the natural world
Egret, the oldest independent
U.S. journal of nature
Egret, Vol. 75, #1
recent nature writing,
natural history and guidebooks with Book
to the best of the environmental
new age CDs discovered
by the Outrider
“In an epiphany of mad reason, Lear considers the naked Edgar,
who has stripped himself to put on the disguise of a madman.
"'Thou art the thing itself,' Lear declaims.; 'unaccommodated man is no
more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art (3.4.105-7).'
"Each point of specification the old king offers in this familiar line
assesses the human estate by comparative reference to the bodily forms
and natural capacities of nonhuman animals.
"It is worth reminding ourselves how sharoly negative these comparisons
Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales
by Laurie Shannon
University Of Chicago Press, 2012
"Likewise to every beast of the earth and to every foule of the heaven,
and to every thing that moveth upon the earth, which hath life in it
selfe, every greene herbe shall be for meate."
While the early Bible attentively noted the presence of other creatures
in our world, they are never referred to by the English word "animal"
the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560 or the King James
The widely used noun is likewise missing from almost all of
Shakespeare's oeuvre, save eight instances, while the words "beast" and
appear more than a hundred times and references to specific species are
"Exit, pursued by a bear."
The distinction is significant, acccording to professor Laurie Shannon,
reflecting an important change in our relationship with the natural
world and its non-human creatures, denying "animals" a place in the
world that our thinking previously accommodated.
Field Hare by Albrecht Durer
Divine Appointment of Animals
In 1542, the great German monk and Protestant
reformer Martin Luther lived in a household that included horses, pigs,
cows, calves, chicken, pigeons, geese and a dog Tölpel "whom
Luther expected to meet in heaven."
Luther believed that animals were witnesses and messengers of God's
glory -- an intended worldly presence -- and not simply created for the
convenience and sustenance of man, according to Shannon's analysis.
"Fruits were created chiefly as food for people and for beasts; the
latter were created to the end we should laud and praise God."
In his Lectures
on Genesis 1-5, Luther writes that "the mouse, too, is a divine
creature... It has a very beautiful form - such pretty feet and such
delicate hair that it is clear that it was created by the word of God
with a definite plan in view. Therefore here, too, we admire God's
creation and workmanship. The same thing may be said about flies."
Shannon's analysis of Luther's comments concludes that "the
here-and-now facticity of observed animals grounds their privilege and
divine appointment, and their presence as such warrants a spiritual
to The Nature Pages