perhaps we may now begin to see why men have an almost universal tendency to seek relief from their own kind among the trees and plants, the mountains and waters. there is an easy and rather cheap sophistication in mocking the love of nature, but there is always something profound and essential in the universal theme of poetry, however hackneyed. for hundreds of years the great poets of east and west have given expression to this basically human love of 'communing with nature,' a phrase which in present-day intellectual circles seems to have acquired a slightly ridiculous tone. presumably it is regarded as one of those 'escapes from reality' so much condemned by those who restrict reality to what one reads about in the newspapers. 

but perhaps this love of nonhuman nature is that communion with it restores us to a level of our own human nature at which we are sane, free from humbug, and untouched by anxieties about the meaning and purpose of our lives. for what we call 'nature' is free from a certain kind of scheming and self-importance. the birds and beasts indeed pursue their business of eating and breeding with the utmost devotion. but they do not justify it; they do not pretend that it serves higher ends, or that it makes a significant contribution to the progress of the world.

this is not meant to sound unkind to human beings, because the point is not so simple as that the birds are right and we are wrong. the point is that rapport with the marvellously purposeless world of nature gives us new eyes for ourselves--eyes in which our very self-importance is not condemned, but seen as something quite other than what it imagines itself to be. in this light all the weirdly abstract and pompous pursuits of men are suddenly transformed into natural marvels of the same order as the immense beaks of the toucans and hornbills, the fabulous tails of the birds of paradise, the towering necks of the giraffes, and the vividly polychromed posteriors of the baboons. seen thus, neither as something to be condemned nor in its accustomed aspect of serious worth, the self-importance of man dissolves in laughter.

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