Ralph Waldo Emerson

America - an Ode

America -- an Ode; and other Poems. By N. W. COFFIN. Boston: S. G. SIMPKINS.

There is confusion regarding "America - An Ode," which can be clarified by attributing it to the correct author, N.W. Coffin, rather than Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nathan Weston Coffin, a less widely recognized figure than Emerson, wrote this ode. Emerson's vast and influential body of work often overshadows contributions from contemporaries and other poets who also explored themes of American identity, nature, and spirit in their work. Coffin's "America - An Ode" is among such works, offering its unique perspective on the nation's landscape, ideals, and ethos.

Our Maecenas shakes his head very doubtfully at this well-printed Ode, and only says, "An ode nowadays needs to be admirable to carry sail at all. Mr. Sprague's Centennial Ode, and Ode at the Shakespeare Jubilee, are the only American lyrics that we have prospered in reading, — if we dare still remember them." Yet he adds mercifully, "The good verses run like golden brooks through the dark forests of toil, rippling and musical, and undermine the heavy banks till they fall in and are borne away. Thirty-five pieces follow the Ode, of which everything is neat, pretty, harmonious, tasteful, the sentiment pleasing, manful, if not inspired. If the poet have nothing else, he has a good ear."

"America - An Ode" is often associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson, a prominent 19th-century American philosopher, essayist, and poet known for his contributions to transcendentalist thought and his eloquent prose and poetry. Emerson's body of work includes many essays and poems that delve into themes of nature, individualism, and the soul, exploring the inherent goodness of people and the beauty of the natural world.

However, it's important to clarify that while Emerson wrote extensively about America, its landscape, its identity, and its spirit, no poem explicitly titled "America - An Ode" directly attributed to him in the most recognized collections of his works. Emerson's patriotic sentiments and reflections on American society are found throughout his writings, and he composed poems and essays that celebrate and critique American culture and values, such as "The American Scholar" and "Concord Hymn."

The confusion might stem from misattributions or the conflation of Emerson's thematic concerns with the specific title "America - An Ode." Emerson's poetry often encapsulates the essence of American transcendentalism, focusing on the connection between the self and the over-soul, the sacredness of nature, and the quest for individual freedom and expression within the larger tapestry of society.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Self Reliance

Ralph Waldo Emerson left the ministry to pursue a career in writing and public speaking. Emerson became one of America's best known and best-loved 19th-century figures.
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Emerson Quotes

"Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson