Ralph Waldo Emerson: Astraea

Astraea

Each the herald is who wrote His rank, and quartered his own coat. There is no king nor sovereign state That can fix a hero's rate; Each to all is venerable, Cap-a-pie invulnerable, Until he write, where all eyes rest, Slave or master on his breast. I saw men go up and down, In the country and the town, With this tablet on their neck, 'Judgment and a judge we seek.' Not to monarchs they repair, Nor to learned jurist's chair; But they hurry to their peers, To their kinsfolk and their dears; Louder than with speech they pray,— 'What am I? companion, say.' And the friend not hesitates To assign just place and mates; Answers not in word or letter, Yet is understood the better; Each to each a looking-glass, Reflects his figure that doth pass. Every wayfarer he meets What himself declared repeats, What himself confessed records, Sentences him in his words; The form is his own corporal form, And his thought the penal worm. Yet shine forever virgin minds, Loved by stars and purest winds, Which, o'er passion throned sedate, Have not hazarded their state; Disconcert the searching spy, Rendering to a curious eye The durance of a granite ledge. To those who gaze from the sea's edge It is there for benefit; It is there for purging light; There for purifying storms; And its depths reflect all forms; It cannot parley with the mean,— Pure by impure is not seen. For there's no sequestered grot, Lone mountain tarn, or isle forgot, But Justice, journeying in the sphere, Daily stoops to harbor there.