Emerson: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the best-loved figures in nineteenth-century American literature. Though he earned his central place in our culture as an essayist and philosopher, since his death his reputation as a poet has grown as well.
Known for challenging traditional thought and for his faith in the individual, Emerson was the chief spokesman for the Transcendentalist movement. His poems speak to his most passionately held belief: that external authority should be disregarded in favor of one’s own experience. From the embattled farmers who “fired the shot heard round the world” in the stirring “Concord Hymn,” to the flower in “The Rhodora,” whose existence demonstrates “that if eyes were made for seeing, / Then Beauty is its own excuse for being,” Emerson celebrates the existence of the sublime in the human and in nature.
Combining intensity of feeling with his famous idealism, Emerson’s poems reveal a moving, more intimate side of the man revered as the Sage of Concord.
must versify, Through College like a thousand drums But when well through then then oh my The dark dull night of Business comes. While this my letter you peruse, Frown no long-faced apostrophe, Dare not to blame the wayward muse, Nor scowl the scrof’lous brow at me – * * * Perhaps thy lot in life is higher Than the fates assign to me While they fulfil thy large desire And bid my hopes as visions flee But grant me still in joy or sorrow In grief or hope to claim thy heart
slight Linnæa hang its twin-born heads, And blessed the monument of the man of flowers, Which breathes his sweet fame through the northern bowers. He heard, when in the grove, at intervals, With sudden roar the aged pine-tree falls, – One crash, the death-hymn of the perfect tree, Declares the close of its green century. Low lies the plant to whose creation went Sweet influence from every element; Whose living towers the years conspired to build, Whose giddy top the morning loved to
would freeze in frozen brakes? Back to books and sheltered home, And wood-fire flickering on the walls, To hear, when, ’mid our talk and games, Without the baffled north-wind calls. But soft! a sultry morning breaks; The cowslips make the brown brook gay; A happier hour, a longer day. Now the sun leads in the May, Now desire of action wakes, And the wish to roam. The caged linnet in the spring Hearkens for the choral glee, When his fellows on the wing Migrate from the Southern Sea;
Which past endurance sting the tender cit, But which we learn to scatter with a smudge, Or baffle by a veil, or slight by scorn? Our foaming ale we drunk from hunters’ pans, Ale, and a sup of wine. Our steward gave Venison and trout, potatoes, beans, wheat-bread; All ate like abbots, and, if any missed Their wonted convenance, cheerly hid the loss With hunters’ appetite and peals of mirth. And Stillman, our guides’ guide, and Commodore, Crusoe, Crusader, Pius Æneas, said aloud,
memories of men: just as we choose the smallest box, or case, in which any needful utensil can be carried. Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative and excited mind; as it is related of Lord Chatham, that he was accustomed to read in Baily’s Dictionary when he was preparing to speak in Parliament. The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought. Why covet a knowledge of new facts? Day and night, house and garden, a few books, a few actions, serve