Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  “But best befriended of the God
  He who, in evil times,
  Warned by an inward voice,
  Heeds not the darkness and the dread,
  Biding by his rule and choice,
  Feeling only the fiery thread
  Leading over heroic ground,
  Walled with mortal terror round,
  To the aim which him allures,
  And the sweet heaven his deed secures. 
  Peril around, all else appalling,
  Cannon in front and leaden rain
  Him duly through the clarion calling
  To the van called not in vain.”

It is in this poem that we find the lines which, a moment after they were written, seemed as if they had been carved on marble for a thousand years:—­

  “So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
  So near is God to man,
  When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
  The youth replies, I can.”

“Saadi” was published in the “Atlantic Monthly” in 1864, “My Garden” in 1866, “Terminus” in 1867.  In the same year these last poems with many others were collected in a small volume, entitled “May-Day, and Other Pieces.”  The general headings of these poems are as follows:  May-Day.—­The Adirondacs.—­Occasional and Miscellaneous Pieces.—­Nature and Life.—­Elements.—­Quatrains.—­Translations.—­Some of these poems, which were written at long intervals, have been referred to in previous pages.  “The Adirondacs” is a pleasant narrative, but not to be compared for its poetical character with “May-Day,” one passage from which, beginning,

  “I saw the bud-crowned Spring go forth,”

is surpassingly imaginative and beautiful.  In this volume will be found “Brahma,” “Days,” and others which are well known to all readers of poetry.

Emerson’s delineations of character are remarkable for high-relief and sharp-cut lines.  In his Remarks at the Funeral Services for Abraham Lincoln, held in Concord, April 19, 1865, he drew the portrait of the homespun-robed chief of the Republic with equal breadth and delicacy:—­

“Here was place for no holiday magistrate, no fair weather sailor; the new pilot was hurried to the helm in a tornado.  In four years,—­four years of battle-days,—­his endurance, his fertility of resources, his magnanimity, were sorely tried and never found wanting.  There, by his courage, his justice, his even temper, his fertile counsel, his humanity, he stood a heroic figure in the centre of a heroic epoch.  He is the true history of the American people in his time.  Step by step he walked before them; slow with their slowness, quickening his march by theirs, the true representative of this continent; an entirely public man; father of his country; the pulse of twenty millions throbbing in his heart, the thought of their minds articulated by his tongue.”

In his “Remarks at the Organization of the Free Religious Association,” Emerson stated his leading thought about religion in a very succinct and sufficiently “transcendental” way:  intelligibly for those who wish to understand him; mystically to those who do not accept or wish to accept the doctrine shadowed forth in his poem, “The Sphinx.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.