsakes. All things in move in music and write it. The mouse, lizard, and grasshopper sing together on the Turlock sands, sing with the morning stars.

--John Muir

seashore during daytime

If people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.

--John Muir


silhouette of three men falling in line while walking during golden hour

Come to the woods, for here is rest.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.


white petaled flower

Better to toil blindly, beating every stone in turn for grains of gold, whether they contain any or not, than lie down in apathetic decay.

--John Muir

brown textile in close up image

When I first caught sight of Mount Shasta over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.

--John Muir

landscape photography of mountains with cloudy skies during golden hour

Keep in view the common good of the people for all time.

--John Muir

selective focus of common poppy flower

Quench love, and what is left of a man's life but the folding of a few jointed bones and square inches of flesh? Who would call that life?

--John Muir


sunset

Nothing truly wild is unclean.

--John Muir

Blue to purple gradient

The mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soil, but of men.

--John Muir

Longer Version:

The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains - mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature's workshops.


blooming yellow sunflower field

Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach.

--John Muir

sunset

I might have become a millionaire, but I chose to become a tramp.

--John Muir

black pug puppy on green textile

Divine love is the sublime boss of the universe.

--John Muir

green leafed tree on body of water under starry sky

Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings.

--John Muir

We wish you a perfect day!