197 Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let me go where’er I will, I hear a sky-born music still: It sounds from all things old, It sounds from all things young, From all that’s fair, from all that’s foul, Peals out a cheerful song. It is not only in the rose, It is not only in the bird, Not only where the […]
I love thy music, mellow bell, I love thine iron chime, To life or death, to heaven or hell, Which calls the sons of Time. Thy voice upon the deep The home-bound sea-boy hails, It charms his cares to sleep, It cheers him as he sails. To house of God and heavenly joys Thy summons […]
And I behold once more My old familiar haunts; here the blue river, The same blue wonder that my infant eye Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,– Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields, And where thereafter in the world he went. Look, here he is, […]
SHAKSPEARE; OR, THE POET [Transcriber’s Note: Shakspeare is spelled as “Shakspeare” as well as “Shakespeare” in this essay. The original spellings have been retained.] 1. Great men are more distinguished by range and extent, than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels; […]
This address was delivered at Cambridge in 1837, before the Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a college fraternity composed of the first twenty-five men in each graduating class. The society has annual meetings, which have been the occasion for addresses from the most distinguished scholars and thinkers of the day. MR. PRESIDENT […]
Good Heart, that ownest all! I ask a modest boon and small: Not of lands and towns the gift,– Too large a load for me to lift,– But for one proper creature, Which geographic eye, Sweeping the map of Western earth, Or the Atlantic coast, from Maine To Powhatan’s domain, Could not descry. Is’t much […]
Two well-assorted travellers use The highway, Eros and the Muse. From the twins is nothing hidden, To the pair is naught forbidden; Hand in hand the comrades go Every nook of nature through: Each for other they were born, Each can other best adorn; They know one only mortal grief Past all balsam or relief, […]
1831 Let Webster’s lofty face Ever on thousands shine, A beacon set that Freedom’s race Might gather omens from that radiant sign. FROM THE PHI BETA KAPPA POEM 1834 Ill fits the abstemious Muse a crown to weave For living brows; ill fits them to receive: And yet, if virtue abrogate the law, One portrait–fact […]
Alone in Rome. Why, Rome is lonely too;– Besides, you need not be alone; the soul Shall have society of its own rank. Be great, be true, and all the Scipios, The Catos, the wise patriots of Rome, Shall flock to you and tarry by your side, And comfort you with their high company. Virtue […]
We are what we are made; each following day Is the Creator of our human mould Not less than was the first; the all-wise God Gilds a few points in every several life, And as each flower upon the fresh hillside, And every colored petal of each flower, Is sketched and dyed, each with a […]
Henceforth, please God, forever I forego The yoke of men’s opinions. I will be Light-hearted as a bird, and live with God. I find him in the bottom of my heart, I hear continually his voice therein. * * * The little needle always knows the North, The little bird remembereth his note, And this […]
There is in all the sons of men A love that in the spirit dwells, That panteth after things unseen, And tidings of the future tells. And God hath built his altar here To keep this fire of faith alive, And sent his priests in holy fear To speak the truth–for truth to strive. And […]
Why fear to die And let thy body lie Under the flowers of June, Thy body food For the ground-worms’ brood And thy grave smiled on by the visiting moon. Amid great Nature’s halls Girt in by mountain walls And washed with waterfalls It would please me to die, Where every wind that swept my […]
Dear brother, would you know the life, Please God, that I would lead? On the first wheels that quit this weary town Over yon western bridges I would ride And with a cheerful benison forsake Each street and spire and roof, incontinent. Then would I seek where God might guide my steps, Deep in a […]
Tell me, maiden, dost thou use Thyself thro’ Nature to diffuse? All the angles of the coast Were tenanted by thy sweet ghost, Bore thy colors every flower, Thine each leaf and berry bore; All wore thy badges and thy favors In their scent or in their savors, Every moth with painted wing, Every bird […]
Though her eye seek other forms And a glad delight below, Yet the love the world that warms Bids for me her bosom glow. She must love me till she find Another heart as large and true. Her soul is frank as the ocean wind, And the world has only two. If Nature hold another […]
The cup of life is not so shallow That we have drained the best, That all the wine at once we swallow And lees make all the rest. Maids of as soft a bloom shall marry As Hymen yet hath blessed, And fairer forms are in the quarry Than Phidias released. 1827.
A sterner errand to the silken troop Has quenched the uneasy blush that warmed my cheek; I am commissioned in my day of joy To leave my woods and streams and the sweet sloth Of prayer and song that were my dear delight, To leave the rudeness of my woodland life, Sweet twilight walks and […]
Ah Fate, cannot a man Be wise without a beard? East, West, from Beer to Dan, Say, was it never heard That wisdom might in youth be gotten, Or wit be ripe before ‘t was rotten? He pays too high a price For knowledge and for fame Who sells his sinews to be wise, His […]
When success exalts thy lot, God for thy virtue lays a plot: And all thy life is for thy own, Then for mankind’s instruction shown; And though thy knees were never bent, To Heaven thy hourly prayers are sent, And whether formed for good or ill, Are registered and answered still. 1826 [?]. I bear […]
I rake no coffined clay, nor publish wide The resurrection of departed pride. Safe in their ancient crannies, dark and deep, Let kings and conquerors, saints and soldiers sleep– Late in the world,–too late perchance for fame, Just late enough to reap abundant blame,– I choose a novel theme, a bold abuse Of critic charters, […]
I am not poor, but I am proud, Of one inalienable right, Above the envy of the crowd,– Thought’s holy light. Better it is than gems or gold, And oh! it cannot die, But thought will glow when the sun grows cold, And mix with Deity. BOSTON, 1823.
Who knows this or that? Hark in the wall to the rat: Since the world was, he has gnawed; Of his wisdom, of his fraud What dost thou know? In the wretched little beast Is life and heart, Child and parent, Not without relation To fruitful field and sun and moon. What art thou? His […]
Philosophers are lined with eyes within, And, being so, the sage unmakes the man. In love, he cannot therefore cease his trade; Scarce the first blush has overspread his cheek, He feels it, introverts his learned eye To catch the unconscious heart in the very act. His mother died,–the only friend he had,– Some tears […]
Have ye seen the caterpillar Foully warking in his nest? ‘T is the poor man getting siller, Without cleanness, without rest. Have ye seen the butterfly In braw claithing drest? ‘T is the poor man gotten rich, In rings and painted vest. The poor man crawls in web of rags And sore bested with woes. […]
In the deep heart of man a poet dwells Who all the day of life his summer story tells; Scatters on every eye dust of his spells, Scent, form and color; to the flowers and shells Wins the believing child with wondrous tales; Touches a cheek with colors of romance, And crowds a history into […]
Six thankful weeks,–and let it be A meter of prosperity,– In my coat I bore this book, And seldom therein could I look, For I had too much to think, Heaven and earth to eat and drink. Is he hapless who can spare In his plenty things so rare?
In my garden three ways meet, Thrice the spot is blest; Hermit-thrush comes there to build, Carrier-doves to nest. There broad-armed oaks, the copses’ maze, The cold sea-wind detain; Here sultry Summer overstays When Autumn chills the plain. Self-sown my stately garden grows; The winds and wind-blown seed, Cold April rain and colder snows My […]
A patch of meadow upland Reached by a mile of road, Soothed by the voice of waters, With birds and flowers bestowed. Hither I come for strength Which well it can supply, For Love draws might from terrene force And potencies of sky. The tremulous battery Earth Responds to the touch of man; It thrills […]
I have trod this path a hundred times With idle footsteps, crooning rhymes. I know each nest and web-worm’s tent, The fox-hole which the woodchucks rent, Maple and oak, the old Divan Self-planted twice, like the banian. I know not why I came again Unless to learn it ten times ten. To read the sense […]
Who saw the hid beginnings When Chaos and Order strove, Or who can date the morning. The purple flaming of love? I saw the hid beginnings When Chaos and Order strove, And I can date the morning prime And purple flame of love. Song breathed from all the forest, The total air was fame; It […]
A Queen rejoices in her peers, And wary Nature knows her own By court and city, dale and down, And like a lover volunteers, And to her son will treasures more And more to purpose freely pour In one wood walk, than learned men Can find with glass in ten times ten.
[Knows he who tills this lonely field To reap its scanty corn, What mystic fruit his acres yield At midnight and at morn?] That field by spirits bad and good, By Hell and Heaven is haunted, And every rood in the hemlock wood I know is ground enchanted. For in those lonely grounds the sun […]
October woods wherein The boy’s dream comes to pass, And Nature squanders on the boy her pomp, And crowns him with a more than royal crown, And unimagined splendor waits his steps. The gazing urchin walks through tents of gold, Through crimson chambers, porphyry and pearl, Pavilion on pavilion, garlanded, Incensed and starred with lights […]
In the turbulent beauty Of a gusty Autumn day, Poet on a sunny headland Sighed his soul away. Farms the sunny landscape dappled, Swandown clouds dappled the farms, Cattle lowed in mellow distance Where far oaks outstretched their arms. Sudden gusts came full of meaning, All too much to him they said, Oh, south winds […]
Dark flower of Cheshire garden, Red evening duly dyes Thy sombre head with rosy hues To fix far-gazing eyes. Well the Planter knew how strongly Works thy form on human thought; I muse what secret purpose had he To draw all fancies to this spot.
Power that by obedience grows, Knowledge which its source not knows, Wave which severs whom it bears From the things which he compares, Adding wings through things to range, To his own blood harsh and strange.
O what are heroes, prophets, men, But pipes through which the breath of Pan doth blow A momentary music. Being’s tide Swells hitherward, and myriads of forms Live, robed with beauty, painted by the sun; Their dust, pervaded by the nerves of God, Throbs with an overmastering energy Knowing and doing. Ebbs the tide, they […]
In many forms we try To utter God’s infinity, But the boundless hath no form, And the Universal Friend Doth as far transcend An angel as a worm. The great Idea baffles wit, Language falters under it, It leaves the learned in the lurch; Nor art, nor power, nor toil can find The measure of […]
Wilt thou seal up the avenues of ill? Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill. If curses be the wage of love, Hide in thy skies, thou fruitless Jove, Not to be named: It is clear Why the gods will not appear; They are ashamed. When wrath and terror changed Jove’s regal port, […]
The bard and mystic held me for their own, I filled the dream of sad, poetic maids, I took the friendly noble by the hand, I was the trustee of the hand-cart man, The brother of the fisher, porter, swain, And these from the crowd’s edge well pleased beheld The service done to me as […]
A train of gay and clouded days Dappled with joy and grief and praise, Beauty to fire us, saints to save, Escort us to a little grave. No fate, save by the victim’s fault, is low, For God hath writ all dooms magnificent, So guilt not traverses his tender will. Around the man who seeks […]
I left my dreary page and sallied forth, Received the fair inscriptions of the night; The moon was making amber of the world, Glittered with silver every cottage pane, The trees were rich, yet ominous with gloom. The meadows broad From ferns and grapes and from the folded flowers Sent a nocturnal fragrance; harlot flies […]
Illusion works impenetrable, Weaving webs innumerable, Her gay pictures never fail, Crowds each on other, veil on veil, Charmer who will be believed By man who thirsts to be deceived. Illusions like the tints of pearl, Or changing colors of the sky, Or ribbons of a dancing girl That mend her beauty to the eye. […]
All day the waves assailed the rock, I heard no church-bell chime, The sea-beat scorns the minster clock And breaks the glass of Time.
Would you know what joy is hid In our green Musketaquid, And for travelled eyes what charms Draw us to these meadow farms, Come and I will show you all Makes each day a festival. Stand upon this pasture hill, Face the eastern star until The slow eye of heaven shall show The world above, […]
Darlings of children and of bard, Perfect kinds by vice unmarred, All of worth and beauty set Gems in Nature’s cabinet; These the fables she esteems Reality most like to dreams. Welcome back, you little nations, Far-travelled in the south plantations; Bring your music and rhythmic flight, Your colors for our eyes’ delight: Freely nestle […]
The water understands Civilization well; It wets my foot, but prettily It chills my life, but wittily, It is not disconcerted, It is not broken-hearted: Well used, it decketh joy, Adorneth, doubleth joy: Ill used, it will destroy, In perfect time and measure With a face of golden pleasure Elegantly destroy.
Many things the garden shows, And pleased I stray From tree to tree Watching the white pear-bloom, Bee-infested quince or plum. I could walk days, years, away Till the slow ripening, secular tree Had reached its fruiting-time, Nor think it long. Solar insect on the wing In the garden murmuring, Soothing with thy summer horn […]
See yonder leafless trees against the sky, How they diffuse themselves into the air, And, ever subdividing, separate Limbs into branches, branches into twigs. As if they loved the element, and hasted To dissipate their being into it. Parks and ponds are good by day; I do not delight In black acres of the night, […]
THE EARTH Our eyeless bark sails free Though with boom and spar Andes, Alp or Himmalee, Strikes never moon or star. THE HEAVENS Wisp and meteor nightly falling, But the Stars of God remain.
The patient Pan, Drunken with nectar, Sleeps or feigns slumber, Drowsily humming Music to the march of time. This poor tooting, creaking cricket, Pan, half asleep, rolling over His great body in the grass, Tooting, creaking, Feigns to sleep, sleeping never; ‘T is his manner, Well he knows his own affair, Piling mountain chains of […]
I There are beggars in Iran and Araby, SAID was hungrier than all; Hafiz said he was a fly That came to every festival. He came a pilgrim to the Mosque On trail of camel and caravan, Knew every temple and kiosk Out from Mecca to Ispahan; Northward he went to the snowy hills, At […]
[(Translation) Among the religious customs of the dervishes is an astronomical dance, in which the dervish imitates the movements of the heavenly bodies, by spinning on his own axis, whilst at the same time he revolves round the Sheikh in the centre, representing the sun; and, as he spins, he sings the Song of Seyd […]
I Right upward on the road of fame With sounding steps the poet came; Born and nourished in miracles, His feet were shod with golden bells, Or where he stepped the soil did peal As if the dust were glass and steel. The gallant child where’er he came Threw to each fact a tuneful name. […]
FROM HILALI Hark, what, now loud, now low, the pining flute complains, Without tongue, yellow-cheeked, full of winds that wail and sigh; Saying, Sweetheart! the old mystery remains,– If I am I; thou, thou; or thou art I?
FROM HAFIZ Thy foes to hunt, thy enviers to strike down, Poises Arcturus aloft morning and evening his spear. TO THE SHAH FROM ENWERI Not in their houses stand the stars, But o’er the pinnacles of thine! TO THE SHAH FROM ENWERI From thy worth and weight the stars gravitate, And the equipoise of heaven […]
Two things thou shalt not long for, if thou love a mind serene;– A woman to thy wife, though she were a crowned queen; And the second, borrowed money,–though the smiling lender say That he will not demand the debt until the Judgment Day.
He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere. On two days it steads not to run from thy grave, The appointed, and the unappointed day; On the first, neither balm nor physician can save, Nor thee, on the second, the Universe […]
Each spot where tulips prank their state Has drunk the life-blood of the great; The violets yon field which stain Are moles of beauties Time hath slain. Unbar the door, since thou the Opener art, Show me the forward way, since thou art guide, I put no faith in pilot or in chart, Since they […]
Thou foolish Hafiz! Say, do churls Know the worth of Oman’s pearls? Give the gem which dims the moon To the noblest, or to none. Dearest, where thy shadow falls, Beauty sits and Music calls; Where thy form and favor come, All good creatures have their home. On prince or bride no diamond stone Half […]
I said to heaven that glowed above, O hide yon sun-filled zone, Hide all the stars you boast; For, in the world of love And estimation true, The heaped-up harvest of the moon Is worth one barley-corn at most, The Pleiads’ sheaf but two. If my darling should depart, And search the skies for prouder […]
(Translation) Never did sculptor’s dream unfold A form which marble doth not hold In its white block; yet it therein shall find Only the hand secure and bold Which still obeys the mind. So hide in thee, thou heavenly dame, The ill I shun, the good I claim; I alas! not well alive, Miss the […]
FROM THE PERSIAN OF KERMANI In Farsistan the violet spreads Its leaves to the rival sky; I ask how far is the Tigris flood, And the vine that grows thereby? Except the amber morning wind, Not one salutes me here; There is no lover in all Bagdat To offer the exile cheer. I know that […]
As sings the pine-tree in the wind, So sings in the wind a sprig of the pine; Her strength and soul has laughing France Shed in each drop of wine. [Greek: ADAKRYN NEMONTAI AIONA] ‘A New commandment,’ said the smiling Muse, ‘I give my darling son, Thou shalt not preach’;– Luther, Fox, Behmen, Swedenborg, grew […]
Her passions the shy violet From Hafiz never hides; Love-longings of the raptured bird The bird to him confides.
I see all human wits Are measured but a few; Unmeasured still my Shakespeare sits, Lone as the blessed Jew.
Test of the poet is knowledge of love, For Eros is older than Saturn or Jove; Never was poet, of late or of yore, Who was not tremulous with love-lore.
Well and wisely said the Greek, Be thou faithful, but not fond; To the altar’s foot thy fellow seek,– The Furies wait beyond.
Though love repine, and reason chafe, There came a voice without reply,– ”T is man’s perdition to be safe, When for the truth he ought to die.’
Night-dreams trace on Memory’s wall Shadows of the thoughts of day, And thy fortunes, as they fall, The bias of the will betray.
Shines the last age, the next with hope is seen, To-day slinks poorly off unmarked between: Future or Past no richer secret folds, O friendless Present! than thy bosom holds.
I am not wiser for my age, Nor skilful by my grief; Life loiters at the book’s first page,– Ah! could we turn the leaf.
Ere he was born, the stars of fate Plotted to make him rich and great: When from the womb the babe was loosed, The gate of gifts behind him closed.
Boon Nature yields each day a brag which we now first behold, And trains us on to slight the new, as if it were the old: But blest is he, who, playing deep, yet haply asks not why, Too busied with the crowded hour to fear to live or die.
With beams December planets dart His cold eye truth and conduct scanned, July was in his sunny heart, October in his liberal hand.
FROM THE FRENCH Some of your hurts you have cured, And the sharpest you still have survived, But what torments of grief you endured From evils which never arrived!
Over his head were the maple buds, And over the tree was the moon, And over the moon were the starry studs That drop from the angels’ shoon.
The gale that wrecked you on the sand, It helped my rowers to row; The storm is my best galley hand And drives me where I go.
The sea is the road of the bold, Frontier of the wheat-sown plains, The pit wherein the streams are rolled And fountain of the rains.
Go thou to thy learned task, I stay with the flowers of Spring: Do thou of the Ages ask What me the Hours will bring.
He took the color of his vest From rabbit’s coat or grouse’s breast; For, as the wood-kinds lurk and hide, So walks the woodman, unespied.
True Brahmin, in the morning meadows wet, Expound the Vedas of the violet, Or, hid in vines, peeping through many a loop, See the plum redden, and the beurre stoop.
Ever the Poet from the land Steers his bark and trims his sail; Right out to sea his courses stand, New worlds to find in pinnace frail. POET To clothe the fiery thought In simple words succeeds, For still the craft of genius is To mask a king in weeds.
Quit the hut, frequent the palace, Reck not what the people say; For still, where’er the trees grow biggest, Huntsmen find the easiest way.
He who has no hands Perforce must use his tongue; Foxes are so cunning Because they are not strong.
Every thought is public, Every nook is wide; Thy gossips spread each whisper, And the gods from side to side.
High was her heart, and yet was well inclined, Her manners made of bounty well refined; Far capitals and marble courts, her eye still seemed to see, Minstrels and kings and high-born dames, and of the best that be.
Flow, flow the waves hated, Accursed, adored, The waves of mutation; No anchorage is. Sleep is not, death is not; Who seem to die live. House you were born in, Friends of your spring-time, Old man and young maid, Day’s toil and its guerdon, They are all vanishing, Fleeing to fables, Cannot be moored. See […]
Who shall tell what did befall, Far away in time, when once, Over the lifeless ball, Hung idle stars and suns? What god the element obeyed? Wings of what wind the lichen bore, Wafting the puny seeds of power, Which, lodged in rock, the rock abrade? And well the primal pioneer Knew the strong task […]
His tongue was framed to music, And his hand was armed with skill; His face was the mould of beauty, And his heart the throne of will.
In the suburb, in the town, On the railway, in the square, Came a beam of goodness down Doubling daylight everywhere: Peace now each for malice takes, Beauty for his sinful weeds, For the angel Hope aye makes Him an angel whom she leads.
Gifts of one who loved me,– ‘T was high time they came; When he ceased to love me, Time they stopped for shame.
In countless upward-striving waves The moon-drawn tide-wave strives; In thousand far-transplanted grafts The parent fruit survives; So, in the new-born millions, The perfect Adam lives. Not less are summer mornings dear To every child they wake, And each with novel life his sphere Fills for his proper sake.
Nature centres into balls, And her proud ephemerals, Fast to surface and outside, Scan the profile of the sphere; Knew they what that signified, A new genesis were here.
Go, speed the stars of Thought On to their shining goals;– The sower scatters broad his seed; The wheat thou strew’st be souls.
I There is no great and no small To the Soul that maketh all: And where it cometh, all things are; And it cometh everywhere. II I am owner of the sphere, Of the seven stars and the solar year, Of Caesar’s hand, and Plato’s brain, Of Lord Christ’s heart, and Shakspeare’s strain.
I A subtle chain of countless rings The next unto the farthest brings; The eye reads omens where it goes, And speaks all languages the rose; And, striving to be man, the worm Mounts through all the spires of form. II The rounded world is fair to see, Nine times folded in mystery: Though baffled […]
Theme no poet gladly sung, Fair to old and foul to young; Scorn not thou the love of parts, And the articles of arts. Grandeur of the perfect sphere Thanks the atoms that cohere.
This is he, who, felled by foes, Sprung harmless up, refreshed by blows: He to captivity was sold, But him no prison-bars would hold: Though they sealed him in a rock, Mountain chains he can unlock: Thrown to lions for their meat, The crouching lion kissed his feet; Bound to the stake, no flames appalled, […]
Grace, Beauty and Caprice Build this golden portal; Graceful women, chosen men, Dazzle every mortal. Their sweet and lofty countenance His enchanted food; He need not go to them, their forms Beset his solitude. He looketh seldom in their face, His eyes explore the ground,– The green grass is a looking-glass Whereon their traits are […]
Space is ample, east and west, But two cannot go abreast, Cannot travel in it two: Yonder masterful cuckoo Crowds every egg out of the nest, Quick or dead, except its own; A spell is laid on sod and stone, Night and Day were tampered with, Every quality and pith Surcharged and sultry with a […]
Can rules or tutors educate The semigod whom we await? He must be musical, Tremulous, impressional, Alive to gentle influence Of landscape and of sky, And tender to the spirit-touch Of man’s or maiden’s eye: But, to his native centre fast, Shall into Future fuse the Past, And the world’s flowing fates in his own […]
A ruddy drop of manly blood The surging sea outweighs, The world uncertain comes and goes; The lover rooted stays. I fancied he was fled,– And, after many a year, Glowed unexhausted kindliness, Like daily sunrise there. My careful heart was free again, O friend, my bosom said, Through thee alone the sky is arched, […]
The living Heaven thy prayers respect, House at once and architect, Quarrying man’s rejected hours, Builds therewith eternal towers; Sole and self-commanded works, Fears not undermining days, Grows by decays, And, by the famous might that lurks In reaction and recoil, Makes flame to freeze and ice to boil; Forging, through swart arms of Offence, […]
The sun set, but set not his hope: Stars rose; his faith was earlier up: Fixed on the enormous galaxy, Deeper and older seemed his eye; And matched his sufferance sublime The taciturnity of time. He spoke, and words more soft than rain Brought the Age of Gold again: His action won such reverence sweet […]
Gold and iron are good To buy iron and gold; All earth’s fleece and food For their like are sold. Boded Merlin wise, Proved Napoleon great, Nor kind nor coinage buys Aught above its rate. Fear, Craft and Avarice Cannot rear a State. Out of dust to build What is more than dust, Walls Amphion […]
Ruby wine is drunk by knaves, Sugar spends to fatten slaves, Rose and vine-leaf deck buffoons; Thunder-clouds are Jove’s festoons, Drooping oft in wreaths of dread, Lightning-knotted round his head; The hero is not fed on sweets, Daily his own heart he eats; Chambers of the great are jails, And head-winds right for royal sails.
The lords of life, the lords of life,– I saw them pass In their own guise, Like and unlike, Portly and grim,– Use and Surprise, Surface and Dream, Succession swift and spectral Wrong, Temperament without a tongue, And the inventor of the game Omnipresent without name;– Some to see, some to be guessed, They marched […]
LINES WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR’S BROTHER, EDWARD BLISS EMERSON, WHILST SAILING OUT OF BOSTON HARBOR, BOUND FOR THE ISLAND OF PORTO RICO, IN 1832 Farewell, ye lofty spires That cheered the holy light! Farewell, domestic fires That broke the gloom of night! Too soon those spires are lost, Too fast we leave the bay, Too […]
I mourn upon this battle-field, But not for those who perished here. Behold the river-bank Whither the angry farmers came, In sloven dress and broken rank, Nor thought of fame. Their deed of blood All mankind praise; Even the serene Reason says, It was well done. The wise and simple have one glance To greet […]
Soft and softlier hold me, friends! Thanks if your genial care Unbind and give me to the air. Keep your lips or finger-tips For flute or spinet’s dancing chips; I await a tenderer touch, I ask more or not so much: Give me to the atmosphere,– Where is the wind, my brother,–where? Lift the sash, […]
The solid, solid universe Is pervious to Love; With bandaged eyes he never errs, Around, below, above. His blinding light He flingeth white On God’s and Satan’s brood, And reconciles By mystic wiles The evil and the good.
The yesterday doth never smile, The day goes drudging through the while, Yet, in the name of Godhead, I The morrow front, and can defy; Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed, Cannot withhold his conquering aid. Ah me! it was my childhood’s thought, If He should make my web a blot On life’s […]
The April winds are magical And thrill our tuneful frames; The garden walks are passional To bachelors and dames. The hedge is gemmed with diamonds, The air with Cupids full, The cobweb clues of Rosamond Guide lovers to the pool. Each dimple in the water, Each leaf that shades the rock Can cozen, pique and […]
It is time to be old, To take in sail:– The god of bounds, Who sets to seas a shore, Came to me in his fatal rounds, And said: ‘No more! No farther shoot Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root. Fancy departs: no more invent; Contract thy firmament To compass of a tent. There’s […]
I do not count the hours I spend In wandering by the sea; The forest is my loyal friend, Like God it useth me. In plains that room for shadows make Of skirting hills to lie, Bound in by streams which give and take Their colors from the sky; Or on the mountain-crest sublime, Or […]
Thy summer voice, Musketaquit, Repeats the music of the rain; But sweeter rivers pulsing flit Through thee, as thou through Concord Plain. Thou in thy narrow banks art pent: The stream I love unbounded goes Through flood and sea and firmament; Through light, through life, it forward flows. I see the inundation sweet, I hear […]
I heard or seemed to hear the chiding Sea Say, Pilgrim, why so late and slow to come? Am I not always here, thy summer home? Is not my voice thy music, morn and eve? My breath thy healthful climate in the heats, My touch thy antidote, my bay thy bath? Was ever building like […]
Mine are the night and morning, The pits of air, the gulf of space, The sportive sun, the gibbous moon, The innumerable days. I hide in the solar glory, I am dumb in the pealing song, I rest on the pitch of the torrent, In slumber I am strong. No numbers have counted my tallies, […]
One musician is sure, His wisdom will not fail, He has not tasted wine impure, Nor bent to passion frail. Age cannot cloud his memory, Nor grief untune his voice, Ranging down the ruled scale From tone of joy to inward wail, Tempering the pitch of all In his windy cave. He all the fables […]
Day! hast thou two faces, Making one place two places? One, by humble farmer seen, Chill and wet, unlighted, mean, Useful only, triste and damp, Serving for a laborer’s lamp? Have the same mists another side, To be the appanage of pride, Gracing the rich man’s wood and lake, His park where amber mornings break, […]
If I could put my woods in song And tell what’s there enjoyed, All men would to my gardens throng, And leave the cities void. In my plot no tulips blow,– Snow-loving pines and oaks instead; And rank the savage maples grow From Spring’s faint flush to Autumn red. My garden is a forest ledge […]
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days, Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes, And marching single in an endless file, Bring diadems and fagots in their hands. To each they offer gifts after his will, Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all. I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp, Forgot my morning wishes, […]
The sun goes down, and with him takes The coarseness of my poor attire; The fair moon mounts, and aye the flame Of Gypsy beauty blazes higher. Pale Northern girls! you scorn our race; You captives of your air-tight halls, Wear out indoors your sickly days, But leave us the horizon walls. And if I […]
Winters know Easily to shed the snow, And the untaught Spring is wise In cowslips and anemonies. Nature, hating art and pains, Baulks and baffles plotting brains; Casualty and Surprise Are the apples of her eyes; But she dearly loves the poor, And, by marvel of her own, Strikes the loud pretender down. For Nature […]
She is gamesome and good, But of mutable mood,– No dreary repeater now and again, She will be all things to all men. She who is old, but nowise feeble, Pours her power into the people, Merry and manifold without bar, Makes and moulds them what they are, And what they call their city way […]
I am the Muse who sung alway By Jove, at dawn of the first day. Star-crowned, sole-sitting, long I wrought To fire the stagnant earth with thought: On spawning slime my song prevails, Wolves shed their fangs, and dragons scales; Flushed in the sky the sweet May-morn, Earth smiled with flowers, and man was born. […]
(Musa loquitur.) I hung my verses in the wind, Time and tide their faults may find. All were winnowed through and through, Five lines lasted sound and true; Five were smelted in a pot Than the South more fierce and hot; These the siroc could not melt, Fire their fiercer flaming felt, And the meaning […]
I Of Merlin wise I learned a song,– Sing it low or sing it loud, It is mightier than the strong, And punishes the proud. I sing it to the surging crowd,– Good men it will calm and cheer, Bad men it will chain and cage– In the heart of the music peals a strain […]
They brought me rubies from the mine, And held them to the sun; I said, they are drops of frozen wine From Eden’s vats that run. I looked again,–I thought them hearts Of friends to friends unknown; Tides that should warm each neighboring life Are locked in sparkling stone. But fire to thaw that ruddy […]
Every day brings a ship, Every ship brings a word; Well for those who have no fear. Looking seaward, well assured That the word the vessel brings Is the word they wish to hear.
SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS The rocky nook with hilltops three Looked eastward from the farms, And twice each day the flowing sea Took Boston in its arms; The men of yore were stout and poor, And sailed for bread to every shore. And where they went on trade intent They did what freemen can, […]
Roving, roving, as it seems, Una lights my clouded dreams; Still for journeys she is dressed; We wander far by east and west. In the homestead, homely thought, At my work I ramble not; If from home chance draw me wide, Half-seen Una sits beside. In my house and garden-plot, Though beloved, I miss her […]
I Low and mournful be the strain, Haughty thought be far from me; Tones of penitence and pain, Meanings of the tropic sea; Low and tender in the cell Where a captive sits in chains. Crooning ditties treasured well From his Afric’s torrid plains. Sole estate his sire bequeathed,– Hapless sire to hapless son,– Was […]
Once I wished I might rehearse Freedom’s paean in my verse, That the slave who caught the strain Should throb until he snapped his chain, But the Spirit said, ‘Not so; Speak it not, or speak it low; Name not lightly to be said, Gift too precious to be prayed, Passion not to be expressed […]
Already blushes on thy cheek The bosom thought which thou must speak; The bird, how far it haply roam By cloud or isle, is flying home; The maiden fears, and fearing runs Into the charmed snare she shuns; And every man, in love or pride, Of his fate is never wide. Will a woman’s fan […]
If the red slayer think he slays, Or if the slain think he is slain, They know not well the subtle ways I keep, and pass, and turn again. Far or forgot to me is near; Shadow and sunlight are the same; The vanished gods to me appear; And one to me are shame and […]
A JOURNAL DEDICATED TO MY FELLOW TRAVELLERS IN AUGUST, 1858 Wise and polite,–and if I drew Their several portraits, you would own Chaucer had no such worthy crew, Nor Boccace in Decameron. We crossed Champlain to Keeseville with our friends, Thence, in strong country carts, rode up the forks Of the Ausable stream, intent to […]
Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring, With sudden passion languishing, Teaching Barren moors to smile, Painting pictures mile on mile, Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths, Whence a smokeless incense breathes. The air is full of whistlings bland; What was that I heard Out of the hazy land? Harp of the wind, or song of […]
The South-wind brings Life, sunshine and desire, And on every mount and meadow Breathes aromatic fire; But over the dead he has no power, The lost, the lost, he cannot restore; And, looking over the hills, I mourn The darling who shall not return. I see my empty house, I see my trees repair their […]
Because I was content with these poor fields, Low, open meads, slender and sluggish streams, And found a home in haunts which others scorned, The partial wood-gods overpaid my love, And granted me the freedom of their state, And in their secret senate have prevailed With the dear, dangerous lords that rule our life, Made […]
When I was born, From all the seas of strength Fate filled a chalice, Saying, ‘This be thy portion, child; this chalice, Less than a lily’s, thou shalt daily draw From my great arteries,–nor less, nor more.’ All substances the cunning chemist Time Melts down into that liquor of my life,– Friends, foes, joys, fortunes, […]
Give me truths; For I am weary of the surfaces, And die of inanition. If I knew Only the herbs and simples of the wood, Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain and agrimony, Blue-vetch and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras, Milkweeds and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sundew, And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods Draw untold […]
By fate, not option, frugal Nature gave One scent to hyson and to wall-flower, One sound to pine-groves and to waterfalls, One aspect to the desert and the lake. It was her stern necessity: all things Are of one pattern made; bird, beast and flower, Song, picture, form, space, thought and character Deceive us, seeming […]
From fall to spring, the russet acorn, Fruit beloved of maid and boy, Lent itself beneath the forest, To be the children’s toy. Pluck it now! In vain,–thou canst not; Its root has pierced yon shady mound; Toy no longer–it has duties; It is anchored in the ground. Year by year the rose-lipped maiden, Playfellow […]
Trees in groves, Kine in droves, In ocean sport the scaly herds, Wedge-like cleave the air the birds, To northern lakes fly wind-borne ducks, Browse the mountain sheep in flocks, Men consort in camp and town, But the poet dwells alone. God, who gave to him the lyre, Of all mortals the desire, For all […]
There is no architect Can build as the Muse can; She is skilful to select Materials for her plan; Slow and warily to choose Rafters of immortal pine, Or cedar incorruptible, Worthy her design, She threads dark Alpine forests Or valleys by the sea, In many lands, with painful steps, Ere she can find a […]
What care I, so they stand the same,– Things of the heavenly mind,– How long the power to give them name Tarries yet behind? Thus far to-day your favors reach, O fair, appeasing presences! Ye taught my lips a single speech, And a thousand silences. Space grants beyond his fated road No inch to the […]
Bring me wine, but wine which never grew In the belly of the grape, Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through, Under the Andes to the Cape, Suffer no savor of the earth to scape. Let its grapes the morn salute From a nocturnal root, Which feels the acrid juice Of Styx and Erebus; […]
The rhyme of the poet Modulates the king’s affairs; Balance-loving Nature Made all things in pairs. To every foot its antipode; Each color with its counter glowed; To every tone beat answering tones, Higher or graver; Flavor gladly blends with flavor; Leaf answers leaf upon the bough; And match the paired cotyledons. Hands to hands, […]
Thy trivial harp will never please Or fill my craving ear; Its chords should ring as blows the breeze, Free, peremptory, clear. No jingling serenader’s art, Nor tinkle of piano strings, Can make the wild blood start In its mystic springs. The kingly bard Must smite the chords rudely and hard, As with hammer or […]
Think me not unkind and rude That I walk alone in grove and glen; I go to the god of the wood To fetch his word to men. Tax not my sloth that I Fold my arms beside the brook; Each cloud that floated in the sky Writes a letter in my book. Chide me […]
But God said, ‘I will have a purer gift; There is smoke in the flame; New flowerets bring, new prayers uplift, And love without a name. Fond children, ye desire To please each other well; Another round, a higher, Ye shall climb on the heavenly stair, And selfish preference forbear; And in right deserving, And […]
Man was made of social earth, Child and brother from his birth, Tethered by a liquid cord Of blood through veins of kindred poured. Next his heart the fireside band Of mother, father, sister, stand; Names from awful childhood heard Throbs of a wild religion stirred;– Virtue, to love, to hate them, vice; Till dangerous […]
Venus, when her son was lost, Cried him up and down the coast, In hamlets, palaces and parks, And told the truant by his marks,– Golden curls, and quiver and bow. This befell how long ago! Time and tide are strangely changed, Men and manners much deranged: None will now find Cupid latent By this […]
The sense of the world is short,– Long and various the report,– To love and be beloved; Men and gods have not outlearned it; And, how oft soe’er they’ve turned it, Not to be improved.
On a mound an Arab lay, And sung his sweet regrets And told his amulets: The summer bird His sorrow heard, And, when he heaved a sigh profound, The sympathetic swallow swept the ground. ‘If it be, as they said, she was not fair, Beauty’s not beautiful to me, But sceptred genius, aye inorbed, Culminating […]
Thine eyes still shined for me, though far I lonely roved the land or sea: As I behold yon evening star, Which yet beholds not me. This morn I climbed the misty hill And roamed the pastures through; How danced thy form before my path Amidst the deep-eyed dew! When the redbird spread his sable […]
Your picture smiles as first it smiled; The ring you gave is still the same; Your letter tells, O changing child! No tidings since it came. Give me an amulet That keeps intelligence with you,– Red when you love, and rosier red, And when you love not, pale and blue. Alas! that neither bonds nor […]
BY ELLEN LOUISA TUCKER Why lingerest thou, pale violet, to see the dying year; Are Autumn’s blasts fit music for thee, fragile one, to hear; Will thy clear blue eye, upward bent, still keep its chastened glow, Still tearless lift its slender form above the wintry snow? Why wilt thou live when none around reflects […]
The green grass is bowing, The morning wind is in it; ‘T is a tune worth thy knowing, Though it change every minute. ‘T is a tune of the Spring; Every year plays it over To the robin on the wing, And to the pausing lover. O’er ten thousand, thousand acres, Goes light the nimble […]
O fair and stately maid, whose eyes Were kindled in the upper skies At the same torch that lighted mine; For so I must interpret still Thy sweet dominion o’er my will, A sympathy divine. Ah! let me blameless gaze upon Features that seem at heart my own; Nor fear those watchful sentinels, Who charm […]
Who gave thee, O Beauty, The keys of this breast,– Too credulous lover Of blest and unblest? Say, when in lapsed ages Thee knew I of old? Or what was the service For which I was sold? When first my eyes saw thee, I found me thy thrall, By magical drawings, Sweet tyrant of all! […]
Give all to love; Obey thy heart; Friends, kindred, days, Estate, good-fame, Plans, credit and the Muse,– Nothing refuse. ‘T is a brave master; Let it have scope: Follow it utterly, Hope beyond hope: High and more high It dives into noon, With wing unspent, Untold intent; But it is a god, Knows its own […]
Seek not the spirit, if it hide Inexorable to thy zeal: Trembler, do not whine and chide: Art thou not also real? Stoop not then to poor excuse; Turn on the accuser roundly; say, ‘Here am I, here will I abide Forever to myself soothfast; Go thou, sweet Heaven, or at thy pleasure stay!’ Already […]
The prosperous and beautiful To me seem not to wear The yoke of conscience masterful, Which galls me everywhere. I cannot shake off the god; On my neck he makes his seat; I look at my face in the glass,– My eyes his eyeballs meet. Enchanters! Enchantresses! Your gold makes you seem wise; The morning […]
Long I followed happy guides, I could never reach their sides; Their step is forth, and, ere the day Breaks up their leaguer, and away. Keen my sense, my heart was young, Right good-will my sinews strung, But no speed of mine avails To hunt upon their shining trails. On and away, their hasting feet […]
I serve you not, if you I follow, Shadowlike, o’er hill and hollow; And bend my fancy to your leading, All too nimble for my treading. When the pilgrimage is done, And we’ve the landscape overrun, I am bitter, vacant, thwarted, And your heart is unsupported. Vainly valiant, you have missed The manhood that should […]
Each the herald is who wrote His rank, and quartered his own coat. There is no king nor sovereign state That can fix a hero’s rate; Each to all is venerable, Cap-a-pie invulnerable, Until he write, where all eyes rest, Slave or master on his breast. I saw men go up and down, In the […]
INSCRIBED TO W.H. CHANNING Though loath to grieve The evil time’s sole patriot, I cannot leave My honied thought For the priest’s cant, Or statesman’s rant. If I refuse My study for their politique, Which at the best is trick, The angry Muse Puts confusion in my brain. But who is he that prates Of […]
Thousand minstrels woke within me, ‘Our music’s in the hills;’– Gayest pictures rose to win me, Leopard-colored rills. ‘Up!–If thou knew’st who calls To twilight parks of beech and pine, High over the river intervals, Above the ploughman’s highest line, Over the owner’s farthest walls! Up! where the airy citadel O’erlooks the surging landscape’s swell! […]
1 When the pine tosses its cones To the song of its waterfall tones, Who speeds to the woodland walks? To birds and trees who talks? Caesar of his leafy Rome, There the poet is at home. He goes to the river-side,– Not hook nor line hath he; He stands in the meadows wide,– Nor […]
As sunbeams stream through liberal space And nothing jostle or displace, So waved the pine-tree through my thought And fanned the dreams it never brought. ‘Whether is better, the gift or the donor? Come to me,’ Quoth the pine-tree, ‘I am the giver of honor. My garden is the cloven rock, And my manure the […]
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint, Possessed the land which rendered to their toil Hay, corn, roots, hemp, flax, apples, wool and wood. Each of these landlords walked amidst his farm, Saying, ”Tis mine, my children’s and my name’s. How sweet the west wind sounds in my own trees! How graceful climb those shadows on […]
‘May be true what I had heard,– Earth’s a howling wilderness, Truculent with fraud and force,’ Said I, strolling through the pastures, And along the river-side. Caught among the blackberry vines, Feeding on the Ethiops sweet, Pleasant fancies overtook me. I said, ‘What influence me preferred, Elect, to dreams thus beautiful?’ The vines replied, ‘And […]
That you are fair or wise is vain, Or strong, or rich, or generous; You must add the untaught strain That sheds beauty on the rose. There’s a melody born of melody, Which melts the world into a sea. Toil could never compass it; Art its height could never hit; It came never out of […]
Mortal mixed of middle clay, Attempered to the night and day, Interchangeable with things, Needs no amulets nor rings. Guy possessed the talisman That all things from him began; And as, of old, Polycrates Chained the sunshine and the breeze, So did Guy betimes discover Fortune was his guard and lover; In strange junctures, felt, […]
I cannot spare water or wine, Tobacco-leaf, or poppy, or rose; From the earth-poles to the Line, All between that works or grows, Every thing is kin of mine. Give me agates for my meat; Give me cantharids to eat; From air and ocean bring me foods, From all zones and altitudes;– From all natures, […]
Set not thy foot on graves; Hear what wine and roses say; The mountain chase, the summer waves, The crowded town, thy feet may well delay. Set not thy foot on graves; Nor seek to unwind the shroud Which charitable Time And Nature have allowed To wrap the errors of a sage sublime. Set not […]
I, Alphonso, live and learn, Seeing Nature go astern. Things deteriorate in kind; Lemons run to leaves and rind; Meagre crop of figs and limes; Shorter days and harder times. Flowering April cools and dies In the insufficient skies. Imps, at high midsummer, blot Half the sun’s disk with a spot; ‘Twill not now avail […]
Thanks to the morning light, Thanks to the foaming sea, To the uplands of New Hampshire, To the green-haired forest free; Thanks to each man of courage, To the maids of holy mind, To the boy with his games undaunted Who never looks behind. Cities of proud hotels, Houses of rich and great, Vice nestles […]
The Sphinx is drowsy, Her wings are furled: Her ear is heavy, She broods on the world. “Who’ll tell me my secret, The ages have kept?– I awaited the seer While they slumbered and slept:– “The fate of the man-child, The meaning of man; Known fruit of the unknown; Daedalian plan; Out of sleeping a […]
Askest, ‘How long thou shalt stay?’ Devastator of the day! Know, each substance and relation, Thorough nature’s operation, Hath its unit, bound and metre; And every new compound Is some product and repeater,– Product of the earlier found. But the unit of the visit, The encounter of the wise,– Say, what other metre is it […]
It fell in the ancient periods Which the brooding soul surveys, Or ever the wild Time coined itself Into calendar months and days. This was the lapse of Uriel, Which in Paradise befell. Once, among the Pleiads walking, Seyd overheard the young gods talking; And the treason, too long pent, To his ears was evident. […]
Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes, Not with flatteries, but truths, Which tarnish not, but purify To light which dims the morning’s eye. I have come from the spring-woods, From the fragrant solitudes;– Listen what the poplar-tree And murmuring waters counselled me. If with love thy heart has burned; If thy love is unreturned; Hide […]
Why should I keep holidayWhen other men have none?Why but because, when these are gay,I sit and mourn alone? And why, when mirth unseals all tongues,Should mine alone be dumb?Ah! late I spoke to silent throngs,And now their hour is come.
Written By Ellen Louisa Tucker Shortly BeforeHer Marriage To Mr. Emerson Love scatters oilOn Life’s dark sea,Sweetens its toil–Our helmsman he. Around him hoverOdorous clouds;Under this coverHis arrows he shrouds. The cloud was around me,I knew not whySuch sweetness crowned me.While Time shot by. No pain was within,But calm delight,Like a world without sin,Or a […]
Bethink, poor heart, what bitter kind of jestMad Destiny this tender stripling played;For a warm breast of maiden to his breast,She laid a slab of marble on his head. They say, through patience, chalkBecomes a ruby stone;Ah, yes! but by the true heart’s bloodThe chalk is crimson grown.
How much, preventing God, how much I oweTo the defences thou hast round me set;Example, custom, fear, occasion slow,–These scorned bondmen were my parapet.I dare not peep over this parapetTo gauge with glance the roaring gulf below,The depths of sin to which I had descended,Had not these me against myself defended.
Love on his errand bound to goCan swim the flood and wade through snow,Where way is none, ‘t will creep and windAnd eat through Alps its home to find.
Was never form and never faceSo sweet to SEYD as only graceWhich did not slumber like a stone,But hovered gleaming and was gone.Beauty chased he everywhere,In flame, in storm, in clouds of air.He smote the lake to feed his eyeWith the beryl beam of the broken wave;He flung in pebbles well to hearThe moment’s music […]
Give to barrows, trays and pansGrace and glimmer of romance;Bring the moonlight into noonHid in gleaming piles of stone;On the city’s paved streetPlant gardens lined with lilacs sweet;Let spouting fountains cool the air,Singing in the sun-baked square;Let statue, picture, park and hall,Ballad, flag and festival,The past restore, the day adorn,And make to-morrow a new morn.So […]
The debt is paid,The verdict said,The Furies laid,The plague is stayed.All fortunes made;Turn the key and bolt the door,Sweet is death forevermore.Nor haughty hope, nor swart chagrin,Nor murdering hate, can enter in.All is now secure and fast;Not the gods can shake the Past;Flies-to the adamantine doorBolted down forevermore.None can reenter there,–No thief so politic,No Satan […]
SUNG AT THE SECOND CHURCH, AT THE ORDINATIONOF REV. CHANDLER ROBBINS We love the venerable houseOur fathers built to God;–In heaven are kept their grateful vows,Their dust endears the sod. Here holy thoughts a light have shedFrom many a radiant face,And prayers of humble virtue madeThe perfume of the place. And anxious hearts have pondered […]
Deep in the man sits fast his fateTo mould his fortunes, mean or great:Unknown to Cromwell as to meWas Cromwell’s measure or degree;Unknown to him as to his horse,If he than his groom be better or worse.He works, plots, fights, in rude affairs,With squires, lords, kings, his craft compares,Till late he learned, through doubt and […]
CONCORD, 1838 I reached the middle of the mountUp which the incarnate soul must climb,And paused for them, and looked around,With me who walked through space and time. Five rosy boys with morning lightHad leaped from one fair mother’s arms,Fronted the sun with hope as bright,And greeted God with childhood’s psalms. Knows he who tills […]