As pointed out by Bear (1), The Brown Wasps is a Loren Eiseley’s essay which demonstrates how human sense of place and self can be based. “The Brown Wasps” by Loren Eiseley in “The Best American Essays of the Century”. This matter of an imaginary space or home that we keep. Loren Eiseley () is an author I’ve heard of but never with, and choosing his essay “The Brown Wasps” is a way to help remedy the.

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In his wake, like birds rising and settling behind the passage of a farmer through a cornfield, the men totter up, move a few paces and subside once more upon the benches. Like the brown wasps, he will have had his wish to die in the great droning center of the hive rather than in some lonely room.

The Brown Wasps

One time, at a window, a dragonfly perched on the outside ledge. Life disappears or modifies its appearances so fast that everything takes on an aspect of illusion–a momentary fizzing and boiling with smoke rings, like pouring dissident chemicals into a retort. He spent his childhood exploring his natural surroundings in Lincoln, Nebraska before enrolling at the University of Nebraska, where he studied English, geology, bron anthropology.

She points out that the tree which was planted by the boy sixty years ago had taken roots in his mind and he believed that living under its branches was going to make him prosper. It was planted sixty years ago by a boy with a bucket and a toy spade in a little Nebraska town.

I looked under beds or sat reading with one ear cocked for eisfley in the ferns. In sixty years the house and street had rotted out of my mind. Search for a topic: They flew in bravely in and out among the sparks and the hammers and the shouting workmen. It is not so bad here with the shuffle of footsteps and the knowledge that there are others who share the bad luck of the world. Finally they flew away.

As I snapped on the light and glanced carelessly around the room, I saw a little heap of earth on the carpet ad a scrabble of pebbles that had been kicked merrily over the edge of one of the flower pots.


“The Brown Wasps” by Loren Eiseley () | Ned Stuckey-French

He had an image in his head, a world of seed pods and quiet, of green sheltering leaves in the dim light among the weed stems. A Guide for the Civilized Male. Eiseley is preaching about in this essay tthe is important to men and other species?

Eiseley compares the homeless men who find shelter in train stations with the scenario of the wasp that continuously revisits its hive for accommodation. Then the temperature would fall and they would drop away into the white oblivion of the snow. After a muttered conversation the policeman presses a coin into his hand and passes fiercely along the benches prodding and gesturing toward the door.

I wet to work every morning by one particular station, and the time came when the demolition crews reached this spot. A cat, dog or cow returns to a house or barn but do they see the building as anything other than a place where biological needs are met for food, shelter and protection?

Something that had to be held in the air, or sustained in the mind, because it was part of my orientation in the universe and I could eixeley survive without it. It was a small dream, like our dreams, carried a long and weary journey along pipes and through spider webs, past holes over which loomed the shadows of waiting cats, and finally, desperately, rbown this room where he had played in the shuttered daylight for an hour among the green ferns on the floor.

Do they sense the eseley to go back to a nest, and die trying to get there?

Without such a home concept–for say the voices from “spiritualist seances” for example–that seem to be “voices out of nowhere whose only reality lies in their ability to stir the memory of a living person with some fragment of the past”–he says we become confused and lost. Field Notes Pioneers and explorers of nature and environmental writing. Numbed and forgetful and frost-blackened, the hum of the spring hive still resounded faintly in their sodden tissues. It was then, strangely, momentarily, one morning that I witnessed the return of a little band waspd the familiar pigeons.


The essay begins with a survey of dying men and their similarity to dying wasps. It was obvious I was attached by a thread to a thing that had never been bown, or certainly not for long. This ancient El with loden barnlike stations containing a nut-vending machines and scattered food scraps had, for generations, been brrown favorite feeding ground of flocks of pigeons, generally one flock to a station along the route of the El.

This is evident when Eiseley denotes a group of pigeons who returned to the demolished railway station in order to hopefully recreate their home. Or sometimes it is a thing of air, a lore of vaporous distortion above a heap of rubble. But the tree, the tree that longer was, that had perished in its first season, bloomed on in my individual mind, unblemished as my father’s words.

Eiseley has noted, dying wasps linger around their paper homes until they are worn to death. I purchased a ticket and at the end of the two thousand miles I walked another mile to an address that was still the same.

Equally, Eiseley notes as dying wasps are lingering around their hives until they are worn out and died. Probably very few among the waiting people who tossed a crumb to an eager pigeon realized that this El was like a food-bearing eisekey, and that the life which haunted its bank was dependent upon the running of the trains with their human freight.

The Brown Wasps

I find such a flow in his writing, a sort of mental meandering at the side of a man on an exploration of the world and of time –done simultaneously with him–as conducive to a small broadening of my own mind. In a precisely similar manner I have seen, on a sunny day in midwinter, a few old brown wasps creep over an abandoned wasp nest in a thicket. For an hour they may sleep in the gasping exhaustion of the ill-nourished and aged who have to walk in the night.