The Significance of the last paragraph of the first edition of the Origin of Species

Those lost few lines of the Origin of Species…

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

The last paragraph of the first edition: nothing has, or had quite transfixed me quite as powerfully as that – when I met those words. I was only eleven.

Yet, there is no doubt, they were without comparable exception, the most arresting evidence of man’s love of life that I had, until then, encountered. They sit at my side like a monument, no different in scope and depth than the love I carry for my sister.

They never left me. Etched fully they found themselves into the essential depths of my being and there they burrowed and made a permanent home. Like a storm, they drenched me with the beauty of their symphony.

Now every woven sinew of my being, every sense and sensibility, is poised and quiet, so very quiet, like a cathedral mouse humbled by the great anthem of nature all around, I am sat in the eye of the most incredible storm. One that can but carry all of mankind into a happier age, a golden age, a peaceful age.

And all because I have the poise of a heron who will not move. I can but be moved by the awesome and transfixing beauty of nature.

I see something working through me, these next few quiet days, communing with the greatest mathematician of the age, a family friend, and an ecologist of great stature, in this mirror of these colossal trees I see something that no one else sees.

One of the greatly praised and prized laws of nature it is given to me to utterly destroy it and wisely so. All because I looked into the mind and saw something in some plants no one had seen before. What an immense privilege it is to be alive.

© Copyright 2021 Nathan Curry

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