Rachel Carson Excerpts

Click on the highlighted text to view these examples of Rachel Carson's writing.

"If you travel much in the wilder sections of our country, sooner or later you are likely to meet the sign of the flying goose - the emblem of the national wildlife refuges.
You may meet it by the side of a road crossing miles of flat prairie in the Middle West, or in the hot deserts of the Southwest. You may meet it by some mountain lake, or as you push your boat through the winding salty creeks of a coastal march. Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization. Wild creatures, like men, must have a place to live. As civilization creates cities, builds highways, and drains marshes, it takes away, little by little, the land that is suitable for wildlife. And as their space for living dwindles, the wildlife populations themselves decline. Refuges resist this trend by saving some areas from encroachment, and by preserving in them, or restoring where necessary, the conditions that wild things need in order to live."
- Rachel Carson
*This essay introduced the series, "Conservation in Action," a marvelously written collection of narratives about refuges and the refuge system. When she wrote this, Rachel Carson was a scientist and the chief editor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

"A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods." From The Sense of Wonder, 1965 (posthumously) 

"Before sunset, the skies lightened and the wind abated. While it was yet light the sanderlings left the barrier island…" From Under the Sea-Wind, 1941  

"I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel." From The Sense of Wonder, 1965 

"A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement." From The Sense of Wonder, 1965 

"Mankind has gone very far into an artificial world of his own creation." From Carson’s speech in acceptance of the National Book Award, 1963 

"…the way is being cleared for a raid upon our natural resources that is without parallel within the present century." Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, 1953 

"Only within the 20th Century has biological thought been focused on ecology, or the relation of the living creature to its environment." From Carson’s essay on the biological sciences in Good Reading, 1958 

"I like to define biology as the history of the earth and all its life – past, present, and future." Introduction to Humane Biology Projects, 1961 

"The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth." From Carson’s remarks at her acceptance of the National Book Award for Nonfiction