Animal Nations

We need another and a wiser and perhaps

a more mystical concept of animals.

Remote from universal nature,

and living by complicated artifice,

man in civilization surveys the

creatures through the glass of his

knowledge and sees thereby a feather

magnified and the whole image in distortion.

We patronize them for their incompleteness,

for their tragic fate of having taken

form so far below ourselves.

And therein we err,

and greatly err.

For the animal shall not be measured by man.

In a world older and more complete

than ours they move finished and complete,

gifted with extensions of the senses we

have lost or never attained,

living by voices we shall never hear.

They are not brethren,

they are not underlings;

they are other nations,

caught with ourselves in

the net of life and time,

fellow prisoners of the splendor

and travail of the earth.

Henry Beston, The Outermost House


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