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Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Part 6 out of 7

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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,
Nor my unseasoned step disturbs
The sleeps of trees or dreams of herbs.

In Walden wood the chickadee
Runs round the pine and maple tree
Intent on insect slaughter:
O tufted entomologist!
Devour as many as you list,
Then drink in Walden water.

The low December vault in June be lifted high,
And largest clouds be flakes of down in that enormous sky.


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
Swains by winter pinched and worn.


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 in our roof,
Weave your chamber weatherproof;
And your enchanting manners bring
And your autumnal gathering.
Exchange in conclave general
Greetings kind to each and all,
Conscious each of duty done
And unstained as the sun.


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.


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, the world below.

Behold the miracle!
Thou saw'st but now the twilight sad
And stood beneath the firmament,
A watchman in a dark gray tent,
Waiting till God create the earth,--
Behold the new majestic birth!
The mottled clouds, like scraps of wool,
Steeped in the light are beautiful.
What majestic stillness broods
Over these colored solitudes.
Sleeps the vast East in pleased peace,
Up the far mountain walls the streams increase
Inundating the heaven
With spouting streams and waves of light
Which round the floating isles unite:--
See the world below
Baptized with the pure element,
A clear and glorious firmament
Touched with life by every beam.
I share the good with every flower,
I drink the nectar of the hour:--
This is not the ancient earth
Whereof old chronicles relate
The tragic tales of crime and fate;
But rather, like its beads of dew
And dew-bent violets, fresh and new,
An exhalation of the time.

* * *


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
Flashed their small fires in air, or held their court
In fairy groves of herds-grass.

He lives not who can refuse me;
All my force saith, Come and use me:
A gleam of sun, a summer rain,
And all the zone is green again.

Seems, though the soft sheen all enchants,
Cheers the rough crag and mournful dell,
As if on such stern forms and haunts
A wintry storm more fitly fell.

Put in, drive home the sightless wedges
And split to flakes the crystal ledges.


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.

The cold gray down upon the quinces lieth
And the poor spinners weave their webs thereon
To share the sunshine that so spicy is.

Samson stark, at Dagon's knee,
Gropes for columns strong as he;
When his ringlets grew and curled,
Groped for axle of the world.

But Nature whistled with all her winds,
Did as she pleased and went her way.


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 a noble end,
Not angels but divinities attend.

From high to higher forces
The scale of power uprears,
The heroes on their horses,
The gods upon their spheres.

This shining moment is an edifice
Which the Omnipotent cannot rebuild.

Roomy Eternity
Casts her schemes rarely,
And an aeon allows
For each quality and part
Of the multitudinous
And many-chambered heart.

The beggar begs by God's command,
And gifts awake when givers sleep,
Swords cannot cut the giving hand
Nor stab the love that orphans keep.

In the chamber, on the stairs,
Lurking dumb,
Go and come
Lemurs and Lars.

Such another peerless queen
Only could her mirror show.

Easy to match what others do,
Perform the feat as well as they;
Hard to out-do the brave, the true,
And find a loftier way:
The school decays, the learning spoils
Because of the sons of wine;
How snatch the stripling from their toils?--
Yet can one ray of truth divine
The blaze of revellers' feasts outshine.

Of all wit's uses the main one
Is to live well with who has none.

The tongue is prone to lose the way,
Not so the pen, for in a letter
We have not better things to say,
But surely say them better.

She walked in flowers around my field
As June herself around the sphere.

Friends to me are frozen wine;
I wait the sun on them should shine.

You shall not love me for what daily spends;
You shall not know me in the noisy street,
Where I, as others, follow petty ends;
Nor when in fair saloons we chance to meet;
Nor when I'm jaded, sick, anxious or mean.
But love me then and only, when you know
Me for the channel of the rivers of God
From deep ideal fontal heavens that flow.

To and fro the Genius flies,
A light which plays and hovers
Over the maiden's head
And dips sometimes as low as to her eyes.
Of her faults I take no note,
Fault and folly are not mine;
Comes the Genius,--all's forgot,
Replunged again into that upper sphere
He scatters wide and wild its lustres here.

Asks nought his brother cannot give;
Asks nothing, but does all receive.
Love calls not to his aid events;
He to his wants can well suffice:
Asks not of others soft consents,
Nor kind occasion without eyes;
Nor plots to ope or bolt a gate,
Nor heeds Condition's iron walls,--
Where he goes, goes before him Fate;
Whom he uniteth, God installs;
Instant and perfect his access
To the dear object of his thought,
Though foes and land and seas between
Himself and his love intervene.

The brave Empedocles, defying fools,
Pronounced the word that mortals hate to hear--
"I am divine, I am not mortal made;
I am superior to my human weeds."
Not Sense but Reason is the Judge of truth;
Reason's twofold, part human, part divine;
That human part may be described and taught,
The other portion language cannot speak.

Tell men what they knew before;
Paint the prospect from their door.

Him strong Genius urged to roam,
Stronger Custom brought him home.

That each should in his house abide.
Therefore was the world so wide.

Thou shalt make thy house
The temple of a nation's vows.
Spirits of a higher strain
Who sought thee once shall seek again.
I detected many a god
Forth already on the road,
Ancestors of beauty come
In thy breast to make a home.

The archangel Hope
Looks to the azure cope,
Waits through dark ages for the morn,
Defeated day by day, but unto victory born.

As the drop feeds its fated flower,
As finds its Alp the snowy shower,
Child of the omnific Need,
Hurled into life to do a deed,
Man drinks the water, drinks the light.

Ever the Rock of Ages melts
Into the mineral air,
To be the quarry whence to build
Thought and its mansions fair.

Go if thou wilt, ambrosial flower,
Go match thee with thy seeming peers;
I will wait Heaven's perfect hour
Through the innumerable years.

Yes, sometimes to the sorrow-stricken
Shall his own sorrow seem impertinent,
A thing that takes no more root in the world
Than doth the traveller's shadow on the rock.

But if thou do thy best,
Without remission, without rest,
And invite the sunbeam,
And abhor to feign or seem
Even to those who thee should love
And thy behavior approve;
If thou go in thine own likeness,
Be it health, or be it sickness;
If thou go as thy father's son,
If thou wear no mask or lie,
Dealing purely and nakedly,--

* * *

Ascending thorough just degrees
To a consummate holiness,
As angel blind to trespass done,
And bleaching all souls like the sun.

From the stores of eldest matter,
The deep-eyed flame, obedient water,
Transparent air, all-feeding earth,
He took the flower of all their worth,
And, best with best in sweet consent,
Combined a new temperament.


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 done to them.

With the key of the secret he marches faster,
From strength to strength, and for night brings day;
While classes or tribes, too weak to master
The flowing conditions of life, give way.


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,
And the rash-leaping thunderbolt fell short.

Shun passion, fold the hands of thrift,
Sit still and Truth is near:
Suddenly it will uplift
Your eyelids to the sphere:
Wait a little, you shall see
The portraiture of things to be.

The rules to men made evident
By Him who built the day,
The columns of the firmament
Not firmer based than they.

On bravely through the sunshine and the showers!
Time hath his work to do and we have ours.


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 the eternal Mind,
Nor hymn, nor prayer, nor church.


How much, preventing God, how much I owe
To the defences thou hast round me set;
Example, custom, fear, occasion slow,--
These scorned bondmen were my parapet.
I dare not peep over this parapet
To gauge with glance the roaring gulf below,
The depths of sin to which I had descended,
Had not these me against myself defended.


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 lie
White hollow shells upon the desert shore,
But not the less the eternal wave rolls on
To animate new millions, and exhale
Races and planets, its enchanted foam.


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.


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 have long memories,
Of that be none afraid.

I cannot tell rude listeners
Half the tell-tale South-wind said,--
'T would bring the blushes of yon maples
To a man and to a maid.


They put their finger on their lip,
The Powers above:
The seas their islands clip,
The moons in ocean dip,
They love, but name not love.


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 and airs and shapes,
Color and sound, music to eye and ear,
Beyond the best conceit of pomp or power.


[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.

[In the long sunny afternoon
The plain was full of ghosts:
I wandered up, I wandered down,
Beset by pensive hosts.]

For in those lonely grounds the sun
Shines not as on the town,
In nearer arcs his journeys run,
And nearer stoops the moon.

There in a moment I have seen
The buried Past arise;
The fields of Thessaly grew green,
Old gods forsook the skies.

I cannot publish in my rhyme
What pranks the greenwood played;
It was the Carnival of time,
And Ages went or stayed.

To me that spectral nook appeared
The mustering Day of Doom,
And round me swarmed in shadowy troop
Things past and things to come.

The darkness haunteth me elsewhere;
There I am full of light;
In every whispering leaf I hear
More sense than sages write.

Underwoods were full of pleasance,
All to each in kindness bend,
And every flower made obeisance
As a man unto his friend.

Far seen, the river glides below,
Tossing one sparkle to the eyes:
I catch thy meaning, wizard wave;
The River of my Life replies.


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 rainbow glows,
Nor in the song of woman heard,
But in the darkest, meanest things
There alway, alway something sings.

'T is not in the high stars alone,
Nor in the cup of budding flowers,
Nor in the redbreast's mellow tone,
Nor in the bow that smiles in showers,
But in the mud and scum of things
There alway, alway something sings.


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.


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 seemed the world was all torches
That suddenly caught the flame.

* * *

Is there never a retroscope mirror
In the realms and corners of space
That can give us a glimpse of the battle
And the soldiers face to face?

Sit here on the basalt courses
Where twisted hills betray
The seat of the world-old Forces
Who wrestled here on a day.

* * *

When the purple flame shoots up,
And Love ascends his throne,
I cannot hear your songs, O birds,
For the witchery of my own.

And every human heart
Still keeps that golden day
And rings the bells of jubilee
On its own First of May.


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 the woods impart
You must bring the throbbing heart.
Love is aye the counterforce,--
Terror and Hope and wild Remorse,
Newest knowledge, fiery thought,
Or Duty to grand purpose wrought.
Wandering yester morn the brake,
I reached this heath beside the lake,
And oh, the wonder of the power,
The deeper secret of the hour!
Nature, the supplement of man,
His hidden sense interpret can;--
What friend to friend cannot convey
Shall the dumb bird instructed say.
Passing yonder oak, I heard
Sharp accents of my woodland bird;
I watched the singer with delight,--
But mark what changed my joy to fright,--
When that bird sang, I gave the theme;
That wood-bird sang my last night's dream,
A brown wren was the Daniel
That pierced my trance its drift to tell,
Knew my quarrel, how and why,
Published it to lake and sky,
Told every word and syllable
In his flippant chirping babble,
All my wrath and all my shames,
Nay, God is witness, gave the names.


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 to the antipodes,
From Boston to Japan.

The planets' child the planet knows
And to his joy replies;
To the lark's trill unfolds the rose,
Clouds flush their gayest dyes.

When Ali prayed and loved
Where Syrian waters roll,
Upward the ninth heaven thrilled and moved;
At the tread of the jubilant soul.


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 hedges plant and feed.

From mountains far and valleys near
The harvests sown to-day
Thrive in all weathers without fear,--
Wild planters, plant away!

In cities high the careful crowds
Of woe-worn mortals darkling go,
But in these sunny solitudes
My quiet roses blow.

Methought the sky looked scornful down
On all was base in man,
And airy tongues did taunt the town,
'Achieve our peace who can!'

What need I holier dew
Than Walden's haunted wave,
Distilled from heaven's alembic blue,
Steeped in each forest cave?

[If Thought unlock her mysteries,
If Friendship on me smile,
I walk in marble galleries,
I talk with kings the while.]

How drearily in College hall
The Doctor stretched the hours,
But in each pause we heard the call
Of robins out of doors.

The air is wise, the wind thinks well,
And all through which it blows,
If plants or brain, if egg or shell,
Or bird or biped knows;

And oft at home 'mid tasks I heed,
I heed how wears the day;
We must not halt while fiercely speed
The spans of life away.

What boots it here of Thebes or Rome
Or lands of Eastern day?
In forests I am still at home
And there I cannot stray.


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 a glance;
Gives beauty to the lake and fountain,
Spies oversea the fires of the mountain;
When thrushes ope their throat, 't is he that sings,
And he that paints the oriole's fiery wings.
The little Shakspeare in the maiden's heart
Makes Romeo of a plough-boy on his cart;
Opens the eye to Virtue's starlike meed
And gives persuasion to a gentle deed.


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?


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.
But when he flees on riches' wings,
He laugheth at his foes.


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 escaped, but his philosophy
Couched like a cat sat watching close behind
And throttled all his passion. Is't not like
That devil-spider that devours her mate
Scarce freed from her embraces?


Gravely it broods apart on joy,
And, truth to tell, amused by pain.


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 wicked eye
Is cruel to thy cruelty.


Fall, stream, from Heaven to bless; return as well;
So did our sons; Heaven met them as they fell.



The heavy blue chain
Of the boundless main
Didst thou, just man, endure.

I have an arrow that will find its mark,
A mastiff that will bite without a hark.

* * * * *




* * * * *


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 called our sires,
And good men thought thy sacred voice
Disarmed the thunder's fires.

And soon thy music, sad death-bell,
Shall lift its notes once more,
And mix my requiem with the wind
That sweeps my native shore.



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.


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 in youth the sad infirmities
That use to undo the limb and sense of age;
It hath pleased Heaven to break the dream of bliss
Which lit my onward way with bright presage,
And my unserviceable limbs forego.
The sweet delight I found in fields and farms,
On windy hills, whose tops with morning glow,
And lakes, smooth mirrors of Aurora's charms.
Yet I think on them in the silent night,
Still breaks that morn, though dim, to Memory's eye,
And the firm soul does the pale train defy
Of grim Disease, that would her peace affright.
Please God, I'll wrap me in mine innocence,
And bid each awful Muse drive the damned harpies hence.


Be of good cheer, brave spirit; steadfastly
Serve that low whisper thou hast served; for know,
God hath a select family of sons
Now scattered wide thro' earth, and each alone,
Who are thy spiritual kindred, and each one
By constant service to, that inward law,
Is weaving the sublime proportions
Of a true monarch's soul. Beauty and strength,
The riches of a spotless memory,
The eloquence of truth, the wisdom got
By searching of a clear and loving eye
That seeth as God seeth. These are their gifts,
And Time, who keeps God's word, brings on the day
To seal the marriage of these minds with thine,
Thine everlasting lovers. Ye shall be
The salt of all the elements, world of the world.


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, an unlaurelled Muse.

Old mouldy men and books and names and lands
Disgust my reason and defile my hands.
I had as lief respect an ancient shoe,
As love old things _for age_, and hate the new.
I spurn the Past, my mind disdains its nod,
Nor kneels in homage to so mean a God.
I laugh at those who, while they gape and gaze,
The bald antiquity of China praise.
Youth is (whatever cynic tubs pretend)
The fault that boys and nations soonest mend.



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 teeth and bones to buy a name,
And crawls through life a paralytic
To earn the praise of bard and critic.

Were it not better done,
To dine and sleep through forty years;
Be loved by few; be feared by none;
Laugh life away; have wine for tears;
And take the mortal leap undaunted,
Content that all we asked was granted?

But Fate will not permit
The seed of gods to die,
Nor suffer sense to win from wit
Its guerdon in the sky,
Nor let us hide, whate'er our pleasure,
The world's light underneath a measure.

Go then, sad youth, and shine;
Go, sacrifice to Fame;
Put youth, joy, health upon the shrine,
And life to fan the flame;
Being for Seeming bravely barter
And die to Fame a happy martyr.



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 midnight solitude
And kind acquaintance with the morning stars
And the glad hey-day of my household hours,
The innocent mirth which sweetens daily bread,
Railing in love to those who rail again,
By mind's industry sharpening the love of life--
Books, Muses, Study, fireside, friends and love,
I loved ye with true love, so fare ye well!

I was a boy; boyhood slid gayly by
And the impatient years that trod on it
Taught me new lessons in the lore of life.
I've learned the sum of that sad history
All woman-born do know, that hoped-for days,
Days that come dancing on fraught with delights,
Dash our blown hopes as they limp heavily by.
But I, the bantling of a country Muse,
Abandon all those toys with speed to obey
The King whose meek ambassador I go.



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, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing,--and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:--
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho' they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road--
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of 'monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country's primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.

CONCORD, June, 1827.


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.



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 in carolling,
The wood-boughs with thy manners waved,
The rocks uphold thy name engraved,
The sod throbbed friendly to my feet,
And the sweet air with thee was sweet.
The saffron cloud that floated warm
Studied thy motion, took thy form,
And in his airy road benign
Recalled thy skill in bold design,
Or seemed to use his privilege
To gaze o'er the horizon's edge,
To search where now thy beauty glowed,
Or made what other purlieus proud.



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 heart
That knows a purer flame than me,
I too therein could challenge part
And learn of love a new degree.


A dull uncertain brain,
But gifted yet to know
That God has cherubim who go
Singing an immortal strain,
Immortal here below.
I know the mighty bards,
I listen when they sing,
And now I know
The secret store
Which these explore
When they with torch of genius pierce
The tenfold clouds that cover
The riches of the universe
From God's adoring lover.
And if to me it is not given
To fetch one ingot thence
Of the unfading gold of Heaven
His merchants may dispense,
Yet well I know the royal mine,
And know the sparkle of its ore,
Know Heaven's truth from lies that shine--
Explored they teach us to explore.



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 tomb
Goes loaded with a free perfume
Dealt out with a God's charity.

I should like to die in sweets,
A hill's leaves for winding-sheets,
And the searching sun to see
That I am laid with decency.
And the commissioned wind to sing
His mighty psalm from fall to spring
And annual tunes commemorate
Of Nature's child the common fate.



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 woodland tract, a sunny farm,
Amid the mountain counties, Hants, Franklin, Berks,
Where down the rock ravine a river roars,
Even from a brook, and where old woods
Not tamed and cleared cumber the ground
With their centennial wrecks.
Find me a slope where I can feel the sun
And mark the rising of the early stars.
There will I bring my books,--my household gods,
The reliquaries of my dead saint, and dwell
In the sweet odor of her memory.
Then in the uncouth solitude unlock
My stock of art, plant dials in the grass,
Hang in the air a bright thermometer
And aim a telescope at the inviolate sun.


Day by day returns
The everlasting sun,
Replenishing material urns
With God's unspared donation;
But the day of day,
The orb within the mind,
Creating fair and good alway,
Shines not as once it shined.

* * *

Vast the realm of Being is,
In the waste one nook is his;
Whatsoever hap befalls
In his vision's narrow walls
He is here to testify.



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 hither come the pensive train
Of rich and poor, of young and old,
Of ardent youth untouched by pain,
Of thoughtful maids and manhood bold.

They seek a friend to speak the word
Already trembling on their tongue,
To touch with prophet's hand the chord
Which God in human hearts hath strung.

To speak the plain reproof of sin
That sounded in the soul before,
And bid you let the angels in
That knock at meek contrition's door.

A friend to lift the curtain up
That hides from man the mortal goal,
And with glad thoughts of faith and hope
Surprise the exulting soul.

Sole source of light and hope assured,
O touch thy servant's lips with power,
So shall he speak to us the word
Thyself dost give forever more.

June, 1831.


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 wise Seer within me never errs.
I never taught it what it teaches me;
I only follow, when I act aright.

October 9, 1832.

And when I am entombed in my place,
Be it remembered of a single man,
He never, though he dearly loved his race,
For fear of human eyes swerved from his plan.

Oh what is Heaven but the fellowship
Of minds that each can stand against the world
By its own meek and incorruptible will?

The days pass over me
And I am still the same;
The aroma of my life is gone
With the flower with which it came.



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 new design,
Its spot of purple, and its streak of brown,
So each man's life shall have its proper lights,
And a few joys, a few peculiar charms,
For him round in the melancholy hours
And reconcile him to the common days.
Not many men see beauty in the fogs
Of close low pine-woods in a river town;
Yet unto me not morn's magnificence,
Nor the red rainbow of a summer eve,
Nor Rome, nor joyful Paris, nor the halls
Of rich men blazing hospitable light,
Nor wit, nor eloquence,--no, nor even the song
Of any woman that is now alive,--
Hath such a soul, such divine influence,
Such resurrection of the happy past,
As is to me when I behold the morn
Ope in such law moist roadside, and beneath
Peep the blue violets out of the black loam,
Pathetic silent poets that sing to me
Thine elegy, sweet singer, sainted wife.

March, 1833.


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 alone is sweet society,
It keeps the key to all heroic hearts,
And opens you a welcome in them all.
You must be like them if you desire them,
Scorn trifles and embrace a better aim
Than wine or sleep or praise;
Hunt knowledge as the lover wooes a maid,
And ever in the strife of your own thoughts
Obey the nobler impulse; that is Rome:
That shall command a senate to your side;
For there is no might in the universe
That can contend with love. It reigns forever.
Wait then, sad friend, wait in majestic peace
The hour of heaven. Generously trust
Thy fortune's web to the beneficent hand
That until now has put his world in fee
To thee. He watches for thee still. His love
Broods over thee, and as God lives in heaven,
However long thou walkest solitary,
The hour of heaven shall come, the man appear.




Let Webster's lofty face
Ever on thousands shine,
A beacon set that Freedom's race
Might gather omens from that radiant sign.



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 or fancy--we may draw;
A form which Nature cast in the heroic mould
Of them who rescued liberty of old;
He, when the rising storm of party roared,
Brought his great forehead to the council board,
There, while hot heads perplexed with fears the state,
Calm as the morn the manly patriot sate;
Seemed, when at last his clarion accents broke,
As if the conscience of the country spoke.
Not on its base Monadnoc surer stood,
Than he to common sense and common good:
No mimic; from his breast his counsel drew,
Believed the eloquent was aye the true;
He bridged the gulf from th' alway good and wise
To that within the vision of small eyes.
Self-centred; when he launched the genuine word
It shook or captivated all who heard,
Ran from his mouth to mountains and the sea,
And burned in noble hearts proverb and prophecy.


Why did all manly gifts in Webster fail?
He wrote on Nature's grandest brow, _For Sale_.

* * * * *


A dull uncertain brain
"A new commandment," said the smiling Muse
A patch of meadow upland
A queen rejoices in her peers
A ruddy drop of manly blood
A score of airy miles will smooth
A sterner errand to the silken troop
A subtle chain of countless rings
A train of gay and clouded days
Ah Fate, cannot a man
Ah, not to me those dreams belong!
All day the waves assailed the rock
Alone in Rome. Why, Rome is lonely too
Already blushes on thy cheek
And as the light divides the dark
And Ellen, when the graybeard years
And I behold once more
And when I am entombed in my place
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky
Around the man who seeks a noble end
Ascending thorough just degrees
Askest, 'How long thou shalt stay?'
As sings the pine-tree in the wind
As sunbeams stream through liberal space
As the drop feeds its fated flower
Atom from atom yawns as far

Be of good cheer, brave spirit; steadfastly
Because I was content with these poor fields
Bethink, poor heart, what bitter kind of jest
Blooms the laurel which belongs
Boon Nature yields each day a brag which we now first behold
Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint
Burly, dozing humble-bee
But God said
But if thou do thy best
But Nature whistled with all her winds
But never yet the man was found
But over all his crowning grace
By fate, not option, frugal Nature gave
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
By thoughts I lead

Can rules or tutors educate
Cast the bantling on the rocks
Coin the day dawn into lines

Dark flower of Cheshire garden
Darlings of children and of bard
Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days
Day by day for her darlings to her much she added more
Day by day returns
Day! hast thou two faces
Dear brother, would you know the life
Dearest, where thy shadow falls
Deep in the man sits fast his fate

Each spot where tulips prank their state
Each the herald is who wrote
Easy to match what others do
Ere he was born, the stars of fate
Ever the Poet _from_ the land
Ever the Rock of Ages melts
Every day brings a ship
Every thought is public

Fall, stream, from Heaven to bless; return as well
Farewell, ye lofty spires
Flow, flow the waves hated
For art, for music over-thrilled
For every God
For Fancy's gift
For Genius made his cabin wide
For joy and beauty planted it
For Nature, true and like in every place
For thought, and not praise
For what need I of book or priest
Forbore the ant-hill, shunned to tread
Freedom all winged expands
Friends to me are frozen wine
From fall to spring, the russet acorn
From high to higher forces
From the stores of eldest matter
From thy worth and weight the stars gravitate

Gifts of one who loved me
Give all to love
Give me truths
Give to barrows, trays and pans
Go if thou wilt, ambrosial flower
Go speed the stars of Thought
Go thou to thy learned task
Gold and iron are good
Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home
Grace, Beauty and Caprice
Gravely it broods apart on joy

Hark what, now loud, now low, the pining flute complains
Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Have ye seen the caterpillar
He could condense cerulean ether
He lives not who can refuse me
He planted where the deluge ploughed
He took the color of his vest
He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare
He who has no hands
Hear what British Merlin sung
Henceforth, please God, forever I forego
Her passions the shy violet
Her planted eye to-day controls
High was her heart, and yet was well inclined
Him strong Genius urged to roam
His instant thought a poet spoke
His tongue was framed to music
Hold of the Maker, not the Made
How much, preventing God, how much I owe

I, Alphonso, live and learn
I am not poor but I am proud
I am not wiser for my age
I am the Muse who sung alway
I bear in youth and sad infirmities
I cannot spare water or wine
I do not count the hours I spend
I framed his tongue to music
I grieve that better souls than mine
I have an arrow that will find its mark
I have no brothers and no peers
I have trod this path a hundred times
I heard or seemed to hear the chiding Sea
I hung my verses in the wind
I left my dreary page and sallied forth
I like a church; I like a cowl
I love thy music, mellow bell
I mourn upon this battle-field
I rake no coffined clay, nor publish wide
I reached the middle of the mount
I said to heaven that glowed above
I see all human wits
I serve you not, if you I follow
If bright the sun, he tarries
If curses be the wage of love
If I could put my woods in song
If my darling should depart
If the red slayer think he slays
Ill fits the abstemious Muse a crown to weave
Illusions like the tints of pearl
Illusion works impenetrable
In an age of fops and toys
In countless upward-striving waves
In Farsistan the violet spreads
In many forms we try
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes
In my garden three ways meet
In the chamber, on the stairs
In the deep heart of man a poet dwells
In the suburb, in the town
In the turbulent beauty
In Walden wood the chickadee
It fell in the ancient periods
It is time to be old

Knows he who tills this lonely field

Let me go where'er I will
Let Webster's lofty face
Like vaulters in a circus round
Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown
Long I followed happy guides
Love asks nought his brother cannot give
Love on his errand bound to go
Love scatters oil
Low and mournful be the strain

Man was made of social earth
Many things the garden shows
May be true what I had heard
Mine and yours
Mine are the night and morning
Mortal mixed of middle clay

Nature centres into balls
Never did sculptor's dream unfold
Night-dreams trace on Memory's wall
No fate, save by the victim's fault, is low
Not in their houses stand the stars

October woods wherein
O fair and stately maid, whose eyes
O pity that I pause!
O tenderly the haughty day
O well for the fortunate soul
O what are heroes, prophets, men
Of all wit's uses the main one
Of Merlin wise I learned a song
Oh what is Heaven but the fellowship
On a mound an Arab lay
On bravely through the sunshine and the showers
On prince or bride no diamond stone
On two days it steads not to run from thy grave
Once I wished I might rehearse
One musician is sure
Our eyeless bark sails free
Over his head were the maple buds

Pale genius roves alone
Parks and ponds are good by day
Philosophers are lined with eyes within
Power that by obedience grows
Put in, drive home the sightless wedges

Quit the hut, frequent the palace

Right upward on the road of fame
Roomy Eternity
Roving, roving, as it seems
Ruby wine is drunk by knaves

Samson stark at Dagon's knee
See yonder leafless trees against the sky
Seek not the spirit, if it hide
Seems, though the soft sheen all enchants
Set not thy foot on graves
She is gamesome and good
She paints with white and red the moors
She walked in flowers around my field
Shines the last age, the next with hope is seen
Shun passion, fold the hands of thrift
Six thankful weeks,--and let it be
Slighted Minerva's learned tongue
Soft and softlier hold me, friends!
Solar insect on the wing
Some of your hurts you have cured
Space is ample, east and west
Spin the ball! I reel, I burn
Such another peerless queen
Sudden gusts came full of meaning

Tell me, maiden, dost thou use
Tell men what they knew before
Test of the poet is knowledge of love
Thanks to the morning light
That book is good
That each should in his house abide
That you are fair or wise is vain
The April winds are magical
The archangel Hope
The Asmodean feat is mine
The atom displaces all atoms beside
The bard and mystic held me for their own
The beggar begs by God's command
The brave Empedocles, defying fools
The brook sings on, but sings in vain
The cold gray down upon the quinces lieth
The cup of life is not so shallow
The days pass over me
The debt is paid
The gale that wrecked you on the sand
The green grass is bowing
The heavy blue chain
The living Heaven thy prayers respect
The lords of life, the lords of life
The low December vault in June be lifted high
Theme no poet gladly sung
The mountain and the squirrel
The Muse's hill by Fear is guarded
The patient Pan
The prosperous and beautiful
The rhyme of the poet
The rocky nook with hilltops three
The rules to men made evident
The sea is the road of the bold
The sense of the world is short
The solid, solid universe
The South-wind brings
The Sphinx is drowsy
The sun athwart the cloud thought it no sin
The sun goes down, and with him takes
The sun set, but set not his hope
The tongue is prone to lose the way
The water understands
The wings of Time are black and white
The word of the Lord by night
The yesterday doth never smile
Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes
There are beggars in Iran and Araby
There is in all the sons of men
There is no great and no small
There is no architect
They brought me rubies from the mine
They put their finger on their lips
They say, through patience, chalk
Thine eyes still shined for me, though far
Think me not unkind and rude
This is he, who, felled by foes
This shining moment is an edifice
Thou foolish Hafiz! Say, do churls
Thou shalt make thy house
Though her eyes seek other forms
Though loath to grieve
Though love repine and reason chafe
Thousand minstrels woke within me
Thy foes to hunt, thy enviers to strike down
Thy summer voice, Musketaquit
Thy trivial harp will never please
To and fro the Genius flies
To clothe the fiery thought
To transmute crime to wisdom, so to stem
Trees in groves
True Brahmin, in the morning meadows wet
Try the might the Muse affords
Two things thou shalt not long for, if thou love a mind serene
Two well-assorted travellers use

Unbar the door, since thou the Opener art

Venus, when her son was lost

Was never form and never face
We are what we are made; each following day
We crossed Champlain to Keeseville with our friends
We love the venerable house
Well and wisely said the Greek
What all the books of ages paint, I have
What care I, so they stand the same
What central flowing forces, say
When all their blooms the meadows flaunt
When I was born
When success exalts thy lot
When the pine tosses its cones
When wrath and terror changed Jove's regal port
Who gave thee, O Beauty
Who knows this or that? 375.
Who saw the hid beginnings
Who shall tell what did befall
Why did all manly gifts in Webster fail?
Why fear to die
Why lingerest thou, pale violet, to see the dying year
Why should I keep holiday
Wilt thou seal up the avenues of ill?
Winters know
Wise and polite,--and if I drew
Wisp and meteor nightly falling

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