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Poet and Painter Rebecca Hey’s Gorgeous 19th-Century Illustrations for the World’s First Encyclopedia of Trees – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees,” William Blake wrote in his most beautiful letter a quarter millennium before scientists began to see the molecular poetry of what trees feel and how they communicate. Perched partway in time between Blake’s time and ours, and partway in sensibility between the poetic and the scientific, Sylvan Musings, or,…

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Edmund Burke’s Remarkable Letter to His Children About Generosity and the Importance of Honoring the Dignity of Those in Need – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

The Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729–July 9, 1797) was a rare centaur of a creature. Although in the centuries since his death his ideas have been somewhat hijacked to conservative ends, in his own day they were embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. A staunch champion of freedom and a vocal critic of British colonialism, he influenced minds as vast and varied as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, her radical philosopher father William Godwin, Romantic poetry beacons…

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Cecilia Payne, Who Discovered the Chemical Fingerprint of the Universe, on the Science of Stars and the Muse of All Great Scientists – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

In his stirring poem “The More Loving One,” W.H. Auden asked: “How should we like it were stars to burn / With a passion for us we could not return?” It is a perennial question — how to live with our human fragility of feeling in a dispassionate universe. But our passions, along with everything we feel and everything we are, do belong to the stars, in the most elemental sense. “We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for…

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Shelley’s Prescient Case for Animal Rights and the Spiritual Value of Vegetarianism – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals,” the great nature writer Henry Beston wrote in 1928 as he contemplated belonging and the web of life, adding: “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.” Since the dawn of our species and its consciousness, we have reverenced other animals…

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