Essays: Second Series (1844)

Essays first and second series by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Poet

The Poet Emerson Poetry A moody child and wildly wise Pursued the game with joyful eyes, Which chose, like meteors, their way, And rived the dark with private ray: They overleapt the horizon’s edge, Searched with Apollo’s privilege; Through man, and woman, and sea, and star, Saw the dance of nature forward far; Through worlds, and races, and terms, and times, Saw musical order, and pairing rhymes. Olympian bards who sung Divine ideas below, Which always find us young, And always keep us so. ESSAY I The Poet Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever…

Experience

Experience Emerson’s Poem on Experience 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 from east to west: Little man, least of all, Among the legs of his guardians tall, Walked about with puzzled look: — Him by the hand dear nature took; Dearest nature, strong and kind, Whispered, ‘Darling, never mind! Tomorrow they will wear another face, The founder thou! these are…

Character

Character Waldo Characters 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, As hid all measure of the feat. Work of his hand He nor commends nor grieves: Pleads for itself the fact; As unrepenting Nature leaves Her every act. Essay III: Character I have read that those who listened to Lord Chatham felt that there was something finer in the man, than anything…

Manners

Manners – Ralph Waldo Emerson “How near to good is what is fair! Which we no sooner see, But with the lines and outward air Our senses taken be. Again yourselves compose, And now put all the aptness on Of Figure, that Proportion Or Color can disclose; That if those silent arts were lost, Design and Picture, they might boast From you a newer ground, Instructed by the heightening sense Of dignity and reverence In their true motions found.”                    Ben Jonson Essay IV Manners Half the world, it is said, knows not how the other half live. Our Exploring Expedition saw the Feejee islanders getting their dinner off human…

Gifts

Gifts Gifts of one who loved me, — ‘T was high time they came; When he ceased to love me, Time they stopped for shame. Essay V Gifts It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery, and be sold. I do not think this general insolvency, which involves in some sort all the population, to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year, and other times, in bestowing gifts; since it is always so pleasant to be generous, though very vexatious to pay debts.…

Nature

Nature The rounded world is fair to see, Nine times folded in mystery: Though baffled seers cannot impart The secret of its laboring heart, Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast, And all is clear from east to west. Spirit that lurks each form within Beckons to spirit of its kin; Self-kindled every atom glows, And hints the future which it owes. Essay VI Nature There are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides…

Politics

Politics 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 piled Phoebus stablish must. When the Muses nine With the Virtues meet, Find to their design An Atlantic seat, By green orchard boughs Fended from the heat, Where the statesman ploughs Furrow for the wheat; When the Church is social worth, When the state-house is the hearth, Then the perfect State is…

Nominalist and Realist

Nominalist and Realist 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. ESSAY VIII Nominalist and Realist I cannot often enough say, that a man is only a relative and representative nature. Each is a hint of the truth, but far enough from being that truth, which yet he quite newly and inevitably suggests to us. If I seek it in him, I shall not find it. Could any man conduct into…

New England Reformers

New England Reformers A Lecture read before the Society in Amory Hall, on Sunday, 3 March, 1844 Whoever has had opportunity of acquaintance with society in New England, during the last twenty-five years, with those middle and with those leading sections that may constitute any just representation of the character and aim of the community, will have been struck with the great activity of thought and experimenting.  His attention must be commanded by the signs that the Church, or religious party, is falling from the church nominal, and is appearing in temperance and non-resistance societies, in movements of abolitionists and of socialists, and in very significant assemblies, called Sabbath and…