John Muir


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in appreciable beauty and impressiveness. The light seems to thicken and become more generously fruitful. Everything is in conscious repose, winds only breathing gently or wholly asleep; the few clouds downy and luminous, scarce casting a shadow; a white gull here and there winnowing the warm air on easy wing; no singing birds even to stir and sweeten the air and keep one’s senses separately active and awake; sky, water, islands and mountains blending in one inseparable scene of brooding enchantment. Then comes the sunset with its exciting colors, mingled purple and gold; not a narrow arch on the horizon, but filling half the sky, its focal point well round to the North. I have seen far more gorgeous sunsets than any I have yet witnessed here, but never any more impressive. The clouds that usually bar the horizon are fired on the edges, while the spaces between glow in yellow and green, and a soft mellowed purple flushes the sky to the zenith and fills the air fairly drenching and dissolving the islands in its rich glowing floods. { Sketch } The crimson and gold soon vanish after the sun goes beneath the horizon, but instead of going straight down it sinks on a curve nearly concentric with it, so that even this glowing portion of the display lasts much longer than in more Southern latitudes while the upper colors, with gradually lessening intensity, sweep on around to the North and unite with those of the morning. The sun never sinking but a few degrees below the horizon has even at midnight power to reach and color the lowlying clouds and mists that hang along the sky. The colors, then, of the sunset circle around to the northward and eastward and unite with those of the sunrise. The most extravagantly beautiful of all the richly colored sunsets I have yet seen in this cool moist northland was one that was painted on one of the late July days when we were about half way between Nanaimo and Fort Wrangell in the midst of one of the most thickly sown of the archipelagoes. The most of the day had been rainy, but during the latter part of the afternoon the clouds cleared away, all save a few that lay along the { sketch: West of Wrangell.}

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 8.5 x 13.5 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist