INTRODUCTION. OUR age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a... more...

LIFE OF EMERSON Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, May 25, 1803. He was descended from a long line of New England ministers, men of refinement and education. As a school-boy he was quiet and retiring, reading a great deal, but not paying much attention to his lessons. He entered Harvard at the early age of fourteen, but never attained a high rank there, although he took a prize for an essay on Socrates, and was made class poet after several... more...

I. HISTORY. THERE is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and... more...

TO E. FITZGERALD. Old Fitz, who from your suburb grangeWhere once I tarried for a while,Glance at the wheeling Orb of changeAnd greet it with a kindly smile;Whom yet I see, as there you sitBeneath your sheltering garden tree,And watch your doves about you flitAnd plant on shoulder, hand and knee,Or on your head their rosy feet,As if they knew your diet sparesWhatever moved in that full sheetLet down to Peter at his prayers;   *   *... more...

I. THE POET. Those who are esteemed umpires of taste are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest... more...


I. USES OF GREAT MEN. It is natural to believe in great men. If the companions of our childhood should turn out to be heroes, and their condition regal, it would not surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods, and the circumstance is high and poetic; that is, their genius is paramount. In the legends of the Gautama, the first men ate the earth, and found it deliciously sweet. Nature seems to exist for the excellent. The world is upheld by... more...

GOOD-BYE Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home:Thou art not my friend, and I'm not thine.Long through thy weary crowds I roam;A river-ark on the ocean brine,Long I've been tossed like the driven foam:But now, proud world! I'm going home. Good-bye to Flattery's fawning face;To Grandeur with his wise grimace;To upstart Wealth's averted eye;To supple Office, low and high;To crowded halls, to court and street;To frozen hearts and hasting feet;To... more...

MAY-DAY.   Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring,With sudden passion languishing,Maketh all things softly smile,Painteth pictures mile on mile,Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths,Whence a smokeless incense breathes.Girls are peeling the sweet willow,Poplar white, and Gilead-tree,And troops of boysShouting with whoop and hilloa,And hip, hip three times three.The air is full of whistlings bland;What was that I heardOut of the hazy... more...