Ralph Emerson


Ralph Emerson Essay, Research Paper

From wise men the world inherits a literature of wisdom, characterized less by

its scheduled education than by its strength and shortness of statement. Thought

provoking and discerning, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a cynical world an unbiased

perspective on human frailty. Emerson first and foremost was a poet. He has not

written a line which is not conceived in the interest of mankind. He never

writes in the interest of a section, of a party, of a church, or a man, always

in the interest of mankind.? (Carlyle 19) From Emerson?s poetry the reader

is able to derive a central theme of idealism and reality. Emerson was ?a poet

that sings to us with thoughts beyond his song.? (Howe) His never ending

search for immortality was always resolved by his reencounter with reality. In

his poem ?Days? he expresses the purely ideal or mystical half of his

thoughts. ?Days? suggests both points of view and is structurally divided

into two parts. The first six lines personify the ?Days? as demigods who

offer the gifts of life to mortals. 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,– Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all. Emerson is

saying here that the individual days arranged in an endless running bring man

indulgences and plainness alike. They bring whatever is the will of man.

Bazemore 2 Emerson?s problem with this is that it is up to him to claim

responsibility for his actions. These supreme beings simply provide a steadfast

pace unchanging and unyielding. They say nothing and make no efforts to

intervene in man?s path. They claim time, but so short. The time they provide

is not long enough, and that is why they are hypocrites, thus providing

Emerson?s confrontation with perfection. In the last five lines he describes

his actual failure to realize the value of these gifts, and then his ideal

recognition of this mortal failure. Man is depicted as a tragic hero in

?Days.? I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp, Forget my morning

wishes, hastily took a few herbs and apples, And the Day turned and departed

silent. I, too late, under her solemn fillet saw the scorn. (Emerson 437)

Emerson here refers to how he looks at these beings or demigods, with

resentment. He has high expectations in the morning but sees how time has not

given him the means necessary. He almost gives the ?Days? an evil regard and

expects a reply, but instead the ?Days? leave without a word. He sees the

errors of his ways and sees how because he has given the ?Days? so much

thought he has wasted the day, and thus executes the last line where he

indicates he ?saw the scorn.? (Emerson 437) Again in another well-renown

poem by Emerson, ?Rhodora,? the theme of self-reliance is depicted by

combining idealistic and realistic virtues. He gives a flower the Bazemore 3

appeal of a prefect being. This time, however, his technique is reversed from

the previous poem. The first lines express the normality of the flower. He says,

I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, Spreading its leaflets Blooms in a damp

nook, to please the desert And the sluggish brook. (Emerson) Nothing, thus far,

has portrayed the flower as anything but a delightful surprise. He speaks of the

happiness it has brought to the scene, but has not given it any unusual

attributes. Then he grants that this flower is the greatest thing to ever happen

to the world. Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why this charm is wasted on the

earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then beauty

is its own excuse for being? In another critically acclaimed poem by Emerson,

?Forbearance?, he dwells on the idea of man?s nature of selfishness and

heartlessness Hast thou named all the birds without a gun? Loved the wood-rose,

and left it on its stalk? At rich men?s tables eaten bread and pulse? Unarmed,

faced danger with a heart of trust? Bazemore 4 And loved so well a high

behavior, In man or maid, that though from speech refrained, Nobility more nobly

to repay? O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine! (Emerson 31) Emerson

condemns man for their unfortunate nature. Why must man kill to understand and

be glutinous with greed and predisposition. Yet other men want nothing less than

to be like these men. Men who take advantage of others in order to succeed and

advance their own fancy. That is what Emerson is referring to when he says,

?O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!? This is an example of his

interpretation of reality. Idealism would be represent the better sides of

man?s nature and instead show these sides as faultless. In this poem, rather

than writing about idealism, it is in a form of rhetorical question. When

readers finish the poem they are perplexed with the idea of what man should be

like and the way he should act. In another famous Emerson poem, ?Faith?, he

speaks of attributes which require the greatest of discipline, and again

self-reliance. Plunge in your angry waves, Defying doubt and care, And the

flowing of the seven broad seas Bazemore 5 Shall never wet thy hair. Emerson

here is granting the most idealistic conditions that one might imagine. He is

basically saying that men should face their fear and dive into them rather than

ignore them. All is said and well, but it is man?s overcoming nature to let

fear consume their minds and take control. And though thy fortune and thy form

Be broken, waste and void, Though suns be spent, of thy life-root No fibre is

destroyed. Here if men face their fears Emerson explains that they will be

better off and will be stronger because of their decision. He observes the

trials and obstacles which accompany man?s decision but essentially realizes

that strength comes from them. It is these fundamental ideas that Emerson

presents that show forth his idealistic principles. Emerson represents a small

piece of every man. ?So much of his thought and life was cast in forms of

immortal beauty?it shows the mortal fixed in immortality, and the deep serene

persuasion which smiles beyond tears.? (Howe 307) His never ending search for

tranquility in life provided mankind with bits and pieces that might fulfill

their lives. Emerson once said ?I cannot declare, yet cannot all withhold.?

(Emerson 472) Emerson was a man with an extraordinary ability to express his

thoughts on paper. Not many are Bazemore 6 given this ingenuity in their

lifetime. Emerson?s life was dedicated to poetry and forms of writing that

diagnosed the complications of life. In every piece of his writing there is an

underlying theme of idealism and reality. He speaks of the way things should be

and then speaks of the way they are. ?His writings poor forth no unhappy nor

unholy passion. A charm of unconsciousness is in them.? (Howe 309)

Black, Walter J. The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York Press, (1882) :

13. Carlyle, Thomas. The Correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle. Columbia

University Press, (1964): 516-518. Chapman, John Jay. ?Emerson.? Charles

Scribner?s Sons, (1898) : 3-108. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Journals of Ralph Waldo

Emerson. Houghton Mifflin Company, (1913) : 314-21. Grimm, Hernan. ?Ralph

Waldo Emerson.? Upham and Co., (1886) : 1-43. Howe, Julia Ward. ?Emerson?s

Relation to Society.? Kennikat Press, (1971) : 286-309. Laurence, D.H.

?Americans.? Viking Penguin, (1936) : 314-321. Emerson: Hero Lost By Tanner

Bazemore English 102 Professor Sheila Tombe 3 December 1998

Додати в блог або на сайт

Цей текст може містити помилки.

A Free essays | Essay
12.5кб. | download | скачати

Related works:
Self RelianceWaldo Ralph Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson 2
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson 3
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson 2
© Усі права захищені
написати до нас