Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.
–Baudelaire, “Correspondences” (Willaim Aggeler translation)
A forest is the metaphor for this site. Like a forest, rhetoric provides tremendous resources for many purposes. However, one can easily become lost in a large, complex habitat (whether it be one of wood or of wit). The organization of this central page and the hyperlinks within individual pages should provide a map, a discernible trail, to lay hold of the utility and beauty of this language discipline.
—Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric
Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost.
–Dante, The Inferno (Robert Pinksy translation)
In this I would imitate travelers who, finding themselves lost in a forest, ought not to wander this way and that, or what is worse, remain in one place, but ought always to walk as straight a line as they can in one direction and not change course for feeble reasons, even if at the outset it was perhaps only chance that made them choose it; for by this means, if they are not going where they wish, they will finally arrive at least somewhere where they will be better off than in the middle of a forest.
–Descartes, Discourse on Method (Donald A. Cress translation)
I sank down on the bench, stupefied, stunned by this profusion of beings without origin: everywhere blossomings, hatchings out, my ears buzzed with existence, my very flesh throbbed and opened, abandoned itself to the universal burgeoning. It was repugnant. But why, I thought, why so many existences, since they all look alike? What good are so many duplicates of trees?
–Sartre, Nausea (Lloyd Alexander translation)
The mind is the source of all confusion, and the body is the forest of all impure actions.
—The Sutra on the Eight Great Realizations of Great Beings