Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I LIKE a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see 5
Would I that cowl┬d churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought; 10
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle:
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came 15
Like the volcano's tongue of flame
Up from the burning core below ！
The canticles of love and woe;
The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome 20
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;！
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest 25
Of leaves and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads? 30
Such and so grew these holy piles
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone;
And Morning opes with haste her lids 35
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky
As on its friends with kindred eye;
For out of Thought's interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air; 40
And Nature gladly gave them place
Adopted them into her race
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass; 45
Art might obey but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within. 50
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host
Trances the heart through chanting choirs
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken 55
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told
In groves of oak or fanes of gold
Still floats upon the morning wind
Still whispers to the willing mind. 60
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise ！
The Book itself before me lies ！
Old Chrysostom best Augustine 65
And he who blent both in his line
The younger Golden Lips or mines
Taylor the Shakespeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear
I see his cowl┬d portrait dear; 70
And yet for all his faith could see
I would not this good bishop be.
On Being Asked Whence Is the Flower
IN May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool, 5
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, 10
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose 15
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
BURLY dozing humble-bee
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique
Far-off heats through seas to seek;
I will follow thee alone 5
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer desert cheerer
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer me thy hearer
Singing over shrubs and vines. 10
Insect lover of the sun
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon; 15
Epicurean of June;
Wait I prithee till I come
Within earshot of thy hum ！
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind in May days 20
With a net of shining haze
Silvers the horizon wall
And with softness touching all
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance 25
And infusing subtle heats
Turns the sod to violets
Thou in sunny solitudes
Rover of the underwoods
The green silence dost displace 30
With thy mellow breezy bass.
Hot midsummer's petted crone
Sweet to me thy drowsy tone
Tells of countless sunny hours
Long days and solid banks of flowers; 35
Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found;
Of Syrian peace immortal leisure
Firmest cheer and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean 40
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells
Maple-sap and daffodels
Grass with green flag half-mast high
Succory to match the sky 45
Columbine with horn of honey
Scented fern and agrimony
Clover catchfly adder's-tongue
And brier-roses dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste 50
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer
Seeing only what is fair
Sipping only what is sweet 55
Thou dost mock at fate and care
Leave the chaff and take the wheat.
When the fierce northwestern blast
Cools sea and land so far and fast
Thou already slumberest deep; 60
Woe and want thou canst outsleep;
Want and woe which torture us
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
THE MOUNTAIN and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."
You are doubtless very big; 5
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace 10
To occupy my place.
If I'm not as large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make 15
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.
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 5
A sympathy divine.
Ah! let me blameless gaze upon
Features that seem at heart my own;
Nor fear those watchful sentinels
Who charm the more their glance forbids 10
Chaste-glowing underneath their lids
With fire that draws while it repels.
Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument April 19 1836
BY the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; 5
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank by this soft stream
We set to-day a votive stone; 10
That memory may their deed redeem
When like our sires our sons are gone.
Spirit that made those heroes dare
To die and leave their children free
Bid Time and Nature gently spare 15
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
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 5
Bread kingdoms stars and sky that holds them all.
I in my pleach┬d garden watched the pomp
Forgot my morning wishes hastily
Took a few herbs and apples and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I too late 10
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.
TO clothe the fiery thought
In simple words succeeds
For still the craft of genius is
To mask a king in weeds.
From the French
SOME of the hurts you have cured
And the sharpest you still have survived
But what torments of grief you endured
From evils which never arrived!
Heri Cras Hodie
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.
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.
I SEE all human wits
Are measured but a few;
Unmeasured still my Shakespeare sits
Lone as the blessed Jew.
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; 5
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly I am the wings; 10
I am the doubter and the doubt
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou meek lover of the good! 15
Find me and turn thy back on heaven.
Give All to Love
GIVE all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends kindred days
Estate good fame
Plans credit and the Muse！ 5
'Tis a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly
Hope beyond hope: 10
High and more high
It dives into noon
With wing unspent
But it is a god 15
Knows its own path
And the outlets of the sky.
It was never for the mean;
It requireth courage stout
Souls above doubt 20
Such 'twill reward;！
They shall return
More than they were
And ever ascending. 25
Leave all for love;
Yet hear me yet
One word more thy heart behoved
One pulse more of firm endeavour！
Keep thee to-day 30
To-morrow for ever
Free as an Arab
Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid;
But when the surprise 35
First vague shadow of surmise
Flits across her bosom young
Of a joy apart from thee
Free be she fancy-free;
Nor thou detain her vesture's hem 40
Nor the palest rose she flung
From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself
As a self of purer clay;
Though her parting dims the day 45
Stealing grace from all alive;
When half-gods go
The gods arrive.
IT fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys
Or ever the wild Time coin'd itself
Into calendar months and days.
This was the lapse of Uriel 5
Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking
Sayd overheard the young gods talking;
And the treason too long pent
To his ears was evident. 10
The young deities discuss'd
Laws of form and metre just
Orb quintessence and sunbeams
What subsisteth and what seems.
One with low tones that decide 15
And doubt and reverend use defied
With a look that solved the sphere
And stirr'd the devils everywhere
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line. 20
'Line in nature is not found;
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced all rays return;
Evil will bless and ice will burn.'
As Uriel spoke with piercing eye 25
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads;
The seraphs frown'd from myrtle-beds;
Seem'd to the holy festival
The rash word boded ill to all; 30
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bounds of good and ill were rent;
Strong Hades could not keep his own
But all slid to confusion.
A sad self-knowledge withering fell 35
On the beauty of Uriel;
In heaven once eminent the god
Withdrew that hour into his cloud;
Whether doom'd to long gyration
In the sea of generation 40
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind
Stole over the celestial kind
And their lips the secret kept 45
If in ashes the fire-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things
Shamed the angels' veiling wings;
And shrilling from the solar course
Or from fruit of chemic force 50
Procession of a soul in matter
Or the speeding change of water
Or out of the good of evil born
Came Uriel's voice of cherub scorn
And a blush tinged the upper sky 55
And the gods shook they knew not why.
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'd no savour of the earth to 'scape. 5
Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus;
And turns the woe of Night 10
By its own craft to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread;
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curl'd 15
Among the silver hills of heaven
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine
Blood of the world
Form of forms and mould of statures 20
That I intoxicated
And by the draught assimilated
May float at pleasure through all natures;
The bird-language rightly spell
And that which roses say so well: 25
Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls
Or like the Atlantic streams which run
When the South Sea calls. 30
Water and bread
Food which needs no transmuting
Wine which is already man
Food which teach and reason can. 35
Wine which Music is ！
Music and wine are one ！
That I drinking this
Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
Kings unborn shall walk with me; 40
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man.
Quicken'd so will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice 45
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow
And seeming-solid walls of use
Open and flow. 50
Pour Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair; 55
Reason in Nature's lotus drench'd！
The memory of ages quench'd！
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid 60
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints
Recut the ag┬d prints
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew 65
Upon the tablets blue
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.