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Analysis:             Poet's Biography

John Burroughs (1837–1921) was an American naturalist and essayist, celebrated for his profound observations of the natural world. Although primarily known as a nature writer, his work is poetic in its expressiveness and emotional resonance. Born in the Catskill Mountains of New York, his childhood was deeply rooted in nature, setting the stage for a lifelong fascination with the outdoors. The works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were particularly influential in shaping his thought process, instilling in him a deep regard for transcendentalism and naturalism.

Poetic Schools and Movements

Burroughs never aligned himself with any particular poetic movement, as he was predominantly an essayist. However, his prose carries poetic elements, embodying the spirit of American Romanticism and Transcendentalism. His works are considered part of the American nature writing tradition, which also includes figures like John Muir, Rachel Carson, and Aldo Leopold.

Themes in Poetic Oeuvre

*Nature and Ecology: Unsurprisingly, nature forms the cornerstone of Burroughs' work. Unlike some naturalists who focused solely on scientific descriptions, Burroughs delved into the emotional and spiritual aspects of the natural world.

*Human Relationship with Nature: Burroughs examined how humans connect with the environment, often suggesting that a harmonious relationship is essential for spiritual and emotional well-being.

*Transcendentalism: Influenced by Emerson and Thoreau, Burroughs explored themes of individualism, the divine in nature, and the interconnectedness of all life.

*The Passage of Time: Throughout his long life, Burroughs reflected on aging, the changing seasons, and the cyclical nature of existence.

*Philosophical Inquiry: Though primarily known for his nature essays, Burroughs also pondered broader questions about life, morality, and the universe, often using nature as a metaphor or lens through which to explore these themes.

Influence and Honors

Burroughs was an influential figure in his lifetime, garnering respect not only from the academic community but also the general public. He was honored with numerous awards, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His essays, which often appeared in popular magazines, were later compiled into more than 20 books, serving as accessible introductions to natural history and conservation for a general readership.


John Burroughs stands as a monumental figure in American literature, especially within the genre of nature writing. His work transcends the boundaries of science and delves into the realms of philosophy, spirituality, and poetry. Though primarily an essayist, his work is often appreciated for its poetic nuances, offering readers a glimpse into the sublime wonders of the natural world. His philosophical inquiries extend his influence beyond the scope of nature writing, placing him within the broader tradition of American thought. His keen observations and insightful essays continue to be studied, not just as historical or environmental artifacts, but as enduring works of literary art.

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