John Muir


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Thousands of joyous streams are born in the snowy range but not a poet among them all can sing like Merced Men are not born equal neither are rivers The Merced was born a poet A perfect seraph among its fellows The first utterances of its childhood are sweet uncommon song & in its glorious harmonies of manhood it excels all the vocal waters of the world & when its days of mountain sublimity are past in quiet age down on the plains amid landwaves of purple & gold its lifeblood throbs with poetic emotion & with a smooth sheet of soft music it hushes & tinkles & goes to death in a maze of dipping willows & broad green oaks an Amazon of thoughtfulness & majesty. Oh who shall describe these golden


plains of age, these grand green forests of spruce & boundless tangle of blooming shrubs & to the level velvet glacial daisy gentian meadows in which the gleaming arteries of this most noble of rivers lie [are laid]

One day when walking along the coral shores of Cuba [to] gathering shells I found a tiny fragile purple flower with its circlet of petals confidingly [cast] open to the bright tropic sun It lived in [coral] rocks that were washed by the heavy [tremendous] white capped waves of every storm from the North In these “Northers” the dread of seamen Wave after wave rolled over it tons in weight [& with a settled irresistible force] sufficient to crush a ship [at a single blow] but the little purple plant tended by its Maker closed it petals, crouched low in its crevice of a home & enjoyed the storm in safety

Date Original

November 1869


Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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